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Fire Reports

This section is devoted to those who have been injured or lost their lives in the line of duty with the hope that those who visit this site will PREVENT "HISTORY FROM REPEATING ITSELF" OUR GOAL is for you, as a FIREFIGHTER to LEARN from these "events" and TAKE THE INFORMATION BACK TO YOUR FIREFIGHTERS and SHARE IT WITH THEM!

Each one of these "CLOSE CALLS" can happen ANYWHERE! Each of these FD's thought that "today was gonna just be another day"... just like you and I... and then BAM! Something goes wrong. Please take this information and use it, print it, forward it, post it and do WHATEVER IT TAKES to pass it on and NEVER GIVE UP on focusing on FIREFIGHTER SAFETY! Each CASE STUDY in this section is based upon the writers description of the events.


Click Here (Download PDF Report)


Friday, May 3, 2013  During the early morning hours of April 9th, 2013, firefighters from the Irmo Fire District in South Carolina responded to an apartment fire where one adult and four children were reported entrapped on the second floor of a burning apartment.

During fireground operations, particularly in the duration of primary search and fire suppression operations, four firefighters became entrapped on the apartment’s 2nd  floor following the rapid fire progression of the fire’s seat located on the 1st  floor.

As a result of their entrapment due to the fire’s progression on the apartment’s 1st  floor and the rapidly deteriorating interior conditions on the 2nd  floor, all four firefighters were forced to escape imminent flashover conditions by use of a ground ladder positioned at a second floor bedroom window established as a secondary means of egress prior to their entering the structure.  All 4 firefighters were able to successfully escape quickly and without injury.


Please take a moment to review our investigation report of this incident and pass on our lessons learned during this incident to your fellow firefighters.   






Thursday, October 4, 2012  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is recommending fire departments have more involved risk evaluation during fire attacks and a better enforced policy on SCBA procedure after a firefighter died while conducting vertical ventilation.

Lt. Todd Krodle, 41, a 17-year veteran of the Dallas Fire-Rescue was attempting to perform vertical ventilation during a fire an apartment complex, the report said.

When crossing over to the peak of the roof of the building to ventilate above the fire, he fell through the roof, into the attic. Although he was wearing his SCBA, he was not wearing his facepiece.

By the time fellow firefighters were able to get him to the hospital, he died.

An examination revealed he died from "asphyxiation from the products of combustion."

Risk Evaluation

Investigators are recommending that the fire officer on the scene conduct an initial size-up on the attack, especially in terms of risk versus gain in high-risk and low-frequency incidents.

Incident commanders should follow risk assessment as outlined in NFPA 1500 and continually evaluate the fire attack to ensure that certain hazards aren't overlooked as the fire burns.

"The reason for the focus on low frequency/high risk incidents is that these incidents do not occur on a frequent basis, but when they occur, the outcome can be harmful or detrimental to fire fighters," the report said.

In Lt. Krodle's case, vertical ventilation in the involved apartment building was high-risk, because the structure was older and less stable.

Building Code

NIOSH is also recommending that dispatchers be equipped with information pertaining to building code and structural integrity of buildings that crews are responding to.

Having this information on hand will allow firefighters to adequately prepare for any potential hazards and allows for pre-incident planning.

The apartment complex that Lt. Krodle was responding to had been previously damaged in other fires, although it is unclear if further inspections were conducted to reveal that the roof was not up to standard safety measures. Had responding crews been aware, they may have been able to avoid Lt. Krodle's incident.

Along with this, investigators say there should be stricter enforcement of building code and older buildings be brought up to current standards.


It is unclear why Lt. Krodle was not wearing his facepiece before the incident, but had he been on air, investigators say he would have had a much greater chance at survival. After falling through the roof, Lt. Krodle was unable to don his facepiece.

The report cites the International Fire Service Training Association, saying "firefighters should never get on a roof wearing anything less than full protective clothing, SCBA, and a PASS device…" in case of the toxic products of combustion.

NIOSH is also recommending that fire departments consider having a rapid intervention team to respond immediately to emergency rescue incidents and that incident commanders establish a command post.






Mark Falkenhan - RIP

Mark Falkenhan - RIP


NIOSH has investigated the death of Capt. Jeff Bowen, he 13-year AFD department veteran, who died in the Line of Duty in July of 2011 while operating at that medical building fire at 445 Biltmore Center. Nine other firefighters were hurt.


Arson, Lack of an automatic fire suppression system, Multistory/high-rise standard operating procedures not followed, Air management doctrine not followed, Reverse stack effect in stairwell, Inadequate strategy and tactics and task saturation of the incident commander




FF (and former Chief) Mark Gray Falkenhan, 43, became the first Baltimore County firefighter to die in the line of duty in more than 25 years when he was trapped in a third-story apartment during a fire on Jan. 19, 2011, in Hillendale. Falkenhan was searching for residents when he was fatally injured in the fire, which was caused by a pot of oil on a stove in a lower-level apartment.


