Tactical Fireground successes are measured by the abilities, determination and fortitude of the Company and the leadership of the Company Officer to interface with the evolving fire conditions within the Compartment and Envelope of the Building.If the Company understands and knows the buildings and occupancy risks of its first-due; can efficiently assess the building and corresponding fire conditions and can
recognize hazards, risks and operational vulnerabilities; align tactical priorities and execute tasks with precision and proficiencies, then there is a high degree of confidence strategic objectives can be achieved and the incident mitigated with limited adverse collateral.
How effective are you as an officer?
- How about the other officers?
- What about the company?
- Capable, skilled, proficient?
- Does your officer and company take time to look over the building (interior/ exterior) once an incident, alarm or run is done?
Are you “looking” at key issues that affect the Building? Start reexamining the compartment and your company: risk and capabilities, it’s that important.
Analysis of Firetruck Crashes and Associated Firefighter Injuries in the United States
New study came out last month in the Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine entitled “Analysis of firetruck crashes and associated firefighter injuries in the United States.” The authors state that there are some 30,000 firetruck crashes each year and that it represents the second leading cause of death of on-duty firefighters. Their research indicates that much more emphasis is needed on improving seat belt use.
Take the time to read the report. Additionally, a timely video production on Company Officer Responsibilities, Shared responsibilities for Apparatus Engineer/Driver and the entire crew related to seat belt use, response mode, defensive driving and the need to arrive to make a difference…
Approximately 500 firefighters are involved in fatal firetruck crashes each year and 1 out of 100 of these occupants dies as a result of the crash. Despite changes in regulations that govern fire vehicle safety, the average fatality rate per year has remained relatively stagnant. Rollovers are the most common crashes that result in firefighter deaths (66% of all fatal firetruck crashes), and a majority of those fatalities were unrestrained occupants. Redesigning and improving firetruck restraint systems could reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur in firetruck crashes, but the restraint systems will only be effective if firefighters buckle them in while riding in the apparatus
Motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters. Firetruck crashes, occurring at a rate of approximately 30,000 crashes per year, have potentially dire consequences for the vehicle occupants and for the community if the firetruck was traveling to provide emergency services. Data from the United States Fire Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that firefighters neglect to buckle their seatbelts while traveling in a fire apparatus, thus putting themselves at a high risk for injuries if the truck crashes, especially in rollover crashes. Despite national regulations and departmental guidelines aiming to improve safety on fire apparatuses, belt use among firefighters remains dangerously low. The results from this study indicate that further steps need to be taken to improve belt use. One promising solution would be to redesign firetruck seatbelts to improve the ease of buckling and to accommodate wider variations in firefighter sizes.
Each year, an average of 100 firefighters die and 100,000 firefighters are injured in the line of duty from a variety of causes including, but not limited to, extreme physical exertion, underlying medical conditions, and motor vehicle crashes (United States Fire Administration, 2011). The United States Fire Administration (USFA), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, cites motor vehicle crashes as the cause of death for between 20–25% of the annual line-of-duty fatalities. Motor vehicle crashes are the second highest cause of death for firefighters. The leading cause of death is stress and overexertion which accounts for approximately 50% of the fatalities. Other significant causes of death in the dataset include: caught/trapped (10%), fall (5%), collapse (3%) and other (7%) (United States Fire Administration, n.d.). Firetruck crashes, although rare in comparison to non-emergency vehicle crashes, tend to have grave consequences for firetruck occupants and for occupants in other vehicles involved in the crash. Despite revising national standards to improve firetruck safety and reduce firefighters’ risk of injury and fatality, the annual injury and fatality rate has remained essentially unchanged over the past decade.
The USFA has openly prioritized reducing firefighter risk as its number one goal (United States Fire Administration, 2010), intending to accomplish it through injury prevention and mitigation strategies to reduce the total number of line-of-duty injuries and fatalities.
This paper investigates the characteristics of fatal firetruck crashes and identifies some underlying issues that may lead to increased firefighter injury and fatality risk while riding in a fire emergency vehicle. The data presented comes from two different national databases with varying degrees of crash-level and occupant-level information.
Analysis of Firetruck Crashes and Associated Firefighter Injuries in the United States REPORT HERE
Raleigh Rollover: This video was shot by the Seattle Fire Department and created by Nuvelocity for training, educational and safety purposes for the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indiana. We edited their footage into a dramatic and powerful story. http://www.seattle.gov/fire/ http://www.fdic.com/index.html
From the NFFF/EGH program: (HERE)
On Saturday, November 17, members of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Memorial Weekend Staff attended the Fireman’s Ball to present the Everyone Goes Home® Seal of Excellence to the department for its commitment to promoting firefighter safety.
“Under Chief John McGrath’s leadership, the Raleigh Fire Department has been a champion of firefighter safety and successfully has implemented the themes and concepts of the Life Safety Initiatives,” said Victor Stagnaro, director of fire service programs for the Foundation. “The department has focused on excellent customer service, professional service delivery and operational readiness through training and discipline. These characteristics epitomize the Seal of Excellence,” he explained.
A single incident reinforced the importance of fully embracing the tenets of the Initiatives. On July 10, 2009, Ladder 4, a tractor drawn aerial ladder, was involved in a single vehicle accident while responding to a report of a structure fire. Fortunately, there were no fatalities and all the members riding on the apparatus returned to work. Afterward, Chief McGrath and the members of the Raleigh Fire department committed themselves to preventing this type of incident from happening again.
The department sought out the best national training models to provide to its members. After researching the best practices related to apparatus driving, they joined forces with the Seattle Fire Department which was working on a comprehensive training program related to driving tractor-drawn fire apparatus. The result was an extensive training program for the apparatus drivers of the Raleigh Fire department and greater levels of protection and accountability within the organization. They also developed key points to remind all fire service members of the following:
- Safety is First
- Training is Essential
- Wear Your Seatbelt
- Control all Intersections
- Be In Control of Your Apparatus
- You Must Arrive to Make a Difference
The Raleigh Fire Department’s outreach did not stop there. In conjunction with the Seattle Fire Department, Raleigh chose to share the lessons learned and the heartfelt stories of the firefighters that were involved in the crash by developing a training video. Their willingness to openly discuss this close call took courage. But the lessons learned and the desire to prevent others from experiencing a similar event, perhaps one with a more tragic ending, took precedence. The Raleigh fire department pressed forward believing that the safety of firefighters is a crucial element in the culture of firefighting.
