What at the Projected Operational Risks? Do they Matter? Photo:CJ Naum, 2013
Taking it to the Streets
Vacant, unoccupied, abandoned and derelict buildings continue to challenge emergency response companies at incidents. It’s the buildings of Heritage – masonry construction with Heavy Timber, Mill, Semi-Mill or Ordinary Construction systems of three to six to eight story heights that create the most significant risks to operations, mitigation, safety and integrity.
Do you know what the inherent characteristics and risks are for each system and occupancy condition?
Do you train on when and how to establish collapse management zones (CMZ), how to manage them and what indicators to monitor and track?
The identification, establishment and control of collapse management zones continues to be a leading Fireground performance deficient area requiring greater Fire
Service attention, training and rigor.
Understand the Difference between Occupancy Risk versus Occupancy Type?
Take a look at the building presented in the photo: discuss what the possible building construction features and systems are and why.
What type of Collapse Management Zones (CMZ) can be expected both interior and perimeter?
What would the expected fire flow requirements be with heavy fire involvement and extension?
What are other operational risks to operational companies and personnel?
How and when would Collapse Management Zones (CMZ) be established?
Who would manage them and how?
Is there a problem controlling Collapse Zones?
And the obvious question: How does the buildings’s assumed condition:Vacant, unoccupied, abandoned and derelict buildings affect your Incident Action Plan, Strategies and Tactics? Or is it not a factor…..How do you determine when and how to commit to interior operations?
For incident deployments to a report of a structure fire, the single most important attribute that defines all phases of subsequent operations and incident management; is that of understanding the building.
An officer or commander’s skill set, comprehension and intellect in their ability to read a building is paramount towards identifying risks, conducting fluid assessment, probability, predictability and recognizing intrinsic characteristics of the building and its expected performance under fire conditions, which are essential toward development of an integrated and adaptive fire management model and flexible incident action plan.
If you don’t know and understand the building, how can you identify and select appropriate strategies and tactics and have an integrate IAP suitable for the building and occupancy risks and predictability of performance?
It’s much more than just arriving on location, identifying a single family wood frame residential, a three story brick or a five story fireproof or single URM commercial and stretching in and going to work.
NIOSH: Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters using Risk Management Principles at Structure Fires HERE
The ability for the first-arriving company, company officer or commander to perform an accurate identification of building type and classification are formulative toward anticipating variables in structural integrity and resiliency to the effects of extreme fire behavior, accelerated fire load package growth rates and intensity levels typically encountered in today’s composition and arrangement of buildings and their associated construction systems during initial and sustained fire suppression.
Arriving companies and personnel at a structure fire must be able to rapidly and accurately identify key elements of a building, process that data based on a widening field of variables present on today’s evolving Fireground and implement timely actions that address prioritized actions requiring intervention.
The identification, assessment, probability, predictability and intrinsic characteristics of the building and its expected performance under fire conditions must be identified, assessed and integrated into an adaptive fire management model and flexible incident action plan.
In other words, arriving companies and personnel at a structure fire need to be able to rapidly and accurately identify key elements of a building, process that data based upon a widening field of variables present on today’s evolving fireground and implement timely actions that address prioritized actions requiring intervention. Deterministic fireground models for size-up and suppression have to give way to a more expandable stochastic model of assessment. Key to this is having a broad and well developed foundation of building knowledge.
Taking it to the Streets: “All units stand-by: Transmitting the Box for….Your Street on this DayThe importance of knowing your first-due, surrounding response districts, as well as greater alarm, mutual and automatic aid response areas …is fundamental towards achieving operational excellence and maintaining firefighter safety.
The fact that at times, our surroundings do become a blur and fade into the background does occur and should be recognized as a gap and corrected.
Company and Command Officer Responsibilities demand that you know your buildings intimately and have the knowledge base and experience to put Building Construction, Occupancy, Fire in the Compartment and Strategies & Tactics together in an orchestrated manner consistent with risk, demands and requirements dictated by the evolving incident.You know that quiet street you pass daily on your way to “other runs”, or that may not have necessarily required agency service in a while; have you looked at the construction and building features before you’re now showing up first-due with heavy fire showing, and multiple incident priorities all demanding immediate attention?
Take a look at the images from our past post and this one; run through your head what the street looks like (pre-event) and what parameters and factors you’re seeing. Do the same with the fire incident scene and see if you can match pre-incident situational awareness and pre-fire planning insights with what you might be confronting from the front seat or riding backwards….Understand and Know your world….it’s just a matter of time before those bells will be going off and the radio will be crackling….Engine 21 respond to…. For a report of a structure fire.
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Taking it to the Streets: Your Street on any given Day
At times, our surroundings become a blur and fade into the fabric that defines our response district, our first-due, our neighborhood, community, city or town. We tend to focus on thos…e areas that have an immediacy or frequency that defines day-to –day operations, shifts or alarm dispatches and transmission of “those” box alarms. You know; the ones that have a particular address that always grab our attention.
Company and Command Officers MUST be intensely aware of your area’s fabric, its state and condition, the subtle changes as well as those that a times result in what seems like major changes, renovations or construction that pops up literally overnight or in a matter of weeks. Individually, you should be running scenario through your head as to the “what ifs” for a particular building, structure or occupancy. Share these insights and option plays with your company, station, battalion or group…Invest in the opportunity to game plan and know your world; before the alarms go off and the bell hits and you’re in the street….
Understand how your buildings co-exist with each other, what defines their characteristics, features, profile, hazards and challenges…
This is Part One of a Two Part Post….”All units standby: transmitting the box for….”
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On March 18, 1996, two firefighters were killed in Chesapeake, Virginia when they became trapped by a rapidly spreading fire in an auto parts store and a pre-engineered wood truss roof assembly collapsed on them. The cause of the fire was an electrical short created when a power company truck working in the rear of the building drove away with its boom in an elevated position, accidentally pulling an electrical feed line from the main breaker panel at the rear of the store.
Post-incident investigations indicate that the electrical fault may have sparked multiple points of fire origin throughout the roof structure of the building, due to improperly grounded wiring. At the time of the report issuance, this was exemplified as another incident illustrating the rapid failure of lightweight construction systems when key support components are involved in a fire. The report pointed out the importance of prefire planning and accurate size up by fire companies to determine the risk factors associated with a fire in this type of construction.
Lessons regarding importance of initial company actions, constant re-evaluation of action plans, strong command and coordination of units on the fireground, and recognition of signs of impending structural failure were also reinforced.
Reading through any number of NIOSH, USFA or NFPA reports, similar issues, challenges and operational factors resonate and continue to shape and challenge today’s fire ground operations.
It is without exception that the knowledge and insights being gained by the continuing efforts from the UL and NIST Research Studies coupled with the recommendations, from the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (HERE)will provide increased awareness and understanding of buildings, fire dynamics and the effectives of fire within the compartment, building and the manner in which fire departments engage in fire suppression operations.
Today’s fire ground is changing at a very rapid pace as it relates to the continued evolution, transition of engineered structural components and systems (ESS).
Are you prepared, knowledgeable and understand that new strategic and tactical approaches are required?
One of the most significant actions initiated by the Chesapeake Fire Department was the implementation of a Truss Identification Program (TIP).
Take a look at a past posting on CommandSafety.com where we published on an overview a few years ago of truss and engineering component systems across the United States HERE.
The following are excerpts and narrative from the USFA Technical Report Series TR-087 and NIOSH Report 96-17
Aerail Overview on Complex today
SUMMARY OF KEY ISSUES
Staffing : The first alarm response provided a small attack force with limited capabilities. The full response brought only 10 personnel.
Size-up : The first arriving company officer was not able to determine the location and extent of the hidden fire.
Pre-fire plan information: This complex required a pre-fire plan due to the complex arrangement, multiple occupancies, mixed construction, lack of fixed protection, limited access and difficult water supply problems. The first-due company did carry a pre-fire plan that showed the layout of the shopping center and the floor plan for the auto parts store, but the prefire plan was not referenced by the crew during the fire.
Delayed response: The first arriving company was on the scene alone for several minutes with only 3 personnel. The back-up companies had long response times. The lack of evidence of a working fire prompted the initial incident commander to return some of the responding units, resulting in even longer response times.
Water supply: The first-in company did not establish a water supply. This required the second engine company to be committed to this task.
Incident command: The battalion chief was faced with a complicated and rapidly changing situation. He was not able to effectively transfer command from the initial officer and direct the operations of widely separated units.
Operational risk management:The officers involved in the initial part of the operation had to make critical risk management decisions with limited information.
Accountability: Accountability for the personnel operating in the hazardous area was not established prior to the structural collapse. As the situation became critical, no one realized that a crew was still inside the building.
Rapid intervention crew: Additional crews did not arrive in time to assist the crew that was in trouble inside the building.
Radio communications: The lack of a clear radio channel for fire ground communications caused serious problems with command and control of the incident, including the failure to maintain communications with the crew inside and the failure to hear their request for assistance.
Lightweight construction: The roof collapsed quickly and with very little warning. This should be anticipated with a lightweight wood truss roof assembly. This hazard was not recognized by the crews on the scene.
BUILDING DESCRIPTION – Construction and History
The fire occurred in a modern, lightweight construction building that was added to an existing strip mall in 1984. The older mall on exposure side four was separated from the fire building by a masonry fire wall and was constructed with masonry walls and a steel bar-joist roof structure. The exposures on side two consisted of additional stores that were similar in construction to the auto parts store. There were no exposures on sides one and three.
The auto parts store was constructed with two masonry exterior walls and two wood frame exterior walls, with a lightweight wood truss roof assembly. It was approximately 120 feet deep and 50 feet wide, providing about 6,000 square feet of open display and storage space. The roof assembly was a pre-engineered lightweight wood truss assembled from 2 x 6 top and bottom chords, with 2 x 4 web members held together with metal gusset plates.
There were no interior bearing walls or supports for the roof structure. At one end, the trusses were supported by a wood plate that was bolted to a metal beam.
The other end rested on top of the concrete block wall. Each truss was separated by 24 inches and they were covered with 1/2 inch CDX plywood sheathing under a two-ply rubber membrane.
A drywall ceiling was attached to the underside of the trusses, creating a truss void space (truss loft) 24 to 36 inches above the ceiling.
A sheet rock divider was located in the middle of the truss void as a draft stop. The roof had a slight pitch.
Three air handling units were on the roof of the building, with an estimated combined weight of 3,000 pounds. It is not known when these units were installed and they may have represented an unanticipated dead load on the roof assembly.
There was no indication that the trusses had been reinforced to support the extra weight of these units.
The original truss roof structure collapsed during the construction of the building, injuring three workers.
Most of the trusses were damaged and had to be replaced at the time. The fire building was occupied by Advance Auto Parts, a chain distributor of automobile part and lubricants. The store was designed with an open retail area containing display racks for goods.
A long counter ran from front to back behind which was shelving for additional auto parts. Waste oil and batteries were kept in a rear storage area separated from the front of the store by a drywall wall.
The southwest corner of the building contained employee restrooms which had a small water heater located in the ceiling space just above them. The main entrance to the store was through two large glass doors at the front of the building. A delivery and service entrance was located in the rear and a 40 foot trailer was parked behind the building and used for additional storage.
At approximately 11:00 a.m. on March 18, 1996, a power company employee set up a service truck at the rear of the Indian River Shopping Center in Chesapeake, Virginia. The worker was going to disconnect the electrical power to a customer who had not paid an electrical bill. The customer, a cocktail lounge and bar, was located adjacent to Advance Auto Parts. In preparing to disconnect service, the power company worker elevated the articulating boom on his truck to roof level. Faced with the immediate loss of power, an employee of the lounge paid the electrical bill while the power company employee was beginning work, and went to the back of the store to show the receipt.
A stamped receipt indicates the bill was paid at 11:16 a.m. at a supermarket also located in the shopping center. The power company employee, working from the bucket of the articulating boom, lowered the boom and verified the receipt. Although the bucket had been lowered, the hinged elbow of the articulating boom remained elevated. The employee then radioed his supervisor from the cab of his truck, and received instructions not to disconnect power.
The power company employee then attempted to drive the service truck away, forgetting to secure the boom, which snagged on a power line feeding the meter at the rear of the Advance Auto Parts Store. This caused a phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground arcing fault at the store’s electrical meter, starting the fire. The power company employee immediately stopped, exited his truck, and cut the remaining power connections to the meter at the rear of Advance Auto Parts.
Initial Actions Prior to Calling 911
After cutting the power line to the building, the power company employee removed the meter, noticed smoke coming from the meter base, notified his office and requested that another power company crew and a supervisor come and assist him.
An employee of the Advance Auto Parts Store came to the rear of the building and met the power company employee, telling him that the store had lost electrical power and that a fire was being extinguished inside the building.
Another Advance Auto Parts employee discharged a dry chemical fire extinguisher on the spot fire that had started near the hot water heater above the employee restrooms.
All believed the fire had been extinguished at this time.
At 11:29 a.m., the Chesapeake Fire and Police Emergency Operations Center received a 911 call from Advance Auto Parts reporting a problem with the fuse box in the store.
The Chesapeake Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a fuse box sparking at 4345 Indian River Road at the Advance Auto Parts store.
