The Compartment and the Company:
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.
Adaptive Fireground Management for the Company and Command Officer
This program presents insights into emerging concepts and methodologies related to the unique challenges during combat structural fire engagement that require refined strategic, tactical and operational modeling due to extreme fire behavior, building construction and occupancy risk. The principles of Adaptive Fire Ground Management (AFM) will be presented along with integrated discussions on:
Predictive Risk Management, Command Resiliency, Tactical Patience & integration of Five-Star CommandTM model will be presented with discussion on key Building Construction Systems and Occupancy Risk factors for company effectiveness, operational excellence and firefighter safety
The program will integrate key case studies, lessons from the fireground, insights into emerging fire ground tactical theory with a focus of understanding occupancy risk with today’s Buildings on fire.
This is an interactive and thought provoking program that challenges conventional fire service paradigms and explores leading edge theories and fire servicediscussion points from across the American Fire Service profession.
This program is for ALL levels of rank and experience, not just officers.
Friday March 8th, 2013 • 0900-1600 hrs. $50.00 per Student
Registration Opens at 8am Columbus FF Union Hall
Station 67, 379 Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215
CEU: 6 hrs. Provided by Columbus State Community College | Meet & Greet Immediately Following
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
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.
A veteran fire captain testified Wednesday that he was trapped in debris that fell from a ceiling during a February 2011 fire at a luxury home in the Hollywood Hills, where another longtime firefighter suffered fatal injuries.
Called to testify during a hearing to determine if an architect who designed and oversaw the construction of the home should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Edward Watters told Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan that he “heard a loud bang” and suddenly found himself lying on his back with a “lot of weight on my chest.”
Gerhard Albert Becker—a 48-year-old German national who owned, designed and built the home —is charged in connection with the death of firefighter Glenn Allen, 61.
Allen, a 36-year veteran of the LAFD, died two days after being struck by a portion of the ceiling during the Feb. 16, 2011, blaze.
Here’s a promo for the program; “Adaptive Fireground Management for Company and Command Officers”: that will be presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference- FDIC on Thursday April 19, 2012 10:30 am in Wabash 2. If you’re attending FDIC this year, plan to mark this program down as one of your stops. I look forward to meeting “youz guys”.
This class presents new insights into emerging concepts and methodologies related to the challenges that arise while fighting today’s structural fires today. Extreme fire behavior, building construction, and occupancy risk mandate new strategic, tactical, and operational modeling. Students will be introduced to a new integrated model that represents new methodologies for predictive risk management, command compression and resiliency, tactical patience, and five-star command theories. This program has direct relevancy to all operational levels and ranks with specific focus toward company- and command-level responsibilities. INTERMEDIATE
Here are five (5) NIOSH Firefighter LODD Event report summaries for incidents that occurred in the March 4th through the 8th time frame in the years 1998, 2001, 2002, 2008.
Take the time to look over the event summaries, discuss and comment on the factors that lead to the events and the recommendations formulated from the subsequent investigations.
Take the opportunity to identify the common themes and apparent causes that were identified and discuss with your company, team or station, relevant considerations that may have a direct or indirect relationship to your organization, past incident calls or district risk profile.
What are your capabilities?
What are your gaps?
How can you prevent a similar situation from occurring?
Promote questions and dialog related to operational issues such as these;
Coordinated multi-company operations; how “coordinated” is your incident scene?
Do rapidly changing incident conditions get identified promptly and communicated to Command in rapid succession for actions?
How effective is the base line knowledge and skill set of company and command officers in “reading the building”?
What is the adequacy of your training for conducting operations above the fire floor?
When was the last time you “tested” the effectiveness of your RIT/FAST Team? Can they truly perform under the most demanding of incident conditions?
When was the last time you trained or drilled on Fire Behavior or on Building Construction?
Are you training on calling the mayday and personal survival techniques?
Have you implemented and trained on procedures for rapid and efficient transition in operational modes on the fireground?
Do you implement a 360 when applicable and delegate when needed?
What parameters are you operating under when assuming risk on the fireground?
What drives your incident operations: Are they Tactically Drive or Risk Managed?
Down load the complete NIOSH Reports and expand on the lessons learners and their applicably to your organization and capabilities.
Manlius, New York
Floor Collapse and Fire Conditions: On March 7, 2002, a 28-year-old male volunteer fire fighter and a 41-year-old male career fire fighter died after becoming trapped in the basement. One firefighter manned the nozzle while second firefighter 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 incident
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
Wall Collapse and Fire Conditions On March 7, 2008, two male career fire fighters, aged 40 and 19 were killed when they were trapped by rapidly deteriorating fire conditions inside a millwork facility in North Carolina. The captain of the hose line crew was also injured, receiving serious burn injuries.
The victims were members of a crew of four fire fighters operating a hose line protecting a firewall in an attempt to contain the fire to the burning office area and keep it from spreading into the production and warehouse areas. The captain attempted to radio for assistance as the conditions deteriorated but fire fighters on the outside did not initially hear his Mayday. Once it was realized that the crew was in trouble, multiple rescue attempts were made into the burning warehouse in an effort to reach the trapped crew as conditions deteriorated further.
Three members of a rapid intervention team (RIT) were hurt rescuing the injured captain. One firefighter was located and removed during the fifth rescue attempt. The second firefighter could not be reached until the fire was brought under control.
The fourth crew member had safely exited the burning warehouse prior to the deteriorating conditions that trapped his fellow crew members. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include radio communication problems (unintelligible transmissions in and out of the fire structure that may have led to misunderstanding of operational fireground communications), inadequate size up and incomplete pre-plan information, a deep-seated fire burning within the floor of the office area that was able to spread into the production and warehouse facility, the procedures used in which operational modes were repeatedly changed from offensive to defensive, lack of crew integrity at a critical moment in the event, and weather which restricted fireground visibility.
NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:
Ensure that detailed pre-incident plan information is collected and available when needed, especially in high risk structures
Limit interior offensive operations in well-involved structures that are not equipped with sprinkler systems and where there are no known civilians in need of rescue
Develop, implement, and enforce clear procedures for operational modes. Changes in modes must be coordinated between the Incident Command, the command staff and fire fighters
Ensure that Rapid Intervention Crews (RIC) / Rapid Intervention Teams (RIT) have at least one charged hose line in place before entering hazardous environments for rescue operations
Ensure that the incident commander establishes the incident command post in an area that provides a good visual view of the fire building and enhances overall fireground communication
Ensure that crew integrity is maintained during fire suppression operations
Encourage local building code authorities to adopt code requirements for automatic protection (sprinkler) systems in buildings with heavy fire loads.
Floor Collapses in Residential Fire - North Carolina
Floor Collapse On March 4, 2002, a 22-year-old male career fire fighter was injured and subsequently died and a 25-year-old male Captain was injured when the floor collapsed while they were fighting a residential fire.
The Captain was transported by ambulance to an area hospital where he was admitted overnight for first- and second-degree burns. The victim was conscious and was transported by medical helicopter to a State medical center where he died 2 days later.
NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should;
Ensure that each Incident Commander conducts a size-up of the incident before initiating fire-fighting efforts, after command is transferred, and continually evaluates the risk versus gain during operations at an incident
Ensure fire fighters are trained to recognize the dangers of searching above a fire
Ensure that an Incident Safety Officer, independent from the Incident Commander, is appointed
Ensure that ventilation is closely coordinated with fire attack
Ensure that a Rapid Intervention Team is established and in position immediately upon arrival
Ensure that adequate numbers of staff are available to operate safely and effectively
Fall Through Floor Fighting a Structure Fire at a Local Residence - Ohio
Floor Collapse On March 8, 2001, a 38-year-old male career fire fighter fell through the floor while fighting a structure fire, and died 12 days later from his injuries. At 1231 hours, Central Dispatch notified the career department of a structure fire with reports of the occupants still inside. The Assistant Chief arrived on the scene along with Engine 70 and assumed Incident Command (IC).
The IC immediately called for the second alarm, began conducting the initial size-up of the structure, and confirmed heavy fire in the left front section. At that time, the neighbors approached the IC and informed him that the occupants were trapped inside. The IC ordered the fire fighters on scene to commence search and rescue efforts, and then verified the stability of the structure through radio and face-to-face communications.
Engine 68 arrived on the scene at approximately 1250 hours with an Assistant Chief and the victim. The Assistant Chief provided tactical command of the fire ground, and along with the victim, conducted search and rescue operations. Other crews conducted searches with a thermal imaging camera of the first floor and basement level of the residence with no sign of any occupants. During these searches the stability of the structure was diminishing due to the intense fire that was now venting through the roof.
Fire fighter #3 and the victim were at the front entrance conducting a defensive attack as the third emergency evacuation signal was sounded. The neighbors were still insisting to the IC and fire fighters that the occupants were trapped inside, and one of the occupants was handicapped. The victim and one other fire fighter conducted another search of the structure.
The heat and flames were now extending from the basement level to the first floor when the fire fighter’s low air alarm sounded. The victim and the fire fighter were backing out of the structure when the floor beneath the victim gave way, causing him to fall through the floor and become trapped in the basement.
Attempts were made from the first floor to rescue the victim by utilizing a handline and an attic ladder, but they were unsuccessful due to the intense heat and flames. Two Rapid Intervention Teams (RIT #1 & RIT #2) were deployed simultaneously from separate entrances into the basement to perform a search and rescue operation for the downed fire fighter. The RITs were able to locate and remove the victim on their initial entry. He sustained third degree burns to over half of his body and died 12 days later.
NIOSH investigators concluded that to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should;
Ensure that Incident Command continually evaluates the risk versus gain during operations at an incident
Ensure that a separate Incident Safety Officer independent from the Incident Commander is appointed
Ensure that fire fighters are trained in the tactics of defensive search
Ensure that fire fighters performing fire fighting operations under or above trusses are evacuated as soon as it is determined that the trusses are exposed to fire
Ensure consistent use of Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) devices at all incidents and consider providing fire fighters with a PASS integrated into their Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus which provides for automatic operation
Ensure that personnel equipped with a radio, position the radio to receive and respond to radio transmissions
Roof Collapse and Fire Conditions On March 8, 1998, one male fire fighter, the Captain on Engine 57, died while trying to exit a commercial structure after his egress was cut off by the wooden trussed roof that collapsed. Task Force 66 was the first on scene and reported light smoke showing from a one-story commercial building. A ventilation team from Truck 66 proceeded to the roof of the building and commenced roof ventilation. Forcible entry into the building required about 7 ½ to 9 ½ minutes from arrival on scene to force open the two metal security doors in the front. While fire companies waited for the security doors to be opened, fire conditions changed dramatically on the roof.
Fire was coming from the ventilation holes opened by the ventilation crew. As soon as the security doors were opened, three engine crews (Engine 66, Engine 57, and Engine 46) advanced hand lines through the front door in an attempt to determine the origin of the fire. Approximately 15 feet inside the front door, the fire fighters encountered heavy smoke with near zero visibility conditions. The engine crews advanced their hose lines approximately 30 to 40 feet inside the building.
As conditions continued to deteriorate inside the building, the members from the four engine companies involved in the fire attack began to withdraw. During this time the victim became separated from his crew and remained in the building. The victim was subsequently located by the Rapid Intervention Team and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed immediately and en-route to the hospital, where the victim was pronounced dead.
NIOSH investigators conclude that, to prevent similar occurrences, fire departments should:
Ensure that incident command conducts an initial size up of the incident before initiating fire fighting efforts, and continually evaluate the risk versus gain during operation at an incident
Ensure that incident command always maintains close accountability for all personnel at the fire scene
Ensure communications are established between the interior and exterior attack crews, e.g., the ventilation crew and the interior fire attack crew should communicate conditions among themselves and back to incident command
Ensure that Rapid Intervention Teams are in place before conditions become unsafe
Ensure that some type of tone or alert that is recognized by all fire fighters be transmitted immediately when conditions become unsafe for fire fighters
Ensure sufficient personnel are available and properly functioning communications equipment are available to adequately support the volume of radio traffic at multiple-responder fire scenes
Consider placing a bright, narrow-beamed light at the entry portal to a structure to assist lost or disoriented fire fighters in emergency egress.
Taking it to the Streets on Firefighternetcast.com
Taking it to the StreetsTM
Download the program from March 16th, 2011 Program
Featured a two part program on Near Miss Firefighter Reporting with Lt. Steve Mormino, FDNY (ret) and Capt. CJ Haberkorn, Denver (CO) Fire Department and special guest, Captain Michael Long, who provided a personal Near-Miss Event account you won’t want to miss.
The IAFC and NVFC encourage fire departments to suspend all non-emergency activity during Safety and Health Week to focus on safety and health training and education allowing all shifts and personnel to participate. An entire week is provided to ensure each shift and duty crew can spend at least one day focusing on these critical issues.
Rules You Can Live By This year’s effort will capture the importance of responders taking care of themselves both on and off the emergency incident scene. Fire and EMS personnel can utilize the tools and resources of two nationally acclaimed programs: the SHS Section’s Rules of Engagement and the NVFC’s Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program.