(Play from your Desktop – No Internet Connection Required)
» VFIS Online Training Center: Seat Belt Safety
Remembrance, One of Many Stories: One of the 343…
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 Collapse HERE
On December 3, 1999, a five-alarm fire at the Worcester Cold Storage & Warehouse Co. building claimed the lives of six brave firefighters who responded to the call. These six heros, The Worcester 6, sacrificed their lives to try and rescue two individuals who were believed to be trapped inside the inferno. May the Worcester 6 always be remembered; “Fallen Heroes Never Forgotten.”
Paul A. Brotherton
Timothy P. Jackson
Jeremiah M. Lucey
James F. Lyons
Joseph T. McGuirk
Thomas E. Spencer
Mission Critical Reports, Links and Reading for the Company and Command Officer:
- From last year’s posting and links at CommandSafety.com: HERE
- Take at look at The Worcester Telegram & Gazette which has an archived webpage; http://www.telegram.com/static/fire/video.html
- Derelict buildings marked after Mass. LODDs
- Haunting memories spurred Mass. chief to positive action
- Special 10 Year Anniversary Coverage HERE
- NIOSH REPORT HERE
- USFA REPORT HERE
- Esquire Magazine/Sean Flynn article:http://www.esquire.com/features/perfect-fire-0700?click=main_sr (Esquire Magazine)
- Reference Collection of Stories, Photos, Audio: http://www.telegram.com/static/fire/
- Photos: http://www.pbase.com/tomcarmody/wor
- Fireman’s Memorial: Worcester Cold Storage Tragedy: http://buildingsonfire.com/firemans-memorial-worcester-cold-storage-tragedy
- Additonal Photos: http://www.capecodfd.com/PAGES%20Special/Worc1.htm
- FD Web Site: http://www.iaff1009.org/index.cfm http://www.ci.worcester.ma.us/fire
The Perfect Fire
It started with a candle in an abandoned warehouse. It ended with temperatures above 3,000 degrees and the men of the Worcester Fire De- partment in a fight for their lives.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Additional References Related to Surviving the Mayday and RIT operations from 2011 Safety Week at CommandSafety.com;
Day Eight Plus One: Mayday and Rapid Intervention Realities: The Phoenix Perspective
- Fire marshal finds mistakes made in fatal Wharton County egg farm fire
- Raw: Aerials over egg farm fire
- Raw: Fire captain killed battling 4-alarm blaze
- Egg farm fire that killed firefighter ruled accidental
- Video: KHOU: Wharton County fire captain killed battling 4-alarm blaze at …
- Wharton, Texas Fire Department
- Chronicle: Wharton firefighter killed in massive egg plant blaze
- ABC: Firefighter dies in four-alarm farm blaze
A few days ago I posted an article entitled here on TCO: Front Seat Responsibilities; On Both the LEFT and RIGHT Sides, however the original article was lost as a result of the site’s melt down on Friday; thus resulting in the loss of the posting (which I didn’t save-anywhere).
Thus, we have a more subdued post and insights in response to the publication and media attention brought forward from Orange County (FLA) fire and Rescue with the release of a video clip depicting less that desirable defensive driving techniques and questionable public relations and sensitivity. The media clip shows Orange County (FLA) Fire Rescue Engine 58 while enroute to a reported MVA with entrapment becomes embroiled in a vivid example of fire truck road rage with a POV which almost contributed to an accident and loss of control of the apparatus and the potential for serious repercussions to the entire crew of the engine. The mounted dash cam within the cab of the engine captures the entire event and provides a shining example of what NOT to do while engaged in emergency response OR what to emulate in the form of company officer leadership.
In the video, the apparatus drive and the company officer can be seen tailgating a car and continuously trying to alert the driver by using the horn over and over again, even with the sirens blaring.
Fire officials said the apparatus driver could have veered into the other two lanes, which were open, to avoid confrontation, but instead he tried to cut off the driver of the car while dash cameras caught officer flipping off the driver.
The Orange County Fire Department said Fire Fighter David Jordan and Lt. Thomas Veal were caught on the dash cameras of the fire truck driving recklessly, hitting a curb and giving a driver the middle finger. FF Jordan, the driver of Engine 58 who had been with the Orange County Fire Department for 22 years, was fired and Lt. Veal was demoted.
The Orange County Fire Department stated, “If this car in the video would have stopped he would have no choice but to run the vehicle into the back of the car,” a fire official said. The Fire Department said it is apologizing for the bad behavior of the two firefighters. “It’s at the point where he put the community at risk and his crew,” the official said. A Division Fire Chief said it’s the closest thing to road rage he’s ever seen from a firefighter. “I don’t know what the actual road rage definition is, but would I say it’s overly aggressive? Yes. We’re not going to tolerate that here,” said Orange County Fire and Rescue Division Chief Brian Morrow. “(They’re) very, very lucky (it was) a near miss. They didn’t roll the truck and they never would have made it to the call.”
The video also showed FF Jordan running over a curb at 40 miles per hour and then the fire truck swerving back into the lane as it continued to respond to the emergency.
“We are very lucky for what we call a near miss. They didn’t roll the truck, and they never would have made it to the call,” the official said. There was a compliment of a four firefighters on the apparatus at the time of the event. Officials said the video also showed Lt. Veal not wearing a seat belt. This was the second time the company officer was found not wearing his seat belt.
We often talk about the responsibilities of riding the seat; which is typically in reference to the right front or Officer’s Seat. But in reality; Front Seat Responsibilities; On Both the LEFT and RIGHT Sides of the apparatus cab are paramount, integrated and shared. It is the ultimate responsibility of the company officer (assigned, acting or covering) to monitor, control and provide leadership in the conduct of all operations of the company; its crew, the apparatus and its subsequent operations and tasks.