Incident Management System, Personnel Accountability System, Rapid Intervention Crews, Conducting a search without a means of egress protected by a hoseline, Tactical consideration for coordinating advancing hoselines from opposite directions, Building safety features, e.g., no sprinkler systems, modifications limiting automatic door closing, Occupant behavior-leaving sliding glass door open and Ineffective ventilation



In addition to the above NIOSH report, the previously published internal report and recommendations (link below) ....ATF had published a MUST SEE (if you haven't previously) FIRE MODEL VIDEO with audio and related minute by minute detail.

===Again-please don't miss the opportunity to use this outstanding above linked video information for use and discussion in your firehouse.
In summary, FF Falkenhan and his partner entered and made their way into the building to search for victims, without a hoseline. The apartment, like ANY dwelling any FF operates in today-is filled with plastics and other petro-chemical based consumer items (carpeting/flooring, furniture, TV's etc) that create a gas filled and subsequent fire environment of explosive potential. Firefighters searching saw fire in the corner of the apartment shortly before coming across a victim-but those conditions were not communicated via radio. At 1841 hours, crews were ordered to evacuate the building and about a minute later Falkenhan called a MAYDAY. At 1850 hours, Firefighters found Falkenhan unconscious and eventually removed him from the building.


Once again-take the NIOSH REPORT along with the above information, the previous reports, radio traffic etc and use them in the firehouse, drills, meetings or whatever it takes as an excellent opportunity to learn, and HONOR the memory of FF Mark Falkenhan.






Monday, May 7, 2012  On June 02, 2011, Lt. Vincent A. Perez and Firefighter Paramedic Anthony M. Valerio died in the Line of Duty operating in a multi-level residential structure fire while searching for the seat of the fire. Note: The residential structure where the fatalities occurred was built on a significantly sloped hillside common throughout the city (see photos in the report)
NIOSH identifies these contributing factors that we should all compare to our own operations:
=Construction features of the house built into a steep sloping hillside
=Natural and operational horizontal ventilation
=Ineffective size-up
=Firefighters operating above the fire
=Ineffective fire command, communications and progress reporting
=Lack of a personnel accountability system.

NIOSH issued the following key recommendations that we should compare to our own operations:
Ensure that standard operating guidelines (SOGs) for coordinated operations are developed and implemented for hillside structures.
Ensure that an adequate size-up of the structure is conducted prior to crews making entry.
Ensure staffing levels are maintained.
Ensure that a personnel accountability system is established early and utilized at all incidents.
Ensure that fireground operations are coordinated with consideration given to the effect horizontal ventilation has on the air flow, smoke, and heat flow through the structure.
Ensure that the Incident Commander is provided a chief’s aide/command suppoert at all structure fires.
Ensure that an incident safety officer is assigned to all working structure fires.
Ensure that fire fighters are trained in Mayday procedures and survival techniques.
Continue research and efforts to improve radio system capabilities.
Adopt and enforce regulations for automatic fire sprinkler protection in new buildings and renovated structures.





ATF: The Death of a Firefighter-Critical Video

ATF Video

Thursday, May 3, 2012 

As you will remember, in January 2011, Firefighter Mark Falkenhan of Baltimore County's Lutherville VFD, a highly respected veteran career and volunteer Firefighter, died in the Line of Duty at a fire in a multi-family dwelling on Dowling Circle.
Now-in addition to the previously published internal report and recommendations (link below) ....the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has published a MUST SEE FIRE MODEL VIDEO with audio and related minute by minute detail.
The Fire Protection Engineers from the ATF Fire Research Laboratory worked with the Baltimore County FD to create a computer model of the fire that resulted in the Line of Duty Death of FF Mark Falkenhan on January 19th, 2011. The following 36 minute video details the entire incident, beginning with the 911 call and ending after the firefighter MAYDAY. The statements of each firefighter were reviewed and their individual actions (breaking windows, opening doors, etc.) and observations (fire size, smoke conditions, etc.) were recorded on floor diagrams. The actions and observations of the firefighters were then associated with specific times in the fireground audio to generate an overall event timeline. All events in the model are based on this master timeline of events. In addition, all photographs were time stamped and synchronized with the model and scene audio.
Several alternative fire modeling scenarios were also including as part of the engineering analysis and are included in the video. The purpose of the alternative fire modeling runs were to explore how the ventilation flows paths through the apartment building would differ if apartment entrance doors were shut during suppression/search efforts. The video is intended to be used as an educational tool that provides insight on potential methods for preventing similar tragedies in the future.
The following three conclusions result from the analysis:
1. Unidirectional flow of 600 degree Fahrenheit gases in excess of 6 mph up the stairs resulted in a high rate of convective heat transfer to the firefighters, making initial fire attack down the stairs very difficult.
2. The open apartment entry doors allowed the main stairwell to act as an open channel for fire and smoke spread between the 2nd and 3rd levels, resulting in flashover of the 3rd floor approximately 30 seconds after the 2nd level.
3. The model supported the scene observations and indicated that shutting the entrance doors blocked the flow of buoyancy driven fire gases, ultimately preventing fire extension to the 3rd level apartment via the stairwell.
===Again-please don't miss the opportunity to use this outstanding above linked video information for use and discussion in your firehouse.
As pointed out in the reports, this fire, like many other LODD's, this Lin e of Duty Death was not the result of one specific issue within the event-but numerous issues that lead up to the tragic loss.