“Survival in the fire and emergency service is like a coin, with operational safety on one side and a healthy lifestyle on the other,” said IAFC President Al Gillespie. “This is one of those cases where one plus one equals more than two. By offering a dual concentration this year, our goal is to reinforce the relationship between health and safety and the exponential return the combination can provide.”
”Safety and health are two of the most critical issues facing firefighters and EMS personnel today, regardless of whether you are volunteer or career,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “The entire fire service community must join together to create a culture where health and safety are a priority every day. The NVFC is pleased to partner with the IAFC to work toward this goal and make it a reality.”
Participating departments are encouraged not just to follow the theme, but to contribute to its larger body of knowledge. The IAFC and NVFC will provide planning resources on the Safety and Health Week website and encourage the community to submit links to additional resources, articles and SOPs that can help other departments.
A New Look for 2012 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week marks the unification of the IAFC’s Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week with the NVFC’s National Firefighter Health Week.
The most noticeable change for fire and EMS departments is a new, user-friendly website dedicated exclusively to Safety and Health Week: www.SafetyAndHealthWeek.org.
The partnership will also enable both programs to continue to build important discussions and create connections that can save lives, such as:
Increased dialogue and sharing of best practices between career, combination and volunteer departments
Inclusion of components to address command issues
Increased outreach to the fire and emergency service community beyond North America
The International Association of Fire Chiefs developed these Rules of Engagement to provide best practice model procedures that departments can use as part of their standard operating procedures/guidelines and firefighter training programs.
The International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section was established to provide a specific component within the IAFC to concentrate on policies and issues relating to the health and safety of firefighters.
The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System is a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive, and secure reporting system with the goal of improving fire fighter safety. Submitted reports are reviewed by fire service professionals and identifying descriptions are removed to protect your identity. The report is then posted on this web site for other firefighters to use as a learning tool.
The NVFC has set forth their Firefighter Health and Safety Priorities in a series of B.E.S.T. Practices, which are divided into the four main categories of Behavior, Equipment, Standards and Codes, and Training. Learn the B.E.S.T. Practices and find resources for implementing them in your department.
The NVFC offers the S.T.O.P. (Safety Tops Our Priorities) training series on vehicle safety. The first course – Seatbelts Tops Our Priorities – is a 30-minute session that educates participants on the importance of using a seatbelt. The course examines how to encourage safety when responding to emergencies and how seatbelt use and safe vehicle operations can be enforced at the department level. The training is provided using an online platform from McNeil and Company’s Emergency Services Insurance Program (ESIP).
The NVFC and USFA created the Emergency Vehicle Safe Operations program to prevent firefighter deaths and injuries from vehicle accidents, which are historically the second leading cause of firefighter fatalities. This innovative educational program includes an emergency vehicle safety best practices self-assessment, standard operating guideline examples, and behavioral motivation techniques to enhance emergency vehicle safety.
International First Responder Seatbelt Pledge
Firefighters and emergency service personnel are encouraged to sign the Seatbelt Pledge in an effort to ensure the safety of all first responders driving or riding in fire department apparatus. This web site, administered through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s Everyone Goes Home program, also includes public service announcements, videos, posters, training, and other resources for getting first responders to buckle up.
2012 Les Lukert Conference Information February 10-12, 2012
NEW FOR 2012
Based on student feedback from previous years, the 2012 Les Lukert Winter Conference will offer new opportunities to attend multiple courses.
Traditional 12-hour courses will be offered, but several four hour courses will repeat three times, giving students the opportunity to hear and network with a larger number of students and instructors. If you can’t get there first thing on Saturday, one 8-hour course will start at noon Saturday and finish at noon Sunday!
Mix and match as your schedule permits, but pay particular attention to this as you sign up. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! The NSFSI Education Committee hopes this new format makes the Conference even more useful to students and we look forward to your continued attendance and feedback as we plan future conferences!
Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center
110 Second Avenue, Kearney, NE 68847
855.444.5769 (toll free) www.younes.com
Ten Traits of a Positive Fire Service Instructor
(**Pre-conference Instructor Development Course) Friday February 10, 0900 – 1700
As an Instructor, it is essential to promote a positive and safe fire ground environment, and the preparation begins on the training ground. However, in some jurisdictions, the training ground has become anything but an environment that promotes positive and safe attitudes.
A number of fire service personnel will become instructors without any idea of how to teach a class. They are told that they have to be an instructor for promotion. They are thrown into the mix and told that they have to pull a rotation at the training academy. These are not the type of instructors that our future fire service leaders need. Face it; some people are just not built to teach. Our instructors are doomed from the beginning. They teach the minimum, and are closed to the change.
Look back over your career. Can you recall a fire instructor who influenced you positively? Negatively? What were the major differences between these instructors? Several attitudes, practices, and attributes distinguish the positive instructor from the negative one.
The course is being taught by K. Doc Patterson. Doc is also teaching Lead with a Vision, Not a Tradition at the Conference. (see below) Back to top
Pride and Ownership: The Love for the Job
Ignite Your Love for the Job. Pride and Ownership holds no punches. Chief Rick Lasky takes a hard look at the fire service and finds it short on the only element that makes it effective: passion. Chief Lasky gives an upfront and honest criticism about the need to reignite the love of the job on every level, from chiefs on down. Do you have what it takes? Not everyone is cut out for the fire service. It takes only the best to serve the public when people need help most. Pride and Ownership calls for men and women with honor and integrity to measure up to the task. There’s nothing else in the world like being a firefighter. Every day Chief Lasky remembers why his job is the best in the world and he brings that passion to Pride and Ownership. Chief Lasky revisits the proud history and tradition of the fire service and reflects on the family values and brotherhood that have made firefighting a truly family oriented vocation.
The Company Officer
Our Two Families
Sweating the Small Stuff
Changing Shirts-The Promotion
What September 11th Did To Us and For Us
Ceremonies That Stoke the Flames of Tradition
Marketing Your Fire Department
Making It All Happen and Taking Care of Number 1
Have You Forgotten?
Rick Lasky, a 30-year veteran of the fire service, is chief (ret.) of the Lewisville (TX) Fire Department. Rick began his career as a firefighter in the suburbs on the southwest side of Chicago and while in Illinois received the 1996 International Society of Fire Service Instructors “Innovator of the Year” award for his part in developing the “Saving Our Own” program. He served as the co-lead instructor for the H.O.T. Firefighter Survival program at FDIC for over 10 years, is an editorial advisory board member of Fire Engineering Magazine and also serves on the FDIC advisory board. Rick contributes monthly to Fire Engineering’s Roundtable column, is the author of both the “Pride and Ownership-A Firefighter’s Love of the Job” leadership series featured in Fire Engineering Magazine and the best-selling book published by PennWell Books, as well as the host for the radio show “Pride and Ownership” heard on Fire Engineering Radio. Back to top
Avoiding Human Error on the Fireground
The Fire Service has recognized many of the fireground injuries and related LODD’s are directly related to poor decision making by personnel on the fireground. Findings show how a fatal chain of errors made by personnel, from the Incident Commander to the rookie firefighter, promulgate the problem in the American Fire Service. This course is designed to identify those specific factors associated with the error chain and establish corrective action models to reverse this dangerous trend.
Case reviews of LODD’s will be used to understand how this occurs and students will discuss the need for a heighten awareness for command and incident specific goals and objectives to reduce similar occurrences. This program is designed to open the “Minds Eye” and change the firefighter’s perspective and paradigm on routine fires. 3/6/14 are all you need to know to increase your rate of survival and decrease your chances of being injured to a point of retirement from the fire service.
Ed Hadfieldis a Division Chief with the City of Coronado Fire Department in San Diego, California. In his 25 years of professional experience, he has been recognized as a leader in Fireground Command Operations, Command Officer Succession Development, Truck Company Functions, and Fire Service Leadership. He holds a Bachelors’ Degree from Azusa Pacific University in Organizational Leadership, and is currently completing his Masters Degree in Leadership Studies at Azusa Pacific University and the EFO program through the National Fire Academy. He is a frequent speaker at fire service conferences and training programs nationwide, and provides leadership training to multiple corporate agencies as well.
Looking to the future of the American Fire Service, we must have leadership in all aspects of the emergency services that are visionaries, with goals for their department and the Fire Officers and Firefighters. Plus be responsible to teach our next generation the Pride and Traditions of our culture.
K. Doc Patterson, Chief Creative Officer, K. J. Patterson Doc started his career as a volunteer firefighter to career Fire Officer in Monmouth, Illinois. Doc served as the Director of Education & Media Affairs in the Chicago area. Doc has over 37 years in the fire service. Doc has taught many aspects of the fire service, from basic firefighter skills, instructor and fire officer development and firefighter safety. His specialty includes Honor Guard Development, American Fire Service History and Emergency Team Motivation. Doc Patterson is known for his contagious excitement and enthusiasm. His interactive experience will ignite your Phoenix inside! If you help people grow…You will rise to a new level in you life. The key is to move with determination, sense of faith, achievement and self-respect.
Doc has made three national television appearances, worked with the Professional Athletes, and is a nationally known speaker across this great nation. The Heart and Mind of a champion is in every one of us! Go for the gold in all aspects of your life! “May Your Spirit Rise… like a Phoenix from the Ashes!” Doc Patterson has a Degree in Fire Science; serves with the Illinois Fire Service Institute and his own consulting firm K.J. Patterson, specializing in personal & professional development for teams and officers in all aspects of Emergency Services.
Fireground non-cardiac line of duty deaths that involve some level of accountability failure are in the majority. We can, and must do better. This course will utilize case studies to identify the issue of fireground accountability as an important contributing factor in many line of duty deaths and offer realistic solutions to fire departments, volunteer, combination and career on how they can begin to address this issue within their own fireground operations. Establishing and maintaining effective and functional fireground accountability with a strong command and control system, establishment of identifiable and cohesive crews and good communications is well within the grasp of every department regardless of size or make-up.
An injured Los Angeles firefighter is taken for treatment following a house fire in July. His injuries were not life threatening. Photo courtesy firerescue1.com
Identifying firefighters in distress, and verifying their identity when located, is absolutely critical to functional accountability. Finding a down firefighter does not mean that you found the one who called the mayday. Case studies will show how failure to identify the firefighter(s) in distress, and then verify who was found, has led to tragedy. Many fire departments are considering the purchase of socalled wireless accountability systems built into their SCBA or PASS devices. These are great tools for some things, however, they cannot replace heads-up attention to who is doing what, and where, on the fireground. We will explain the difference between these systems and functional accountability. We will show you limitations of these hightech tools in hands-on scenarios, and show you how you can use them to your advantage.
Tracking personnel can be difficult, especially when mutual aid is involved, or personally-owned-vehicles respond to the scene. Who is keeping track of you when you answer the call? We will discuss the challenges that you face, especially issues associated with keeping track of personnel from several different agencies and response styles, and leave you with tools to simplify this challenging process. Lastly, we will discuss personal responsibility. Each of us has a responsibility to let someone know where we are and what we are doing. We will explore how you and your crew can stay accountable while you work, no matter how big or small your department is, incorporating proven practices into your on-scene work habits.
Chris Langlois, Midwest Fire Training Group, has 23 years of volunteer and career fire service experience. Presently he serves as a Training Officer with the Omaha Fire Department. His national certifications include Firefighter I & II, Instructor I & II, Fire Officer I & II, Driver/Operator and Incident Safety Officer, as well as being a NREMT-Paramedic. He holds degrees in Public Fire Administration and Executive Fire Service Leadership.
Captain Dan Millerhas over 30 years of volunteer and career experience. He is a Training Officer with the Omaha Fire Department and an adjunct instructor with Metro Community College. He is NFPA Instructor-II certified. Dan is an instructor with Midwest Fire Training Group.
Thriving on the Fireground
Are you Combat Ready?
Are you prepared to THRIVE on the fireground?
The Ready Position is a condition where the capacity and capabilities of the Fire Service Warrior are in an ideal state of potential energy. Whether you are sitting in the firehouse at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee at hand, or in the recliner at home with the pager sitting on the table next to you, hopefully you are ready to spring into action if the alarm comes in. If you are in the Ready Position you have mastered the physical and mental skills of the Fire Service Warrior, you are able to be 100% present when called to battle, you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to thrive on the fireground, and you have prepared for the unfortunate in case your next alarm is your last one.
Chris Brennan is a 14 year fire service veteran who has taught and consulted for local, state, federal, and international responders. His articles have appeared in numerous publications including Fire Engineering and Fire Chief. Christopher Brennan is the author of The Combat Position: Achieving Firefighter Readiness and the website www.fireservicewarrior.com.
Adaptive Fireground Management for Command & Company Officer
This highly interactive program will present insights into emerging concepts and methodologies related to the unique challenges during combat structural fire engagement that require new strategic, tactical and operational modeling due to extreme fire behavior, building construction and occupancy risk. Predictive Risk Management, Command Compression, Tactical Patience and Five-Star Command™ theories will be presented though interactive scenarios and group activities. This program will address operational considerations for command and company officers and will focus on various department sizes and organizational profiles.