It also is the obligation, requirement and duty of the Apparatus Driver (Chauffeur, engineer, operator) to operate, control and drive the apparatus safely with due diligence, defensively and conscientiously. What the driver does or doesn’t do will affect the entire riding crew as will the commissions, omissions and derelictions of the company officer.
It would be naive to think the occurrence depicted from Orange County Fire and Rescue is an isolated instance. This type of behavior and driving habits has occurred and is occurring in other organizations around the country to varying degrees.
Some under the radar and obscured; in others, obviously apparent and blatantly condoned. Just look at state and national firefighter injury and LODD statistics to see our track record related to apparatus response, operations and driving. More importantly; look at your own company, department or crew.
For the driver and officer of Orange County Fire and Rescue Engine 58; they just “didn’t get it”. In most organizations, the Company officer and Apparatus Engineer; “Do Get it”. The leadership of Orange County Fire & Rescue took prompt actions to address the seriousness of the issues resulting from this event.
Let’s learn from this incident, look for opportunities and ways to enhance and improve our Front Seat Responsibilities; from supervisory actions, accountability and leadership, to defensive driving, safety conscious behaviors and attitudes, safer emergency response methods and improved and directed responsibilities towards our entire crew and the public at-large. The next time you’re riding the seat or behind the wheel- think about what’s going on as you make your way in response to that incident or returning to quarters. What are you doing to maintain the safety of your company and contribute towards the safety of the public we are sworn to serve.
- The Front Seat Responsibilities are on both the left and right sides of the cab and must be shared.
- And, are also in the seats riding backwards (buckling up).
- The question is; “Do YOU get it?”
Links and Resources
It’s being reported that San Francisco Fire Fighter Anthony Valerio passed away this morning as a result of injuries sustained while operating the Diamond Heights fire on Thursday June 2nd. This becomes the second line of duty death from this incident that also resulted in the LODD of Lt. Vincent Perez. Anthony “Tony” Valerio, a 53-year-old firefighter and paramedic critically injured in the Thursday blaze, died at San Francisco General Hospital at about 7:40 a.m., city officials said.
San Francisco firefighter Anthony Valerio is the second firefighter to die from Thursday’s Diamond Heights fire. According to San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Valerio had “significant damage to his respiratory system” and burns across his body after Thursday’s fire. Valerio has burns to 12 percent of his body.
WKGO TV ABC7 reports that according to San Francisco Fire Deputy Chief Mike Gardner said most of Fire Fighter Valerio’s burns were from steam and not from fire, adding that the temperature inside the structure was between 500 and 700 degrees.
- link: Clips of SF Fire radio dispatch from fire
- Story: What happened: Inside the burning Diamond Heights home
- Logs show desperate hunt for doomed SF firefighters, HERE
Updated Sunday June 5
San Francisco’s fire chief says this is the first time in her 21 years with the department that two firefighters have died in the same fire.
Slowly and silently, Valerio’s body was wheeled to an awaiting van; the silence finally broken by the rain and his family’s tears. The pain hung in the air outside San Francisco General Hospital – a place that became a gathering spot for the hopeful. Valerio’s family and friends had been there around the clock since Thursday. Valerio and Perez were rushed to the hospital after the two were found unresponsive inside a burning house in Diamond Heights – a sudden blast knocked them down. Perez died late Thursday. From Reports published by WKGO-TV ABC 7 ; “It is particularly difficult, you’re mourning the loss of one and then to have another one very close from the same fire is challenging,” said San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.
Saturday was the first time Valerio’s doctors gave details about the uphill battle the 53-year-old faced – including the fact that he was in cardiac arrest the moment he arrived at SF General.
“Between all the injuries he had from the initial blast, the smoke inhalation, the fact that he had a really bad lung injury, which was precipitated by what happened on the scene, but we try to do everything we can,” said SF General Hospital Dr. Andre Campbell.
But in the end it wasn’t enough. On this day, the firefighter’s two families, his work family at Station 26 and his immediate family – realized Valerio’s 40 hour long fight to survive was over.
The fire department and the families have agreed to have a joint funeral for both Tony Valerio and Lt. Perez on Friday at Saint Mary’s Cathedral.
Previous postings from Commandsafety.com;
Updates from San Francisco;
- From KCBS: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/06/03/san-francisco-firefighter-remains-critical-fallen-colleague-mourned/
- New Photos; http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/photo-galleries/2011/06/02/firefighter-killed-in-san-francisco-blaze/
- From KTVU; http://www.ktvu.com/index.html
- Injured Firefighter Remains In Critical Condition
- SAN FRANCISCO: Raw Interview With Injured Firefighter’s Brother On Family’s Vigil
- SLIDESHOW: Images From Fatal Diamond Heights Blaze
- SAN FRANCISCO: Emergency Call Audio Reveals Desperate Attempts To Save Injured Firefighters
- One Firefighter Dies, Another Struggles To Survive
Coincidentially, we posted a remembrance to the DCFD Cherry Road Townhouse Fire and Double FireFighter LODD from May, 1999 that is worth another look as it has similar connotations related to fire behavior, flashover conditions and multiple floor level construction factors during initial fire suppression operations, HERE
The award recognizes Executive Fire Officer Program students for exceptional research projects.
Capt. Marsar’s project, titled Can They Be Saved? Utilizing Civilian Survivability Profiling to Enhance Size-Up and Reduce Firefighter Fatalities in the Fire Department, City of New York, was selected as the Executive Leadership Course award winner. The National Fire Academy said it was chosen from among the more than 60 Applied Research Projects submitted this year, the highest number in the program’s 26-year history.
The Executive Fire Officer Program provides senior fire officers with information and education on various facets of fire administration. After a four-year course of study, participants are required to complete an applied research project that attempts to resolve a problem in their own organization.