A detailed timeline of the fire, leading up to the loss, from the time the initial call went out until Falkenhan was removed from the third floor of the building, is included in the below report. The timeline also includes transcripts of the radio transmissions between FF Falkenhan and others as he sought assistance in escaping the building. We have also included an edited link to the RADIO TRAFFIC below.

In summary, FFFalkenhan and his partner entered and made their way into the building to search for victims, without a hoseline. The apartment, like ANY dwelling any FF operates in today-is filled with plastics and other petro-chemical based consumer items (carpeting/flooring, furniture, TV's etc) that create a gas filled and subsequent fire environment of explosive potential. Firefighters searching saw fire in the corner of the apartment shortly before coming across a victim-but those conditions were not communicated via radio. At 1841 hours, crews were ordered to evacuate the building and about a minute later Falkenhan called a MAYDAY. At 1850 hours, Firefighters found Falkenhan unconscious and eventually removed him from the building.

Some of the main recommendations in the report include:

Company officers shall ensure that crew integrity is maintained at all times by all personnel operating in an IDLH environment. Falkenhan and his partner separated while searching the third floor-and his partner was forced to bail due to the conditions.
=No personnel should operate in an “immediately dangerous to life or health” environment without a portable radio. Falkenhan's partner did not have a portable radio.
=Develop ways of reducing inadvertent radio interference, including developing a rubberized cover for the push to talk buttons on radios which would reduce the chances of accidentally pushing it.
=While performing operations above the fire, notify command of changing conditions, and immediately request resources to support your function. The Firefighters conducting search and rescue operations saw fire in the corner of the apartment shortly before coming across a victim-but never communicated the fire conditions to command. The room flashed as they were exiting the apartment.

The report concludes that while Falkenhan’s death was tragic, there is little need for massive changes to the department’s related protocols. As you and we have all read in previous Line of Duty Death reports, if current policies and procedures were/are adhered to, the opportunity for tragic outcomes may be reduced.

In a statement from the report: “It would be easy if one particular failure of the system could be identified as the cause of this tragedy.
“We could fix it and move on. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. No incident is 'routine.' Mark’s death and this report reinforce that fact.”

Once again-the above NEW information, the previous report, radio traffic etc is an excellent opportunity to learn, and HONOR the memory of FF Mark Falkenhan.





LAFD Releases Official 'Green Sheet' Report of Fire Captain Injured in Elysian Park Vehicle Explosion

Wednesday, February 16, 2011  On Sunday, January 9, 2011, a veteran Los Angeles Fire Department Captain sustained serious injuries when anexplosion occured within a burning sedan
in the 500 block of Solano Avenue near the Arroyo Seco Parkway in Elysian Park.

The injured Fire Captain was transported to the closest trauma center, where he was admitted for a fractured skull with cerebral bleed, non-life threatening internal injuries and a small partial thickness burn to his right hand.

We are pleased to report that the injured Captain was released from the hospital on January 14, 2011. He is projected to remain off-duty for approximately two months.

On January 12, 2011, the Los Angeles Fire Department disseminated the official LAFD Blue Sheet, a preliminarysummary report for this incident, as well as unretouched photos from the scene.

At the conclusion of a detailed investigation, we are now pleased to share the official LAFD Green Sheet, a formal summary report issued by our agency for serious injuries, illnesses, accidents or near-miss incidents involving active duty personnel.

This report is intended as a safety and training tool, to aid in preventing future occurrences and to inform interested parties.
NOTE: Because LAFD Blue and Green Sheets are developed in a short time frame, the information they contain is subject to revision as further investigation ensues and additional information is developed. We therefore strongly suggest linking to this blog post or embedding the source document below to assure you are always reading the most current version.






Friday, February 11, 2011  The Bridgeport Fire Department has been charged with five serious state safety violations in the July 24 blaze that killed two firefighters.

The Connecticut Department of Labor's Division of Occupational Safety and Health found the department did not perform tests on the firefighters' breathing gas tanks; failed to conduct medical evaluations and ensure air masks fit properly; did not ensure firefighters wore breathing equipment inside the burning building and failed to follow "mayday" rescue procedures.

Fire Chief Brian Rooney said the department is challenging all five violations. He said fire officials will be meeting with CONN-OSHA Monday in Wethersfield.