Initial response consisted of two engines, a ladder company, and a battalion chief, for a total of 10 personnel.
Engine 3 was the first due arriving company, responding from quarters. Engine 1 and Ladder 2 also responded.
Battalion 1 was dispatched as the command officer, but requested that Battalion 2 cover the assignment, since he was out of position.
Battalion 2 acknowledged the request, and he responded with the first alarm companies.
Engine 3’s crew consisted of three personnel: a driver/pump operator; Firefighter- Specialist John Hudgins, serving as Acting Lieutenant for the shift; and Firefighter- Specialist Frank Young, detailed to the station for the day, was riding in the jump seat. Engine 3 was responding in a reserve engine that had a 500 gallon water tank.
Initial Size-Up and Company Actions
At approximately 11:35 a.m., about five and a half minutes after dispatch, Engine 3 arrived on the scene at the front of the strip mall.
Hudgins reported “a single-story commercial structure, nothing showing from the front. Engine 3 is in command.”
Engine 3 took a position in front of the Advance Auto Parts Store. Hudgins and Young entered the structure from the front of the building to investigate.
Conditions were clear in the store, and there was no visible smoke or flames showing. They discovered light smoke near the electrical panel in the rear of the building, and radioed to Battalion 2 that they had a fire and were checking for extension.
Acting Lieutenant Hudgins then radioed for Engine 3’s driver to reposition the apparatus to the rear of the building.
Hudgins then radioed to Battalion 2, who had not yet arrived on the scene, that Engine 3 and Ladder 2 could handle the incident. Battalion 2 and Engine 1, the second due engine company, both went in service.
Engine 3 Reports They Are Trapped, Roof Collapses
At approximately 11:49 a.m., almost 20 minutes after the initial dispatch time, Hudgins radioed that he and Young could not get out of the building. Battalion 2 radioed back that he could not understand their transmission. Hudgins then radioed that they needed someone to come to the front of the building and get them out. Again unable to understand their transmission, Battalion 2 radioed for any unit on the fireground to advise him if they heard the message that was transmitted.
Engine 4 responded that they were unable to copy the transmission.
Engine 14 then marked on the scene and was instructed by Battalion 2 to lay a supply line to the front of the building. Battalion 1, enroute to the fire on the second alarm, radioed to Battalion 2 that it sounded like someone was trapped inside.
Battalion 3, also enroute, radioed that he would be on the scene momentarily and would assist.
At this time, Ladder 2’s crew was setting the outriggers and preparing to elevate their aerial ladder for defensive operations.
In the short time it took to accomplish the stabilization of the ladder truck, the front of the store became fully involved, the building contents ignited, and the roof collapsed.
Due to the radiant heat, Ladder 2 was forced to retract their outriggers and reposition to a safer defensive position on side one of the structure, and set up the aerial again.
Ladder 2’s crew did not hear Engine 3’s transmission that they were trapped.
Simultaneously, Engine 1 ran out of supply line about 200 feet short of the hydrant. Engine 2, responding on the second alarm, picked up the hydrant that Engine 1 was attempting to reach and laid a supply line to side one.
The driver of Engine 1 attempted to contact his officer by radio to advise that he could not reach the hydrant, but could not get through due to heavy radio traffic.
He parked the engine in the roadway, donned his SCBA, and went to the rear of the building to report to his Captain and rejoin his crew.
Battalion 3 arrived on side one about this time and radioed for all companies to switch to channel two, an alternate fireground tactical frequency.
Driven by the northerly wind and the draft created by the burning contents of the structure, the fire at the rear had grown in such intensity that personnel were forced to move Engine 3. Assisted by employees of the power company, Engine 3 was moved back away from the rear of the building. At 11:55 a.m., about 26 minutes after dispatch, the Captain of Engine 1, with his crew at the rear of the building, confirmed to Battalion 2 that “I got men on the inside from Engine 3, and the lines have been burned. I do not know their status, and we still have no water to go in after them.”
Battalion 3 met with Battalion 2 and discussed that they may have lost a crew inside. Battalion 3 assumed command and Battalion 2 went to the rear of the building to coordinate rescue efforts. There, Battalion 2 met with the Captain from Engine 1.
By this time, the building was fully involved and no rescue efforts could be mounted until the fire was knocked down. Officers at the front and the rear attempted to conduct a personnel accountability report (PAR) to determine who was missing and where they might be located.
An engine company responding on mutual aid from the Virginia Beach Fire Department was flagged down, connected to Engine 1’s supply line, and completed the water supply to a hydrant behind the shopping center within the City of Virginia Beach. Engine 3 was forced to move back once again, and the supply line was disconnected from Engine 3 and used to supply water to Engine 4, a telesquirt that was positioned for defensive operations at the rear.
Extinguishment and Body Recovery
The fire spread to the attic of the exposures on side two and was held in check by the fire wall on side four of the building. The fire was brought under control as the contents of the auto parts store burned off and several aerial streams were put into operation. After the fire was extinguished, a search for the missing firefighters was initiated. After the bodies of the firefighters were located, they were removed from the fire building by members of the Virginia Beach Fire Department, and transferred by members of the Chesapeake Fire Department to medic units.
The body recovery was supervised by the Chesapeake Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office and documented. An investigation was immediately started by the Chesapeake Fire Department Fire Marshal.
Fire Cause and Flame Spread
The fire was caused by the electrical short created when the power company truck struck the power line to the building. Investigation by the City of Chesapeake Electrical Inspector after the fire revealed that the meter contained wiring that appeared to have been tampered with and did not comply with the electrical code.
Several connections at the meter had been double-lugged, connecting multiple wires to single terminals. Additional investigation by Virginia Power revealed that the building may have been improperly grounded, leading to numerous hot connections when the short circuit occurred. The main fuse did not trip at the breaker panel and the wiring on all three air handling units had been fused. This probably resulted in the ignition of multiple spot fires in the truss loft above the store.
It appears that the fires in the truss loft were still relatively minor when Engine 3 arrived, but the fire spread rapidly throughout the space due to the light wood construction.
The wind drawn from the open doors at the front of the building also promoted rapid fire growth. This would have created a tremendous hidden fire in the wood truss loft area despite clear conditions inside the structure.
Reports of heavy smoke and fire conditions on the roof at the same time Engine 3’s crew was calling for pike poles and personnel to come inside are indications towards this scenario.
The interior of the auto parts store contained racks of auto parts and supplies, including oil, lubricants, rubber, and plastic parts. The contents were packed closely together and stored in tall racks near the ceiling.
Once the fire had broken through the ceiling in the rear of the building, these contents would have quickly reached their ignition temperatures, creating flashover conditions in the rear of the store as the fire progressed, trapping the firefighters and forcing them to seek an exit at the front of the store.
The collapse of the pre-engineered truss roof occurred approximately 21 minutes after the time of dispatch, and within 35 minutes of the initial accident, that caused the electrical short.
The structure appears to have collapsed within 10 to 12 minutes after the truss space became heavily involved.
The collapse of similar truss assemblies under fire conditions within this time period has been well documented.
Post-incident investigations indicate that this truss assembly may have been weakened by deficiencies in the connection of the trusses to the beam on the east side of the building.
Also, the dead load of the three air conditioning units may have contributed to the rapid failure of the roof.
Reports from firefighters on the scene indicate that a partial failure of the truss assembly may have occurred in the rear of the building, followed shortly by the failure of the entire roof assembly.
It is possible that the crew of Engine 3 was trapped by the partial collapse of the roof in the rear, or by the collapse of racks containing auto parts in the building, or by the rapid spread of the fire and smoke which had broken through the ceiling.
It is also possible that a combination of these events occurred simultaneously. The failure of the entire roof assembly and complete involvement of the interior of the building with fire took place within one minute after the firefighters radioed for help, before any reaction to assist them could take place.
Initial Response - The first alarm assignment was overwhelmed by the situation, the circumstances, and the unusual sequence of events that occurred at this incident. It is evident that a larger force would have been needed to initiate an effective offensive or defensive operation for a working fire in a 6,000 square foot commercial occupancy, with attached exposures on two sides, with or without the unusual complications.
The response of two engine companies, one ladder company and a battalion chief, provided a total of 25 only 10 personnel on the initial assignment.
The individual companies, which responded with three person crews, had limited capabilities to perform tasks independently.
This incident generated only a single call to 9-1-1 reporting an electrical problem.
LESSONS LEARNED AND REINFORCED
1. RISK ASSESSMENTis the primary responsibility of the incident commander.
This incident presented a very high risk to the firefighters who were attempting to make an interior attack. However, the risk factors were not recognized and the interior crew was not directed to abandon the building. Risk assessment should be a continual process, particularly when a situation is changing very quickly.
2. ACCOUNTABILITY is an essential function of the Incident Command System.
The location and operation of the initial attack crew was not tracked according to the incident command system that was in effect at the time of the fire. The system must keep track of the location, function, status, and assignment of every individual unit or company operating at the scene of an emergency incident. In order to be effective, the accountability process must be routinely initiated at the beginning of every incident and updated as the incident progresses and units are reassigned to different tasks.
3. TACTICAL RADIO CHANNELS are essential for firefighter safety.
The fireground operations were conducted on the same radio channel as the routine dispatch and transfer of additional units, hampering the fireground communications during the important early stages of the incident. Designated radio channels should be set aside specifically for communications between the incident commander and the units operating at the scene of an incident. The exchange of information, orders, instructions, warnings, and progress reports is essential to support safe and effective operations. Tactical channels should be assigned early and routinely to avoid the confusion that occurs when units that are already working are directed to switch to a different radio channel.
4. FIRE OPERATIONS must be limited to those functions that can be performed safely with the number of personnel that are available at the scene of an incident.
The initial response to this incident did not provide enough resources to safely initiate an effective interior attack for the situation that was encountered. The first arriving company initiated interior operations that could not be adequately performed or supported with the limited number of personnel at the scene or responding. The delayed arrival of back-up companies increased the risk exposure of the first due company. The situation called for a more conservative initial attack plan and/or an early retreat when the magnitude of the fire became evident.
5. WATER SUPPLY is a critical component of a safe and successful operation.
The failed attempt to establish an adequate and reliable water supply for the interior attack was a critical problem at this incident. This task occupied the second due engine company which was needed to provide either a back-up hose line to support the interior attack or a rapid intervention crew.
6. LIGHTWEIGHT WOOD TRUSS CONSTRUCTION is prone to rapid failure under fire conditions.
If the construction of the building had been known or recognized, the early failure of the roof structure should have been anticipated and the interior crew should have been withdrawn. This requires pre-fire planning to identify high risk properties and a reliable system to label the building or to inform the responding units of the risk factors of the building. It is usually difficult or impossible to make this determination when the building is burning.
Taking it to the Streets and Reading the Building: Side by Side Photo By; CJ Naum
Taking it to the Streets and Reading the Building: Side by SideToday’s Street view and Reading the Building opportunity is focused on a large building complex.
At first glance it looks like one BIG building. However, closer scrutiny reveals there are three (3) building occupancies sharing common party walls.
What gives you the first appearance that this may be one building versus three structures? There are a couple of immediate features that can take you down the wrong path if you’re not familiar with the building type, the inherent features as well as the apparent alterations that are now influencing it.
Reading the Building requires skill sets to keeping looking further beyond what is immediately obvious; that successive layers of observations upon arrival and fluid assessment expose other pertinent, Building, Structure, System, Occupancy and Operational Risks, hazards and Considerations in the development of the incident action plan and determination of strategic, tactical and task objectives and assignments.
Here are our Buildingsonfire Street Questions:
Identify the Building Type(s)
Can you differentiate the structural system present?
How many buildings are there and why?
What if inherent with the Building and Features?
What is obvious from the Alpha Street Side?
There are observable features that will be mission-critical related to Building Performance, can you identify?
What is the expected Predictability of Performance of the buildings and occupancy areas?
Occupancy Risk is projected to be what?
Looking at the alleyway on the Delta Division, what can you identify that would be of importance to the IAP and company operations, both interior and exterior.
What is the expected of the Perimeter Walls (PW)?
Fire Travel and Propagation: Do you know what to project, anticipate and plan for?
Operational risk might be what given moderate fire with extension on an upper floor?
Give yourself some added considerations based on either: Engine Co., Truck/Ladder Co., Rescue/Squad Co., Commander (IC) or RIT/FAST role responsibilities;
What questions would you seek to identify and answer or assume on the first-due as you read the building?
That’s plenty to keep you going…
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Here’s a PDF that you can download and share with the company, at the station or use of a quick in-service drill; HERE StreetsSidebySide
A veteran fire captain testified Wednesday that he was trapped in debris that fell from a ceiling during a February 2011 fire at a luxury home in the Hollywood Hills, where another longtime firefighter suffered fatal injuries.
Called to testify during a hearing to determine if an architect who designed and oversaw the construction of the home should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Edward Watters told Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan that he “heard a loud bang” and suddenly found himself lying on his back with a “lot of weight on my chest.”
Gerhard Albert Becker—a 48-year-old German national who owned, designed and built the home —is charged in connection with the death of firefighter Glenn Allen, 61.
