September 27, 2004 ***FOR
HURRICANE IVAN BLOWS TRADESHOW AWAY
Mobile Fire Department and Pelican Hold Fast
TORRANCE, CA - September 27, 2004 – Hurricane Ivan caught 14,000 attendees of the National Safety Council Trade Show in New Orleans off guard, causing an evacuation of the show, and the entire Gulf State Region. Pelican Products, Inc, an exhibitor at the show and manufacturer of flashlights responded by driving a load of lights into the hurricane path instead of evacuating. “At category 4, Ivan put every firefighter in 5 states on 24 hour duty, and they needed lots of light,” recalls David Parker, CEO of Pelican.
Pelican Marketing Director Kevin Murphy and Sales Manager Matt Miller volunteered to take the lights to the Mobile, Alabama Fire Rescue Department where Hurricane Ivan was projected to make landfall in 7 hours. “The NSC Show was already a write off,” said Murphy, “The least we could do was get the lights where they’re needed.”
The pair became forced guests at a Mobile Fire Station when the safe evacuation period ended before their arrival. “We figured the fire station was the safest place to ride it out,” said Murphy.
Doug Cooper, Chief Safety Officer of the Mobile Fire Rescue Department coordinated the distribution of lights to about 100 firefighters. “A full roster was on duty and every bunk was full, so I told them they’d have to fend for themselves,” said Chief Cooper. “Power was knocked out at 8 pm, but thankfully we had plenty of good light.”
A series of hurricane related calls kept the station moving, including a fully involved house fire and an adjacent structure. “Even with winds gusting to 70 mph we could have trouble containing the fire, but the wind was also whipping high-voltage lines overhead causing them to arc, and we decided to pull back for reasons of safety,” said Chief Cooper. Just getting back to the station proved risky, due to cross winds at the top of a causeway threatening to blow fire vehicles off the bridge.
By department policy, dispatch orders all emergency responders to stand down when sustained winds hit 65 mph. Matt Miller recalls the hurricane’s power: “At a certain point, Ivan was in charge, and it was time to get our heads down and ride it out.”
The next morning found Ivan had been merciful to Mobile, sideswiping it hard before veering to the east. Gary Smith, Inspector, Mobile Fire Rescue: “Ivan gave us a beating, but Pensacola got thrashed front and rear.”
Pelican Products has produced a short documentary video of hurricane Ivan and the Mobile Fire Department. Your can view our Hurricane Ivan video by click on this link.
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