View Capt. Marsar’s project: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/pdf/efop/efo44310.pdf
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 the concept, research and application of Survivability Profiling with Captain Marsar and the manner in which it might be implemented in today’s emerging and evolving fire ground operational methodologies with Christopher Naum and this outstanding fire service leader.
STEPHEN MARSAR is a captain in the Fire Department of New York, covering in Engine Company 8 in Manhattan. He has previously served in Engine Company 16 and Ladder Companies 7 and 11. An ex-commissioner in the Bellmore (NY) Fire Department, he has certifications as a national and New York State fire instructor, NY instructor coordinator, and NY State Department of Health regional faculty member.
He serves on the adjunct faculty for the Nassau Community College, NY Fire Science Degree Program, and teaches for the FDNY and Nassau County, Long Island, Fire and EMS academies. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science and emergency services administration and is enrolled in the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy.
Taking it to the StreetsTM is a monthly radio show featured on BlogTalk Radio and is hosted by Christopher Naum and is a Buildingsonfire.com Series and FireFighternetcast.com Production, © 2011 All Rights Reserved
Join in on the live open discussion with other fire service personnel from around the country. Check out the latest downloads of recent programs in the archives by visiting Taking it to the Street’s webpage on Firefighternetcast.com or for program insights at CommandSafety.com.
Lawsuit revived against fire departments in firefighter’s death in 2002 house fire
A New York State appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the Manlius (NY) and Pompey Hill (NY) fire departments in the death of a volunteer firefighter battling a Pompey house fire in 2002.
The state Supreme Court Appellate Division in Rochester – in a 4-1 split decision – concluded the law granting personal immunity to volunteer firefighters does not apply to the fire departments themselves or to department officials.
The lawsuit stems from the death of Fayetteville (NY) Firefighter Timothy Lynch in a fire March 7, 2002, at a home on Sweet Road in Pompey. Manlius (NY) Firefighter John Ginocchetti also died in that blaze.
Lynch’s widow, Donna Prince Lynch, sued Onondaga County, New York and then county Fire Coordinator Mike Waters in 2003. The county responded to that lawsuit by suing the Pompey Hill Fire District, the Pompey Hill Fire Department, Assistant Chiefs Richard Abbott and Mark Kovalewski, the village of Manlius, the Manlius Fire Department, Deputy Chief Raymond Dill and homeowner Joseph Messina.
State Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood dismissed the claims against the fire departments and the chiefs in 2009 based on the immunity argument.
But the Rochester appellate court ruled last week that Greenwood erred. The majority concluded the section of state General Municipal Law granting immunity to volunteer firefighters in the performance of their duty did not apply to the fire departments or the department officials.
The plain language of the statute reflects the Legislature’s purpose in enacting that law was “first, to immunize volunteer firefighters from civil liability for ordinary negligence and, second, to shift liability for such negligence to the fire districts that employ them,” the majority wrote.
The court rejected the fire departments’ contention – and Greenwood’s earlier decision – that the law only allows fire departments to be held liable for volunteer firefighters’ negligent operation of motor vehicles. The court concluded the Legislature – in enacting the statute in 1934 – meant to expand, not restrict, the liability of fire districts.
“In other words, the Legislature sought to assure that there would be some liability on the part of the fire districts where previously there had been some doubt,” the majority wrote.
Justice Eugene Fahey, in a lone dissent, agreed with Greenwood that the immunity law applied to the departments and their officials as well as the volunteer firefighters. He concluded the fact the Legislature carved out a motor vehicle exception indicated the lawmakers’ intent was to grant immunity to the fire districts in the first place.
This is the second time Greenwood’s rulings in the case have been modified or overturned on appeal.
In 2007, Greenwood dismissed outright the Lynch lawsuit. But in February 2008, the appellate division reinstated the part that charged a violation of General Municipal Law and accused Waters of failing to comply with the state’s emergency command and control system.
The appellate court concluded then that there was an issue for trial as to whether Waters had a supervisory role at the fire scene.
The county responded to that ruling by suing the fire departments and their officials. The county contends that if there was any negligence on Waters’ part, it was less than that of the fire departments and their officials and those defendants should pay any damages.
Because there was no appeal of Greenwood’s separate decision dropping the case against Dill, he remains out of the lawsuit under the appellate court ruling.
- NIOSH LODD REPORT HERE
- A must read from Firerescue1.com from 2008 with original lawsuit details: N.Y. chiefs, departments, homeowner ‘negligent’ in 2002 LODDs HERE
- http://www.volunteerfd.org/article/400128/ (about the Fire)
- http://www.firehouse.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-39506.html (Firehouse.com Forum)
NIOSH REPORT SUMMARY
First-Floor Collapse During Residential Basement Fire Claims the Life of Two Fire Fighters (Career and Volunteer) and Injures a Career Fire Fighter Captain – New York
On March 7, 2002, a 28-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (Victim #1) and a 41-year-old male career fire fighter (Victim #2) died after becoming trapped in the basement. Victim #1 manned the nozzle while Victim #2 provided backup on the handline as they entered the house. After entering the structure, the floor collapsed, trapping both victims in the basement. A career fire fighter captain joining the fire fighters near the time of the collapse was injured trying to rescue one of the fire fighters. Crew members responded immediately and attempted to rescue the victims; however, the heat and flames overcame both victims and eliminated any rescue efforts from the garage entrance. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should
- ensure that the Incident Commander is clearly identified as the only individual responsible for the overall coordination and direction of all activities at an inciden
- ensure that the Incident Commander conveys strategic decisions to all suppression crews on the fireground and continually reevaluates the fire condition
- ensure that Incident Command conducts an initial size-up of the incident before initiating fire fighting efforts and continually evaluates the risk versus gain during operations at an incident
- ensure that fire fighters from the ventilation crew and the attack crew coordinate their efforts
- ensure that fire fighters report conditions and hazards encountered to their team leader or Incident Commander
- ensure fire fighters are trained to recognize the danger of operating above a fire
A report from the New York State Department Of Labor details several problems that happened the night of a fire that claimed the lives of firefighters John Ginochetti and Timothy Lynch. The Pompey Hill Fire Department was issued three citations for problems with training, equipment, and communication.