Christopher Naum is a 36-year fire service veteran and a highly regarded author, lecturer, national author and fire officer; he is a distinguished authority on building construction issues affecting the fire and emergency services. He is a nationally recognized authority on command and operational excellence and firefighter safety. An Adjunct Instructor with the National Fire Academy, he served on the Board of Directors, IAFC Safety, Health & Survival Section and is the second vice president of the ISFSI. A former architect and fire protection engineer, he was the 1987 ISFSI George D. Post National Fire Instructor of the Year, is a technical reviewer to the NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program and is the Chief of Training for the Command Institute, a Washington, DC based emergency management & training organization. He is the executive producer of Buildingsonfire.com
Using the IAFC “Rehab and Medical Monitoring: An Intro to NFPA 1584” program, this presentation provides a realistic look at implementing rehab that increases available manpower, allows firefighters to work harder and longer with less injuries. Practical pointers for medical monitoring with examples of effective rehab programs will be provided.
Mike McEvoy, PhD, NRP, RN, CCRN, is the EMS Coordinator for Saratoga County, New York and EMS Director on the Board of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs. He is a Professor Emeritus in Critical Care Medicine at Albany Medical College in New York and continues to practice as a clinical nurse specialist in adult and pediatric cardiac surgery. Mike is a paramedic for Clifton Park-Halfmoon Ambulance, chief medical officer and firefighter/paramedic for West Crescent Fire Department. He is the FireEMS editor for Fire Engineering magazine, a widely published autheor and popular speaker at Fire, EMS, and medical conferences worldwide. In his free time, Mike is an avid hiker and winter mountain climber.
Things Every Firefighter & Officer Should Understand About Fireground Dynamics
This course will give an understanding of how fire effects both new and old style building construction and how it differs with the use of new and old building materials. The firegound personnel will have a better understanding what they are seeing in the fire environment. It wil be useful for the interior attack personnel, support personnel and Incident Commander regardless of their fireground experience.
Earl Rudolph has been providing EMS and fire service for 38 years. He began his career as a volunteer in Papillion in 1972 and retired as Training Officer for Fremont Fire Dept in 2010. He continues as a volunteer for Springfield Fire Department and part-time instructor for the State Fire Marshal Training Division. Earl became an EMS Instructor in 1975, opened his private EMS Training Agency in 1977 and has provided EMS and Fire training to many people throughout the years. Earl has been married for 36 years to his wonderful wife, Rita.
Eric Rasmussen began his volunteer fire service in 1968. He has served as Firefighter, Fire Chief, Training Officer and Board member for Southeast Rural Fire District. He is Firefighter II and Fire Instructor I certified. Eric worked for 32 years as the Training Specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service. In the mid 1970’s, he participated in the development of the Red Card certification system. Although he’s retired, Eric remains active at Southeast Rural, is on the Greenwood Rural Board and is active with NSVFA, Nebraska Fire Chief’s Ass’n and NSFSI. He’s also an advisor to the Southeast Community College Fire Protection program and is a part-time instructor for the SFMTD.
Russ Daly has been involved in the fire service since 1963, when he joined Ralston Volunteer Fire and Rescue. During his time at Ralston, he served as a fire fighter before becoming the Rescue Capt and later Fire Chief. In 1981, he began teaching with the Nebraska State Fire Service as a Full Time Instructor, and in 1986 became Director. He held this position until 1992. Russ is currently Board President of the Murray Rural Fire Protection District and serves as Fire Instructor for the Murray Fire and Rescue Department. Back to top
Fire Instructor I
This course is designed to give the student the knowledge and ability to teach from prepared, predominately skills oriented, materials. Areas covered include: communication, learning concepts, human relations in the teaching-learning environment, teaching methods, organizing the learning environment, records and reports, testing and responsibilities, teaching techniques, and use of instructional materials. An additional weekend of class (March 2, 3 & 4, 2012) is required to complete Instructor I certification. The second weekend will be hosted at the Kearney Fire Department Training Center. The required textbook for this course, IFSTA Fire and Emergency Services Instructor (7th Edition), will be available for purchase at check-in. Class Limit – 26
Bill Pfeiferis a Training Specialist for the SFMTD serving the Northeast region. He has been a full time instructor since 2001 teaching classes in Extrication, Haz-mat and Fire and Emergency Services Instructor.
Rick Grauerholz has been an instructor with the SFMTD since 1984. He is a 27 year member of NSFSI and has taught numerous times at the Winter Conference. Rick has been a member of Ashland Fire Department since 1972.
Michael Lloyd began his fire service career in 1980, serving with a variety of career and volunteer departments. He is currently a Station Chief with Offutt AFB providing structural and aircraft fire suppression in addition to EMS, HAZMAT and technical rescue. Mike has been a part-time instructor with the SFMTD since 1997 teaching Incident Command, Building Construction and Fire Instructor courses.
Dennis Baber (not Pictured) is a Training Specialist with the SFMTD.
Brent Doring (not pictured) is a parttime instructor with the SFMTD. Back to top
The Company Officer, Leading, Learning and Laying In
Leading, learning and laying in presents the three priorities of the company officer: leadership, training and critical decision making, using a “day in the life” format that can be applied the next day in the front seat of the rig and in life at the station.
This presentation is designed for both new company officers and the veteran looking for a recharge. The goal of this class is to distill these massive topics down and bring them together for immediate application. The result is a fast paced presentation of nuggets, plans and thought processes critical to success for motivating, training and working at the company level. The points shared were found both the hard way and given by those who inspire me. The program will be essentially divided into sub sections.
Leading – The first component of the class is leadership. When you step into the role of company officer your actions, words and associations are constantly being observed. If you are unaware, this will kill you. If you recognize this it will catapult you. I will show how to set the example by getting out of bed early to hit the gym to handling personnel issues with honesty and straight talk.
Learning- This section will provide training programs, lists of online and print resources, drill and lesson plans that are easy to plug into day to day operations. With the demands on today’s company officer it is difficult to do things right because so many administrative duties demand our attention right away. Training cannot suffer from this. This will save officers time by showing them ready made material for immediate use.
Laying In – There is too great of a focus on scene size up for the company officer and the lack of attention in scene set up. At some point you have to stop accumulating information and get to work. I present my scene set up thought process that “focuses on the firsts” First line, first search and first vent.
Lieutenant Brian Brush of Lakewood Colorado has 15 years experience in the fire service. Brian received his Fire Officer Designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence in 2010. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Fire and Emergency Services and an Associate’s Degree in Paramedicine. He has written for Fire Engineering, presented at FDIC, and is a contributor for www.fireservicewarrior.com
Is your team prepared to be first on the scene to handle an ice emergency?
Dive Rescue International’s Ice Rescue certification course teaches:
How to avoid becoming a victim
How to recognize ice hazards
How to evaluate ice strength
This program allows you to practice multiple ice rescues with victims who have fallen through the ice. Other program topics include:
Ice conditions and ice formation
Hypothermia & cold-water near-drowning
Equipment selection and rigging techniques
Operational planning and scene evaluation
Prerequisites – Member of a public safety agency and at least 18 years old. This program is designed for personnel who are physically fit. Participants are encouraged to participate after successfully completing the IADRS Watermanship Test or testing to a fitness level of 13 MET (Metabolic Equivalents) or greater. Participants with aerobic fitness questions or concerns should consult their physician prior to in-water training. Participants who have poor aerobic fitness may attend this program as surface support personnel with the approval of the instructor.
Ice Rescue requires the purchase of a student manual ($15). It may be purchased with your registration. Limited numbers will be available at the Conference. Also note, class is limited to 30 students. The class will be split in half for hands on work (Sat PM/Sun AM) to allow more hands on time. When you register, please select Ice Rescue AND a 4-hour class for Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Brad Thavenet is an 11 year veteran of Lincoln Fire Rescue. Currently Captain Thavenet is Water Rescue Commander for the department, member of NEFT-1, and an international instructor and author for Dive Rescue International. Captain Thavenet has presented at international conferences and has instructed classes to FDNY, Los Angeles City Fire, Canadian Fire Depts and many others.
Joe Vandenack has been a member of the Yutan Volunteer Fire Department for 13 years. During that time he has also been on the Emergency Response Dive Teams at Boystown, Ralston and Yutan, Nebraska. Joe has been teaching Dive Rescue International’s Ice Rescue Course since 2003. Back to top
New Sensor System Tracks Firefighters Where GPS Fails
Portable device locates missing firefighters–saves time and maybe lives
Firefighter Ray Hodgson hits the talk button on his walkie-talkie: “I have fire showing, possibility of a rescue on the third floor. Engine 35, initiate a rescue group. Also back him up with a hose line.”
A fire has been set in a three story building at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, where firefighters hone their skills and test equipment. In this case they’re testing a device they hope will save firefighters’ lives. Everyone taking part in the drill knows how difficult and dangerous it is to locate a missing firefighter in a smoky inferno.
“When you go into a burning building, you don’t really see anything. You can’t see your hand in front of your face; you’re going on instincts. It’s almost a surreal experience,” says Matt Leonard, a firefighter in the District of Columbia and a deputy chief in Prince George’s County, Md.
“We’ve had instances where we’ve lost firefighters in a building and had a hard time finding them. It’s very frustrating,” says Hodgeson, a firefighter for 44 years. He knows firsthand the sinking feeling of hearing the dreaded words that one of his colleagues is missing. That’s why this team of experienced firefighters is taking time to test out a new type of sensor that can track their whereabouts deep inside buildings, where standard GPS units often don’t work.
“This has been a need for a long time,” says Carol Politi, CEO of TRX Systems, the company developing the sensor. “Sept. 11 was widely publicized and there was not even an understanding of whether certain firefighters were actually in the buildings at the time of that tragedy.”
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), electrical engineer Politi and her team at TRX Systems are developing a portable device called the Sentrix Tracking Unit. It straps on like a belt and consists of a suite of sensors. “The sensors include accelerometers and gyroscopes. Those are sensors similar to what you have in your Wii for example–pressure sensors ranging sensors. It allows us to create a picture of what a user has done,” says Politi.
“The sensors monitor the movement of the user,” explains Ben Funk, vice president of Engineering at TRX. “So when the user moves forward or backwards, left or right, it determines how far a person moved in each direction.”
During the fire drill the sensors create a map of the building as the firefighters move through the smoke.
“Twenty-eight-nineteen, we have a mayday on the third floor from the rescue group,” Hodgson relays. “Initiate a search.”
During the demonstration, Hodgson assumes the role as incident commander as the others move through the burning building in teams of two. One of the firefighters, outfitted with a sensor, crawls through the smoke and purposely gets lost. The Sentrix Tracking Unit maps his location at every twist and turn, sending the data to a nearby base station–in this case, the incident commander’s laptop. The system can transmit via a variety of different radio-waves to accommodate different receivers.
“The tracker advises they’re on the back Delta Charlie quadrant in the back bedroom,” says Hodgson into his walkie-talkie.
In minutes the firefighter is located by a member of his team.
For the Full Article From the National Science Foundation Web Site, HERE All rights reserved
Within 24 hours of the eruption of a wildfire in the Cleveland National Forest near San Diego, communications expert Hans-Werner Braun and his collaborators from the NSF-supported High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) were on the scene. The HPWREN researchers set up hardware at key points to allow firefighters in remote locations to communicate by a wireless link from the wildfire incident command post to the Internet. Find out more in this news release. Credit: HPWREN
A sensor is any device that can take a stimulus, such as heat, light, magnetism, or exposure to a particular chemical, and convert it to a signal. While the concept of sensors is nothing new, the technology of sensors is undergoing a rapid transformation. Learn more in this Special Report. Credit: Brett Warneke, Kris S.J. Pister, Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center, University of California, Berkeley
The Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) of the Directorate for Engineering serves the entire foundation by fostering partnerships to advance technological innovation, and plays an important role in the public-private innovation partnership enterprise. The focus of IIP is to successfully invest in engineering research and innovation by leveraging federal, small business, industrial, university, state and community colleges resources.
University of Utah engineers showed that a wireless network of radio transmitters can track people moving behind solid walls. The system could help police, firefighters and others nab intruders, and also rescue hostages, fire victims and elderly people who fall in their homes.
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
A second alarm fire occurred in a four-story apartment building in the 20500 block of Reserve Falls Terrace, Loudoun County, VA that took command of over 13 apartment units.
The fire was reported at 07:39 hours on Sunday morning November 20, 2011.
Arriving companies found heavy fire was coming from the building. Fire crews initiated an offensive attack but were forced to evacuate due to potential structural collapse considerations.
A second alarm was activated and a defensive attack was mounted until it was safe for crews to get back inside. Firefighters from Sterling, Lansdowne, Ashburn and Fairfax responded to the fire. Crews remained on the scene for several hours performing overhaul and checking for hot spots.
At least 13 units in the building were damaged, displacing over 26 occupants. There were no reported injuries.
Alpha Division Aerial View-Street Side
Bravo Division (note grade change from the Alpha to Charlie sides)
Fire Extension thru Roof at Bravo Division Charlie
Operational Considerations at Garden Apartment Complex and Residencies
Fire ground operations at Garden Apartment Complex and Multiple Occupancy Residencies require due diligence and well-coordinated multiple company operations that have well established operating protocols, clearly defined ( but flexible) company and response duties and an effective and well-practiced and experienced cadre of company and command officers.
