Friday, November 30, 2012
On Friday, October 26th I was conducting training with my crew on Engine 2A at the drill yard in preparation for our yearly company evaluations. My crew consisted of my Captain, my Engineer and myself. The evolution we were taking part in was to deploy the portable monitor in support of a defensive operation. I was dressed in full turnouts and had my SCBA on although I was not on air. My Engineer spotted the rig to the east side hydrant at the drill yard. I got out of the rig and secured the yellow rope bag and the base of the portable monitor from the appropriate compartments. My Captain moved to the top of the rig and handed me down the top half of the portable monitor. I proceeded to the spot I was going to set up the monitor and began by deploying the legs on the bottom half of the monitor. I then placed the top half of the monitor onto the base and swiveled it left and right to ensure it was seated in place correctly. I did not notice that the seating lock was already in the locked position and did not allow the monitor to properly seat. The monitor easily swiveled in both directions and I mistakenly assumed that it was correctly seated. I then depressed the rotation lock on the rear of the monitor mistaking it for the seat lock. As I depressed the lock I noticed that it provided less resistance than usual. At this point I noticed my Captain pulling the 4 inch supply line towards the monitor and I felt an unnecessary sense of urgency to complete the operation. I gave the monitor a quick once over but I did not notice anything unusual. I moved to the large trash bin, tied off the utility rope and moved back to the monitor. I then called for water. Fortunately, my Engineer had the pump in volume and loaded the line slowly. I followed the water loading along the 4 inch line until it reached the monitor and it immediately lifted the top half of the monitor off of the base nearly striking me in the head. The water from the monitor knocked my helmet off. If my Engineer had loaded the line more rapidly, the increased speed of the water would have increased the force with which the top half of the monitor was knocked off and could have potentially caused serious injury.
Reviewing the incident, I believe that two key factors led to my close call. First of all, my mistaking the rotation lock for the seat lock was the most direct cause of the accident. Also, an unnecessary sense of urgency on my part contributed to the accident because I should have taken more time to verify that the portable monitor was properly seated and visually verified that the seat lock was properly secured. One consideration for avoiding a potentially dangerous situation with the portable monitor in the future is to step away from the monitor as it is being charged. This should be a consideration because it is not necessary to have anyone handling the portable monitor when it is initially loaded with water and this is the most dangerous part of the evolution.