Included in the report was a detailed listing of the events that happened on the night of March 7, 2002.
7:10 p.m.: 911 receives call about a fire in the basement of a home at 2841 Sweet Road, Pompey Hill.
7:20 p.m.: Manlius Fire Department responds to the fire.
7:28 p.m.: The assistant fire chief on scene reports that smoke is showing in the first floor of the building and that the fire is in the basement.
7:30 p.m.: Firefighters enter the building through the basement and garage.
7:37 p.m.: Fire has burned for 25 minutes.
7:45 p.m.: Gino Ginochetti and TJ Lynch start to ventilate the roof. The assistant fire chief says, “Hang tight, the fire is pretty well knocked down.”
7:47 p.m.: Command refuses 700 gallons of water offered.
7:51 p.m.: Onondaga County Fire Coordinator Mike Waters arrives on scene. Waters broke out the windows on the east side of the building.
7:53 p.m.: A team enters the basement, then discovers that there is no water pressure in their water hoses. The pump operator discovers that the valve system has failed and water will not flow.
7:58 p.m.: Fire has been burning for 48 minutes with no water being directed on it.
7:59 p.m.: Waters orders three firefighters, including Ginochetti and Lynch into the building through the garage and onto the first floor. At this time, both Ginochetti and Lynch fall through the floor and into the basement. The third firefighter, Brian Stevens, tried to pull Ginochetti from the basement. He then had to back away from the fire, which had flashed over. Stevens received burns to the face. Mike Waters entered the building to try and rescue the men, but had to be pulled out when the entire garage went up in flames. Crews outside started to direct water into the area of the collapse.
The report also notes that there were several violations with:
-respiratory protection standards
-number of training hours for the Incident Commander
The direct cause of deaths for Ginochetti and Lynch was found to be a combination of a ten foot fall into the basement and the smoke and heat exposure to both men.
Indirect causes included:
-Command at the fire scene did not maintain communication with attack teams assigned to do interior attack. The team assigned to the back of the building did not maintain communication.
-Command refused the 700 gallons of water offered, and instead said that the fire was under control.
-Communication problems between the teams meant that one group didn’t know whether or not the other had entered the building.
-Command gave orders without knowledge of the fire or the building, although the home owner was on scene to provide the information.
-Pompey Hill Fire Department procedures were deficient, including backup and rescue teams.
On the most recent edition of Taking it to the StreetsTM we had a vibrant and insightful program in which we discussion some of the expansive facets related to the First-Due Officer. The discussion revolved around a variety of functional elements, traits, responsibilities and duties befalling the First-Due Officer.
Taking it to the Streets: The First-Due Officer
On Your Street, In Your City, Across the Country, Around the WorldTM
To listen or download the program, HERE
Regardless if you’re the First-Due Company Officer or the First-Due Commanding Officer, you have a tremendous level of responsibilities and the obligation to formulate and initiate immediate actions that require effective and efficient; identification, assessment, analysis and integration in the evolving fireground environment.
Or is it just; “pullin’ the line”, or “opening up” or “arriving on scene and assuming the command?”
The First-Due Officer has many facets, functions and pitfalls. Leadership, determination, fortitude, skills, resilience, strength, conviction, temperance, restraint and the courage to be safe are but a few of descriptors that define the role or could it be recklessness, ineptitude, incompetent, self-indulging, careless or dangerous: all in the name of tactical entertainment.
There are numerous avenues that a discussion can take when talking about the street level issues affecting the First-Due Officer. First and foremost, the First-Due Officer should have a solid foundation of requisite skill sets, knowledge and training tempered with experience and fortified with empathy and identification with crew and company integrity and safety.
Today’s First-Due Officer must perform smarter with increased perceptions, discernments and acumens with intelligence and wisdom that is drawn from further progressing and collective fire ground response and operational experiences. It’s no longer just brute force and physical determination that defines our fire ground operations, especially when we relate to the duties and responsibilities of the First-Due Officer.
Here are some things to think about today at the station, around the kitchen table or over a cup of coffee in the day room after your next alarm;
What defines the First Due Officer in your organization or company?
What effect and consequences does the First Due Officer have on Incident Operations?
- Is the First Due Officer defined by the level of aggressiveness they select and implement in their IAP on a consistent basis?
- Is there a correlation and parallel between Risk Management, Building Construction, Firefighter Survival and Aggressive Intervention that the First Due Officer must balance?
What is the Role of the First Due Officer?
- Strategic, Tactical or Task level Operations?
- Can they truly perform all of the functional facets required or implied by current fire ground operational models and practices?
- Can Risk Management really be implemented by the First-Due Officer? Is it being done in organization or company? Or is it just getting the “job done”?
- Company Level Crew Integrity and Safety & Survival
- Maintaining Fluid Situational Awareness
- Evolving and Expanding Operational Concerns
- Company Integrity
- Having Appropriate Technical Competencies, Knowledge and Skill Sets
- Confidence Experience and Operational Fortitude
- Abilities to Predict & Maintain; Focus, Forecast,
- Command & Leadership Presence in Strategic and/or Tactical deployments and Assignments
If you are an emerging, aspiring or seasoned Company or Command Officer;
- What are your First-Due Strategic or Tactical Decisions Based Upon?
- What is the Sum of your Experiences and Training?
- What Factors formulate your Risk Assessment Process & Action Planning?
- What is the Basis of your Decision-Making Process?
- What Do you really Know, Assume or Consider in the Buildings, Occupancies, Events & Incidents you interface with?
- Do “Fire Service Traditional Expectations” Cloud your Ability to “SEE” the Big Picture?
- What Defines you:
- Aggressive, Forceful, Dynamic, Influential, Passive, Conservative, Decisive, Measured,
- Leadership, Determination, Fortitude, Skilled, Resilience, Strength, Conviction, temperance, restraint and the courage to be safe
- Reckless, Inept, Incompetent, Self-indulging, Careless, Uncontrolled or Dangerous
- Are your deployments and operations Delineated in the name of Tactical Entertainment or Defined by Tactical Patience?