Due to the likely demands and complexities of evolving and expanding incident conditions at fire involving Garden Apartment type buildings and complexes, couple with the civilian life safety concerns due to occupancy density and numbers, immediate and timely resources are necessary to conduct multiple and concurrent functional assignments that demand effectiveness, efficiency and trained company compositions.
Strategy and Tactics at Garden Apartment Complex and Residencies required special instructions, insights and knowledge that goes well beyond the practices and methodologies typically deployed at single family residential fire incidents.
Multiple occupancy dwelling units, occupancy loads, multiple floors, building construction, structural systems and assemblies, construction and material, methods of construction and building and occupancy layouts and configurations results in fast spreading and extreme fire conditions, common avenues for internal and exterior fire travel, congested travel paths and access/egress points, multiple hose line deployment strategies with adequate fire flows, effective building laddering, forcible entry support and concurrent, mobile and skilled search and rescue capabilities.
The ability to deploy and operate multiple hand lines is mission critical at fires in these multiple occupancy dwellings. As are a number of other strategic and tactical functions; but again, If the fire is controlled and goes out- all the other escalating, concurrent and immediate demands, needs and requests along with highest risk factors for survivability to occupants and firefighter alike diminishes rapidly and can be managed.
Here are some discussion points to chat about around the kitchen table;
Are your engine companies effectively set up and outfitted to stretch out and deploy extended lines, multiple lines on common floors or within various floor elevations?
Have you and your company practiced coordinated multiple company search and rescue protocols for multiple occupancy floor areas?
Have you considered the needs, impacts and operational deployment for a RIT on a common floor during extreme fire conditions that required interior common hallway access and extraction of a firefighter in distress or incapacitated?
Do you have the capability to deploy and implement multiple companies for coordinated roof ventilation operations? IF so, have they training together in the past?
How effective and knowledgably are you and your company in initiating and completing multiple trench, strip or louver roof ventilation cuts?
Are you aware of the signs for potential or imminent collapse for the various types of garden apartment buildings in your response area? Did you know there are different considerations based on the vintage, age and construction systems and assemblies utilized?
When was the last time you either pre-fire planned any of your garden apartment building or complexes? Or did a company walk-through?
Which ones are protected by a fixed sprinkler system?
Do you what the water fire flow capabilities are for the hydrants and system in any of these garden apartment building or complexes?
Have you done any table top exercises considering a standard alarm assignment fire, or an escalating multiple alarms incident?
Do you consider occupancy risk versus occupany type for the buildings you respond to?
Are your considering the effects of extreme fire behavior and the potential for wind driven fire conditions in your IAPs?
Are you considering the collapse and compromise potential for floor and roof assemblies in your assignments?
Are you fully prepared for immediate or multiple RIT needs and deployments?
Do you understand how these garden apartment buildings are constructed, configured and will impact your strategic and tactical assignments?
Do you have the right skill set for performing safely and effectively in your assigned role and responsibilities? If not, what are you going to do about that gap?
Rapid Fire Extension is Evident due to the Unprotected/Exposed Framing
A three-story apartment building that was under construction caught fire late this past week durinfgthe early evening in Carson, California (LA County). The fast moving fire rapidly extended through an apartment building complex under construction and spread to a nearby mobile home park damaging at least 10 homes and forcing evacuations, according to published reports. There were no reports of injuries.
The flames engulfing the building site at 21828 South Avalon Boulevard turned the working construction site into a 3-alarm fire shortly after 17:00 hours.
Over 100 firefighters from 40 companies responded and worked the greater alarm fire, with rapid and effective fire control attained in short order in the early evening hours.
Construction sites, especially those with exposed phased wood framing pose significant operational challenges and demands.
First arriving response companies and command must quickly determine the size and magnitude of any rapidly advancing fire and efficiency determine an aggressive action plan that must be deployed rapidly while immediately considering the need for additional resources.
Normally, offensive strategic and tactical measures are highly ineffective due to the need to place operating companies in advance positions that may have high risk parameters subjecting companies to unacceptable safety risks.
The need for rapid and highly mobile hose line placement that must be sized appropriately with flow and delivery for the fire magnitude precludes hand line placement and results in the need to place portable monitors, deck monitors and elevated master streams into operation.
Safety and accountability are high priorities at multiple alarm incidents involving a construction site.
Aerial View of the Primary Fire Complex and Mobile Home Park Exposures to the right of the image
The blaze was rapidly progressing out of control when the first fire units arrived about three minutes after the incident was reported, officials said. The first-in company requested additional alarms due to the fast movement of the fire and its intensity.
The three-story structure had more than 100 units and was being framed. This open framing phase of construction is highly susceptible to fire exposure and ripid development and extension. The large volume of wood, coupled with the open spaces, allowed wind to blow through the structure and stoke the blaze, officials said. That radiated heat combined with wind gusts sent the fire into a nearby mobile home park. More than 139 mobile homes were evacuated. At least 10 homes in the park were damaged by flames.
The entire 139-unit mobile home park was evacuated after the fire and residents were not be allowed to return overnight. The other two senior living buildings on the property were also evacuated, but residents were being allowed back in late into the evening.
The total damage estimate was $3.1 million, with $2.5 million for the senior living center and $600,000 for the mobile home park.Investigators have ruled out arson in a fire that burned through part of a multi-story residential complex under construction in Carson, according to later reports.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department and the sheriff’s arson and explosives detail determined that the fire was accidental, although an exact cause will not be available, probably for several weeks, per the sheriff’s headquarters bureau.
Some Highlighted Operational Considerations (not inclusive)
Pre-Fire Plan Large Construction Projects
Understand the various Phases to a Construction Project and site and how they affect fire operations at the various stages; there is a difference
Identify and train for non-conventional Strategic and Tactical operational actions
Ensure predetermined multiple alarm resources are identified and greater alarms are established
Train your Company and Command Officers to identify correct IAPs and Manage Construction site fires
Maintain an appropriate risk profile balance with operational needs; with personnel safety being foremost
Clearly establish multiple Safety Offices and establish geographical resources within the incident management system for reconnaissance, communications, oversight and focused safety monitoring
Know you water supply and system capabilities and limitations
Determine fire flow needs based upon construction phases, as these change over time as the building goes up. Match fire flow demands with resource availability (time of day gaps etc.)
Identify exposures (Physical structures and Civilians) and ensure they are calculated into the incident action plan at the right time, before they become immediate identified needs or concerns
Companies shall maintain a conservative safety posture; this is not the time for overly aggressive firefighting- it is the time for smart firefighting that can be highly efficient with appropriate tactics and company officer supervision
Always consider collapse zones: partial or complete. Stay out of them! Be aware of your surroundings and maintain situational awareness
Respect the wind; it’s not going to help you
Consider current and projected weather conditions in your operational and tactical plans and assignments; plan ahead
Did I already say: Pre-fire Planning?
Be calculated in the placement of your apparatus, especially in larger scale incidents that are defined under greater geographical divisions; Think ahead
The fire usually consumes the available fuel load rapidly; going from a Huge fire, to one that is sometimes much more manageable; watch and control your exposures and degree of fire extension. Don’t help to make the fire even bigger through ineffective and dysfunctional command and control
Anticipate, Project, Plan and Engage
Respect the Fire: it’s not going to play by the regular rules of combat fire suppression and engagment as you would expect to find in finished and enclosed structures and buildings.
How prepared are you to address a rapidly developing fire in a building or construction site; as the first-due Company Officer or as the Commanding Officer?
Is your company, battalion or department capably trained and skilled to address this type of demanding incident operation?
Do you have any training or operational gaps?
Do you have any construction sites working in your first-due or greater alarm or mutual aid areas? If so, then – Maybe you need to do any pre-fire planning…..?
How much thought and efforts do you place on looking beyond the suggested “routiness” of your response operations? You know, the redundancy, routiness and frequency of typical calls you run, the types of fire you engage in and the manner in which your company interfaces with the balance of the alarm response when working a job or multiple alarm operation. We talk about nothing being routine, yet we have a pace, a rhythm and regularity, a consistency that is predicatable yet, uncertain; expected but when presented; off-guard.
When things go wrong, they can go wrong at an escalating rate that may at times not be apparent. Think about the issues that affect Errors, Omissions, Unknown or Unrecognized Building Profile or Construction, Wrong Tactics, Lack of Resources, Dysfunctional Command, Inadequate skills, High Risk-No Value, Situational Awareness failure, Command Compression, Tactical Entertainment…
From a company level, what are your concerns related to the routiness or regularity of your operations?
How would you relate to the fact that: “It’s NOT always business as usual”.
The complexities of the modern and evolving fireground demand an understanding of the building-occupancy relationships and the integral functionals related to;
construction and systems,
predictive occupacny performance
occupancy profile risk
fire dynamics and fire behavior,
fluid and adaptive incident command management,
diligent company level supervision and
task level company competencies,
exceptional individual skills
Without the sum of these; You are derelict and negligent and “not “everyone may be going home”.
How much knowledge and formal training have you had as a Commanding Officer or Company Officer on Building Construction?
Are your strategic plans and tactics aligned with Occupancy Risk and projected Building Performance, company capabilities and the fire dynamics?
There’s a lot that can be gleaned from your surroundings on any given day. We sometimes take for granted the subtle changes that are happening all around us as we take care of business on our rounds, runs and calls. We tend to focus in on the immediacy of the events that are happening in front of us that demand our attention but fail to take a look around to pick up on information, data and insights that can help us on that next run or down the road in the future.
Take a look at the construction that might be going up in your areas. I’m certain you’re paying close attention to what’s happening in your first-due, but what about that third-due area, that neighboring jurisdiction or the mutual-aid area that you occasionally run in to? When you’re on that next EMS run or an investigation of an odor or alarm bells service call, take a few extra minutes to walk through the occupancy. Conduct your own mini company level pre-plan.
Look at the layout, features, access and construction features. If you have a chance, verify the structural support systems employed by the building for the floor and roof systems. If you have time, take the company on a quick site visit to that building that’s under construction or the renovations that are again underway in that commercial or business occupancy around the corner from quarters.
These continuing challenging economic times places a great deal of influence on what’s being built, how it might be constructed, the manner in which a building may be operational one day, vacant the other and under renovation the next. Sometimes these transformations occur literally overnight.
Are you making plans to attend the newest premiere training conference, offering the latests in integrated eMedia, interactive classroom and hands-on training, education and networking? The Buildingsonfire.com family ( consistings of CommandSafety.com, TheCompanyOfficer.com, Taking it to the Streets Radio and Buildingsonfire.com) will be presenting two cutting edge and timely programs at both the Gateway Midwest Fire and leadership Training Conferenceon
This session will present the new rules of combat structural fire engagement and provide insights into integrated command and operational risk management, tactical safety and tactical protocols based on occupancy risks versus occupancy type. Building and occupancy profiling requires knowledge of emerging construction methods, features, systems and components. Coupled with the increasing commonality of extreme fire behavior and the increased fire load package, these factors require new skill sets in reading the building and implementing predictive occupancy profiling to determine appropriate tactics for firefighters, company and command officers.
The class will examine case studies, history-repeating events, the latest testing and research findings on vent path theory, fire behavior, structural system integrity, wind driven fire theory and fire suppression theory, and engage students through interactive exercises and group discussions.
And John Shafer
Lieutenant and Training Officer, Greencastle (IN) Fire Department
Today’s buildings and occupancies continue to present unique challenges to command and operating companies during combat structural fire engagement. Building and occupancy profiling, identifying occupancy risk versus occupancy type, emerging construction methods, features, systems and components coupled with the increasing commonality of extreme fire behavior and the increased fire load package require new skill sets in reading the building and implementing predictive occupancy profiling for firefighters, company and command officers. Integral to the presentation will be detailed discussions on building and structural system placarding methods and labeling programs.
Hands-On Training, Leadership/Strategy Workshops, Inspiring Education & Networking in the Midwest
October 21 – 23, 2011 | St. Charles, MO
Three packed days of top-notch education on leadership, strategy/tactics & professional growth with big name and fresh faces, multiple hands-on training by Brotherhood Instructors, pre-conference workshops featuring Tim Sendelbach & Rich Gasaway, social & networking events, inspiring keynotes, open discussions and more.
Check out the podcast program on the New Fire Ground on Taking it to the Streets
Take a run over to FirefighterNetcast.com and Taking it to the Streets and download the recent program that provided and insightful look and discussion of the New Fire Groundand the issues affecting the First-Due Officer and Command…which was hosted by our own Christopher Naum and two nationally renowned and highly regarded fire officers, instructors and innovators.Both Divison Chief Ed Hadfield (CA) and Deputy Chief Jason Hoevelmann (MO) are speakers at the Gateway Midwest Fire & Leadership Training Conference brought to you by Go Forward Training and coming to the St. Charles/St.Louis, Missouri metro area on October 21-23. 2011.
First-due company operations have a wide variation of considerations and demands that must be readily identified, rapidly assessed and effectively acted upon through concise and direct orders.