Allen, a 36-year veteran of the LAFD, died two days after being struck by a portion of the ceiling during the Feb. 16, 2011, blaze.
A rapid and fast moving early morning fire in downtown Trenton, Ontario Canada resulted in the subsequent collapse of a three story mixed use commerical and apartment occupancy structure. Published media reports indicated the building was over 130 years of age and was in operation as an adult entertainment establishment on the lower level with multiple occupancy use apartments on the upper floors. The fire displaced 12 residents. The commercial portion of the building on the number one floor was not operating at the time of the alarm.
For a complete overview of the general fire, refer to the links below for the media links.
Two firefighters were nearly trapped while engaged in primary search and rescue operations as the fire conditions deteriorated and compromise and collapse conditions began to collapse the wood frame structure.
Pre-incident images clearly depict the typical building profile of a heritage type structure of the late 1880′s vintage with it’s sloping roof profile and window treatments that are evident on both the bravo and delta divisions (many with window mounted air conditioning units that constitute a collapse risk to operating companies on the ground perimeter) . As with many buildings in urban areas, the exterior envelope has been renovated in a manner that added an exterior metal clad panel system that is typically mechanically fastened directly to the facade or to a sub-assembly fastening system. This in effect covers the buildings originating facade, building materials and structural and cosmetic conditions.
Common to original building construction and layouts, the alpha division shows the manner in which the first floor wall has been modified with no indication of window locations and conditions in the upper floors. Common to this renovation technique is the placement of the metal facade directly over existing window openings and framing systems, resulting in either boarded and elimination of the window or the fames and glass still present within the interior room compartments compounding search and rescue assignments.
Sherwood Forest Inn, Image from Google Street View
The metal exterior cladding masks the ability for arriving companies to identify if the structure is wood frame Type V, ordinary Type III or Brace Frame construction. The profile and charactoristics of this building profile suggests a buidling of Type III Ordinary construction ( Brick and jost) with load bearing masony construction. This is not the case in this structure as fireground photos further depicted. The various fireground photos suggest that this was a wood frame structure with wood exterior sheathing with some brick masonry features applied to the alpha division. The building envelope is encased in a sheet metal panel cladding system attached the perimeter facade.
Delta Division, Google Street View Image
Image above shows the degree of interior fire involvement and smoke density. The sheet metal cladding that was applied to the surface facade masks the ability to monitor wall degradation and compromise, retains heat within the building envelope and has independent collapse considerations based upon the manner it is atached to the outer facade further compounding the structural integrity of the buildings wall envelope. Photo by Step Crosier.
In incidents taht have building profiles such as this, conservative risk management, establishment of primary and secondary collapse perimeters along the various divisions is imperative for firefighter safety and apparatus operabilty.
Collapse and failure of the primary structural support systems affecting both interior and exterior structural and infill systems. Photo by Marc Venema
The image above shows the extent of collapse. Look at the various construction features consisting of the original wood plank sheathing, brick facade work, wood framing system and the retrofitted metal paneling facade.
How would you Read the Building based upon the pre incident photos shown at the being of this post?
Would you assume the building was a type III or IV structure or a wood frame or brace frame structure?
Does each building system have a different bearing on fireground operations, strategies, tactics and operational integrity and company and personnal safety?
How much operatoinal time do you have for a primary search and rescue assignment or for deployment and effective location of a fire seat and application of hose streams before you developing compromising conditions with the interior compartments?
Look at the brick veneer added to the wood sheathing covered by the metal panels in this image. Photo by Steph Crosier
Chicago firefighter Herbert Johnson, left, poses with Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, right, after Johnson was promoted to the rank of captain. Johnson died from injuries sustained while fighting a house fire on the South Side. — Chicago Fire Department
”You don’t need a last name for Herbie. Everybody knew Herbie”. A beloved firefighter, Fire officer, father and husband died in the line of duty on Friday November 2, in the City of Chicago protecting the citizens of his city working with the companies assigned to the structure fire alarm.
Chicago Captain Herbert Johnson, 54, suffered second- and third-degree burns during fire suppression operations being conducted in the attic of the residential house at 2315 West 50th Place, according to Chicago FD officials and published media reports. The 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department died Friday night after he and another firefighter were injured in a blaze that spread quickly through the 2-1/2 story wood frame house. A second firefighter, FF Brian Woods was also injured and was reported in good condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a department spokeswoman, and was subsequently released. Chicago fire investigators are considering the possibility that a malfunctioning water heater sparked the fire that killed Capt. Herbert Johnson, a Fire Department spokesman said Saturday.
See CommandSafety.com for a complete accounting of the event, HERE
Family of fallen firefighter: ‘A hero for our city’ from the Chicago Tribune, HERE
Captain Johnson, was promoted from lieutenant this summer and was assigned to Engine Co. 123 in Back of the Yards Section of Chicago for the night tour but normally worked all around the City of Chicago.
Capt. Johnson from a 2006 Sun-Times photo
The following exerpt from the Chicago Tribune helps define the type of firefighter Capt. Johnson was:
Johnson’s influence on everyone he met was visible Saturday, with shrines at the site of his death and trees in his family’s Morgan Park neighborhood decorated with purple and black bows.
A 32-year veteran of the department, Johnson volunteered in 2001 to help with rescue efforts in New York after the 9/11 attacks. As a lieutenant in 2007, he received a Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery or heroism, the state’s highest accolade for firefighters — the result, his family said, of helping rescue children the year before from a burning building on the South Side.
Friends and family remembered him mostly for his jovial personality and tender heart, a burly man with a beaming smile who once took a sewing class so he could make a First Communion dress for his daughter.
Johnson and his sister, Julie, even went to clown school together, said their brother John Johnson, a Chicago police officer. That sister, a former police officer who is now a nurse, celebrated her birthday Friday, the day of Johnson’s death, family members said.
Their father worked for the city in the Streets and Sanitation Department, John Johnson said, and their grandfathers were Chicago police officers.
The eldest of eight children, Johnson always knew he wanted to be a firefighter, said his family members, many of whom are also in public service.
Just like every little boy that’s grown up in the last 20 years wanted to be Michael Jordan or Brian Urlacher, every firefighter that worked with him wanted to be Herbie,” said Tim O’Brien, a spokesman with Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2. “You aspired to be more like him in every way of life.”
Colleagues said Johnson spent the last several years working as an instructor at the Fire Academy. Generous and kind, he never missed a Fire Department fundraising event, they said. His helpful nature also extended beyond the firehouse, friends said, through coaching youth sports and volunteering at his church parish.
He always had a funny story and often left fellow firefighters in stitches, sometimes through his own distinctive belly laugh, colleagues said.
“He was always a hero to us and now he’s a hero for our city,” McMahon said. “Herbie never wanted glory or notoriety. Instead, all he wanted was to make Chicago a safer place for other members of the city. So please, in Herbie’s honor, check your smoke detectors right now, give your kids a hug.”
Johnson was an easy man to know and love, said friend Tom Taff, who runs a camp for burn victims that Johnson helped support. The recently promoted captain personified joie de vivre, a man with a big laugh who drove fire engines in parades, cooked for charity — left an impression in the many places he offered his service.
On September 11, 2001, Captain Patrick Brown and eleven men from FDNY Ladder 3 responded to the attacks at the World Trade Center. His firehouse, Ladder 3, is located in very close proximity to the Twin Towers so his was one of the first fire companies on the scene. Along with so many other rescue workers, the men of Ladder 3 participated in perhaps the most successful rescue effort in U.S. history. These rescue workers, at their own peril, managed to safely evacuate over 25,000 people from those burning towers. It is believed that Paddy and his men were on the 40th floor of the North Tower with 30 or 40 severely burned people when that tower fell.
He was an extraordinary officer and firefighter; Captain Patrick Brown was passionate, intense, complicated, humble, and an inspiration to both those who knew him and those who are just now finding out about this incredible man. He’ll be remembered as a devoted friend, a dedicated firefighter, a warrior, and someone who made a difference.
One of the many stories of extraordinary Company Officers, Firefighters, Commanders and Chief Officers… of the FDNY 343….
Ladder 3 Last Dispatch 1 Hour Before The North Tower CollapseHERE
2012 Les Lukert Conference Information February 10-12, 2012
NEW FOR 2012
Based on student feedback from previous years, the 2012 Les Lukert Winter Conference will offer new opportunities to attend multiple courses.
Traditional 12-hour courses will be offered, but several four hour courses will repeat three times, giving students the opportunity to hear and network with a larger number of students and instructors. If you can’t get there first thing on Saturday, one 8-hour course will start at noon Saturday and finish at noon Sunday!
Mix and match as your schedule permits, but pay particular attention to this as you sign up. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! The NSFSI Education Committee hopes this new format makes the Conference even more useful to students and we look forward to your continued attendance and feedback as we plan future conferences!
Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center
110 Second Avenue, Kearney, NE 68847
855.444.5769 (toll free) www.younes.com
Ten Traits of a Positive Fire Service Instructor
(**Pre-conference Instructor Development Course) Friday February 10, 0900 – 1700
As an Instructor, it is essential to promote a positive and safe fire ground environment, and the preparation begins on the training ground. However, in some jurisdictions, the training ground has become anything but an environment that promotes positive and safe attitudes.
A number of fire service personnel will become instructors without any idea of how to teach a class. They are told that they have to be an instructor for promotion. They are thrown into the mix and told that they have to pull a rotation at the training academy. These are not the type of instructors that our future fire service leaders need. Face it; some people are just not built to teach. Our instructors are doomed from the beginning. They teach the minimum, and are closed to the change.
Look back over your career. Can you recall a fire instructor who influenced you positively? Negatively? What were the major differences between these instructors? Several attitudes, practices, and attributes distinguish the positive instructor from the negative one.
The course is being taught by K. Doc Patterson. Doc is also teaching Lead with a Vision, Not a Tradition at the Conference. (see below) Back to top
Pride and Ownership: The Love for the Job
Ignite Your Love for the Job. Pride and Ownership holds no punches. Chief Rick Lasky takes a hard look at the fire service and finds it short on the only element that makes it effective: passion. Chief Lasky gives an upfront and honest criticism about the need to reignite the love of the job on every level, from chiefs on down. Do you have what it takes? Not everyone is cut out for the fire service. It takes only the best to serve the public when people need help most. Pride and Ownership calls for men and women with honor and integrity to measure up to the task. There’s nothing else in the world like being a firefighter. Every day Chief Lasky remembers why his job is the best in the world and he brings that passion to Pride and Ownership. Chief Lasky revisits the proud history and tradition of the fire service and reflects on the family values and brotherhood that have made firefighting a truly family oriented vocation.
The Company Officer
Our Two Families
Sweating the Small Stuff
Changing Shirts-The Promotion
What September 11th Did To Us and For Us
Ceremonies That Stoke the Flames of Tradition
Marketing Your Fire Department
Making It All Happen and Taking Care of Number 1
Have You Forgotten?
Rick Lasky, a 30-year veteran of the fire service, is chief (ret.) of the Lewisville (TX) Fire Department. Rick began his career as a firefighter in the suburbs on the southwest side of Chicago and while in Illinois received the 1996 International Society of Fire Service Instructors “Innovator of the Year” award for his part in developing the “Saving Our Own” program. He served as the co-lead instructor for the H.O.T. Firefighter Survival program at FDIC for over 10 years, is an editorial advisory board member of Fire Engineering Magazine and also serves on the FDIC advisory board. Rick contributes monthly to Fire Engineering’s Roundtable column, is the author of both the “Pride and Ownership-A Firefighter’s Love of the Job” leadership series featured in Fire Engineering Magazine and the best-selling book published by PennWell Books, as well as the host for the radio show “Pride and Ownership” heard on Fire Engineering Radio. Back to top
Avoiding Human Error on the Fireground
The Fire Service has recognized many of the fireground injuries and related LODD’s are directly related to poor decision making by personnel on the fireground. Findings show how a fatal chain of errors made by personnel, from the Incident Commander to the rookie firefighter, promulgate the problem in the American Fire Service. This course is designed to identify those specific factors associated with the error chain and establish corrective action models to reverse this dangerous trend.
Case reviews of LODD’s will be used to understand how this occurs and students will discuss the need for a heighten awareness for command and incident specific goals and objectives to reduce similar occurrences. This program is designed to open the “Minds Eye” and change the firefighter’s perspective and paradigm on routine fires. 3/6/14 are all you need to know to increase your rate of survival and decrease your chances of being injured to a point of retirement from the fire service.
Ed Hadfieldis a Division Chief with the City of Coronado Fire Department in San Diego, California. In his 25 years of professional experience, he has been recognized as a leader in Fireground Command Operations, Command Officer Succession Development, Truck Company Functions, and Fire Service Leadership. He holds a Bachelors’ Degree from Azusa Pacific University in Organizational Leadership, and is currently completing his Masters Degree in Leadership Studies at Azusa Pacific University and the EFO program through the National Fire Academy. He is a frequent speaker at fire service conferences and training programs nationwide, and provides leadership training to multiple corporate agencies as well.
Looking to the future of the American Fire Service, we must have leadership in all aspects of the emergency services that are visionaries, with goals for their department and the Fire Officers and Firefighters. Plus be responsible to teach our next generation the Pride and Traditions of our culture.
