Submit Your Close Call / Near Miss
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
On January 25, 2011 Shaker Heights Fire Department units along with units from Cleveland Heights, South Euclid and Beachwood were operating at the Chelsea Apartments, 3330 Warrensville Center Road Apartment, for a working kitchen fire. The fire was in apartment 508 on the fifth floor.
The initial unit on scene, Engine 216, reported that they had a grease fire that had extended into the cupboards above. They had heavy smoke with a little heat or fire. E216 reported that a sprinkler had activated above the fire which had kept the fire confined to that area.
Captain Zugan was Incident commander and located at street level in front of the building at the rear of his vehicle (C263). Captain Zugan reported that during the overhaul stage, for a period of 2-3 minutes, he noticed there was a problem communicating on the Channel 2 – Fireground (Zone 29 Eastcom – Channel 2). During this time no one on the fireground was able to communicate. Captain Zugan reported hearing only interference noises like buzzing and clicking. Capt. Zugan observed different radio ID’s appearing on the MARCS radio in the rear of C263 but was unable to hear any voice communication.
Inside the building, Lt. Sepesy was operating directly under a flowing sprinkler head. He also heard the interference. He turned his radio off and then back on at which time the interference immediately stopped. Lt. Sepesy reports that his radio was totally soaked from operating under the sprinkler. Lt. Sepesy reporting hearing the transmit tone sounding on his radio.
Fireground communications then became fully operational again and there was no further issue throughout the incident.
Analysis / Discussion:
After reading the complaint forwarded by Capt. Zugan (Exhibit A attached). Lt. Sepesy’s radio was obtained and held in quarantine. We secured his radio in the state it was given to us. We examined it visually only without altering it. It is a Motorola XTS 5000R with a model NMN6193C remote speaker microphone attached.
SHFD Portable Radio ID #: 6178
XTS5000 MDL II Portable 700/800
Model # :
Remote Speaker Microphone Model #:
Remote Speaker Microphone Serial #:
We inquired into the water proof characteristics of this radio and speaker/mike combination. We found that the radio meets military specs and is submersible. The remote speaker/microphone is rated water resistant only.
The team investigated the condition of the cross band repeater on C263 to see if it could have played a part in the interference. The cross band repeater on C263 was found to be off. This cross band repeater only operates between two radios, one in the VHF band, and the other in the UHF band. If the repeater had been activated during the incident it would not have effected the operations on fireground channel 2 (770.1625 Mhz.).
We investigated whether any mutual aid companies had any radio equipment activated while they were on scene. No other communities had active repeaters that would have interfered with the operations on fireground channel 2 (770.1625 Mhz.).
There are two 700/800 MHz MARCS radios in the back of C263. They were both found to be in working order.
We conducted a test of a speaker/microphone of the same model number with water to see if we could cause it to fail. Attaching it to the same model radio, we immersed the head of the speaker/microphone in water and sprayed it with a garden hose. After approximately ten minutes the radio began transmitting intermittently and at some points locked into transmit for longer periods. The surrounding monitoring radios began to buzz and click. To further recreate the situation, additional radios were utilized to recreate other traffic trying to talk on fireground. Radio ID’s were observed on the display of the fireground radio in C263. There was no audio from the other radios simply the ID’s displaying.
The next day the same test was repeated. The results were the same. This time members were present who were on scene of the initial event. Members in attendance agreed that the sounds on the other radios were those that they heard that night. Furthermore Captain Zugan also agreed that the sounds and the ID’s flashing on C263’s radio replicated the conditions of the Chelsea fire scene.
On the second day of testing, another speaker/microphone was tested. The Motorola Remote Speaker Microphone model number PMMN4038A has a 30 minute submersible rating. It is recommended for firefighting use by Motorola. We tested one of these mikes by submersing it for approximately 50 minutes and spraying it directly with a hose. We could not cause it to fail and it worked perfectly at the end of the water test.
The suspect radio and speaker/microphone were sent out to Motorola Solutions for radio examination. We asked Motorola to look the radio and remote speaker microphone for any problems.
The radio was examined and found to be working properly within specifications. There was no sign of water intrusion into the radio. Motorola believes that there was nothing wrong in the radio that would have caused the problem that was encountered.
The remote speaker/microphone was examined by Motorola. They found that there were signs of water intrusion and corrosion inside the remote microphone. They stated that this could have caused a malfunction.
Our findings are that the heavy water drenching of a remote speaker/microphone that was water resistant only and not rated for the conditions encountered at this scene caused this communication failure. The drenching caused the microphone to lock into the transmit mode thereby causing interruption of communications on the selected channel.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
3 Engine Companies, 1 Truck Company, 1 Medic Unit, and 1 Battalion (Battalion Chief and Safety Officer) were dispatched to a reported structure fire in a house early Sunday afternoon.
A large column of smoke was seen by crews leaving the station and it was upgraded to a Working Fire-additional Engine and Medic dispatched to the scene.