Arrivals and subsequent deployments during night time periods pose ever increasing challenges to arriving officers in the ability to ascertain and recognize factors that will have a direct or ancillary affect in the developing incident action plan, tactics and task assignments.
Night time operations at structure fires, especially those with heavy fire involvement upon arrival can mask or conceal critical operational or safety considerations, developing or progressing smoke conditions that may be missed due to darkness as well as other occupancy risk profiling considerations or civilians in distress or entrapment.
Rapidly escalating or deteriorating conditions coupled with conflicting or concurrent operational demands (rescue and suppression) with limitations imposed due to staffing levels further exasperates the need for the company or command officer to maintain acute situational awareness, implement effective scene scanning , recon, the 360 and assimilate all available information and presumptions that can be made into orders and assignments.
This edition of Ten Minutes in the Street TM is looking at the considerations for the first-due engine company upon arrival at a well involved single family residential house fire. Take a look at the physical layout and arrangement of the incident scene and the primary house fire and exposures.
Take some time to look at the accompanying video clip. The video clip was compliments of our good friend FF David Stacy an intern with the IAFC and a member of College Park Station 12 (MD).
This scenario makes use of [the] fireground video clip and subsequent pictorials for representive example purposes only and are not intended to recreate or critique the events depicted in this video or in the operations shown.
Here are some considerations to talk and discuss in a group setting. Deliberate and debate the operational issues, roles and responsibilities, safety considerations, as well as tactical deployment demands and incident priorities.Address through your discussions the requirements that are imposed upon your selected or suggested actions based on your company, departments or agency SOP/SOG or expectations.
You can discuss this event using the following criteria in any combination;
Building:Single Family Residential, two stories
Profile:Built: 1986, wood frame with some engineered structural floor components, wood siding, full basement
Size:1,764 square feet, three bedroom, 2.5 baths, large sun room and pool on Division 3
Occupancy:Occupied at the time of fire discovery
District:(You select) Fully hydrant water supply or limited
Arrival with Engine and Truck Company: Staffing four each
Arrival with Engine Company only with staffing of four (or based upon your staffing levels)
Arrival with two Engine companies: Staffing based upon your staffing levels
Street Side from the curb (Google Street View)Division Alpha view
Discussion Points and Questions;
What are the immediate priorities and operational considerations?
What are the primary considerations that the company officer must consider and why?
What factors must be identified and considered in order to implement your IAP?
What can be expected as the incident progresses in the next ten minutes of elapsed time?
What is the Building and Occupancy Profile?
Should a 360 be implemented: if so why and by whom?
What is mission critical upon arrival at a well involved structure fire especially when it involves a residential structure at night?
What impact on tactical operations will time of night have on the IAP?
Based upon your staffing levels what can be realistically assigned? Why?
Identify some of the operational safety concerns evident or assumed that must be recognized and considered?
What affect will the building structure and degree of fire involvement have on incident operations?
What are the expected (sustained) fire flow rates that will be required?
What are the resource needs; now or later?
What should be considered if there are escalating exposure issues or extension?
NIOSH recently issued its report on a recycling facility fire that occurred on July 13, 2010, in which seven career fire fighters were injured while fighting a fire at a large commercial structure containing recyclable combustible metals. At 2345 hours, 3 engines, 2 trucks, 2 rescue ambulances, an emergency medical service (EMS) officer and a battalion chief responded to a large commercial structure with heavy fire showing. Within minutes, a division chief, 2 battalion chiefs, 3 engines, 3 trucks, 4 rescue ambulances, 2 EMS officers and an urban search and rescue team were also dispatched.
An offensive fire attack was initially implemented but because of rapidly deteriorating conditions, operations switched to a defensive attack after about 12 minutes on scene. Ladder pipe operations were established on the 3 street accessible sides of the structure. Approximately 40 minutes into the incident, a large explosion propelled burning shrapnel into the air, causing small fires north and south of structure, injuring 7 fire fighters, and damaging apparatus and equipment. Realizing that combustible metals may be present, the incident commander ordered fire fighters to fight the fire with unmanned ladder pipes while directing the water away from burning metals. Approximately 2 ½ hours later, two small concentrated areas remained burning and a second explosion occurred when water contacted the burning combustible metals. This time no fire fighters were injured.
Unrecognized presence of combustible metals
Unknown building contents
Unrecognized presence of combustible metals
Use of traditional fire suppression tactics
This incident brings to light the many operational and safety issues affecting operational deployment and command and control of incident involving combustible metals. These incidents require a clear understanding of the tactical protocols required to safely manage and mitigate fire incidents.
Take the time to discuss this event with your company or condense and distribute within your battalion, division or organization.
For the Complete narrative of the incident go to CommandSafety.com, HERE
It always starts out this way…..a quiet Saturday afternoon.
The shift tour has been fairly quiet or you just happened to stop into the fire station for a cup of coffee and some kitchen table talk in the day room.
The bells/tones come in for a report of smoke coming from a building located in your outer first-due area. The address is for a multi-use occupancy that houses a number of storage, distribution and office businesses.
The structure is two stories and is approximately 45 feet wide x 450 feet in length.
It was originally constructed in 1924 with significant modifications, additions, renovations, alterations and add-ons.
It stated out as Type III Ordinary Construction but has some Type V Wood Frame and Type II, Non-Combustible features added over the years. It’s generally in good shape, but does show its age and wear.
There is a mixed staff of warehouse, office and maintenance personnel working on premises this morning. (assumption ~ 12 employees)
The call originates from a passerby and is quickly followed up by a report from a loading dock employee reporting smoke present at the far end of a product storage area
Weather conditions are unremarkable, slight breeze, moderate temperatures, clear skies…
Your resources ( personnel and apparatus) are what you typically would have in your jurisdiction.
The building does not have a fixed suppression system
The area does have hydrants at both ends of the street coming in on the Alpha side.
You have a seven minute response time.
Let’s take these operations thru the first ten minutes of operations;
Take a role; First-Engine Company OR First-Due Chief Officer…..
What are your Risk Assessment and Size-Up Considerations?
What do you Know?
What are you assuming, What do you need to know?
What is the Building and Occupancy Profile suggesting to you?
Incident Action Plan thoughts?
What do you need now, (that’s hopefully enroute), that needs to be requested or that you’re hoping is available?
Where can this incident end up going?
What’s the Safety Profile?
What is the projected fire flow needs for this incident?
Modern incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past requiring incident commanders and commanding officers to have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity to fire behavior, a focus on operational structural stability and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type.
Strategies and tactics must be based on occupancy risk, not occupancy type, and must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and tactical patience orchestrated in a manner that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy profile and accounts for presumptive fire behavior.
Building Knowledge = Fire Fighter Safety….where do you fit into this equation?
As an officer, you need to stay abreast of operational issues and situations in order to be knowledgeable and conversant with the variables that may affect company deployments and subsequent operations. The National Fire Fighter Near Miss Reporting System (FFNMRS) has a vast collection of resources that are a few keystrokes and links away.
One of the most useful tools in the FFNMRS Tool Box of resources is the Near-Miss Report of the Week (ROTW). The direct link to the page is here.
Take some time to look over the content and subject matter available to you in the form of the weekly publication. The information provides insights and examples of situational near miss events and close calls that provide the lessons learned so that, when confronted with similar precursors or subtle indications, you may be able to draw from the ROTW and the from the lessons and insights of other Near Miss Reports that may prevent a similar close-call/near miss event or from escalating into a more serious event.
Take the time to review the ROTW, sign up for the weekly email delivery and most importantly- read the reports and integrate them into your training, drills, discussions, tabletops, chalk board or podcast talks. Get the FFNMRS reports embedded into your psyche.
Here’s what was sent out this week….
Multiple units responding to the same incident from different directions creates the potential for unscheduled arrivals at intersecting points. These points are most frequently intersections that are in one form or another controlled by devices ranging from stop signs to traffic lights. In this week’s ROTW, report 11-179, reminds us that a green light does not necessarily guarantee the way is safe to proceed.
[ ] Brackets denote reviewer de-identification.
“A municipal ALS equipped engine and a third service county ALS ambulance were dispatched by the same dispatch, on the same radio channel, to a local park for a trauma patient. While enroute, and less than two miles from our station, we approached a heavy traffic intersection, which is blind to the south side. Upon approach, the [brand deleted] signal preemption system (which both the engine and ambulance are equipped with) was delayed in capturing the light. The driver of the engine began to reduce speed and decelerate toward the intersection. As we approached the intersection we captured the light with the signal preemption system, giving us a GREEN light, but for whatever reason, the driver of the engine made a complete stop at the intersection. Just then the ambulance blew through the intersection, not stopping for the RED light. To our surprise, we didn’t hear or see this ambulance until they were in the intersection. Only because of the driver’s situational awareness and intuition (gut feeling) did we come to a complete stop to avoid a collision.”
Right of way rules, line of sight approaches, traffic light pre-emption devices and emergency response SOPs all support apparatus arriving at the scene of an emergency call. Despite all these efforts, human factor plays a role in the safe arrival of all units to their dispatched destination.
Once you have read the entire account of 11-179, and the related reports, consider the following with your colleagues.
Many departments now have specific rules requiring units to stop at all red lights during emergency response. If your department has such rules in effect, are there any other recommendations for intersection travel to consider?
The reporter states the driver’s “situational awareness and intuition” contributed to collision avoidance. How large of a role do you believe the two factors played? How do you promote/teach the effect of the “gut feeling” in your driver training sessions?
How often do you encounter intersection situations with crossing emergency vehicle traffic? Given your estimate, what is your assessment of the likelihood of a collision based on the frequency?
If your agency uses traffic pre-emptive signaling, how often is the system calibrated/fault-checked to ensure accuracy?
How many “blind side” intersections exist in your response area? What is the significance of knowing where they are?
Emergency response ranges from high frequency, high risk to low frequency and high risk depending on how many calls for service a department receives. Reducing the risk associated, whether the frequency is high or low is an essential element of keeping our promise to the communities we serve. Doing your part by keeping your speed under control and being on the lookout for hazardous situations like intersections, will promote getting you to the scene quickly and returning for the next run.
Related Reports – Topical Relation: Driving: Intersections
Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.
To Sign up to receive the Near-Miss Report of the Week by email, forward your request to email@example.com
Firefighternearmiss.com is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. Founding dollars were also provided by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. The project is managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and supported by FireFighterCloseCalls.com in mutual dedication to firefighter safety and survival.
We’ve provided some direct links from the ROTW webpage here, but there is a lot more on the firefighternearmiss.com site.
FFNMR – Report of the Week Archives [Direct Link, HERE]
One million advanced electric vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2015
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Electric Vehicle Safety Training project is providing firefighters and first responders with the information and materials necessary to respond to emergency situations involving electric vehicles. This training will help first responders identify electric vehicles and respond to common hazards. The project is being funded by a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
NFPA, Chevrolet and OnStar have launched the first virtual electric vehicle safety training for first responders. The online training — hosted on NFPA’s Electric Vehicles Safety Training website — features an inside look at the technology and safety systems for the all-new 2011 Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle with extended-range capabilities that hit the roads last fall.
The collaboration with Chevrolet and OnStar stems from NFPA’s electric vehicle safety training initiative, a result of a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, that supports the growing number of electric vehicles in the United States.
This is an NFPA sponsored training opportunity which may be reached at:
NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training project is a nationwide program to help firefighters and other first responders prepare for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road in the United States. The NFPA project, funded by a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, provides first responders with information they need to most effectively deal with potential emergency situations involving electric vehicles.
The project is being developed in support of the Department of Energy’s overarching goal of increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road. Knowing that firefighters and first responders are equipped with the information they need about electric vehicles will be crucial to the public’s acceptance of these vehicles.
The goal of NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training project is to ensure that firefighters and first responders are prepared for emergencies involving electric vehicles. The training seeks to:
Create awareness of unique emergency response needs for electric vehicles
Drive awareness of availability of training modules
Remove concern about inherent safety of electric vehicles and ability to safely respond in emergency situations
Reassure public that trained first responders know what to do in emergency situations involving electric vehicles
Who should participate in the Electric Vehicle Safety Training?
Members of the fire service, law enforcement and EMS personnel should participate in the training.
Why is this training being offered?
Firefighters and other first responders put their lives on the line every day. It is critical that they have all of the specific information they need about electric vehicles when preparing to deal with hazardous situations. They deserve to know what is coming down the road.
Who is developing the training?
The training will be based on extensive research and findings from the Fire Protection Research Foundation, NFPA, Subject Matter Experts, Auto Manufacturers and others.
What topics will be covered in the training?
Overview of the EV electrical & safety systems
Identification of electric & hybrid vehicle
Electrical power-down procedures
EV extrication awareness, including high strength steel
Vehicle fire recommended practices
Emergency operations (battery fires, submersion)
New challenges presented by vehicle charging stations and infrastructure
Captain Araguz, a 30 year old, 11-year veteran of the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department made Captain in 2009. He lost his life while battling a multiple alarm fire a the Maxim Egg Farm located at 3307 FM 442, Boling, Texas on July 3, 2010. The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office issued the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report, SFMO Case Number FY10-01 that provides a detailed examination of the incident, operations and yeilds findings and recommendations. A full version of the report is available at the Texas SFMO web site HERE.