K. Doc Patterson, Chief Creative Officer, K. J. Patterson Doc started his career as a volunteer firefighter to career Fire Officer in Monmouth, Illinois. Doc served as the Director of Education & Media Affairs in the Chicago area. Doc has over 37 years in the fire service. Doc has taught many aspects of the fire service, from basic firefighter skills, instructor and fire officer development and firefighter safety. His specialty includes Honor Guard Development, American Fire Service History and Emergency Team Motivation. Doc Patterson is known for his contagious excitement and enthusiasm. His interactive experience will ignite your Phoenix inside! If you help people grow…You will rise to a new level in you life. The key is to move with determination, sense of faith, achievement and self-respect.
Doc has made three national television appearances, worked with the Professional Athletes, and is a nationally known speaker across this great nation. The Heart and Mind of a champion is in every one of us! Go for the gold in all aspects of your life! “May Your Spirit Rise… like a Phoenix from the Ashes!” Doc Patterson has a Degree in Fire Science; serves with the Illinois Fire Service Institute and his own consulting firm K.J. Patterson, specializing in personal & professional development for teams and officers in all aspects of Emergency Services.
Fireground non-cardiac line of duty deaths that involve some level of accountability failure are in the majority. We can, and must do better. This course will utilize case studies to identify the issue of fireground accountability as an important contributing factor in many line of duty deaths and offer realistic solutions to fire departments, volunteer, combination and career on how they can begin to address this issue within their own fireground operations. Establishing and maintaining effective and functional fireground accountability with a strong command and control system, establishment of identifiable and cohesive crews and good communications is well within the grasp of every department regardless of size or make-up.
An injured Los Angeles firefighter is taken for treatment following a house fire in July. His injuries were not life threatening. Photo courtesy firerescue1.com
Identifying firefighters in distress, and verifying their identity when located, is absolutely critical to functional accountability. Finding a down firefighter does not mean that you found the one who called the mayday. Case studies will show how failure to identify the firefighter(s) in distress, and then verify who was found, has led to tragedy. Many fire departments are considering the purchase of socalled wireless accountability systems built into their SCBA or PASS devices. These are great tools for some things, however, they cannot replace heads-up attention to who is doing what, and where, on the fireground. We will explain the difference between these systems and functional accountability. We will show you limitations of these hightech tools in hands-on scenarios, and show you how you can use them to your advantage.
Tracking personnel can be difficult, especially when mutual aid is involved, or personally-owned-vehicles respond to the scene. Who is keeping track of you when you answer the call? We will discuss the challenges that you face, especially issues associated with keeping track of personnel from several different agencies and response styles, and leave you with tools to simplify this challenging process. Lastly, we will discuss personal responsibility. Each of us has a responsibility to let someone know where we are and what we are doing. We will explore how you and your crew can stay accountable while you work, no matter how big or small your department is, incorporating proven practices into your on-scene work habits.
Chris Langlois, Midwest Fire Training Group, has 23 years of volunteer and career fire service experience. Presently he serves as a Training Officer with the Omaha Fire Department. His national certifications include Firefighter I & II, Instructor I & II, Fire Officer I & II, Driver/Operator and Incident Safety Officer, as well as being a NREMT-Paramedic. He holds degrees in Public Fire Administration and Executive Fire Service Leadership.
Captain Dan Millerhas over 30 years of volunteer and career experience. He is a Training Officer with the Omaha Fire Department and an adjunct instructor with Metro Community College. He is NFPA Instructor-II certified. Dan is an instructor with Midwest Fire Training Group.
Thriving on the Fireground
Are you Combat Ready?
Are you prepared to THRIVE on the fireground?
The Ready Position is a condition where the capacity and capabilities of the Fire Service Warrior are in an ideal state of potential energy. Whether you are sitting in the firehouse at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee at hand, or in the recliner at home with the pager sitting on the table next to you, hopefully you are ready to spring into action if the alarm comes in. If you are in the Ready Position you have mastered the physical and mental skills of the Fire Service Warrior, you are able to be 100% present when called to battle, you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to thrive on the fireground, and you have prepared for the unfortunate in case your next alarm is your last one.
Chris Brennan is a 14 year fire service veteran who has taught and consulted for local, state, federal, and international responders. His articles have appeared in numerous publications including Fire Engineering and Fire Chief. Christopher Brennan is the author of The Combat Position: Achieving Firefighter Readiness and the website www.fireservicewarrior.com.
Adaptive Fireground Management for Command & Company Officer
This highly interactive program will present insights into emerging concepts and methodologies related to the unique challenges during combat structural fire engagement that require new strategic, tactical and operational modeling due to extreme fire behavior, building construction and occupancy risk. Predictive Risk Management, Command Compression, Tactical Patience and Five-Star Command™ theories will be presented though interactive scenarios and group activities. This program will address operational considerations for command and company officers and will focus on various department sizes and organizational profiles.
Christopher Naum is a 36-year fire service veteran and a highly regarded author, lecturer, national author and fire officer; he is a distinguished authority on building construction issues affecting the fire and emergency services. He is a nationally recognized authority on command and operational excellence and firefighter safety. An Adjunct Instructor with the National Fire Academy, he served on the Board of Directors, IAFC Safety, Health & Survival Section and is the second vice president of the ISFSI. A former architect and fire protection engineer, he was the 1987 ISFSI George D. Post National Fire Instructor of the Year, is a technical reviewer to the NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program and is the Chief of Training for the Command Institute, a Washington, DC based emergency management & training organization. He is the executive producer of Buildingsonfire.com
Using the IAFC “Rehab and Medical Monitoring: An Intro to NFPA 1584” program, this presentation provides a realistic look at implementing rehab that increases available manpower, allows firefighters to work harder and longer with less injuries. Practical pointers for medical monitoring with examples of effective rehab programs will be provided.
Mike McEvoy, PhD, NRP, RN, CCRN, is the EMS Coordinator for Saratoga County, New York and EMS Director on the Board of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs. He is a Professor Emeritus in Critical Care Medicine at Albany Medical College in New York and continues to practice as a clinical nurse specialist in adult and pediatric cardiac surgery. Mike is a paramedic for Clifton Park-Halfmoon Ambulance, chief medical officer and firefighter/paramedic for West Crescent Fire Department. He is the FireEMS editor for Fire Engineering magazine, a widely published autheor and popular speaker at Fire, EMS, and medical conferences worldwide. In his free time, Mike is an avid hiker and winter mountain climber.
Things Every Firefighter & Officer Should Understand About Fireground Dynamics
This course will give an understanding of how fire effects both new and old style building construction and how it differs with the use of new and old building materials. The firegound personnel will have a better understanding what they are seeing in the fire environment. It wil be useful for the interior attack personnel, support personnel and Incident Commander regardless of their fireground experience.
Earl Rudolph has been providing EMS and fire service for 38 years. He began his career as a volunteer in Papillion in 1972 and retired as Training Officer for Fremont Fire Dept in 2010. He continues as a volunteer for Springfield Fire Department and part-time instructor for the State Fire Marshal Training Division. Earl became an EMS Instructor in 1975, opened his private EMS Training Agency in 1977 and has provided EMS and Fire training to many people throughout the years. Earl has been married for 36 years to his wonderful wife, Rita.
Eric Rasmussen began his volunteer fire service in 1968. He has served as Firefighter, Fire Chief, Training Officer and Board member for Southeast Rural Fire District. He is Firefighter II and Fire Instructor I certified. Eric worked for 32 years as the Training Specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service. In the mid 1970’s, he participated in the development of the Red Card certification system. Although he’s retired, Eric remains active at Southeast Rural, is on the Greenwood Rural Board and is active with NSVFA, Nebraska Fire Chief’s Ass’n and NSFSI. He’s also an advisor to the Southeast Community College Fire Protection program and is a part-time instructor for the SFMTD.
Russ Daly has been involved in the fire service since 1963, when he joined Ralston Volunteer Fire and Rescue. During his time at Ralston, he served as a fire fighter before becoming the Rescue Capt and later Fire Chief. In 1981, he began teaching with the Nebraska State Fire Service as a Full Time Instructor, and in 1986 became Director. He held this position until 1992. Russ is currently Board President of the Murray Rural Fire Protection District and serves as Fire Instructor for the Murray Fire and Rescue Department. Back to top
Fire Instructor I
This course is designed to give the student the knowledge and ability to teach from prepared, predominately skills oriented, materials. Areas covered include: communication, learning concepts, human relations in the teaching-learning environment, teaching methods, organizing the learning environment, records and reports, testing and responsibilities, teaching techniques, and use of instructional materials. An additional weekend of class (March 2, 3 & 4, 2012) is required to complete Instructor I certification. The second weekend will be hosted at the Kearney Fire Department Training Center. The required textbook for this course, IFSTA Fire and Emergency Services Instructor (7th Edition), will be available for purchase at check-in. Class Limit – 26
Bill Pfeiferis a Training Specialist for the SFMTD serving the Northeast region. He has been a full time instructor since 2001 teaching classes in Extrication, Haz-mat and Fire and Emergency Services Instructor.
Rick Grauerholz has been an instructor with the SFMTD since 1984. He is a 27 year member of NSFSI and has taught numerous times at the Winter Conference. Rick has been a member of Ashland Fire Department since 1972.
Michael Lloyd began his fire service career in 1980, serving with a variety of career and volunteer departments. He is currently a Station Chief with Offutt AFB providing structural and aircraft fire suppression in addition to EMS, HAZMAT and technical rescue. Mike has been a part-time instructor with the SFMTD since 1997 teaching Incident Command, Building Construction and Fire Instructor courses.
Dennis Baber (not Pictured) is a Training Specialist with the SFMTD.
Brent Doring (not pictured) is a parttime instructor with the SFMTD. Back to top
The Company Officer, Leading, Learning and Laying In
Leading, learning and laying in presents the three priorities of the company officer: leadership, training and critical decision making, using a “day in the life” format that can be applied the next day in the front seat of the rig and in life at the station.
This presentation is designed for both new company officers and the veteran looking for a recharge. The goal of this class is to distill these massive topics down and bring them together for immediate application. The result is a fast paced presentation of nuggets, plans and thought processes critical to success for motivating, training and working at the company level. The points shared were found both the hard way and given by those who inspire me. The program will be essentially divided into sub sections.
Leading – The first component of the class is leadership. When you step into the role of company officer your actions, words and associations are constantly being observed. If you are unaware, this will kill you. If you recognize this it will catapult you. I will show how to set the example by getting out of bed early to hit the gym to handling personnel issues with honesty and straight talk.
Learning- This section will provide training programs, lists of online and print resources, drill and lesson plans that are easy to plug into day to day operations. With the demands on today’s company officer it is difficult to do things right because so many administrative duties demand our attention right away. Training cannot suffer from this. This will save officers time by showing them ready made material for immediate use.
Laying In – There is too great of a focus on scene size up for the company officer and the lack of attention in scene set up. At some point you have to stop accumulating information and get to work. I present my scene set up thought process that “focuses on the firsts” First line, first search and first vent.
Lieutenant Brian Brush of Lakewood Colorado has 15 years experience in the fire service. Brian received his Fire Officer Designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence in 2010. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Fire and Emergency Services and an Associate’s Degree in Paramedicine. He has written for Fire Engineering, presented at FDIC, and is a contributor for www.fireservicewarrior.com
Is your team prepared to be first on the scene to handle an ice emergency?
Dive Rescue International’s Ice Rescue certification course teaches:
How to avoid becoming a victim
How to recognize ice hazards
How to evaluate ice strength
This program allows you to practice multiple ice rescues with victims who have fallen through the ice. Other program topics include:
Ice conditions and ice formation
Hypothermia & cold-water near-drowning
Equipment selection and rigging techniques
Operational planning and scene evaluation
Prerequisites – Member of a public safety agency and at least 18 years old. This program is designed for personnel who are physically fit. Participants are encouraged to participate after successfully completing the IADRS Watermanship Test or testing to a fitness level of 13 MET (Metabolic Equivalents) or greater. Participants with aerobic fitness questions or concerns should consult their physician prior to in-water training. Participants who have poor aerobic fitness may attend this program as surface support personnel with the approval of the instructor.
Ice Rescue requires the purchase of a student manual ($15). It may be purchased with your registration. Limited numbers will be available at the Conference. Also note, class is limited to 30 students. The class will be split in half for hands on work (Sat PM/Sun AM) to allow more hands on time. When you register, please select Ice Rescue AND a 4-hour class for Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Brad Thavenet is an 11 year veteran of Lincoln Fire Rescue. Currently Captain Thavenet is Water Rescue Commander for the department, member of NEFT-1, and an international instructor and author for Dive Rescue International. Captain Thavenet has presented at international conferences and has instructed classes to FDNY, Los Angeles City Fire, Canadian Fire Depts and many others.