Meanwhile, the chief said, the department is refraining from commenting while a separate investigation by the state fire marshal's office is in progress. That investigation should be completed in April, he said.

The fire on Elmwood Avenue resulted in the deaths of Lt. Steven Velasquez and firefighter Michel Baik. The state medical examiner's office stated Baik died from smoke inhalation complicated by a heart condition and that Velasquez died from smoke inhalation and asphyxia.

It was later discovered that the third-floor living area was an illegal apartment and had likely not been inspected by fire officials in many years.

Experts in workplace safety said the safety agency's citations, if upheld, are a serious matter.

"What the state found was specific violations of its regulations," said H. James Pickerstein, a Fairfield lawyer who was involved in the investigation of the Middletown gas plant explosion. "These are fairly clear-cut violations."

Martin J. O'Connor, the former New Haven fire chief and now a professor of fire sciences at the University of New Haven, said, "These findings are serious. They give the Bridgeport Fire Department a punch list of corrections that need to be made."

But O'Connor doubted that these violations changed the tragic outcome.

"These same violations could probably have been found against my department and any other department," he said. "It doesn't mean it's an indictment of the way the department works. It is a requirement that regulations be tightened up."


The state inspection of the fire began last July 28 and ended Jan. 20, according to the CONN-OSHA citation. If the charges are affirmed, each of the five violations would carry a $1,000 penalty.

In the citation sent to the fire department dated Jan. 24, all five violations were classified as "serious." However, the report gives no specific details of how the state regulations were violated on that day.

For instance, the state found the department violated standard operating procedures in ensuring the way mayday calls were verified by both the Incident Command System on scene and the dispatch center. The state agency recommended that all fire department employees be retrained on mayday operating procedures.

"Failure to follow standard operating procedure might have fallen victim to the emotion at the scene," said O'Connor.

He said the key is to ensure that both ICS and dispatch heard a mayday call and are on the same page in responding.

"When you have two fallen firefighters inside a burning building everyone wants to run in," O'Connor said.

In a Friday interview, Carlos Reyes, assigned to the Beechmont Avenue fire station, recalled that he did exactly that.

He said he was behind the building burning when he heard a mayday call over his radio and was inside in eight to 10 seconds.

But the only help Reyes could offer, he said, was to pull the already-dead firefighter's bodies out.

That led another firefighter standing near him to suggest that maybe it wasn't the first mayday call.

"That's the million-dollar question," Reyes replied.

Jeffrey Morrissette, the administrator of the Connecticut Fire Academy, believes that given the noise and confusion at a fire scene, it's better for a department to rely on its dispatch center to assess and broadcast mayday calls.

Probably the most significant finding is the city's failure to conduct medical evaluation on those firefighters required to enter burning buildings wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus.

"All firefighters love their job, but I truly believe this is a young man's profession," said O'Connor. "Once firefighters approach their 50s they have to start realizing their limitations."

Morrissette said the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has set standards for the doctors performing firefighters' physicals as well as the type of medical testing to be done. The NFPA recommends a whole range of medical and agility tests and suggests cardio-vascular tests be conducted more frequently after the firefighter reaches his 40s.

While Bridgeport conducts annual physicals for firefighters, it does not conduct agility or fitness tests.

In Baik's case an autopsy uncovered a pre-existing heart condition.


Two of the citations referred in part to equipment -- testing air cylinders and making sure the respirator on the breathing apparatus fits a firefighters.

Regarding the hydrostatic testing of air cylinders, Morrissette said, there are guidelines requiring how many years cylinders may go untested based on their construction material. For instance, those made of kevlar require testing every five years.

"It's a dangerous test," Morrissette said. "The Department of Transportation has a list of approved vendors that conduct the test in a safe and controlled environment. These are pressurized bottles that could explode."

However, Morrissette recommended that at the beginning of every shift a firefighter should conduct a visual inspection of his equipment.

"They could make sure the container is full, it's not leaking and there are no signs of significant damage," he said.

O'Connor said the way the mask fits on a firefighters face is important.

"If a firefighter has surgery or lost weight, the way the mask fits will change," he said.

Morrissette said the appropriate test for this takes about 10 minutes and involves the firefighter participating in activities like talking, turning his head, bending down, carrying equipment and running in place.


Craig Kelly, a retired Bridgeport fire lieutenant, was on his way to his father's house near Elmwood Avenue on July 24 when he saw fire trucks racing by. Kelly went to the fire scene.

"It was an awfully hot day," he recalled. "What struck me was there was no ice at the scene. Guys were exhausted. I could see their bodies needed to be cooled down," Kelly said. "I went to a nearby supermarket and must have bought 200 pounds of ice, which I brought back."

Were firefighters taking their masks off inside the burning building?

"That doesn't come as a surprise to me," said Donald Day, a retired Bridgeport fire captain. "I call that the macho cowboy mentality."