Remember this; It’s not the uniform, rank or helmet color that defines a person; it’s what you do that defines who you are.
- We must have the fortitude and courage to be both safety conscious and measured in the performance of our sworn duties while maintaining the appropriate balance of risk and bravery.
- The demands and requirements of modern firefighting will continue to require the placement of personnel within situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger.
- Adequately and Effectively Prepare yourself for those First-Due Officer responsibilities; you have a tremendous level of responsibilities and obligations, Be all you can be, your companies an personnel are counting on you.
Taking it to the StreetsTM is a monthly radio show featured on BlogTalk Radio and is hosted by Christopher Naum and is a Buildingsonfire.com Series and Firefighternetcast.com Production, © 2010 All Rights Reserved
On Your Street, In Your City, Across the County, Around the World; Tune in this coming Wednesday night to FireFighter NetCast.com and Taking it to the Streets for; “Tactical Renaissance and the Rules of Engagement”.
Joining Christopher Naum will be Chief Gary Morris (ret) Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department, Deputy Chief John Sullivan, Worcester (MA) Fire Department, along with Dr. Burt Clark from the NFA. We will be discussing the emerging Tactical Renaissance of Combat Fire Suppression Operations and the new Rules of Engagement. Don’t miss out for what will certainly be an insightful look at what the fire ground is transitioning to in 2010 and beyond. Join the live broadcast on Wednesday night September 22nd at 9:00pm ET, or download the post production podcast from Firefighter NetCast.com.
In the weeks ahead we’ll be publishing a six month schedule of upcoming guests and topics along within integrating post production podcast resources, training aides and supplemental reference links to make both the live broadcast program and downloads value added.
Taking it to the Streets is hosted by Christopher Naum and is a Buildingsonfire.com Series and Fire Fighter NetCast.com Production.
- Check out the IAFC Safety Health & Survival Section HERE and the newly published Rules of Engagement
- For additional Taking it to the Streets programming, HERE
- Firefighter NetCast.com HERE
- Taking it to the Streets for; “Tactical Renaissance and the Rules of Engagement” Show Link, HERE
Taking it to the StreetsTM On Your Street, In Your City, Across the County, Around the WorldTM ©2010
Houston (Texas) firefighters followed the “textbook approach” in fighting a blaze at a high-rise building on the 27th floor Monday night August 30, 2010 when a 4th Alarm was transmitted for operations at a high rise building fire, deploying nearly 175 firefighting personnel. Seven firefighters were injured with non life-threatening. A broken pipe hampered firefighting operations leaving companies without a water source for a half-hour before they could resume structural fire fighting operations.
The fire was located at the JPMorgan Chase building (formerly the Gulf Building) at 712 Main Street, a 36-story structure, which dates to 1929 and was once the tallest in Houston. Reports indicate the building was being retrofitted with a sprinkler system that had yet to reach the upper floors. Go here for a link to the building profile.
A Mayday call was transmitted due to a firefighter who became separated in a dark and smoky stairwell but was promptly located.
For those of you operating in response districts with low and high rise structures, how effective are your companies and are they adequately trained to address a multiple alarm fire on an upper floor?
- Highrise Office Building Fire, One Meridian Plaza, HERE
- High-rise Office Building Fire One Meridian Plaza Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1991, HERE
- LAFD, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – FIRST INTERSTATE BANK BUILDING FIRE, Here
- USFA Report TR-022 LAFD Interstate Bank Building Fire, HERE
- Cook County, Illinois Administration Building Fire, 2003,NIST Report HERE
- FDNY, New York City Deutsche NIOSH LODD Report outlines high-rise fire recommendations, HERE
- High Rise Apartment Fire LODD, Texas, 2001, HERE
- FDNY OPERATIONAL ASPECTS OF HIGH-RISE FIREFIGHTING, HERE
- An Examination of FDNY High Rise Operations and SOP as part of a Risk Management Plant for Operational HERE
Both the increasing demands on the fire service – such as the growing number of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responses, challenges from natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, and acts of terrorism—and previous research point to the need for scientifically based studies of the effect of different crew sizes and firefighter arrival times on the effectiveness of the fire service to protect lives and property.
To meet this need, a research partnership of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) was formed to conduct a multiphase study of the deployment of resources as it affects firefighter and occupant safety. Starting in FY 2005, funding was provided through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) / Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program—Fire Prevention and Safety Grants. In addition to the low-hazard residential fireground experiments described in this report, the multiple phases of the overall research effort include development of a conceptual model for community risk assessment and deployment of resources, implementation of a general sizable department incident survey, and delivery of a software tool to quantify the effects of deployment decisions on resultant firefighter and civilian injuries and on property losses.
The first phase of the project was an extensive survey of more than 400 career and combination (both career and volunteer) fire departments in the United States with the objective of optimizing a fire service leader’s capability to deploy resources to prevent or mitigate adverse events that occur in risk- and hazard-filled environments. The results of this survey are not documented in this report, which is limited to the experimental phase of the project. The survey results will constitute significant input into the development of a future software tool to quantify the effects of community risks and associated deployment decisions on resultant firefighter and civilian injuries and property losses.
The following research questions guided the experimental design of the low-hazard residential fireground experiments documented in this report:
- How do crew size and stagger affect overall start-to-completion response timing?
- How do crew size and stagger affect the timings of task initiation, task duration, and task completion for each of the 22 critical fireground tasks?
- How does crew size affect elapsed times to achieve three critical events that are known to change fire behavior or tenability within the structure:
- Entry into structure?
- Water on fire?