The crew on the first arriving engine found a well involved fire on side C with an exposure already starting to catch due to zero lot line and many items between the involved structure and exposure. A 2 inch cross lay was deployed and while waiting on water at the back of the house a propane tank and two gasoline containers went off. Shortly thereafter water was to the nozzle and the fire was knocked down and access into the structure was made. The Fire Fighter that was on the nozzle commented that he couldn't see very well and another fire fighter looked and thought his mask just had water on it. When their air was low the firefighter from the first in engine and a fire fighter from the first medic unit exited the building and it was noticed that the fire fighter who had been on the nozzle was still having a hard time seeing through his mask. The fire firefighter with him then noticed that the face mask was bubbled up, the goggles were bubbled up as well as a few burn spots on the bunker gear.
The fire fighter was walked to the medic unit to be examined. 1st and 2nd degree burns were found on the fire fighter's shoulder, knuckles, and thigh. The fire fighter went to the hospital for treatment and will be off duty for a couple of weeks while healing up.
During fire fighting operations a 2nd Alarm was requested due to the exposure problem. An Engine Company and Battalion Chief from Addison assisted.
• The Fire Fighter was wearing all of his PPE- with his mask on when the fire event occurred- this truly protected his face from being burned
• Hose stream training earlier in the day caused the fire fighter's gear to be soaking wet. This probably contributed to the fire fighter being burned through his gear.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Engine 1101 was dispatched to a structure fire at 1243 a.m. While in route dispatch reported via neighbor that there were residents inside home smoke coming from roof line. Engine 1101 prepared for rescue being first due. Upon arrival Engine 1101 officer noticed a two story wood frame structure, two vehicles parked outside, burglar bars on the front door (not on windows), and police officers breaking window on alpha side yelling for residents. Eng 1101 was first on scene and initiated rescue mode. Eng 1101 officer and firefighter entered structure through the broken window and Eng 1101 driver began forcible entry on the front door with a K-12. Conditions on first floor were noted to be moderate smoke and light heat. Officer and firefighter searched the first floor with nothing found. Engine 1101 crew met Engine 1102 crew at the front door once they arrived and assigned them to fire attack. Engine 1101 found stairwell to the second floor via thermal imaging camera. Conditions on second floor were observed as having thick smoke and moderate heat conditions. Crew began search of second floor for occupants. Stairway led to a loft space and a hall leading to two bedrooms on the bravo side. Engine 1101 crew noticed there were no doors on any rooms in the second floor and doors were removed from doorways and leaning against walls in the rooms. The doors leaning against the walls gave the illusion that there were more rooms to access. Engine 1101 crew searched the two bedrooms with nothing found. While Engine 1101 was searching additional crew was starting roof ventilation operation. Roof team was on the first floor roof of a modified garage remodel, when they found a deteriorated roof conditions. The roof caved into the attic on the first floor, causing the fire to escape, becoming wind driven, and catching the second floor on fire on the delta side. Upon completion of search on second floor Engine 1101 crew was exiting their way back down the hallway where they were met with heavy smoke and rollover conditions. Upon entering the loft conditions then deteriorated to pre-flashover and crew had no time to search for stairwell. Engine 1101 officer broke out window on alpha side and radioed for a ladder to the window to prepare for bailing out. Engine 1101 Firefighter was braced low against alpha side interior wall of the loft, and took a step to the right, finding the first step of the stairwell. Firefighter yelled to officer that the he found stairwell and both members exited to the first floor and out the front door on the alpha side. Upon exiting the structure both members looked up at the second floor and found the loft fully-involved. Ladder was placed at the window by Command while Engine 1101 crew was exiting the structure via the stairwell. At this time fire was deemed defensive and PAR was taken for all units on scene. Engine 1101 driver obtained knock down of fire with deck gun. Fire moved from defensive back to offensive and crew re-entered to fully extinguish.
Communication, communication, communication. Proper communication between crews either over radio or face to face has to be done in order to achieve the same goal safely and effectively. And proper cordination of back-up line is a must. If inspection hole was mabe on first floor location of fire would have been known and appropiate actions would have been taken.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
At 09:18 hours on March 1, 2011 we responded to a fire in an older Victorian residence with balloon construction. The fire was contained to a laundry room, and was burning inside the wall when crews arrived. The fire attack captain advised me that there was no visible fire in the room, and they discovered the fire as they began to remove the drywall. The laundry room was empty and there was gas and electric service to the house. Crews had shut off the gas and electricity shortly after arriving on scene. The only utility in the area affected by the fire was a gas line. The origin of the fire was near the elbow on the gas line near the shut off valve for the dryer, this was evident due to complete destruction of some wood members in the area and deep charring. There was an additional area of deep char near an elbow at the top end of the gas line, this was possibly and additional point of origin. We were unable to locate any obvious cause of ignition in the area of the fire, or the debris that was removed prior to the investigatorâ€™s arrival. We requested the gas and electric companies to respond and assist with the evaluation of the utilities at the residence. The gas company detected a small leak in the system and placed a plug in the meter. They did no test to see if the leak was on the gas pipe in the area of origin prior to plugging the meter. The house had an old knob and tube wiring system and was serviced by an electrical panel with knife switches and screw in fuses. There was Romex wiring added to this system, and there was no apparent ground according to the electric company. Under our direction the electric company energized the system to determine if there was electricity in the gas line. The electric company found there were approx. 25-50 volts at the gas meter, and 100-130 volts at the gas pipe in the area of origin. Based on this information the electric company disconnected the electric service at the pole until the electrical issue can be resolved. We contacted the property owner to inform him of the electrical issues, and informed Building & Safety of the issues at the residence.
