Six Detroit Firefighters Injured at Taxpayer Fire from Wall Collapse

Detroit News

Six Detroit firefighters were injured during operations at a two alarm fire at a commercial taxpayer fire on the city’s east side. Initial reports indicate a roof collapse and subsequent compromise and further collapse occurred on the alpha side of operations with additional reports of an explosion preceding the collapse. Additional information provided by the Detroit Fire Department indicated the building structure had sustained some degree of damage from fire operations a few hours earlier and that during the suppression operations  at 07:00 hours, while companies were operating, a facade collapse of the perimeter brick wall occured.
The brick facade collapse trapped a number of firefighters under the debris pile requiring extrication and removal. Published report indicate that the following Detroit Firefighters were injured as a result of the collapsing facade wall;

• Lt. Gerald Rutkowski, 46; 23 years with department

• Shane Raxter, 32; 9 years with department.

• Brian Baulch, 31; 9 years with department.

• Jeron Whitehorn 30; 8 years with department.

• Eric Jurmo, 31; 11 years with department.

• Brendan Milewski, 31; 11 years with department

It appears the two story brick structure located at the corner block had commercial occupancies on the number one floor, with the second floor boarded up, evidenced by the coverings over the windows.
The facade collapse of the alpha side in the predominate location of perimeter windows is typically the least stable of areas in buildings of type III ordinary construction. Lacking any significant mass and increased wythe, non-bearing walls have less mass and require stability of the adjacent floor systems and load bearing lintels and beams to maintain structural stability and integrity. Gravity affects unstable brick veneer and in-fill walls greatly as does other imposed loads, hose and master streams impacts.  We’ll post more building construction insights and safety aides to increase your operational awareness on these type of building structures.
Here are the links to the lastest information forthcoming;
  • Detroit News, HERE
  • Firegeezer Coverage, HERE
  • Detroit Fox News, HERE
  • Latest news on FireFighter Nation, HERE
  •, Here
  • The Detroit Free Press, Here
  • Photo Gallery, Here
Here’s a link to a PPT program that’s available on the National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System site on Operational Safety Considerations at Buildings of Ordinary and Heavy Timber Construction; Type III and IV Structures. An accompanying narrative is available on the same NMRS Resource page that I posted in 2009.
Some recent NIOSH Reports related to Commercial Building Occupancy Fires and their lessons;
  • Career Lieutenant Dies Following Floor Collapse into Basement Fire and a Career Fire Fighter Dies Attempting to Rescue the Career Lieutenant – New York,  HERE
  • Floor Collapse at Commercial Structure Fire Claims the Lives of One Career Lieutenant and One Career Fire Fighter – New York, Here
  • Hardware Store Explosion Claims the Lives of Three Career Fire Fighters-New York, Here
  • Volunteer Fire Chief Killed when Buried by Brick Parapet Wall Collapse – Texas, Here
  • Commercial Structure Fire Claims the Life of One Firefighter-California, Here
  • Partial roof collapse in commercial structure fire claims the lives of two career fire fighters – Tennessee, Here
Additionally here are some images pulled from various online sources depicting the building, it’s construction, layout and configuration.

Detroit New Photo

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