- Ventilation through windows (three upstairs and one back downstairs window and the burn room window),
- How does the elapsed time to achieve the national standard of assembling 15 firefighters at the scene vary between crew sizes of four and five? In order to address the primary research questions, the research was divided into four distinct, yet interconnected parts:
- Part 1—Laboratory experiments to design appropriate fuel load
- Part 2—Experiments to measure the time for various crew sizes and apparatus stagger (interval between arrival of various apparatus) to accomplish key tasks in rescuing occupants, extinguishing a fire, and protecting property
- Part 3—Additional experiments with enhanced fuel load that prohibited firefighter entry into the burn prop – a building constructed for the fire experiments
- Part 4—Fire modeling to correlate time-to-task completion by crew size and stagger to the increase in toxicity of the atmosphere in the burn prop for a range of fire growth rates. The experiments were conducted in a burn prop designed to simulate a low-hazard1 fire in a residential structure described as typical in NFPA 1710® Organization and Deployment of Fire
Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments. NFPA 1710 is the consensus standard for career firefighter deployment, including requirements for fire department arrival time, staffing levels, and fireground responsibilities. Limitations of the study include firefighters’ advance knowledge of the burn prop, invariable number of apparatus, and lack of experiments in elevated outdoor temperatures or at night. Further, the applicability of the conclusions from this report to commercial structure fires, high rise fires, outside fires, terrorism/natural disaster response, HAZMAT or other technical responses has not been assessed and should not be extrapolated from this report.
- Of the 22 fireground tasks measured during the experiments, results indicated that the following factors had the most significant impact on the success of fire fighting operations.
- All differential outcomes described below are statistically significant at the 95 % confidence level or better.
Overall Scene Time:
- The four-person crews operating on a low-hazard structure fire completed all the tasks on the fireground (on average) seven minutes faster—nearly 30 %—than the two-person crews.
- The four-person crews completed the same number of fireground tasks (on average) 5.1 minutes faster—nearly 25 %—than the three-person crews.
- On the low-hazard residential structure fire, adding a fifth person to the crews did not decrease overall fireground task times.
- However, it should be noted that the benefit of five-person crews has been documented in other evaluations to be significant for medium- and high-hazard structures, particularly in urban settings, and is recognized in industry standards.
Time to Water on Fire:
- There was a 10% difference in the “water on fire” time between the two- and three-person crews.
- There was an additional 6% difference in the “water on fire” time between the three- and four-person crews. (i.e., four-person crews put water on the fire 16% faster than two person crews). There was an additional 6% difference in the “water on fire” time between the four- and five-person crews (i.e. five-person crews put water on the fire 22% faster than two-person crews).
Ground Ladders and Ventilation:
- The four-person crews operating on a low-hazard structure fire completed laddering and ventilation (for life safety and rescue) 30 % faster than the two-person crews and 25 % faster than the three-person crews.
- The three-person crews started and completed a primary search and rescue 25 % faster than the two-person crews.
- The four- and five-person crews started and completed a primary search 6 % faster than the three-person crews and 30 % faster than the two-person crew.
- A 10 % difference was equivalent to just over one minute.
Hose Stretch Time:
- In comparing four-and five-person crews to two-and three-person crews collectively, the time difference to stretch a line was 76 seconds.
- In conducting more specific analysis comparing all crew sizes to the two-person crews the differences are more distinct.
- Two-person crews took 57 seconds longer than three-person crews to stretch a line.
- Two-person crews took 87 seconds longer than four-person crews to complete the same tasks.
- Finally, the most notable comparison was between two-person crews and five-person crews—more than 2 minutes (122 seconds) difference in task completion time.
Industry Standard Achieved:
- As defined by NFPA 1710, the “industry standard achieved” time started from the first engine arrival at the hydrant and ended when 15 firefighters were assembled on scene.
- An effective response force was assembled by the five-person crews three minutes faster than the four-person crews.
- Based on the study protocols, modeled after a typical fire department apparatus deployment strategy, the total number of firefighters on scene in the two- and three-person crew scenarios never equaled 15 and therefore the two- and three-person crews were unable to assemble enough personnel to meet this standard.
- Three different “standard” fires were simulated using the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) model. Characterized in the Handbook of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers as slow-,medium-, and fast-growth rate4, the fires grew exponentially with time.
- The rescue scenario was based on a non-ambulatory occupant in an upstairs bedroom with the bedroom door open. Independent of fire size, there was a significant difference between the toxicity, expressed as fractional effective dose (FED), for occupants at the time of rescue depending on arrival times for all crew sizes. Occupants rescued by early-arriving crews had less exposure to combustion products than occupants rescued by late-arriving crews.
- The fire modeling showed clearly that two-person crews cannot complete essential fireground tasks in time to rescue occupants without subjecting them to an increasingly toxic atmosphere. For a slow-growth rate fire with two-person crews, the FED was approaching the level at which sensitive populations, such as children and the elderly are threatened.
- For a medium-growth rate fire with two-person crews, the FED was far above that threshold and approached the level affecting the general population.
- For a fast-growth rate fire with two-person crews, the FED was well above the median level at which 50%of the general population would be incapacitated. Larger crews responding to slow-growth rate fires can rescue most occupants prior to incapacitation along with early-arriving larger crews responding to medium-growth rate fires.
- The result for late-arriving (two minutes later than early-arriving) larger crews may result in a threat to sensitive populations for medium-growth rate fires.
- Statistical averages should not, however, mask the fact that there is no FED level so low that every occupant in every situation is safe.
More than 60 full-scale fire experiments were conducted to determine the impact of crew size, first-due engine arrival time, and subsequent apparatus arrival times on firefighter safety and effectiveness at a low-hazard residential structure fire.
- This report quantifies the effects of changes to staffing and arrival times for residential firefighting operations. While resource deployment is addressed in the context of a single structure type and risk level, it is recognized that public policy decisions regarding the cost-benefit of specific deployment decisions are a function of many other factors including geography, local risks and hazards, available resources, as well as community expectations.
- This report does not specifically address these other factors. The results of these field experiments contribute significant knowledge to the fire service industry.
- First, the results provide a quantitative basis for the effectiveness of four-person crews for low-hazard response in NFPA 1710.
- The results also provide valid measures of total effective response force assembly on scene for fireground operations, as well as the expected performance time-to-critical-task measures for low-hazard structure fires.