Day said this happens when the fire is out and overhaul work like looking for hot spots is being done.

"I'd tell my guys, `Don't buy into that macho mentality. Leave it on for your own health,'" he said. "Studies tell us that there are particles in the air from burning things like burning plastics, and they are harmful to the lungs."

But O'Connor said he could understand an officer allowing a firefighter who has been sweating inside for an hour or two to take off the mask and hang it off his respirator.

"I've seen it, I've done it, its not good practice but I understand why it happens," he said.


Adam Wood, chief of staff to Mayor Bill Finch, said the department already has moved to address the citations in the report.

"Since then each of these issues have either already been addressed such as the timely conducting of physicals, hydrostatically testing of breathing air bottles, (and) fit-testing policy procedure," said Wood.

Changes to the city's mayday policy are also being addressed, he said.

Both Velasquez, 41, and Baik, 49, were Bridgeport residents. Baik would have celebrated his 50th birthday last August and was the department's oldest rookie.

Reached at home, David Dobbs, vice president of the city's fire union, said he was informed of OSHA's findings this week. "A lot has been done but we need to make sure it continues to be done," said Dobbs, who was out sick this week. "What we need is all the agencies involved to be fully committed and have full disclosure."

"We remain committed to any step that can be taken to make sure changes happen," Dobbs said. "It's very real for us. It (the loss) hasn't gotten easier for us."





NIOSH LODD REPORT: Probationary FF Killed, FF Injured-Dwelling Fire

Tuesday, September 28, 2010  A Firefighter/Paramedic died in the Line of Duty and a FF/Paramedic was injured earlier this year when caught in a residential structure flashover.

HERE is the final report:  




Deer Park Wildfire: Firefighter Injury and Helicopter Incident

Thursday, August 26, 2010  “The organization is ethically and morally obligated to put an EMS program in place that is supported by the organization, and given the standardized training and equipment to make the program succeed.” ~ Senior Firefighter/Paramedic, Sawtooth Helitack Crew






Report: Errors made during manhole rescue

Saturday, May 22, 2010  Firefighters injured while attempting to rescue a city worker who fell into a manhole did not exercise proper caution when entering a confined space, according to an investigative report released Friday, May 21.

The nine-page report — completed by Jeff Galloway, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency — was obtained by The Journal through a public records request. The report concluded that units dispatched to the manhole outside of Air Products & Chemicals, 2500 Yankee Road, “possibly overlooked the confined space danger.

“Members of the Middletown Division of Fire should move forward from this incident as a learning tool. ... The fact that two members nearly perished and one city worker lost his life performing his job is clear evidence that confined space incidents are a clear danger and should be handled as such,” the report stated.

Fire Capt. Todd Wissemeier, 44, a 20-year veteran of the fire department; Fire Marshal Bob Hess, 47; and firefighter Thomas Allen each were hospitalized after breathing fumes inside the manhole while trying to rescue Jabin Lakes, 31, the city worker who was killed.

Galloway said the firefighters were doing what they thought was right to save a man’s life, because they thought he was still alive, but acknowledged they missed some precautions in their rush. “Those guys, they went in there and tried to save a life,” he said.

The EMA recommended that the fire department revise its policy on confined space entry; implement a procedure for monthly calibration of all department gas meters; and consider using the county Technical Rescue Team on future calls.

Les Landen, Middletown Law Director, said he and Fire Chief Steve Botts have received the report but have not yet had a chance to review and discuss next steps.

In rush to aid city worker, rescue crews may have jeopardized their own lives

A new report on the response by the Middletown fire department to a deadly incident inside an manhole shows that while firefighters rushed to save a life, they nearly put their own in jeopardy.

The report, obtained from the Butler County Emergency Management Agency through a public records request, outlines the scene where Jabin Lakes, 31, was killed while inspecting a manhole near Air Products & Chemicals and what led up to the hospitalization of three firefighters who tried to rescue him.

On May 7, just after the clock struck 8 a.m., Middletown police dispatchers received a call from a city worker at 2500 Yankee Road reporting Lakes had fallen into a manhole and was unconscious. His injuries were unknown. Less than five minutes later, fire crews arriving on scene found an open manhole with a victim — ashen in color and unconscious — about 20 feet down at the bottom of the sewer cavity.

Fire department District Chief Tom Snively said he could see Lakes taking only about three breaths a minute, his eyes open and pupils fixed. That’s when the crews began setting up ropes and harnesses for entry into the manhole, according to the EMA report.

Fire Capt. Todd Wissemeier stepped over to the manhole with a department gas meter, went down on one knee, stuck the device into the sewer cavity about an arm’s length deep, and took an air reading. The information indicated it was normal, so the captain decided to enter the hole using the harness, tucking the meter into his belt as he proceeded down.