Joe Vandenack has been a member of the Yutan Volunteer Fire Department for 13 years. During that time he has also been on the Emergency Response Dive Teams at Boystown, Ralston and Yutan, Nebraska. Joe has been teaching Dive Rescue International’s Ice Rescue Course since 2003. Back to top
Rapid Fire Extension is Evident due to the Unprotected/Exposed Framing
A three-story apartment building that was under construction caught fire late this past week durinfgthe early evening in Carson, California (LA County). The fast moving fire rapidly extended through an apartment building complex under construction and spread to a nearby mobile home park damaging at least 10 homes and forcing evacuations, according to published reports. There were no reports of injuries.
The flames engulfing the building site at 21828 South Avalon Boulevard turned the working construction site into a 3-alarm fire shortly after 17:00 hours.
Over 100 firefighters from 40 companies responded and worked the greater alarm fire, with rapid and effective fire control attained in short order in the early evening hours.
Construction sites, especially those with exposed phased wood framing pose significant operational challenges and demands.
First arriving response companies and command must quickly determine the size and magnitude of any rapidly advancing fire and efficiency determine an aggressive action plan that must be deployed rapidly while immediately considering the need for additional resources.
Normally, offensive strategic and tactical measures are highly ineffective due to the need to place operating companies in advance positions that may have high risk parameters subjecting companies to unacceptable safety risks.
The need for rapid and highly mobile hose line placement that must be sized appropriately with flow and delivery for the fire magnitude precludes hand line placement and results in the need to place portable monitors, deck monitors and elevated master streams into operation.
Safety and accountability are high priorities at multiple alarm incidents involving a construction site.
Aerial View of the Primary Fire Complex and Mobile Home Park Exposures to the right of the image
The blaze was rapidly progressing out of control when the first fire units arrived about three minutes after the incident was reported, officials said. The first-in company requested additional alarms due to the fast movement of the fire and its intensity.
The three-story structure had more than 100 units and was being framed. This open framing phase of construction is highly susceptible to fire exposure and ripid development and extension. The large volume of wood, coupled with the open spaces, allowed wind to blow through the structure and stoke the blaze, officials said. That radiated heat combined with wind gusts sent the fire into a nearby mobile home park. More than 139 mobile homes were evacuated. At least 10 homes in the park were damaged by flames.
The entire 139-unit mobile home park was evacuated after the fire and residents were not be allowed to return overnight. The other two senior living buildings on the property were also evacuated, but residents were being allowed back in late into the evening.
The total damage estimate was $3.1 million, with $2.5 million for the senior living center and $600,000 for the mobile home park.Investigators have ruled out arson in a fire that burned through part of a multi-story residential complex under construction in Carson, according to later reports.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department and the sheriff’s arson and explosives detail determined that the fire was accidental, although an exact cause will not be available, probably for several weeks, per the sheriff’s headquarters bureau.
Some Highlighted Operational Considerations (not inclusive)
Pre-Fire Plan Large Construction Projects
Understand the various Phases to a Construction Project and site and how they affect fire operations at the various stages; there is a difference
Identify and train for non-conventional Strategic and Tactical operational actions
Ensure predetermined multiple alarm resources are identified and greater alarms are established
Train your Company and Command Officers to identify correct IAPs and Manage Construction site fires
Maintain an appropriate risk profile balance with operational needs; with personnel safety being foremost
Clearly establish multiple Safety Offices and establish geographical resources within the incident management system for reconnaissance, communications, oversight and focused safety monitoring
Know you water supply and system capabilities and limitations
Determine fire flow needs based upon construction phases, as these change over time as the building goes up. Match fire flow demands with resource availability (time of day gaps etc.)
Identify exposures (Physical structures and Civilians) and ensure they are calculated into the incident action plan at the right time, before they become immediate identified needs or concerns
Companies shall maintain a conservative safety posture; this is not the time for overly aggressive firefighting- it is the time for smart firefighting that can be highly efficient with appropriate tactics and company officer supervision
Always consider collapse zones: partial or complete. Stay out of them! Be aware of your surroundings and maintain situational awareness
Respect the wind; it’s not going to help you
Consider current and projected weather conditions in your operational and tactical plans and assignments; plan ahead
Did I already say: Pre-fire Planning?
Be calculated in the placement of your apparatus, especially in larger scale incidents that are defined under greater geographical divisions; Think ahead
The fire usually consumes the available fuel load rapidly; going from a Huge fire, to one that is sometimes much more manageable; watch and control your exposures and degree of fire extension. Don’t help to make the fire even bigger through ineffective and dysfunctional command and control
Anticipate, Project, Plan and Engage
Respect the Fire: it’s not going to play by the regular rules of combat fire suppression and engagment as you would expect to find in finished and enclosed structures and buildings.
How prepared are you to address a rapidly developing fire in a building or construction site; as the first-due Company Officer or as the Commanding Officer?
Is your company, battalion or department capably trained and skilled to address this type of demanding incident operation?
Do you have any training or operational gaps?
Do you have any construction sites working in your first-due or greater alarm or mutual aid areas? If so, then – Maybe you need to do any pre-fire planning…..?
How much thought and efforts do you place on looking beyond the suggested “routiness” of your response operations? You know, the redundancy, routiness and frequency of typical calls you run, the types of fire you engage in and the manner in which your company interfaces with the balance of the alarm response when working a job or multiple alarm operation. We talk about nothing being routine, yet we have a pace, a rhythm and regularity, a consistency that is predicatable yet, uncertain; expected but when presented; off-guard.
When things go wrong, they can go wrong at an escalating rate that may at times not be apparent. Think about the issues that affect Errors, Omissions, Unknown or Unrecognized Building Profile or Construction, Wrong Tactics, Lack of Resources, Dysfunctional Command, Inadequate skills, High Risk-No Value, Situational Awareness failure, Command Compression, Tactical Entertainment…
From a company level, what are your concerns related to the routiness or regularity of your operations?
How would you relate to the fact that: “It’s NOT always business as usual”.
The complexities of the modern and evolving fireground demand an understanding of the building-occupancy relationships and the integral functionals related to;
construction and systems,
predictive occupacny performance
occupancy profile risk
fire dynamics and fire behavior,
fluid and adaptive incident command management,
diligent company level supervision and
task level company competencies,
exceptional individual skills
Without the sum of these; You are derelict and negligent and “not “everyone may be going home”.
How much knowledge and formal training have you had as a Commanding Officer or Company Officer on Building Construction?
Are your strategic plans and tactics aligned with Occupancy Risk and projected Building Performance, company capabilities and the fire dynamics?
There’s a lot that can be gleaned from your surroundings on any given day. We sometimes take for granted the subtle changes that are happening all around us as we take care of business on our rounds, runs and calls. We tend to focus in on the immediacy of the events that are happening in front of us that demand our attention but fail to take a look around to pick up on information, data and insights that can help us on that next run or down the road in the future.
Take a look at the construction that might be going up in your areas. I’m certain you’re paying close attention to what’s happening in your first-due, but what about that third-due area, that neighboring jurisdiction or the mutual-aid area that you occasionally run in to? When you’re on that next EMS run or an investigation of an odor or alarm bells service call, take a few extra minutes to walk through the occupancy. Conduct your own mini company level pre-plan.
Look at the layout, features, access and construction features. If you have a chance, verify the structural support systems employed by the building for the floor and roof systems. If you have time, take the company on a quick site visit to that building that’s under construction or the renovations that are again underway in that commercial or business occupancy around the corner from quarters.
These continuing challenging economic times places a great deal of influence on what’s being built, how it might be constructed, the manner in which a building may be operational one day, vacant the other and under renovation the next. Sometimes these transformations occur literally overnight.
Are you making plans to attend the newest premiere training conference, offering the latests in integrated eMedia, interactive classroom and hands-on training, education and networking? The Buildingsonfire.com family ( consistings of CommandSafety.com, TheCompanyOfficer.com, Taking it to the Streets Radio and Buildingsonfire.com) will be presenting two cutting edge and timely programs at both the Gateway Midwest Fire and leadership Training Conferenceon
This session will present the new rules of combat structural fire engagement and provide insights into integrated command and operational risk management, tactical safety and tactical protocols based on occupancy risks versus occupancy type. Building and occupancy profiling requires knowledge of emerging construction methods, features, systems and components. Coupled with the increasing commonality of extreme fire behavior and the increased fire load package, these factors require new skill sets in reading the building and implementing predictive occupancy profiling to determine appropriate tactics for firefighters, company and command officers.
The class will examine case studies, history-repeating events, the latest testing and research findings on vent path theory, fire behavior, structural system integrity, wind driven fire theory and fire suppression theory, and engage students through interactive exercises and group discussions.
And John Shafer
Lieutenant and Training Officer, Greencastle (IN) Fire Department
Today’s buildings and occupancies continue to present unique challenges to command and operating companies during combat structural fire engagement. Building and occupancy profiling, identifying occupancy risk versus occupancy type, emerging construction methods, features, systems and components coupled with the increasing commonality of extreme fire behavior and the increased fire load package require new skill sets in reading the building and implementing predictive occupancy profiling for firefighters, company and command officers. Integral to the presentation will be detailed discussions on building and structural system placarding methods and labeling programs.
Hands-On Training, Leadership/Strategy Workshops, Inspiring Education & Networking in the Midwest
October 21 – 23, 2011 | St. Charles, MO
Three packed days of top-notch education on leadership, strategy/tactics & professional growth with big name and fresh faces, multiple hands-on training by Brotherhood Instructors, pre-conference workshops featuring Tim Sendelbach & Rich Gasaway, social & networking events, inspiring keynotes, open discussions and more.
Check out the podcast program on the New Fire Ground on Taking it to the Streets
Take a run over to FirefighterNetcast.com and Taking it to the Streets and download the recent program that provided and insightful look and discussion of the New Fire Groundand the issues affecting the First-Due Officer and Command…which was hosted by our own Christopher Naum and two nationally renowned and highly regarded fire officers, instructors and innovators.Both Divison Chief Ed Hadfield (CA) and Deputy Chief Jason Hoevelmann (MO) are speakers at the Gateway Midwest Fire & Leadership Training Conference brought to you by Go Forward Training and coming to the St. Charles/St.Louis, Missouri metro area on October 21-23. 2011.
Education and experience are important, but both must be updated throughout your fire service career
Credentials vs. Competence
Education and experience are important, but both must be updated throughout your fire service career
What’s most important: certification or competence? Throw this question out on the firehouse kitchen table, sit back and wait for the fireworks. The school of hard knocks and the ivory tower of academia represent two ends of a spectrum. But education and experience aren’t mutually exclusive; in fact, they’re synergistic. Together, each is more powerful than either is alone.
Push the question up the chain of command, and the kitchen-table fireworks become heavy artillery: Does the chief fire officer (CFO) designation or the executive fire officer (EFO) credential make for a better chief? The paper chase seems to accelerate with rank. So what gives? Do certifications and credentials matter? Obviously human resource directors place a great deal of value on the initials after a name—but do they really matter?
Kevin Milan poses these questions and provides some exceptional insights in his article; Credentials vs. Competence. For the complete article, link HERE
First-due company operations have a wide variation of considerations and demands that must be readily identified, rapidly assessed and effectively acted upon through concise and direct orders.
Arrivals and subsequent deployments during night time periods pose ever increasing challenges to arriving officers in the ability to ascertain and recognize factors that will have a direct or ancillary affect in the developing incident action plan, tactics and task assignments.
Night time operations at structure fires, especially those with heavy fire involvement upon arrival can mask or conceal critical operational or safety considerations, developing or progressing smoke conditions that may be missed due to darkness as well as other occupancy risk profiling considerations or civilians in distress or entrapment.
Rapidly escalating or deteriorating conditions coupled with conflicting or concurrent operational demands (rescue and suppression) with limitations imposed due to staffing levels further exasperates the need for the company or command officer to maintain acute situational awareness, implement effective scene scanning , recon, the 360 and assimilate all available information and presumptions that can be made into orders and assignments.
This edition of Ten Minutes in the Street TM is looking at the considerations for the first-due engine company upon arrival at a well involved single family residential house fire. Take a look at the physical layout and arrangement of the incident scene and the primary house fire and exposures.
Take some time to look at the accompanying video clip. The video clip was compliments of our good friend FF David Stacy an intern with the IAFC and a member of College Park Station 12 (MD).
This scenario makes use of [the] fireground video clip and subsequent pictorials for representive example purposes only and are not intended to recreate or critique the events depicted in this video or in the operations shown.
Here are some considerations to talk and discuss in a group setting. Deliberate and debate the operational issues, roles and responsibilities, safety considerations, as well as tactical deployment demands and incident priorities.Address through your discussions the requirements that are imposed upon your selected or suggested actions based on your company, departments or agency SOP/SOG or expectations.
You can discuss this event using the following criteria in any combination;
Building:Single Family Residential, two stories
Profile:Built: 1986, wood frame with some engineered structural floor components, wood siding, full basement
Size:1,764 square feet, three bedroom, 2.5 baths, large sun room and pool on Division 3
Occupancy:Occupied at the time of fire discovery
District:(You select) Fully hydrant water supply or limited
Arrival with Engine and Truck Company: Staffing four each
Arrival with Engine Company only with staffing of four (or based upon your staffing levels)
Arrival with two Engine companies: Staffing based upon your staffing levels
Street Side from the curb (Google Street View)Division Alpha view
Discussion Points and Questions;
What are the immediate priorities and operational considerations?