Additionally, the results provide tenability measures associated with a range of modeled fires.Future research should extend the findings of this report in order to quantify the effects of crew size and apparatus arrival times for moderate- and high-hazard events, such as fires in high-rise buildings, commercial properties, certain factories, or warehouse facilities, responses to large-scale non-fire incidents, or technical rescue operations.
We’ve just posted Ten Minutes in the Street: Stretchin’ the line on the First-Due . Join in on the discussions and dialog on strategies, tactics, command, decision-making and firefighter safety. There’s lots to be gained either by active participation or side-line observations of the postings and view points from a wide lattitude of firefighters, company and command officers from around the United States and abroad. So don’t just sit there, get ready to stretch that line in on the action.
Check out other previously published Ten Minutes in the Street Scenarios HERE
These scenarios make for great drill topics, table top exercises and discussion points for all ranks and personnel
We seem to do a lot of things at times out of common practice and repetition, you know; “We’ve always done it that way….” syndrome. There’s a resonating theme that is making its way around the fire service dealing with going to a defensive tactical posture at vacant or unoccupied structure fires.
This command posture leads to limiting interior operating engagement, while promoting a high degree of risk management.With that being said, there are also plenty of opinions on these types of policies as such, since this type of tactical effort may be contrary to the local “culture and traditions” of the responding agencies and may be a hard pill to swallow, since we’re in the job of “ fighting ALL fires..” Please refresh your memories on a past post on Tactical Entertainment HERE and HERE
Here are some basic definitions to keep us all on the same playing field;
Vacant; refers to a building that is not currently in use, but which could be used in the future. The term “vacant” could apply to a property that is for sale or rent, undergoing renovations, or empty of contents in the period between the departure of one tenant and the arrival of another tenant. A vacant building has inherent property value, even though it does not contain valuable contents or human occupants.
Unoccupied; generally refers to a building that is not occupied by any persons at the time an incident occurs. An unoccupied building could be used by a business that is temporarily closed (i.e. overnight or for a weekend). The term unoccupied could also apply to a building that is routinely or periodically occupied; however the occupants are not present at the time an incident occurs. A residential structure could be temporarily unoccupied because the residents are at work or on vacation. A building that is temporarily unoccupied has inherent property value as well as valuable contents.
The question today is this. As a responding company, you arrive at the scene of a vacant or unoccupied structure. The building’s construction features and systems have inherent risk associated with the occupancy, (as is the case with nearly all of our structures and occupancies).
Your company determines that you’re going to go defensive, even though you probably could make a reasonably safe entry and engage in interior structural fire suppression.
Would there be any repercussions in your station, battalion/district/community or organization if you took this tactic? What are YOUR personal thoughts on this form of risk management?
The bells come in right after your last bite of dinner for a reported fire in multiple-occupancy residential. The building is located on a steep sloping road that you know all too well. The address sounds like it’s in the middle of the block and you start thinking about the other series of large houses located on the street and the exposure issues each provides. It sounds all too familiar, as you’ve “been down this road before”.
Check out the latest; Ten Minutes in the Streets; First-Due Triple Decker Fire Scenario on the Firefighter Nation, HERE. Get involved in the discussions and expand your insights and share your experiences.
Take a look at the othere series of past Ten Minutes in the Street, scenarios in the FFN, Fire Ground Tactics and Firefighter Safety Forums, HERE
How do you think these elements fit into the Big Picture during combat fire suppression operations at working structure fire?
What’s your experience gauge telling you as it related to these elements?
As a Company Officer it is imperative that you maintain a balanced operational safety perspective to ensure the safety and well being of your company and those personnel assigned under your oversight and management during incident operations.
You need to BECOME SAFE in the conduct of your operations during combat fire suppression missions.
Manage-Time & Elements
Assessment & Fluid Analysis
Fire Behavior & Effects
Evaluate & Execute
On any given day, at any give alarm, the dynamics around us at times may be in or out of our direct control. The ability of the Company Officer to identify and execute actions appropriate for the given situations and to also forecast, project and anticipate circumstances that may have less than desirable affects on the crews operations, integrity and survivability are paramount.
The Compay must have the fortitude and courage to be both safety conscious and measured in the performance of thier sworn duties while maintaining the appropriate balance of risk and bravery. The demands and requirements of modern firefighting will continue to require the placement of personnel within situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger. As a result, risk management must become fluid and integrate all personnel, with the Company Officer having the highest level of accountability and responsibility.
Dynamic risks must be managed at the company level with a balanced approach of effective assessment, analysis and probability within company and command decision making that results in safety conscious strategies and tactics.
- The demands and requirements of modern firefighting will continue to require the placement of personnel within situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger.
- As a result, risk management must become fluid and integrate all personnel.
- We must manage dynamic risks with a balanced approach of effective assessment, analysis and probability within command decision making that results in safety conscious strategies and tactics.
Make time this weekend and slide on over to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) web site HERE. USFA Report HERE. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) released the report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2008.
An overview of the 118 firefighters that died while on duty in 2008:
The total breakdown included 66 volunteer, 34 career, and 18 Wildland agency firefighters. There were 5 firefighter fatality incidents where 2 or more firefighters were killed, claiming a total of 18 firefighters’ lives.26 firefighters were killed during activities involving brush, grass or Wildland firefighting, more than twice the number killed the previous year. Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 75 firefighters;
- 28 firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
- 21 firefighters died while responding to, and 3 while returning from, emergency incidents.
- 12 firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.
- 13 firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity.
- Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death for 2008 with 45 firefighter deaths
Take a look at the issues, the factors and the causes. Take the time to think about what you can personally do to make a change, and what your company or agency must do, to support LODD reduction. Especially for those situations that are in OUR control.
- Don’t forget about the resources at the Everyone Goes Home Program, HERE.
- As well as the The Near Miss Reporting System, HERE
- Take a look at the USFA Fallen Firefighter postings and read about the sacrifices made in 2009, HERE