On July 3, 2010, Wharton Volunteer Fire Department Captain Thomas Araguz III was fatally injured during firefighting operations at an egg production and processing facility. At 9:41 PM, Wharton County Sheriff’s Office 911 received a report of a fire at the Maxim Egg Farm located at 3307 FM 442, Boling, Texas. Boling Volunteer Fire Department and the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department responded first, arriving approximately 12 minutes after dispatch. Eventually, more than 30 departments with 100 apparatus and more than 150 personnel responded. Some departments came as far as 60 miles to assist in fighting the fire.
The fire involved the egg processing building, including the storage areas holding stacked pallets of foam, plastic, and cardboard egg cartons and boxes. It was a large windowless, limited access structure with large open areas totaling over 58,000 square feet. A mixed construction, it included a two-story business office, the egg processing plant, storage areas, coolers, and shipping docks. It was primarily metal frame construction with metal siding and roofing on a concrete slab foundation with some areas using wood framing for the roof structure.
Captain Araguz responded to the scene from the Wharton Fire Station, approximately 20 miles from the fire scene, arriving to the front, south side main entrance 20 minutes after dispatch. Captain Araguz, Captain Juan Cano, and Firefighter Paul Maldonado advanced a line through the main entrance and along the south, interior wall to doors leading to a storage area at the Southeast corner.
Maldonado fed hose at the entry door as Captains Araguz and Cano advanced through the processing room. Araguz and Cano became separated from the hose line and then each other. Captain Cano found an exterior wall and began kicking and hitting the wall as his air supply ran out. Firefighters cut through the exterior metal wall at the location of the knocking and pulled him out. Several attempts were made to locate Captain Araguz including entering the building through the hole and cutting an additional hole in the exterior wall where Cano believed Araguz was located. Fire conditions eventually drove the rescuers back and defensive firefighting operations were initiated.
Captain Cano was transported to the Gulf Coast Medical Center where he was treated and released. Captain Araguz was recovered at 7:40 AM, the following morning. Initially transported by ambulance to the Wharton Funeral Home then taken to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office in Austin, Texas for a post-mortem examination.
Site Plan of Building Complex
Building Structure and Systems
The fire incident building was located on the property of Maxim Egg Farm, located within an unincorporated area of Wharton County. The 911 address is 580 Maxim Drive, Boling, Texas 77420.
Wharton County has no adopted fire codes, or model construction codes, and no designated Fire Marshal on staff that conducts fire safety inspections within their jurisdiction.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 Edition, is adopted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and is the applicable standard for fire and life safety inspections in the absence of an adopted fire code within unincorporated areas of a county by an applicable authority. All references regarding evaluation of the incident building in relation to minimum life safety requirements are based on NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 Edition.
Maxim Farm property includes 23 chicken coops known as layer barns that average 300 feet long and 50 feet wide holding between 15,000 to 25,000 chickens each. These layer barns inter-connect to a central processing building by a series of enclosed conveyor belts transporting over one million eggs daily.
The property includes integrated feed silos, water tanks, and waste management facilities. Additional areas on the property include equipment barns, shipping offices, loading docks, coolers, storage areas, and business offices.
Overall Building Description
The main processing structure was an irregularly shaped mixed construction of metal, concrete block, and wood framing on a concrete slab foundation with approximately 58,000 square feet of space. Three dry-storage rooms connected by a wide hallway lined the east side of the plant. A concrete block (CMU) wall separated the egg processing area from the East Hallway and storage rooms. Coolers were located north of the processing room with the loading docks along the west side of the structure. The loading docks were accessible from the processing room, Cooler 3, and Cooler 2. Cooler 1 was located at the north end of Dry Storage 2. A two-story building housing the business office was attached to the main processing plant at the southwest corner.
The building construction was classified as an NFPA 220, Type II-000 construction with an occupancy classification by the Life Safety Code as Industrial with sub-classification as special-purpose use. The Life Safety Code imposes no minimum construction requirements for this type of occupancy.
The predominant use of the building was to process and package fresh eggs for shipment after arriving by automated conveyor directly from a laying house adjacent to the building. The general floor plan of the building consisted of a large egg processing room, with surrounding areas used for storage of packing materials and two large drive-in coolers for holding packaged eggs prior to shipping.
Building construction consisted of a combination of steel and wood framing with a sheet metal exterior siding and roofing over a low-pitch roof on a concrete slab foundation. Structural elements within the interior of the building were exposed and unprotected with no fire-resistance rated materials applied. The load bearing structural elements consisted of steel beams, and steel pipe columns, with steel open web trusses supporting the roof structure.
Wood components were also used as part of the load bearing elements and wall framing.
Perimeter walls of the cooler compartments were constructed of concrete masonry units (CMU).
The building was not separated between other areas of use by fire-resistance rated assemblies.
Ancillary facilities located within the building used for administrative offices and other incidental spaces were constructed of wood framing with a gypsum wallboard finish.
Detailed Construction Features
The front of the structure faced to the south where the main entrance to the processing room and business offices was located approximately 4 feet above the parking lot grade level and accessed by a series of steps. The business office was a two-story wood frame construction with a vinyl exterior siding under a metal roof on a concrete slab foundation. Additional separate, single-story, wood frame structures with offices located to the west of the main business office connected by covered walkways.
The egg processing room was 141 feet along the east and west walls and approximately 100 feet along the north and south walls. The processing room received the eggs transported from the layer barns on the conveyer belt system. The room contained the processing equipment and conveyor systems where eggs were cleaned, graded, packaged and moved to large coolers to await shipment. The construction of the processing room was sheet metal panels embedded into the concrete slab foundation supported by 8-inch wide metal studs. Sheet metal panels lined the exterior and interior sides of the south and west walls with fiberglass insulation sandwiched between.
Main Processing Area
The north wall separated the processing room from Cooler 3 and consisted mainly of interlocking insulated metal panels embedded into the slab locked at the top in metal channels. Their interior surface was polyurethane laminate.
The east wall was mainly of concrete block (CMU) construction. A USDA office and a mechanics room were accessed through doors in the east wall of the processing room. The northeast corner of the processing room extended into the north end of the east hallway, forming an 18 feet by 18 feet area with wood frame construction on a concrete stem wall with fiber cement board (Hardy board) and metal panel siding. A 6-feet wide opening between the processing and dry-storage areas with a vinyl strip door allowed unrestricted access.
Along the south wall of the processing room, a walkway between the processing equipment and exterior wall led to swinging double doors at the southeast corner to enter into Dry Storage 3. Conveyors carried the eggs from the north and south layer barns through openings in the walls of the extension of the processing room. The conveyors from the north and south layer barns entered the building suspended overhead. As the conveyors approached the entrance to the main processing room, they gradually descended to 3.5 feet above floor level and were supported by metal brackets attached to the floor. Electric drive motors attached to the conveyors at several points along their lengths to power their movement.
The roof consisted of steel columns and girders with metal panel roofing attached to metal purlins supported by steel rafters. Wire mesh supported fiberglass insulation under the roof deck. The roof gable was oriented north to south.
The plant included three dry-storage rooms along the eastern side of the building connected by an east hallway. Dry Storage 1 and Dry Storage 2 were located in the northeast corner of the plant under a common sloping metal roof. The dry-storage rooms held pallets of containers including polystyrene egg crates, foam egg cartons, pulp egg cartons, and cardboard boxes.
Dry Storage 1 was approximately 123 feet long and 50 feet wide and was 4 feet below the grade of the rest of the plant. It was added to the east side of Dry Storage 2 in 2008. Dry Storage 1 was a concrete slab and 4-feet high concrete half wall topped with wood framing and metal siding. The metal roof sloped from 11 feet high above the west side to 10 feet high above the east wall. The roof attached to 2 inch x 8 inch wood joists supported by two rows of steel support columns and steel girders. The two rows of seven columns were oriented in a north-south direction.
A concrete ramp at the south end facilitated access to the East Hallway and Dry Storage 2 and the main level of the processing room. A concrete ramp at the northeast corner of Dry Storage 1 provided access to the rear loading dock. The rear dock was secured on the interior at the top of the ramp by a wood frame and metal double door with a wooden cross member and a chain and padlock. An additional wood frame and screened double door secured on the interior.
The conveyor belt from the north layer barns ran the length of the west side of Dry Storage 1 where it turned to the west, crossing Dry Storage 2 and the East Hallway into the main processing room.
Dry Storage 1 contained 29 rows of pallets, seven to eight pallets deep, of mainly Styrofoam egg crates stacked between 7 and 10 feet high, depending on their location. Corridors between the rows were maintained to provide access to the pallets with an electric forklift. Fluorescent light fixtures attached to the wood rafters in rows north to south with their conductors in PVC conduit. Skylights spaced evenly above the west side allowed for natural light. Pallets of stock material were single stacked below the locations of the light fixtures to keep clearance and prevent damage.
Dry Storage 2, located west of and 4 feet above Dry Storage 1, stored pallets of flattened cardboard box stock. The room was approximately 81 feet long and 40 feet wide. The south wall was the processing room extension and was approximately 25 feet long. The east side of the room was open to Dry Storage 1 with 4 inch x 4 inch unprotected wood studs spaced unevenly from 4 feet to 9 feet, supporting the metal roof. The west wall was CMU construction and was the exterior wall of Cooler 3. The metal roof sloped from the top of the west wall approximately 12 feet high to approximately 11 feet above the east side.
The room was accessed from the south end at the top of the ramp leading down into Dry Storage 1. Pallets of folded cardboard boxes were stacked along the entire length of the west wall extending 16 to 20 feet to the east. The rows of pallets were without spacing for corridors. One row of six fluorescent light fixtures attached to wood rafters near the north-south centerline.
The East Hallway was approximately 118 feet long and 37 feet wide running along the length of the east side of the processing room. The East Hallway connected Dry Storages 1 and 2 with Dry Storage 3 by a corridor at the south end. The East Hallway allowed access between the storage room areas and into utility rooms including the Boiler Room at the north end and a mechanics room and small utility closet. Pallets of polystyrene egg crates were stored along the east wall in rows of three pallets each. Seven pallets of polystyrene egg crates were stored along the conveyors.
The west wall was concrete block construction (CMU) until it connected to the extension of the processing area constructed of wood frame covered by Hardy board and sheet metal. The east wall was sheet metal embedded in the concrete slab supported by 2 inch x 4 inch wood studs with Hardy board interior. The metal roof sloped from a height at 12 feet at the west wall to 10 feet high at the east wall, supported by 4 inch x 6 inch wood columns and 2 inch x 8 inch wood joists.
Two conveyors entered the south end of the east hallway from Dry Storage 3. The conveyors ran parallel for approximately 80 feet along the west wall and entered the processing room through openings in the extension at the north end of the east hallway. They were 6 feet from the west wall and gradually descended from a height of 9 feet at the south end to 3.5 feet at the north. Each conveyor was 31 inches wide and combined was approximately 7 feet wide. Two compressor machines and a pressure washer were located along the west wall near the south end.
The Boiler Room, located at the northeast corner of the East Hall, housed two propane fired boilers, a water treatment system and two vacuum pumps. It was wood frame construction with metal siding under a metal roof on a combination concrete slab and concrete pier and wood beam foundation. A small utility room with service panels was constructed of concrete block on a concrete slab under a metal roof and was also located along the west wall of the East Hallway. An approximately 10 feet wide corridor connected the East Hallway to Dry Storage 3.
Dry Storage 3 extended south from the main processing room and East Hallway to the south dock area where tractor-trailers parked to unload the pallets of supplies. Two parallel conveyors suspended 9 feet overhead from the roof extended along the length of the east wall where it passed through the south wall toward the south layer houses.
The plant’s main power conductors entered the west wall of Dry Storage 3 from load centers and transformers mounted to the slab outside approximately 15 feet south of the main processing room exterior wall. Stacks of wood pallets were stored in Dry Storage 3. Corridors wide enough for forklifts provided access to the south cargo dock area.
Fire Ground Operations and Tactics
Note: The following sequence of events was developed from radio transmissions and firefighter witness statements. Those events with known times are identified. Events without known times are approximated in the sequence of the events based on firefighter statements regarding their actions and/or observations. A detailed timeline of radio transmissions is included in the appendix.
On July 3, 2010, at 21:41:10, Wharton County Sheriff’s Office 911 received a report of a fire at the Maxim Egg Farm located on County Road 442, south of the city of Boling, Texas. The caller, immediately transferred to the Wharton Police Department Dispatch, advised there was a “big fire” in the warehouse where egg cartons were stored. Boling Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched and immediately requested aid from the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department. Wharton VFD became Command as is the usual practice for this county.
Wharton Assistant Chief Stewart (1102) was returning to the station having been out on a response to a vehicle accident assisting the Boling Volunteer Fire Department when the call came in for the fire. He responded immediately and at 21:50 reported seeing “heavy fire” coming from the roof at the northeast corner of the building as he approached the plant from the east on County Road 442. When he arrived he was eventually directed to the east side of the building (D side) to the rear loading dock. Asst. Chief Stewart worked for several minutes with facility employees to gain access to the fire building before being led to the northeast loading dock.