What are the primary considerations that the company officer must consider and why?
What factors must be identified and considered in order to implement your IAP?
What can be expected as the incident progresses in the next ten minutes of elapsed time?
What is the Building and Occupancy Profile?
Should a 360 be implemented: if so why and by whom?
What is mission critical upon arrival at a well involved structure fire especially when it involves a residential structure at night?
What impact on tactical operations will time of night have on the IAP?
Based upon your staffing levels what can be realistically assigned? Why?
Identify some of the operational safety concerns evident or assumed that must be recognized and considered?
What affect will the building structure and degree of fire involvement have on incident operations?
What are the expected (sustained) fire flow rates that will be required?
What are the resource needs; now or later?
What should be considered if there are escalating exposure issues or extension?
October 21 – 23, 2011 | St. Charles, Missouri Join Us at Our Inaugural Event!: Featuring three packed days of hands-on training, top notch education with big names and fresh faces, pre-conference workshops, social events, open discussions and more. • Get the Details & Register
November 4-6, 2011 | King of Prussia, PA
Three days of top notch hands-on training, a comprehensive educational program featuring top names and fresh faces, pre-conference workshops, social events, open discussions and more. • Get the Details & Register
Tonight on Firefighternetcast.com; Taking it to the Streets-The New Fire Ground and the First-Due
The New Fire Ground and the First-Due
Join in tonight at 9pm ET for another special and exciting program continuing our series discussion on the Emerging Tactical Renaissance in the Fire Service.
Taking it to the StreetsTM, radio program hosted by highly regarded national instructor, author, lecturer and fire officer Christopher Naum, continues to provide provocative insights and dynamic discussions with leading national fire service leaders and guests on important issues affecting the American Fire Service with applications internationally within the tradition and brotherhood of the Fire Service.
This edition of Taking it to the StreetsTM the program will be looking at the New Fire Ground and the First-Due
Incorporating and facilitating the latest training delivery concepts and methodologies and integrating current and emerging technology, social media platforms, eMedia and internet based content management material in order to provide unparalleled fire service curricula, training and education, The Command Institute, Buildingsonfire.com and Fire Fighternetcast.com will be integrating content across a number of platforms to provide you with supportive information and training that will ultimately integrate with the direct training deliveries at the conference.
Grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a special one hour program with Taking it to the Streets on FirefighterNetcast.com where we’ll be discussing developing concepts, methodologies and operational perspectives affecting today’s emerging and evolving fire ground and the new considerations for the First-Due with Christopher Naum and fire service leaders, Division Chief Ed Hadfield and Deputy Chief Jason Hoevelmann.
Join in on the live open discussion with other fire service personnel from around the country.
October 21 – 23, 2011 | St. Charles, Missouri Join Us at Our Inaugural Event!
Featuring three packed days of hands-on training, top notch education with big names and fresh faces, pre-conference workshops, social events, open discussions and more.
November 4-6, 2011 | King of Prussia, PA
Three days of top notch hands-on training, a comprehensive educational program featuring top names and fresh faces, pre-conference workshops, social events, open discussions and more.
October 21-23, 2011 | St. Charles, Missouri Bringing the Best in EMS Education to Your Region
We know budgets are tight, we know it can be tough to get approval to attend a conference out of state. The JEMS Seminar Series brings high-quality, high-impact EMS speakers right to you. Learn, Network, Share & Save!
First-due company operations are influenced by a number of parameters and factors; some deliberate and dictated, others prescribed and prearranged and yet others subjective, biased, predisposed or at times accidental, casual and emotional. For many of you riding the seat or arriving assuming command; you understand the connotations and implications I’m making here.
Here’s an excellent discussion and debate point to bring up, when time permits today or this evening with your company or personnel; one that leads to a multitude of viewpoints, opinions and divisions.
On the first-due; what are the three or four key parameters when confronted with arrival indications of a fire within a structure that define your deployment and transition into operations?
Now, before everyone gets worked up; we all realize there are numerous variables affecting key decision-points that must be recognized, imputed, synthesized , analyzed and decisions made, assignments formulated and the task deployed; this list can be long – very long.
However, giving a building and occupancy with indications of a fire within, what has your experience provided you with the KEY influencing parameters? Are there key factors, or are there “lists” of factors based upon yet another “list” of conditions. The question is rhetorical the answeres are not.
Is it occupancy type, occupancy risk, fire behavior or fire dynamics, time, risk, communicated information, past performance factors (experience), presumed or known life hazards, predicated building or system performance, crew KSA sets or other factors, etc? Does naturalistic or RPDM decision-making influence; is the deployment tactically driven or predisposed by SOP, SOG or personal attributes and biases? Safety Conscious or aggressively driven? You get the picture…..
Try to distill them down to three or four mission critical key issues (if you can). This is a great exercise to see what everyone else considers the key factors to be or should be when deploying and going into operations; sometimes it’s more complex than just “pulling the line” or getting in….
Take the time to use some critical thinking and don’t be subjective….think about the responses and ask why?
Modern incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past requiring incident commanders and commanding officers to have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity to fire behavior, a focus on operational structural stability and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type.
Strategies and tactics must be based on occupancy risk, not occupancy type, and must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and tactical patience orchestrated in a manner that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy profile and accounts for presumptive fire behavior.
Building Knowledge = Fire Fighter Safety….where do you fit into this equation?
The Waldbaum’s Supermarket Fire and Collapse FDNY 1978
The Waldbaum Super market fire, Brooklyn, New York occurred on August 2, 1978. Six firefighters died in the line of duty when the roof of a burning Brooklyn supermarket collapsed, plunging 12 firefighters into the flames. The fire began in a hallway near the compressor room as crews were renovating the store, and quickly escalated to a fourth-alarm. Less than an hour after the fire was first reported, nearly 20 firefighters were on the roof when the central portion gave way.
As an officer, you need to stay abreast of operational issues and situations in order to be knowledgeable and conversant with the variables that may affect company deployments and subsequent operations. The National Fire Fighter Near Miss Reporting System (FFNMRS) has a vast collection of resources that are a few keystrokes and links away.
One of the most useful tools in the FFNMRS Tool Box of resources is the Near-Miss Report of the Week (ROTW). The direct link to the page is here.
Take some time to look over the content and subject matter available to you in the form of the weekly publication. The information provides insights and examples of situational near miss events and close calls that provide the lessons learned so that, when confronted with similar precursors or subtle indications, you may be able to draw from the ROTW and the from the lessons and insights of other Near Miss Reports that may prevent a similar close-call/near miss event or from escalating into a more serious event.
Take the time to review the ROTW, sign up for the weekly email delivery and most importantly- read the reports and integrate them into your training, drills, discussions, tabletops, chalk board or podcast talks. Get the FFNMRS reports embedded into your psyche.
Here’s what was sent out this week….
Multiple units responding to the same incident from different directions creates the potential for unscheduled arrivals at intersecting points. These points are most frequently intersections that are in one form or another controlled by devices ranging from stop signs to traffic lights. In this week’s ROTW, report 11-179, reminds us that a green light does not necessarily guarantee the way is safe to proceed.
[ ] Brackets denote reviewer de-identification.
“A municipal ALS equipped engine and a third service county ALS ambulance were dispatched by the same dispatch, on the same radio channel, to a local park for a trauma patient. While enroute, and less than two miles from our station, we approached a heavy traffic intersection, which is blind to the south side. Upon approach, the [brand deleted] signal preemption system (which both the engine and ambulance are equipped with) was delayed in capturing the light. The driver of the engine began to reduce speed and decelerate toward the intersection. As we approached the intersection we captured the light with the signal preemption system, giving us a GREEN light, but for whatever reason, the driver of the engine made a complete stop at the intersection. Just then the ambulance blew through the intersection, not stopping for the RED light. To our surprise, we didn’t hear or see this ambulance until they were in the intersection. Only because of the driver’s situational awareness and intuition (gut feeling) did we come to a complete stop to avoid a collision.”
Right of way rules, line of sight approaches, traffic light pre-emption devices and emergency response SOPs all support apparatus arriving at the scene of an emergency call. Despite all these efforts, human factor plays a role in the safe arrival of all units to their dispatched destination.
Once you have read the entire account of 11-179, and the related reports, consider the following with your colleagues.
Many departments now have specific rules requiring units to stop at all red lights during emergency response. If your department has such rules in effect, are there any other recommendations for intersection travel to consider?
The reporter states the driver’s “situational awareness and intuition” contributed to collision avoidance. How large of a role do you believe the two factors played? How do you promote/teach the effect of the “gut feeling” in your driver training sessions?
How often do you encounter intersection situations with crossing emergency vehicle traffic? Given your estimate, what is your assessment of the likelihood of a collision based on the frequency?
If your agency uses traffic pre-emptive signaling, how often is the system calibrated/fault-checked to ensure accuracy?
How many “blind side” intersections exist in your response area? What is the significance of knowing where they are?
Emergency response ranges from high frequency, high risk to low frequency and high risk depending on how many calls for service a department receives. Reducing the risk associated, whether the frequency is high or low is an essential element of keeping our promise to the communities we serve. Doing your part by keeping your speed under control and being on the lookout for hazardous situations like intersections, will promote getting you to the scene quickly and returning for the next run.
Related Reports – Topical Relation: Driving: Intersections
Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.
To Sign up to receive the Near-Miss Report of the Week by email, forward your request to email@example.com
Firefighternearmiss.com is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. Founding dollars were also provided by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. The project is managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and supported by FireFighterCloseCalls.com in mutual dedication to firefighter safety and survival.
We’ve provided some direct links from the ROTW webpage here, but there is a lot more on the firefighternearmiss.com site.
FFNMR – Report of the Week Archives [Direct Link, HERE]
Captain Araguz, a 30 year old, 11-year veteran of the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department made Captain in 2009. He lost his life while battling a multiple alarm fire a the Maxim Egg Farm located at 3307 FM 442, Boling, Texas on July 3, 2010. The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office issued the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report, SFMO Case Number FY10-01 that provides a detailed examination of the incident, operations and yeilds findings and recommendations. A full version of the report is available at the Texas SFMO web site HERE.
On July 3, 2010, Wharton Volunteer Fire Department Captain Thomas Araguz III was fatally injured during firefighting operations at an egg production and processing facility. At 9:41 PM, Wharton County Sheriff’s Office 911 received a report of a fire at the Maxim Egg Farm located at 3307 FM 442, Boling, Texas. Boling Volunteer Fire Department and the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department responded first, arriving approximately 12 minutes after dispatch. Eventually, more than 30 departments with 100 apparatus and more than 150 personnel responded. Some departments came as far as 60 miles to assist in fighting the fire.
The fire involved the egg processing building, including the storage areas holding stacked pallets of foam, plastic, and cardboard egg cartons and boxes. It was a large windowless, limited access structure with large open areas totaling over 58,000 square feet. A mixed construction, it included a two-story business office, the egg processing plant, storage areas, coolers, and shipping docks. It was primarily metal frame construction with metal siding and roofing on a concrete slab foundation with some areas using wood framing for the roof structure.
Captain Araguz responded to the scene from the Wharton Fire Station, approximately 20 miles from the fire scene, arriving to the front, south side main entrance 20 minutes after dispatch. Captain Araguz, Captain Juan Cano, and Firefighter Paul Maldonado advanced a line through the main entrance and along the south, interior wall to doors leading to a storage area at the Southeast corner.
Maldonado fed hose at the entry door as Captains Araguz and Cano advanced through the processing room. Araguz and Cano became separated from the hose line and then each other. Captain Cano found an exterior wall and began kicking and hitting the wall as his air supply ran out. Firefighters cut through the exterior metal wall at the location of the knocking and pulled him out. Several attempts were made to locate Captain Araguz including entering the building through the hole and cutting an additional hole in the exterior wall where Cano believed Araguz was located. Fire conditions eventually drove the rescuers back and defensive firefighting operations were initiated.
Captain Cano was transported to the Gulf Coast Medical Center where he was treated and released. Captain Araguz was recovered at 7:40 AM, the following morning. Initially transported by ambulance to the Wharton Funeral Home then taken to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office in Austin, Texas for a post-mortem examination.
Site Plan of Building Complex
Building Structure and Systems
The fire incident building was located on the property of Maxim Egg Farm, located within an unincorporated area of Wharton County. The 911 address is 580 Maxim Drive, Boling, Texas 77420.
Wharton County has no adopted fire codes, or model construction codes, and no designated Fire Marshal on staff that conducts fire safety inspections within their jurisdiction.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 Edition, is adopted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and is the applicable standard for fire and life safety inspections in the absence of an adopted fire code within unincorporated areas of a county by an applicable authority. All references regarding evaluation of the incident building in relation to minimum life safety requirements are based on NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 Edition.
Maxim Farm property includes 23 chicken coops known as layer barns that average 300 feet long and 50 feet wide holding between 15,000 to 25,000 chickens each. These layer barns inter-connect to a central processing building by a series of enclosed conveyor belts transporting over one million eggs daily.
The property includes integrated feed silos, water tanks, and waste management facilities. Additional areas on the property include equipment barns, shipping offices, loading docks, coolers, storage areas, and business offices.