As Wissemeier entered — less than eight minutes after receiving the call from Lakes’ co-workers — Fire Marshall Bob Hess had arrived on scene. According to the EMA, a medic asked Hess to retrieve an air pack just as Wissemeier proceeded down the storm drain and was heard saying “I see how this guy fell,” before falling unconscious just three to four feet below the surface. He began descending further down the hole.

Crews rushed to help firefighter Tom Allen, who was securing Wissemeier’s harness, as he tried to hoist him to the surface. Hess “leaned into the opening mid-sternum” to prevent Wissemeier’s head from hitting the side of the manhole, and within 45 seconds, he was unconscious and also falling down the hole.

It’s then that Middletown police Sgt. Chris Alfrey grabbed Hess’ belt and pulled him back to the surface. Others on scene were able to pull the captain out “after several minutes,” according to the report.

According to accounts by Snively and a medic on scene, Wissemeier’s gas monitor “was flashing in 'alarm’ mode when he was brought to the surface.”

Both Wissemeier and Hess were in respiratory distress and their skin was turning blue when they were pulled from the manhole, according to the EMA report.

Jeff Galloway, county EMA director, said while the firefighters made mistakes during the rescue attempt, “they believed they were doing the right thing.

“They just overlooked a couple of valuable things that had to do with confined spaces before they made this entry into the manhole opening,” he said. “But they were performing their job.”

Galloway also said that nitrogen, which the investigation has shown was the gas displacing the oxygen inside the manhole, rarely can be found in sewer drains in such concentrations.

City Law Director Les Landen said after reviewing the EMA report, there has not yet been an “organizational discussion” on what steps may be taken following the incident. He said it would be up to Fire Chief Steve Botts to decide whether any disciplinary actions would be taken, and likely no decisions would be made until the city is assured the nitrogen leak has been resolved.

Air Products & Chemicals, which has found leaks in two nitrogen lines running between its facility and AK Steel Corp., is currently making repairs, he said.






Tuesday, May 18, 2010  The first report on the Dec. 29 (2010) explosion that killed St. Anna Firefighter Steven "Peanut" Koeser in the Line of Duty is linked below. The fire and explosion also injured eight other Firefighters that night. Without question, we feel this could have happened to literally ANY of us at any FD and emphasizes the need to pre-plan - as well as understand that literally anything can be in a dumpster-and our size-up, plans and actions must reflect that.

While the NIOSH report will be out soon, the state of Wisconsin Fire Marshal’s Office and the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department states that the dumpster contained aluminum alloy shavings and 55-gallon steel barrels of aluminum oxide dross, or slag.

The report (below) on the LODD is based upon the statements of St. Anna Fire Chief Robert Thome, who was one of the first to arrive. Chief Thome saw an 18-inch “cherry red” hotspot at the base of the trash bin. Using a ladder to look inside the bin, he noticed one barrel that appeared to be very hot and saw sparks coming from aluminum shavings and other materials that were burning. Firefighters sprayed water on the contents, which produced a lot of steam and bluish-green flames. Chief Thome requested then that foam be added to the hose stream, but that intensified the production of sparks. Chief Thome began to signal for the foam to be stopped, and as he was turning away from the Dumpster, the explosion occurred.

The explosion peeled back a wall of the dumpster. Eight 55-gallon barrels were found around the damaged container, and two barrels were found inside. Investigators discovered several holes in the side of the bin where the steel had melted through.

One MSDS sheet about the involved materials says “may become unstable at high temperatures.” Safety instructions for these specific aluminum casting alloys caution against using water or moist sand during firefighting. The instructions say a "fire or explosion may occur when material is in the form of dust and exposed to heat or flames, chemical reaction, or contact with powerful oxidizers.”

The instructions conclude, “Never put water on molten metal — it will explode.”

Another sheet recommends for fires involving aluminum fines or chips, firefighters should use dry sand or Class D (combustible metals) extinguishing agents. “Do not use water or other liquids, foams or halogenated extinguishing agents,” it says. Or, depending upon conditions, it may be best to let it burn and clear the area. Depending upon conditions and resources.
Pre-planning of commercial and industrial buildings can help but never completely solve the questions related to "what's in that dumpster."  We never know.
HERE is the report:




Wildland LODD Report

Thursday, April 29, 2010 
Courtesy of

Click this link for the report on the Station Fire which resulted in the LODD's of Fire Captain Ted Hall, Superintendent 16, and Fire Fighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, Foreman Crew 16-3