An employee directed him on the narrow caliche drive behind the layer barns and between the waste ponds to the loading dock. Wharton Engine 1134 followed 1102 to the east side and backed into the drive leading to the loading dock. Asst. Chief Stewart’s immediate actions included assessing the extent of the fire on the interior of the building by looking through the doors at the loading dock to Dry Storage 1. Unable to see the fire through the smoke at the doors of the loading dock, an attack was eventually accomplished by removing a metal panel from the east exterior wall of Dry Storage 1 and using one 1¾”-inch cross lay. After a few minutes, the deck gun on Engine 1134 was utilized, directing water to the roof above the seat of the fire near the south end of Dry Storage 1.
Water supply became an immediate concern and 1102 made efforts to get resources for resupply. Requests for mutual aid to provide water tankers were made to area communities. During the incident, re-supplying tankers included a gravity re-fill from the on-site water supply storage tanks and from fire hydrants in the City of Boling, 3 miles from the scene and the City of Wharton, nearly 11 miles. The City of Boling water tower was nearly emptied during the incident.
The radio recording indicates there were difficulties accessing the location of the fire as apparatus were led around the complex by multiple employees. Heavy rains during the previous week left many roadways muddy and partially covered with water, which added to problems with apparatus access. In addition, fire crews were not familiar with the layout of the facility and there are no records of pre-fire plans. Asst. Chief Stewart worked for several minutes with facility employees to gain access to the fire building before being led to the northeast loading dock.
Wharton Fire Chief Bobby Barnett (1101) arrived on scene at 21:56:14, and ordered incoming apparatus to stage until he could establish an area of operations at the front, south side of the plant (A side). Chief Barnett directed Engine 1130 to position approximately 50 feet from the front main entrance of the plant. At 22:09:16, Chief Barnett (1101) established a command post on A side and became the Incident Commander; 1101 directed radio communications for the fireground to be TAC 2 and called for mutual aid from the Hungerford and El Campo Fire Departments. Chief Barnett described the conditions on side A as smoky with no fire showing. Light winds were from the east, side D, pushing the smoke toward the area of the processing room, and the front, side A, of the building.
Maxim Egg Farm Manager David Copeland, a former Wharton VFD Chief, advised Command and firefighters that the fire was in the area of the Boiler Room and should be accessed by breaching an exterior wall in the employee break area. Chief Barnett ordered Wharton crews to the breach attempt. Captain Thomas Araguz III, Captain John Cano and Firefighter Paul Maldonado were involved with this operation. The crews working in this area were in full structural personnel protective clothing and SCBA.
At 22:10, Command ordered Engine 1130 and Tanker 1160 to set up at the front entrance using Tanker 1160 for portable dump tank operations for water re-supply.
On D side, difficulty accessing the fire from the exterior of the building was reported by Asst. Chief Stewart and the crews. Heavy doors, locked loading dock doors and steel exterior paneling, required the crews to spend extra time forcing entry.
At 22:17:23, Wharton County Chief Deputy Bill Copeland (3122), once a Wharton FD volunteer firefighter, notified Command that the fire was now through the roof over Dry Storage 1.
Chief Barnett noticed smoke conditions improving at the main plant doorway and ordered crews to advance lines into the processor room. Chief Barnett stated he assigned Captain Araguz, Captain Cano and Firefighter Maldonado because they were the most experienced and senior crews available.
Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) was in place at the main entry door when Captain Cano, Captain Araguz and Firefighter Maldonado entered the structure into the processing room. There are no radio transmissions to verify exact entry times.
Captain Cano stated that an employee had to assist fire crews with entry into the main plant through a door with keypad access. Captain Cano reported the door to processing was held open by a three-ring binder that he jammed under the door after entry. Cano stated there was low visibility and moderate heat overhead. Captain Cano and Captain Araguz made entry on a right-hand wall working their way around numerous obstacles. The line was not yet charged and they returned to the doorway and waited for water. Wharton Engine 1130’s driver reported in his interview that he had difficulty establishing a draft from the portable tank later determined to be a linkage failure on the priming pump. 1160 connected directly to 1130 and drafted from the folding tank.
As the crew entered into the structure through the main entry door, several plant employees began entering into the administration offices through the area of the main entry door to remove files and records. This was reported to Command at 22:23 and after several minutes Chief Barnett ordered employees to stay out of the building and requested assistance from the Sheriff’s Office to maintain scene security.
At 22:31, once the line was charged, the two captains continued into the processor on the right wall leaving Maldonado at the doorway to feed hose. Captain Cano was first with the nozzle and described making it 20 feet into the building.
Cano states in his interview that he advised Command over the radio that there was high heat and low visibility, although the transmission is not recorded. Cano also reported in his interview, he could not walk through the area and had to use a modified duck walk. Cano projected short streams of water towards the ceiling in a “penciling” motion and noted no change in heat or smoke conditions. They advanced until the heat became too great and they retreated towards the center of the processor. Cano stated that they discussed their next tactic and decided to try a left-handed advance.
At 22:33, Chief Barnett advised, “advancing hose streams in main building to try to block it.”
Captain Araguz took the nozzle and Captain Cano advanced with him holding onto Araguz’ bunker gear. The crew advanced along the south wall of the processing room toward the double doors to Dry Storage 3 and lost contact with the hose line.
The investigation found the couplings between the first and second sections of the hose lodged against a threaded floor anchor (see photo) preventing further advancement of the line. How the team lost the hose line remains uncertain.
Captain Cano stated in his interview that Captain Araguz told him to call a Mayday. Captain Cano stated that he was at first confused by the request, but after some time it became apparent they lost the hose line. Captain Cano reported calling Mayday on the radio but never received a reply. Captain Cano now believes he may have inadvertently switched channels at his previous transmission reporting interior conditions. Captain Araguz had a radio but it was too damaged to determine operability. There are no recorded transmissions from Captain Araguz.
At 22:37, Deputy Chief Copeland advised Command that the fire had breached a brick wall and was entering the main packing plant. Command responded that there was a hose team inside.
At 22:42:50, Command radioed “Command to hose team 1, Cano.” This was the first of several attempts to contact Captain Cano and Captain Araguz. At 22:47:17, Command ordered Engine 1130 to sound the evacuation horn. At 22:50:44, Command announced Mayday over the radio, stating “unlocated fireman in the building.”
Captain Cano stated in his interview that they made several large circles in an attempt to locate the fire hose.
Cano became entangled in wiring, requiring him to doff his SCBA.
After re-donning his SCBA, Captain Cano noted he lost his radio, but found a flash light. He remembered that his low air warning was sounding as he and Araguz searched for the hose. Cano stated that they made it to an exterior wall and decided to attempt to breach the wall. Working in near zero visibility,
Captain Cano reported losing contact with Captain Araguz while working on breaching the wall.
Shortly after he lost contact, Captain Cano ran out of air and removed his mask. Captain Cano continued working to breach the exterior wall until he was exhausted.
At 22:54, crews working on the exterior of the building near the employee break area reported hearing tapping on the wall in the area of the employee break room.
Crews mustered tools and began to cut additional holes through the building exterior.
After making two openings, Captain Cano was located and removed from the building.
Captain Cano reported that Captain Araguz was approximately 15 feet inside of the building ahead of him.
Firefighters made entry through the exterior hole but were unsuccessful in locating Captain Araguz. Cano was escorted to the folding water tank and got into the tank to cool down.
Rapid Intervention Crews (RIC) were established using mutual aid members from the Hungerford and El Campo Fire Departments. The first entry made was at the main entry door where Firefighter Maldonado was located. Maldonado was relieved and escorted to the ambulance for rehab. An evacuation horn sounded and the first RIC abandoned the interior search and exited the building.
A rescue entry by a second RIC was through the breached wall of Dry Storage 3. After several minutes inside, the evacuation signal sounded due to the rapidly spreading fire and deteriorating conditions. Two additional RICs entered the structure through the loading dock doors of Dry Storage 3. Chief Barnett states that there were a total of four RICs that made entry after the Mayday. After approximately 45 minutes, all rescue attempts ceased.
As the fire extended south toward Dry Storage 3, smoke conditions became so debilitating that Chief Barnett ordered all crews staged near the front of the building on side A to move back and apparatus to relocate. Command assigned Chief Hafer of the Richmond Fire Department to “A” side operations and defensive operations were established. Captain Cano and Firefighter Maldonado were transported to Gulf Coast Medical Center and treated for smoke inhalation.
Fire ground operations continued through the night. Captain Araguz was recovered at approximately
07:40 AM. Command transferred to the Richmond Fire Department Chief Hafer at approximately
07:56 AM as 1101 and the Wharton units escorted Captain Araguz from the scene. All Wharton units cleared the scene at 08:02 AM.
Captain Araguz was transported to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office performed post mortem examinations on July 4, 2010. Captain Araguz died from thermal injuries and smoke inhalation.
Findings and Recommendations
Recommendations are based upon nationally recognized consensus standards and safety practices for the fire service.
All fire department personnel should know and understand nationally recognized consensus standards, and all fire departments should create and maintain SOGs and SOPs to ensure effective, efficient, and safe firefighting operations.
There were several factors that, when combined, may have contributed to the death of Captain Araguz. It is important that we honor him by learning from the incident.
Water supply became an immediate concern.
Although there are two water storage tanks on the facility with the combined capacity of nearly 44,000 gallons, refilling operations to tankers were slow, accomplished by gravity fill through a 5-inch connection.
A fire department connection attached to the plant’s main water supply pump and plant personnel familiar with the system could have sped up the refilling process at the plant.
Most tankers were sent to hydrants in the City of Boling 3 miles away, which in turn quickly depleted the city water supply.
Other tanker refilling was accomplished at hydrants on the City of Wharton water system, as far as 15 miles away.
Fire protection systems are not required by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 Edition for this classification of facility. Fire sprinkler and smoke control systems may have contained the fire to one area, preventing the spread of fire throughout the plant.
Findings and recommendations from this investigation include:
There were no lives to save in the building. An inadequate water supply, lack of fire protection systems in the structure to assist in controlling the spread of the smoke and fire, and the heavy fire near the windward side facilitated smoke and fire spread further into the interior and toward “A” side operations. Along with the size of the building, the large fuel load, and the time period from fire discovery, interior firefighters were at increased risk.
Recommendation: Fire departments should develop Standard Operating Guidelines and conduct training involving risk management and risk benefit analysis during an incident according to Incident Management principles required by NFPA 1500 and 1561.
The concept of risk management shall be utilized on the basis of the following principles:
(a) Activities that present a significant risk to the safety of personnel shall be limited to situations where there is a potential to save endangered lives
(b) Activities that are routinely employed to protect property shall be recognized as inherent risks to the safety of personnel, and actions shall be taken to reduce or avoid these risks.
(c) No risk to the safety of personnel shall be acceptable where there is no possibility to save lives or property.
(d) In situations where the risk to fire department members is excessive, activities shall be limited to defensive operations. NFPA 1500 Chapter 8, 8.3.2
NFPA 1500 ‘Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program’, 2007 ed., and NFPA 1561’Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System’, 2008 ed. Texas Commission on Fire Protection Standards Manual, Chapter 435, Section 435.15
(b) The Standard operating procedure shall:
(1) Specify an adequate number of personnel to safely conduct emergency scene operations;
(2) limit operations to those that can be safely performed by personnel at the scene;
Initial crews failed to perform a 360-degree scene size-up and did not secure the utilities before operations began.
Recommendation: Fire departments should develop Standard Operating Guidelines that require crews to perform a complete scene size-up before beginning operations. A thorough size up will provide a good base for deciding tactics and operations. It provides the IC and on-scene personnel with a general understanding of fire conditions, building construction, and other special considerations such as weather, utilities, and exposures. Without a complete and accurate scene size-up, departments will have difficulty coordinating firefighting efforts.
Fireground Support Operations 1st Edition, IFSTA, Chapter 10 Fundamentals of Firefighting Skills,
NFPA/IAFC, 2004, Chapter 2
The Incident Commander failed to maintain an adequate span of control for the type of incident. Safety, personnel accountability, staging of resources, and firefighting operations require additional supervision for the scope of incident. Radio recordings and interview statements indicate the IC performing several functions including: Command, Safety, Staging, Division A Operations, Interior Operations and Scene Security.
Recommendation: Incident Commanders should maintain an appropriate span of control and assign additional personnel to the command structure as needed. Supervisors must be able to adequately supervise and control their subordinates, as well as communicate with and manage all resources under their supervision. In ICS, the span of control of any individual with incident management supervisory responsibility should range from three to seven subordinates, with five being optimal. The type of incident, nature of the tasks, hazards and safety factors, and distances between personnel and resources all influence span-of-control considerations.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Federal Emergency Management Agency Incident Command Systems http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/ICSpopup.htm#item5 NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, Chapter 8, 2007 ed.
The interior fire team advanced into the building prior to the establishment of a rapid intervention crew (RIC).