Overall Building Description
The main processing structure was an irregularly shaped mixed construction of metal, concrete block, and wood framing on a concrete slab foundation with approximately 58,000 square feet of space. Three dry-storage rooms connected by a wide hallway lined the east side of the plant. A concrete block (CMU) wall separated the egg processing area from the East Hallway and storage rooms. Coolers were located north of the processing room with the loading docks along the west side of the structure. The loading docks were accessible from the processing room, Cooler 3, and Cooler 2. Cooler 1 was located at the north end of Dry Storage 2. A two-story building housing the business office was attached to the main processing plant at the southwest corner.
The building construction was classified as an NFPA 220, Type II-000 construction with an occupancy classification by the Life Safety Code as Industrial with sub-classification as special-purpose use. The Life Safety Code imposes no minimum construction requirements for this type of occupancy.
The predominant use of the building was to process and package fresh eggs for shipment after arriving by automated conveyor directly from a laying house adjacent to the building. The general floor plan of the building consisted of a large egg processing room, with surrounding areas used for storage of packing materials and two large drive-in coolers for holding packaged eggs prior to shipping.
Building construction consisted of a combination of steel and wood framing with a sheet metal exterior siding and roofing over a low-pitch roof on a concrete slab foundation. Structural elements within the interior of the building were exposed and unprotected with no fire-resistance rated materials applied. The load bearing structural elements consisted of steel beams, and steel pipe columns, with steel open web trusses supporting the roof structure.
Wood components were also used as part of the load bearing elements and wall framing.
Perimeter walls of the cooler compartments were constructed of concrete masonry units (CMU).
The building was not separated between other areas of use by fire-resistance rated assemblies.
Ancillary facilities located within the building used for administrative offices and other incidental spaces were constructed of wood framing with a gypsum wallboard finish.
Detailed Construction Features
The front of the structure faced to the south where the main entrance to the processing room and business offices was located approximately 4 feet above the parking lot grade level and accessed by a series of steps. The business office was a two-story wood frame construction with a vinyl exterior siding under a metal roof on a concrete slab foundation. Additional separate, single-story, wood frame structures with offices located to the west of the main business office connected by covered walkways.
The egg processing room was 141 feet along the east and west walls and approximately 100 feet along the north and south walls. The processing room received the eggs transported from the layer barns on the conveyer belt system. The room contained the processing equipment and conveyor systems where eggs were cleaned, graded, packaged and moved to large coolers to await shipment. The construction of the processing room was sheet metal panels embedded into the concrete slab foundation supported by 8-inch wide metal studs. Sheet metal panels lined the exterior and interior sides of the south and west walls with fiberglass insulation sandwiched between.
Main Processing Area
The north wall separated the processing room from Cooler 3 and consisted mainly of interlocking insulated metal panels embedded into the slab locked at the top in metal channels. Their interior surface was polyurethane laminate.
The east wall was mainly of concrete block (CMU) construction. A USDA office and a mechanics room were accessed through doors in the east wall of the processing room. The northeast corner of the processing room extended into the north end of the east hallway, forming an 18 feet by 18 feet area with wood frame construction on a concrete stem wall with fiber cement board (Hardy board) and metal panel siding. A 6-feet wide opening between the processing and dry-storage areas with a vinyl strip door allowed unrestricted access.
Along the south wall of the processing room, a walkway between the processing equipment and exterior wall led to swinging double doors at the southeast corner to enter into Dry Storage 3. Conveyors carried the eggs from the north and south layer barns through openings in the walls of the extension of the processing room. The conveyors from the north and south layer barns entered the building suspended overhead. As the conveyors approached the entrance to the main processing room, they gradually descended to 3.5 feet above floor level and were supported by metal brackets attached to the floor. Electric drive motors attached to the conveyors at several points along their lengths to power their movement.
The roof consisted of steel columns and girders with metal panel roofing attached to metal purlins supported by steel rafters. Wire mesh supported fiberglass insulation under the roof deck. The roof gable was oriented north to south.
The plant included three dry-storage rooms along the eastern side of the building connected by an east hallway. Dry Storage 1 and Dry Storage 2 were located in the northeast corner of the plant under a common sloping metal roof. The dry-storage rooms held pallets of containers including polystyrene egg crates, foam egg cartons, pulp egg cartons, and cardboard boxes.
Dry Storage 1 was approximately 123 feet long and 50 feet wide and was 4 feet below the grade of the rest of the plant. It was added to the east side of Dry Storage 2 in 2008. Dry Storage 1 was a concrete slab and 4-feet high concrete half wall topped with wood framing and metal siding. The metal roof sloped from 11 feet high above the west side to 10 feet high above the east wall. The roof attached to 2 inch x 8 inch wood joists supported by two rows of steel support columns and steel girders. The two rows of seven columns were oriented in a north-south direction.
A concrete ramp at the south end facilitated access to the East Hallway and Dry Storage 2 and the main level of the processing room. A concrete ramp at the northeast corner of Dry Storage 1 provided access to the rear loading dock. The rear dock was secured on the interior at the top of the ramp by a wood frame and metal double door with a wooden cross member and a chain and padlock. An additional wood frame and screened double door secured on the interior.
The conveyor belt from the north layer barns ran the length of the west side of Dry Storage 1 where it turned to the west, crossing Dry Storage 2 and the East Hallway into the main processing room.
Dry Storage 1 contained 29 rows of pallets, seven to eight pallets deep, of mainly Styrofoam egg crates stacked between 7 and 10 feet high, depending on their location. Corridors between the rows were maintained to provide access to the pallets with an electric forklift. Fluorescent light fixtures attached to the wood rafters in rows north to south with their conductors in PVC conduit. Skylights spaced evenly above the west side allowed for natural light. Pallets of stock material were single stacked below the locations of the light fixtures to keep clearance and prevent damage.
Dry Storage 2, located west of and 4 feet above Dry Storage 1, stored pallets of flattened cardboard box stock. The room was approximately 81 feet long and 40 feet wide. The south wall was the processing room extension and was approximately 25 feet long. The east side of the room was open to Dry Storage 1 with 4 inch x 4 inch unprotected wood studs spaced unevenly from 4 feet to 9 feet, supporting the metal roof. The west wall was CMU construction and was the exterior wall of Cooler 3. The metal roof sloped from the top of the west wall approximately 12 feet high to approximately 11 feet above the east side.
The room was accessed from the south end at the top of the ramp leading down into Dry Storage 1. Pallets of folded cardboard boxes were stacked along the entire length of the west wall extending 16 to 20 feet to the east. The rows of pallets were without spacing for corridors. One row of six fluorescent light fixtures attached to wood rafters near the north-south centerline.
The East Hallway was approximately 118 feet long and 37 feet wide running along the length of the east side of the processing room. The East Hallway connected Dry Storages 1 and 2 with Dry Storage 3 by a corridor at the south end. The East Hallway allowed access between the storage room areas and into utility rooms including the Boiler Room at the north end and a mechanics room and small utility closet. Pallets of polystyrene egg crates were stored along the east wall in rows of three pallets each. Seven pallets of polystyrene egg crates were stored along the conveyors.
The west wall was concrete block construction (CMU) until it connected to the extension of the processing area constructed of wood frame covered by Hardy board and sheet metal. The east wall was sheet metal embedded in the concrete slab supported by 2 inch x 4 inch wood studs with Hardy board interior. The metal roof sloped from a height at 12 feet at the west wall to 10 feet high at the east wall, supported by 4 inch x 6 inch wood columns and 2 inch x 8 inch wood joists.
Two conveyors entered the south end of the east hallway from Dry Storage 3. The conveyors ran parallel for approximately 80 feet along the west wall and entered the processing room through openings in the extension at the north end of the east hallway. They were 6 feet from the west wall and gradually descended from a height of 9 feet at the south end to 3.5 feet at the north. Each conveyor was 31 inches wide and combined was approximately 7 feet wide. Two compressor machines and a pressure washer were located along the west wall near the south end.
The Boiler Room, located at the northeast corner of the East Hall, housed two propane fired boilers, a water treatment system and two vacuum pumps. It was wood frame construction with metal siding under a metal roof on a combination concrete slab and concrete pier and wood beam foundation. A small utility room with service panels was constructed of concrete block on a concrete slab under a metal roof and was also located along the west wall of the East Hallway. An approximately 10 feet wide corridor connected the East Hallway to Dry Storage 3.
Dry Storage 3 extended south from the main processing room and East Hallway to the south dock area where tractor-trailers parked to unload the pallets of supplies. Two parallel conveyors suspended 9 feet overhead from the roof extended along the length of the east wall where it passed through the south wall toward the south layer houses.
The plant’s main power conductors entered the west wall of Dry Storage 3 from load centers and transformers mounted to the slab outside approximately 15 feet south of the main processing room exterior wall. Stacks of wood pallets were stored in Dry Storage 3. Corridors wide enough for forklifts provided access to the south cargo dock area.
Fire Ground Operations and Tactics
Note: The following sequence of events was developed from radio transmissions and firefighter witness statements. Those events with known times are identified. Events without known times are approximated in the sequence of the events based on firefighter statements regarding their actions and/or observations. A detailed timeline of radio transmissions is included in the appendix.
On July 3, 2010, at 21:41:10, Wharton County Sheriff’s Office 911 received a report of a fire at the Maxim Egg Farm located on County Road 442, south of the city of Boling, Texas. The caller, immediately transferred to the Wharton Police Department Dispatch, advised there was a “big fire” in the warehouse where egg cartons were stored. Boling Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched and immediately requested aid from the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department. Wharton VFD became Command as is the usual practice for this county.
Wharton Assistant Chief Stewart (1102) was returning to the station having been out on a response to a vehicle accident assisting the Boling Volunteer Fire Department when the call came in for the fire. He responded immediately and at 21:50 reported seeing “heavy fire” coming from the roof at the northeast corner of the building as he approached the plant from the east on County Road 442. When he arrived he was eventually directed to the east side of the building (D side) to the rear loading dock. Asst. Chief Stewart worked for several minutes with facility employees to gain access to the fire building before being led to the northeast loading dock.
An employee directed him on the narrow caliche drive behind the layer barns and between the waste ponds to the loading dock. Wharton Engine 1134 followed 1102 to the east side and backed into the drive leading to the loading dock. Asst. Chief Stewart’s immediate actions included assessing the extent of the fire on the interior of the building by looking through the doors at the loading dock to Dry Storage 1. Unable to see the fire through the smoke at the doors of the loading dock, an attack was eventually accomplished by removing a metal panel from the east exterior wall of Dry Storage 1 and using one 1¾”-inch cross lay. After a few minutes, the deck gun on Engine 1134 was utilized, directing water to the roof above the seat of the fire near the south end of Dry Storage 1.
Water supply became an immediate concern and 1102 made efforts to get resources for resupply. Requests for mutual aid to provide water tankers were made to area communities. During the incident, re-supplying tankers included a gravity re-fill from the on-site water supply storage tanks and from fire hydrants in the City of Boling, 3 miles from the scene and the City of Wharton, nearly 11 miles. The City of Boling water tower was nearly emptied during the incident.
The radio recording indicates there were difficulties accessing the location of the fire as apparatus were led around the complex by multiple employees. Heavy rains during the previous week left many roadways muddy and partially covered with water, which added to problems with apparatus access. In addition, fire crews were not familiar with the layout of the facility and there are no records of pre-fire plans. Asst. Chief Stewart worked for several minutes with facility employees to gain access to the fire building before being led to the northeast loading dock.
Wharton Fire Chief Bobby Barnett (1101) arrived on scene at 21:56:14, and ordered incoming apparatus to stage until he could establish an area of operations at the front, south side of the plant (A side). Chief Barnett directed Engine 1130 to position approximately 50 feet from the front main entrance of the plant. At 22:09:16, Chief Barnett (1101) established a command post on A side and became the Incident Commander; 1101 directed radio communications for the fireground to be TAC 2 and called for mutual aid from the Hungerford and El Campo Fire Departments. Chief Barnett described the conditions on side A as smoky with no fire showing. Light winds were from the east, side D, pushing the smoke toward the area of the processing room, and the front, side A, of the building.
Maxim Egg Farm Manager David Copeland, a former Wharton VFD Chief, advised Command and firefighters that the fire was in the area of the Boiler Room and should be accessed by breaching an exterior wall in the employee break area. Chief Barnett ordered Wharton crews to the breach attempt. Captain Thomas Araguz III, Captain John Cano and Firefighter Paul Maldonado were involved with this operation. The crews working in this area were in full structural personnel protective clothing and SCBA.
At 22:10, Command ordered Engine 1130 and Tanker 1160 to set up at the front entrance using Tanker 1160 for portable dump tank operations for water re-supply.
On D side, difficulty accessing the fire from the exterior of the building was reported by Asst. Chief Stewart and the crews. Heavy doors, locked loading dock doors and steel exterior paneling, required the crews to spend extra time forcing entry.
At 22:17:23, Wharton County Chief Deputy Bill Copeland (3122), once a Wharton FD volunteer firefighter, notified Command that the fire was now through the roof over Dry Storage 1.