Colerain, OH LODD Report

Saturday, August 8, 2009  On April 04, 2008, 37-year-old Colerain Township Fire Captain Robin Broxterman and 29-year-old Fire Fighter were killed in The Line of Duty when a section of floor collapsed and trapped them in the basement during a fire at a residential structure. At 0611 hours, an automatic alarm dispatched the fire department. Dispatch upgraded the alarm to a working structure fire 9 minutes later. At 0623 hours, the victims’ engine was the first to arrive on scene. The homeowner met the engine crew and stated that the fire was in the basement and everyone was out. With moderate smoke showing, the captain and the fire fighter donned their self-contained breathing apparatus and entered the residence through the opened front door with a 1¾” hoseline. A second fire fighter joined the captain and fire fighter at the basement stairs doorway. After the captain called for water several times, the line was charged and both fire fighters took the hoseline to the bottom of the stairs but needed additional hoseline to advance. The second fire fighter went back up the stairs to pull more hose at the front door. As he returned to the basement stairway, he saw the captain at the top of the stairs, trying to use her radio and telling him to get out. A captain from the second arriving engine noticed the smoke getting black, heavy, and pushing out the front door and requested the incident commander (IC) to evacuate the interior crew. The second fire fighter exited the structure alone. The IC made several attempts to contact the interior crew with no response. At 0637 hours, the IC sent out a “Mayday.” A rapid intervention team was activated and followed the hoseline through the front door and down to the basement. Returning to the first floor, they noticed a collapsed section of floor and went to investigate the debris in that area of the basement. At 0708 hours, the captain was found near a corner of the basement. At 0729 hours, after removing debris from around the captain, the other fire fighter was located underneath her and some additional debris. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.  The report provides details that all Fire Officers and Fire Fighters can learn from including several 
Key contributing factors identified in this investigation including that the initial 360-degree size-up was incomplete, likely disorientation of victims effecting key survival skills, radio communication problems, well-involved basement fire before the department’s arrival, and potential fire growth from natural gas utilities.
HERE is a link to that report:





Sunday, June 28, 2009  The NFPA has released their report about Firefighter Fatalities in the U.S. 2008.  Rita Fahy, one of the authors, has recently done a podcast if you would like to check it out.  There is also one that Mike Karter has done on the Patterns of Firefighter Fireground Injuries.
...the NFPA calculates LODD's differently that the United States Fire Administration and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation:
The way the NFPA looks at on-duty (LODD) deaths shows 103 Firefighter LODD's. On the other hand, the USFA's report stated that there were 114 on-duty firefighter fatalities during the same time period.
Based upon the NFPA's determination on an on duty LODD in 2008, a total of 103 on-duty firefighter deaths occurred in the U.S. This is the same number of deaths (using the NFPA calculations) as occurred in the U.S. in 2007, and the fourth time in the last 10 years that the annual total has been 103. The largest share of deaths (39 deaths) occurred while firefighters were responding to or returning from emergency calls. This includes a single incident which resulted in nine deaths. Stress, exertion, and other medical-related issues, which usually result in heart attacks or other sudden cardiac events, continued to account for the largest number of fatalities.





Monday, April 27, 2009  Accoriding to a eport by the Orange County Fire Authority related to last November's devastating Freeway Complex fire, firefighters disregarded orders and put others and themselves at risk, a report released Thursday said.

In the midst of a fire that raced through three canyons and directly into Yorba Linda, off-duty crews commandeered fire engines, driving engines into the firefight without telling superiors what they were doing or where they were going.

Firefighters put themselves and others at risk and handcuffed firefighting options when they failed to follow their chain of command, the report said.

The revelations are part of a 128-page report by the Fire Authority that looks at the successes and failures during the Freeway Complex fire and suggests how the county's largest firefighting agency can improve its capabilities in the future.

A total of 203 homes – 117 in Yorba Linda – were destroyed, in the "most catastrophic loss of homes in Orange County since the Laguna Fire in 1993," the report said. An additional 117 residences were damaged, and more than 40,000 people were forced from their homes in the largest fire in Orange County since 1948.

But no one died or was seriously injured, and hundreds of homes were saved by the efforts of more than 3,800 firefighters, the report said.

Three weeks before the Freeway Complex fire broke out Nov. 15, local firefighters held a tabletop exercise that closely resembled the actual fire, giving officials a jump on strategy and tactics.

When the real blaze struck, Battalion Chief Rick Reeder raced from his fire station in Placentia to the fire, calling for extra engines and aircraft miles before he saw flames. Traffic along the 91 freeway could not keep up with the fast-moving head of the fire. A second blaze broke out in Brea less than two hours later, creating a monster.

Four days later, firefighters had reigned in the 30,305-acre blaze.

Of $16.1 million spent to fight the fires, all but $33,000 was reimbursed by state and federal funds. The fires caused an estimated $150 million in damage. The cause of the Corona end of the fire was ruled an accidental spark from a car exhaust along the 91 freeway at Green River. The Brea fire had been sparked by downed powered lines.

Fire officials credited staging of equipment and crews ahead of time, recent tabletop exercises and changes in the state's mutual aid system for a quick response. Within the first four hours of the fire, 159 engines, three trucks, five water tenders, eight helicopters and 10 air tankers were attacking the flames. Forty-one engines were there within the first hour, the report said. But issues with communication and water supply hampered firefighting efforts.