Recommendation: Fire Departments should develop written procedures that comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Final Rule, 29 CFR Section 1910.134 (g) (4) requiring at least two fire protection personnel to remain located outside the IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life or Health) atmosphere to perform rescue of the fire protection personnel inside the IDLH atmosphere. One of the outside fire protection personnel must actively monitor the status of the inside fire protection personnel and not be assigned other duties. NFPA 1500 8.8.7 At least one dedicated RIC shall be standing by with equipment to provide for the rescue of members that are performing special operations or for members that are in positions that present an immediate danger of injury in the event of equipment failure or collapse.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Respiratory Protection Standard, CFR 1910.134 (g) (4); Texas Commission on Fire Protection Standards §435.17 – Procedures for Interior Structure Fire Fighting (2-in/2-out rule) NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, Chapter 8, 2007 ed. NFPA 1720 Standard on Organization and Deployment Fire Suppression Operations by Volunteer Fire Departments, 2004 ed.
The interior team and Incident Commander did not verify the correct operation of communications equipment before entering the IDLH atmosphere and subsequently did not maintain communications between the interior crew and Command. Although Chief Barnett stated he communicated with Captain Cano, there was no contact with Captain Araguz.
Recommendation: Fire Departments should develop written policies requiring the verification of the correct operations of communications equipment of each firefighter before crews enter an IDLH atmosphere. Fire Departments should also include training for their members on the operation of communications equipment in zero visibility conditions.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Respiratory Protection Standard, CFR 1910.134(g)(3)(ii) NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, Chapter 8, 2007 ed.
The interior operating crew did not practice effective air management techniques for the size and complexity of the structure. Interviews indicate the crew expended breathing air while attempting to breach an exterior wall for approximately 10 minutes, then advanced a hose line into a 15,000 square feet room without monitoring their air supply. During interviews Captain Cano estimated his consumption limit at 15 – 20 minutes on a 45 minute SCBA.
Recommendation: Crews operating in IDLH atmospheres must monitor their air consumption rates and allot for sufficient evacuation time. Known as the point of no return, it is that time at which the remaining operation time of the SCBA is equal to the time necessary to return safely to a non-hazardous atmosphere. The three basic elements to effective air management are:
Know your point of no return (beyond 50 percent of the air supply of the team member with the lowest gauge reading).
Know how much air you have at all times.
Make a conscious decision to stay or leave when your air is down to 50 percent.
IFSTA . Essentials of Fire Fighting and Fire Department Operations, 5th ed., Chapter 5, Air Management, page 189 Fundamentals of Firefighter Skills, 2nd edition, NFPA and International Association of Fire Chiefs, Chapter 17, Fire Fighter Survival.
Captains Araguz and Cano became separated from their hoseline. While it is unclear as to the reason they became separated from the hose line, interviews with Captain Cano indicate that while he was finding an exterior wall and took actions to alert the exterior by banging and kicking the wall, he lost contact with Captain Araguz.
**Captain Cano credits his survival to the actions he learned from recent Mayday, Firefighter Safety training.
Recommendation: Maintaining contact with the hose line is critical. Losing contact with the hose line meant leaving the only lifeline and pathway to safety. Team integrity provides an increased chance for survival. All firefighters should become familiar with and receive training on techniques for survival and self-rescue.
United States Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy training course “Firefighter Safety: Calling the Mayday” Fundamentals of Firefighter Skills, 2nd edition, NFPA and International Association of Fire Chiefs, Chapter 17, Fire Fighter Survival.
Additional References Related to Surviving the Mayday and RIT operations from 2011 Safety Week at CommandSafety.com;
This year’s Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week focused on Surviving the Fire Ground: Fire Fighter, Fire Officer and Command Preparedness. One of the major objectives of this year’s theme was addressing a variety of functional areas for the Mayday event. For many of you, the conditions, outcome and lessons learned from the Southwest Supermarket Fire, maydays and the Line of Duty Death of Phoenix (AZ) firefighter Bret Tarver in 2001 are as fresh today as they were ten years ago and certainly as relevant as when many of us first read the Final Report issued by the Phoenix FD.
However, to many others in the Fire Service the Bret Tarver LODD and the Southwest Supermarket fire along with the lessons learned that were identified and the research that was instituted may not have made it onto your radar screen. In this the final days of the 2011 Fire/EMS Safety week, it is very appropriate to provide some insights on this mayday event and more importantly provide you with the opportunty to learn from the past, to understand operational parameters, capabilites, fallacies, misconceptions and limitations when we talk about Mayday, RIT and FAST activities and operational deployments.
Here’s an overview of the event;
On March 14, 2001 the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department lost firefighter Brett Tarver at the Southwest Supermarket fire.
In that event, it was 5:00 in the afternoon, the grocery store was full of people and fire was extending through the building. Phoenix E14 was assigned to the interior of the structure to complete the search, get any people out, and attempt to confine the rapidly spreading fire to the rear of the structure. Shortly after completing their primary search of the building the Captain decided it was time to get out. Tarver and the other members of Engine 14 were exiting the building when Tarver and his partner got lost.
The engineer (driver) was leading the group following the attack line they had brought into the supermarket fire, followed by Tarver and his partner, with the company officer being the last person to begin the long crawl out of the smoke filled structure. At some point Tarver and his partner got off the hose line and moved deeper in the supermarket fire away from their only exit. Early on during the exit attempt through maze like conditions Tarver and his partner basically turned left instead of right. Not knowing this the company officer continued to crawl out of the building thinking his whole crew was ahead of him on the attack line. Tarver and his partner crawled deeper into the fire occupancy eventually ending up in the butcher shop area where they eventually became separated.
Based on radio reports of deteriorating conditions inside the building from E14 and other companies the Incident Commander (IC) considered a switch to a defensive strategy and started the process of pulling all crews out of the structure. During this process Tarver radioed the IC telling him that he was lost in the back of the building. The IC deployed two companies as Rapid Intervention Crews (RICs) through the front access point to no avail.
Other companies coming to their rescue through the back room area of the supermarket later rescued Tarver’s partner. After several unsuccessful rescue attempts, Tarver succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning from the acrid smoke and was eventually removed from the building as a full code. Trying to remove the 260-pound firefighter was nearly impossible for rescue team members. Outside, the resuscitation efforts failed.
During the rescue efforts there were more than twelve (12) mayday’s issued by firefighters trying to make the rescue. On this tragic day, one other firefighter (attempting to rescue Tarver) was removed in respiratory arrest and was later resuscitated by fire department paramedics on the scene.
Over the next year (The Recovery), the department systematically reviewed its standard operating procedures and fireground operational activities at the strategic (command), tactical (sector) and task (company) levels of the entire organization in an attempt to prevent such a tragic event from ever happening again to the Phoenix Fire Department. One of the many significant questions that was asked was why didn’t the rapid intervention concept work? Immediately after the fire the Phoenix Fire Department reviewed its Rapid Intervention and Mayday standard operating procedures (SOPs). Based on drills, training and the data acquired through those drills, in the year following the incident the standard concept of a rapid intervention is now being challenged.
In the wake of the 2001 Southwest Supermarket Fire and LODD of FF Brett Tarver, the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department issued a comprehensive report of the incident and the lessons learned and research conducted by the FD.
Beyond 2011 Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week; Fire Fighter, Fire Officer and Command Training and Preparedness
If you have never heard about the Southwest Supermarket Fire and the Bret Tarver LODD and incident and never read the report;
take the time to do so and understand that the concepts of RIT and FAST are made up of far more elements, considerations and more importantly realities of what you think you can do versus what you may actually be able to do.
if you’ve read it in the [past], take a few minutes to review and refresh;
see where your organization, department and RIT/FAST training and capabilities are today-
what are the capabilities of your fire fighters, officers and commanders?
Take a look at the NIOSH report and the recommendations contained; how does your deparment stack up today?
After reading the reports, take a close look at your organization, your personnel and your training and your capabilities and
ask yourself if you are truly able to perform the necessary RIT/FAST operations or
do you have a ways to go to better prepare, train and ensure you’re able to undertake the job and address the fireground survival needs when a mayday is called.
did you take the time during this safety week to make some progress, identify some new insights, gaps or renewed interests and desire to enhance on your capabilities and strengths?
Are your Mayday, RIT and FAST capabilites, skills and knowledge better today in 2011 than they were in 2001?
Rapid Intervention Team: Are You Ready? Mar 1, 2007 FireEngineering.com By Robert L. Gray; HERE If you were assigned to be a member of a rapid intervention team (RIT) during your next structure fire-or had to command a fireground rescue as a chief officer-are you confident that you would be up to the task of successfully responding to a firefighter Mayday?
The following is an article piece posted by my good friend Mike Ward and posted a number of years ago from www.thewatchdesk.com written by: Mike Ward
Rapid Intervention Reality – from Phoenix
Subject: Rapid Intervention Reality Check By Michael Ward
The Phoenix Fire Department’s Deployment Committee has a sobering message to their firefighters operating in large buildings, like a 7,500 square foot warehouse: “If you extend an attack line 150′, get 40 feet off the line and then run out of air, it will take us 22 minutes to get you out of the structure.” The lesson to remember is not to get off the fire attack line. The statement is based on 200 rapid intervention drills conducted by PFD as part of their recovery process after Firefighter/paramedic Brett Tarver died in the March 14, 2001 Southwest Supermarket fire.
PFD obtained three vacant commercial buildings: a warehouse, a movie theatre and a country-western bar. The RIT drill was for the first alarm companies to respond to a report of two firefighters in trouble. One is disoriented and the other one is unconscious. The buildings were sealed from outside light and the facemasks were obscured to simulate heavy smoke conditions. The RIT teams were equipped and deployed as if this is was a working fire. The department ran through about 200 RIT drills with 1144 PFD firefighters participating. Their activities were monitored and timed. An Arizona State University statistician analyzed the data.
The results show that rapid intervention is not rapid:
Rescue crew ready state 2.50 minutes
Mayday to RIC entry 3.03 minutes
RIC contact with downed firefighter 5.82 minutes
Total time inside building for each RIC team 12.33 minutes
Total time for rescue 21 minutes
The evolutions also revealed three consistent ratios:
It takes 12 firefighters to rescue one
One in five RIC members will get into some type of trouble themselves.
A 3000-psi SCBA bottle has 18.7 minutes of air (plus or minus 30%)
The results of the RIC drills reflects the experience Phoenix had during the efforts to rescue Firefighter/paramedic Brett Tarver. There were a dozen maydays sounded during the rescue effort, and one PFD firefighter was removed from the supermarket in respiratory arrest.
The Phoenix experience is not unique. Houston Fire Chief Chris Connealy participated in a discussion about the Phoenix RIC drills during the 2003 Change in the Fire Service Symposium. On October 13, 2001, Houston Engine 2 Captain Jay Jahnke died on the fifth floor of Four Leaf Towers, a 41 story residential high-rise. During the Houston RIC operation, two heavy rescue company firefighters became disoriented, low on air and had to rescue themselves. An engine company captain and firefighter run out of air and collapsed on the fire floor. Chief Connealy said that the Houston experience is similar to Phoenix.
Phoenix is changing its approach to rapid intervention crews in three procedural ways: increase suppression units assigned to RIC, increased in command officers, and considering a two-part RIC process.
There is a scalar approach to RIC dispatch assignments in Phoenix. For a “3-1 Assignment” (three engines and one ladder), a fourth engine and an ems transport (rescue) is added to the assignment to function as the rapid intervention team. For a 1st alarm assignment, two engines, one ladder, one rescue and a battalion chief are the RIC team. A second alarm includes an additional two engines and ladder for RIC. Beyond a second alarm, the incident commander can call additional companies as needed.
The recovery process also looked at the utilization of company and command officers on the fireground. A company officer core competency is to command a fire company. A core chief officer competency is to command fire companies. It is a function of the fire department hierarchical structure, not of personality. For example, a captain filling-in as a battalion chief does a better job as a West Sector officer than she would have if she was commanding Engine 2 AND in charge of West Sector. At the sector level of the incident management system, company officers are required to wear two hats. There are too many levels of tasks. Phoenix suggests that it would be more effective to send more command officers to a fire event to function as sector and division commanders and allow the company officers to command their companies. It is a waste of talent and experience to allow command officers to stay in their fire stations while a low-frequency, high risk event like a structure fire is occurring
in the city.
A third change in rapid intervention crews is using a two-phase approach. Many of the RIC team members ran out of air during the training evolutions. The drills showed that a 3000-psi SCBA bottle was good for 13.09 to 24.31 minutes of air. The average SCBA time was 18.7 minutes. The average time from mayday to removal was 21 minutes. RIC teams were running out of air during the firefighter removal phase. In addition, it was taking a crew of 12 firefighters to remove one firefighter. Phase one of a RIC response is to send a team in to locate the firefighters in trouble. Once located, a second RIC team enters to remove the firefighter.
You are welcome to share this with everyone. Please include the following: taken from www.thewatchdesk.com written by:
Michael Ward, Fire Science Program Head, Northern Virginia Community College.
We’ve got a whole lot of resources, links and daily commentary and articles that were posted on each day of SAfety Week over atCommandSafety.com
If you didn’t have a look and read, take some time to do so. If you didn’t do anything during Safety Week, there’s always next week or the week after… find the time and commit to some training, insights, dialog, discussion…Get Prepared.
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