Chief Barnett noticed smoke conditions improving at the main plant doorway and ordered crews to advance lines into the processor room. Chief Barnett stated he assigned Captain Araguz, Captain Cano and Firefighter Maldonado because they were the most experienced and senior crews available.
Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) was in place at the main entry door when Captain Cano, Captain Araguz and Firefighter Maldonado entered the structure into the processing room. There are no radio transmissions to verify exact entry times.
Captain Cano stated that an employee had to assist fire crews with entry into the main plant through a door with keypad access. Captain Cano reported the door to processing was held open by a three-ring binder that he jammed under the door after entry. Cano stated there was low visibility and moderate heat overhead. Captain Cano and Captain Araguz made entry on a right-hand wall working their way around numerous obstacles. The line was not yet charged and they returned to the doorway and waited for water. Wharton Engine 1130’s driver reported in his interview that he had difficulty establishing a draft from the portable tank later determined to be a linkage failure on the priming pump. 1160 connected directly to 1130 and drafted from the folding tank.
As the crew entered into the structure through the main entry door, several plant employees began entering into the administration offices through the area of the main entry door to remove files and records. This was reported to Command at 22:23 and after several minutes Chief Barnett ordered employees to stay out of the building and requested assistance from the Sheriff’s Office to maintain scene security.
At 22:31, once the line was charged, the two captains continued into the processor on the right wall leaving Maldonado at the doorway to feed hose. Captain Cano was first with the nozzle and described making it 20 feet into the building.
Cano states in his interview that he advised Command over the radio that there was high heat and low visibility, although the transmission is not recorded. Cano also reported in his interview, he could not walk through the area and had to use a modified duck walk. Cano projected short streams of water towards the ceiling in a “penciling” motion and noted no change in heat or smoke conditions. They advanced until the heat became too great and they retreated towards the center of the processor. Cano stated that they discussed their next tactic and decided to try a left-handed advance.
At 22:33, Chief Barnett advised, “advancing hose streams in main building to try to block it.”
Captain Araguz took the nozzle and Captain Cano advanced with him holding onto Araguz’ bunker gear. The crew advanced along the south wall of the processing room toward the double doors to Dry Storage 3 and lost contact with the hose line.
The investigation found the couplings between the first and second sections of the hose lodged against a threaded floor anchor (see photo) preventing further advancement of the line. How the team lost the hose line remains uncertain.
Captain Cano stated in his interview that Captain Araguz told him to call a Mayday. Captain Cano stated that he was at first confused by the request, but after some time it became apparent they lost the hose line. Captain Cano reported calling Mayday on the radio but never received a reply. Captain Cano now believes he may have inadvertently switched channels at his previous transmission reporting interior conditions. Captain Araguz had a radio but it was too damaged to determine operability. There are no recorded transmissions from Captain Araguz.
At 22:37, Deputy Chief Copeland advised Command that the fire had breached a brick wall and was entering the main packing plant. Command responded that there was a hose team inside.
At 22:42:50, Command radioed “Command to hose team 1, Cano.” This was the first of several attempts to contact Captain Cano and Captain Araguz. At 22:47:17, Command ordered Engine 1130 to sound the evacuation horn. At 22:50:44, Command announced Mayday over the radio, stating “unlocated fireman in the building.”
Captain Cano stated in his interview that they made several large circles in an attempt to locate the fire hose.
Cano became entangled in wiring, requiring him to doff his SCBA.
After re-donning his SCBA, Captain Cano noted he lost his radio, but found a flash light. He remembered that his low air warning was sounding as he and Araguz searched for the hose. Cano stated that they made it to an exterior wall and decided to attempt to breach the wall. Working in near zero visibility,
Captain Cano reported losing contact with Captain Araguz while working on breaching the wall.
Shortly after he lost contact, Captain Cano ran out of air and removed his mask. Captain Cano continued working to breach the exterior wall until he was exhausted.
At 22:54, crews working on the exterior of the building near the employee break area reported hearing tapping on the wall in the area of the employee break room.
Crews mustered tools and began to cut additional holes through the building exterior.
After making two openings, Captain Cano was located and removed from the building.
Captain Cano reported that Captain Araguz was approximately 15 feet inside of the building ahead of him.
Firefighters made entry through the exterior hole but were unsuccessful in locating Captain Araguz. Cano was escorted to the folding water tank and got into the tank to cool down.
Rapid Intervention Crews (RIC) were established using mutual aid members from the Hungerford and El Campo Fire Departments. The first entry made was at the main entry door where Firefighter Maldonado was located. Maldonado was relieved and escorted to the ambulance for rehab. An evacuation horn sounded and the first RIC abandoned the interior search and exited the building.
A rescue entry by a second RIC was through the breached wall of Dry Storage 3. After several minutes inside, the evacuation signal sounded due to the rapidly spreading fire and deteriorating conditions. Two additional RICs entered the structure through the loading dock doors of Dry Storage 3. Chief Barnett states that there were a total of four RICs that made entry after the Mayday. After approximately 45 minutes, all rescue attempts ceased.
As the fire extended south toward Dry Storage 3, smoke conditions became so debilitating that Chief Barnett ordered all crews staged near the front of the building on side A to move back and apparatus to relocate. Command assigned Chief Hafer of the Richmond Fire Department to “A” side operations and defensive operations were established. Captain Cano and Firefighter Maldonado were transported to Gulf Coast Medical Center and treated for smoke inhalation.
Fire ground operations continued through the night. Captain Araguz was recovered at approximately
07:40 AM. Command transferred to the Richmond Fire Department Chief Hafer at approximately
07:56 AM as 1101 and the Wharton units escorted Captain Araguz from the scene. All Wharton units cleared the scene at 08:02 AM.
Captain Araguz was transported to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office performed post mortem examinations on July 4, 2010. Captain Araguz died from thermal injuries and smoke inhalation.
Findings and Recommendations
Recommendations are based upon nationally recognized consensus standards and safety practices for the fire service.
All fire department personnel should know and understand nationally recognized consensus standards, and all fire departments should create and maintain SOGs and SOPs to ensure effective, efficient, and safe firefighting operations.
There were several factors that, when combined, may have contributed to the death of Captain Araguz. It is important that we honor him by learning from the incident.
Water supply became an immediate concern.
Although there are two water storage tanks on the facility with the combined capacity of nearly 44,000 gallons, refilling operations to tankers were slow, accomplished by gravity fill through a 5-inch connection.
A fire department connection attached to the plant’s main water supply pump and plant personnel familiar with the system could have sped up the refilling process at the plant.
Most tankers were sent to hydrants in the City of Boling 3 miles away, which in turn quickly depleted the city water supply.
Other tanker refilling was accomplished at hydrants on the City of Wharton water system, as far as 15 miles away.
Fire protection systems are not required by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 Edition for this classification of facility. Fire sprinkler and smoke control systems may have contained the fire to one area, preventing the spread of fire throughout the plant.
Findings and recommendations from this investigation include:
There were no lives to save in the building. An inadequate water supply, lack of fire protection systems in the structure to assist in controlling the spread of the smoke and fire, and the heavy fire near the windward side facilitated smoke and fire spread further into the interior and toward “A” side operations. Along with the size of the building, the large fuel load, and the time period from fire discovery, interior firefighters were at increased risk.
Recommendation: Fire departments should develop Standard Operating Guidelines and conduct training involving risk management and risk benefit analysis during an incident according to Incident Management principles required by NFPA 1500 and 1561.
The concept of risk management shall be utilized on the basis of the following principles:
(a) Activities that present a significant risk to the safety of personnel shall be limited to situations where there is a potential to save endangered lives
(b) Activities that are routinely employed to protect property shall be recognized as inherent risks to the safety of personnel, and actions shall be taken to reduce or avoid these risks.
(c) No risk to the safety of personnel shall be acceptable where there is no possibility to save lives or property.
(d) In situations where the risk to fire department members is excessive, activities shall be limited to defensive operations. NFPA 1500 Chapter 8, 8.3.2
NFPA 1500 ‘Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program’, 2007 ed., and NFPA 1561’Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System’, 2008 ed. Texas Commission on Fire Protection Standards Manual, Chapter 435, Section 435.15
(b) The Standard operating procedure shall:
(1) Specify an adequate number of personnel to safely conduct emergency scene operations;
(2) limit operations to those that can be safely performed by personnel at the scene;
Initial crews failed to perform a 360-degree scene size-up and did not secure the utilities before operations began.
Recommendation: Fire departments should develop Standard Operating Guidelines that require crews to perform a complete scene size-up before beginning operations. A thorough size up will provide a good base for deciding tactics and operations. It provides the IC and on-scene personnel with a general understanding of fire conditions, building construction, and other special considerations such as weather, utilities, and exposures. Without a complete and accurate scene size-up, departments will have difficulty coordinating firefighting efforts.
Fireground Support Operations 1st Edition, IFSTA, Chapter 10 Fundamentals of Firefighting Skills,
NFPA/IAFC, 2004, Chapter 2
The Incident Commander failed to maintain an adequate span of control for the type of incident. Safety, personnel accountability, staging of resources, and firefighting operations require additional supervision for the scope of incident. Radio recordings and interview statements indicate the IC performing several functions including: Command, Safety, Staging, Division A Operations, Interior Operations and Scene Security.
Recommendation: Incident Commanders should maintain an appropriate span of control and assign additional personnel to the command structure as needed. Supervisors must be able to adequately supervise and control their subordinates, as well as communicate with and manage all resources under their supervision. In ICS, the span of control of any individual with incident management supervisory responsibility should range from three to seven subordinates, with five being optimal. The type of incident, nature of the tasks, hazards and safety factors, and distances between personnel and resources all influence span-of-control considerations.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Federal Emergency Management Agency Incident Command Systems http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/ICSpopup.htm#item5 NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, Chapter 8, 2007 ed.
The interior fire team advanced into the building prior to the establishment of a rapid intervention crew (RIC).
Recommendation: Fire Departments should develop written procedures that comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Final Rule, 29 CFR Section 1910.134 (g) (4) requiring at least two fire protection personnel to remain located outside the IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life or Health) atmosphere to perform rescue of the fire protection personnel inside the IDLH atmosphere. One of the outside fire protection personnel must actively monitor the status of the inside fire protection personnel and not be assigned other duties. NFPA 1500 8.8.7 At least one dedicated RIC shall be standing by with equipment to provide for the rescue of members that are performing special operations or for members that are in positions that present an immediate danger of injury in the event of equipment failure or collapse.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Respiratory Protection Standard, CFR 1910.134 (g) (4); Texas Commission on Fire Protection Standards §435.17 – Procedures for Interior Structure Fire Fighting (2-in/2-out rule) NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, Chapter 8, 2007 ed. NFPA 1720 Standard on Organization and Deployment Fire Suppression Operations by Volunteer Fire Departments, 2004 ed.
The interior team and Incident Commander did not verify the correct operation of communications equipment before entering the IDLH atmosphere and subsequently did not maintain communications between the interior crew and Command. Although Chief Barnett stated he communicated with Captain Cano, there was no contact with Captain Araguz.
Recommendation: Fire Departments should develop written policies requiring the verification of the correct operations of communications equipment of each firefighter before crews enter an IDLH atmosphere. Fire Departments should also include training for their members on the operation of communications equipment in zero visibility conditions.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Respiratory Protection Standard, CFR 1910.134(g)(3)(ii) NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, Chapter 8, 2007 ed.
The interior operating crew did not practice effective air management techniques for the size and complexity of the structure. Interviews indicate the crew expended breathing air while attempting to breach an exterior wall for approximately 10 minutes, then advanced a hose line into a 15,000 square feet room without monitoring their air supply. During interviews Captain Cano estimated his consumption limit at 15 – 20 minutes on a 45 minute SCBA.
Recommendation: Crews operating in IDLH atmospheres must monitor their air consumption rates and allot for sufficient evacuation time. Known as the point of no return, it is that time at which the remaining operation time of the SCBA is equal to the time necessary to return safely to a non-hazardous atmosphere. The three basic elements to effective air management are:
Know your point of no return (beyond 50 percent of the air supply of the team member with the lowest gauge reading).
Know how much air you have at all times.
Make a conscious decision to stay or leave when your air is down to 50 percent.
IFSTA . Essentials of Fire Fighting and Fire Department Operations, 5th ed., Chapter 5, Air Management, page 189 Fundamentals of Firefighter Skills, 2nd edition, NFPA and International Association of Fire Chiefs, Chapter 17, Fire Fighter Survival.
Captains Araguz and Cano became separated from their hoseline. While it is unclear as to the reason they became separated from the hose line, interviews with Captain Cano indicate that while he was finding an exterior wall and took actions to alert the exterior by banging and kicking the wall, he lost contact with Captain Araguz.
**Captain Cano credits his survival to the actions he learned from recent Mayday, Firefighter Safety training.
Recommendation: Maintaining contact with the hose line is critical. Losing contact with the hose line meant leaving the only lifeline and pathway to safety. Team integrity provides an increased chance for survival. All firefighters should become familiar with and receive training on techniques for survival and self-rescue.
United States Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy training course “Firefighter Safety: Calling the Mayday” Fundamentals of Firefighter Skills, 2nd edition, NFPA and International Association of Fire Chiefs, Chapter 17, Fire Fighter Survival.
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