After hundreds of interviews and reviewing hundreds of documents and thousands of radio transmissions, the authors of the postmortem report came up with a wish list of 56 changes, improvements and upgrades.

The major recommendations include improving radio communications, training crews in battling house fires near wildland areas, working with local water agencies to identify and rectify weaknesses in water systems, and developing a rapid-mobilization plan in large-scale emergency situations.

Nearly 18 months after the Santiago fire raced through Orange County's canyons, tight economic times have forced the Fire Authority to postpone several major recommendations after that fire, including replacing its part-time hand crew with a full-time crew and adding a fourth firefighter to wildland engines to meet federal standards. The same recommendations were echoed in the Freeway Complex review.

While several recommendations have been completed or are under way, the ones that cost money, including staffing increases, will likely have to wait. But Fire Chief Chip Prather implored the Fire Authority's board of directors to approve funding as soon as funding was available for the fourth-man staffing and a hand crew, staffing increases he said are imperative to maintaining firefighting safety and effectiveness.

"We have to balance out our No. 1 responsibility, which is public safety, with our responsibility to the taxpayer," Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion said. "As soon as it is economically feasible, we will implement them."

Problems plagued the firefighting effort from the start.

The plan was to pinch off the fire early. But hundreds of gallons of water destined to be dropped by helicopters on the fire had to be diverted and dropped on a Corona fire engine crew that had been overrun by flames after going off-road to try to fight the flames. The Corona crew's decision placed them in a "dangerous position," between the fast-moving fire and unburned brush, the report said. The crew was saved, but flames raced west toward Yorba Linda, throwing embers more than a mile in front of the fire.

"It's an angry fire, and it's not getting any happier," Reeder said. "Are we going to stop it? No. How do we want it and what can we do to make it come into Yorba Linda the way we want it to?"

Two strike teams – a total of 10 fire engines – were ordered by Reeder to stage at Station 53 on East La Palma in Yorba Linda to get ahead of the fire. "In my mind, what was burning in Corona was already done," Reeder said. "It was not the piece to worry about."

Strike team leaders ignored Reeder's order, self-dispatching instead to Corona, the report said. With the original order unfilled, strike teams did not arrive into Yorba Linda until 11 a.m. – nearly 2 hours later. The first Yorba Linda house was already burning.

Command officers have a "certain amount of latitude," Concepcion said. "They must have thought there was something more pressing in Corona," he said.

Fire stations were emptied to fight the Laguna fire in 1993, but entire OCFA battalions were left fully staffed during the Freeway Complex fire, officials said.

"We had two fires burning close to each other, and we didn't know what caused them," Concepcion said. Extra strike teams were ordered from other counties, but it took time for them to arrive.

Off-duty Fire Authority crews were mounting their own defenses, hijacking three engines and heading to the firefight, creating serious safety and accountability issues. Command staff scrambling for extra engines to send to the firefight spent up to 12 hours trying to find the maverick engines, the report said.

"These firefighters are heroes," Fire Authority union President Joe Kerr said. "These firefighters came in off-duty to try to do everything they could to save homes. A lot of homes were saved because of them. You're not going to find more dedication than that."

"We take crew accountability very seriously," Concepcion said. "We want to make sure this never happens again."

The involved firefighters have been interviewed but were not disciplined, Kerr said.

The fire chief and the union plan to send a letter to its employees reminding them that department rules and regulations need to be followed, even during a disaster. Even though the crews were not assigned to work, they were paid, Concepcion said.

Wages are paid at time and a half for nonscheduled workdays. A preliminary report made no mention of the rogue crews.

The fire moved fast.

Santa Ana winds up to 60 mph sent flames hurtling over steep, dry hills – and on a direct path to Yorba Linda. The fire consumed the length of nearly 14 football fields every 60 seconds. More than 10,000 acres burned in the first 12 hours, taking with it hundreds of homes and buildings.

City and county officials failed to activate an automatic telephone alert system. The first calls telling residents to flee the fire didn't go out until after 4 p.m., nearly three hours after the Fire Authority issued a news release stating a "raging wildfire" had destroyed homes in Anaheim Hills, Brea and Yorba Linda.

Dozens of homes continued to burn in Yorba Linda around 2 p.m. as firefighters were also forced to battle low water pressure and dry hydrants on Hidden Hills Road and surrounding streets, the report said.

One strike team leader told Fire Authority Chief Prather that his crews could have saved five to six homes of the dozens of homes burned in the Hidden Hills neighborhood. But without water, the team's five engines were forced to move to lower ground. There, they found hydrants with water and made a stand against the blaze.

Fire Authority water tenders were called in to shuttle water to crews. But the pressure problems also hindered the tenders' efforts, Prather said. Some of the depletion of water pressure was directly attributed to engines drawing thousands of gallons of water a minute from hydrants simultaneously as they desperately dumped water on dozens of homes burn... [ more ]  




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