Fortunately no one was injured at this incident; however the potential for electric shock or electrocution existed at the gas meter and the gas pipe in the area of origin. The captain who shut off the gas used a plastic utility wrench that he carried in his turnouts, this possibly prevented an electric shock or electrocution. The electric panel was in the laundry room, and the knife switches caused an additional hazard to responding personnel.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thanks to www.FirefighterSpot.com for this closecall and reminder
Two firefighters in York, Virginia suffered minor injuries as a result of a chimney collapse during operations. One James City firefighter was released from the local hospital and the other firefighter refused transport to hospital.
This type of close call has been captured on video in the past. We should think during our size-up about the location of fire and the burn time. From the exterior it may appear as though the chimney is in tact when in fact it may be compromised on the interior. Know your construction and be in the habit of doing continual size-up
Close Call 3
Close Call 2
Friday, February 18, 2011
Fireground CREEP is a serious problem. Firefighters have a natural tendancy to want to GET SOME!
WE AS COMMAND OFFICERS MUST PICK UP HAND LINES DURING DEFENSIVE OPS, KEEP OUR TESTOSTRONE DRIVEN MEMBERS BACK AND REMEMBER WE RISK NOTHING TO SAVE NOTHING!
Video of the Explosion Courtesy of South Hampton Fire & FirefighterSpot.com
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Example of Saw Dust Fire Ball
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Two NY firefighters received burns while pulling ceiling in a 1 story machine shop. Upon investigation it was found that over 30 years ago the building was used as a cabinet wood shop. While the members were pulling ceilings looking for a fire in the cockloft the tin ceiling was pulled and saw dust fell and immediate burst into flames. Completely engulfing the firefighters. They were quickly tackled to the ground and the flames were extinguished.
Always wear complete PPE while operating inside a structure. Never pull ceiling without a charged line. Never assume that the occupany hazards are the only hazards, many buildings especially commercial building have a history.
Thanks to FirefighterSpot.com for this Video
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
During the course of a working fire in an eight story high rise, all radio communications were blocked due to a faulty radio. In this instance the incident was de-escalating however due to the nature of this if we had been operating in a more aggressive mode all companies may have been compromised. The Engine Co officer had been operating under a flowing sprinkler head which thankfully held the fire in check until the standpipe stretch was made. During this time he said that his radio had been soaked by the water flowing. It was at approximately the same time that no one was able to communicate via radio, the fire-ground radio channel we use sounded like there was an open mic. The Incident Commander was able to see who was calling him on the faceplate of his mobile radio in the Command vehicle but no voice was heard. The engine officer noticed that his radio was making buzzing and clicking sounds and he turned it off which then allowed all communication to begin again. This whole scenario lasted several minutes.
The very next day tour Fire Marshal and the LT. who handles radio maintenance began to look into the problem. The examined the suspect Radio and found no obvious visual defects. They then gave the radio a dousing with water and were able to replicate this scenario exactly. What we found- Our department is in a consolidated dispatching center with numerous cities. After being awarded a sizeable grant a few years ago, all radios for the cities were upgraded to a digital radio that operates on the MARCS system. When the equipment was purchased the lapel mics specified were not water resistant and not rated for firefighting use. Since the incident all lapel mics have been removed and are being replaced with water resistant firefighting rated mics. Fortunately this incident was past the initial stages and was de escalating when the failure occurred. Thankfully no one was hurt- this time
Saturday, January 29, 2011
There was a structure fire yesterday at an unfinished and abandoned house with an attached garage. The house has been unoccupied for more than a decade and there were no electricity lines to the house. There was however a telephone line still running through some trees to the house (more on that later!). After extinguishment and during overhaul a firefighter from a neighboring fire service brushed against a branch near the telephone line and received a14,400 volt shock! He was transported by ambulance and spent the night in hospital under observation but has since been released and returned home. It seems at some point the telephone line which traversed the road in front of the house had been struck by probably a large vehicle and flew up and became tangled with the high tension electric lines, and started feeding 14,400 volts to the house through the telephone wire. We also found signs inside that indicated the hot telephone wiring had started fires inside before that just hadn’t taken off until yesterday.
We learned that a 4 or 5 strand copper telephone wire could and can transport high voltage electricity and we will be more careful around all lines in the future.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 18, 2010. T-82 was on their way to do routine business inspection when they noticed black smoke coming from a residential neighborhood. They took a brief detour and confirmed heavy smoke coming from the alpha bravo bedroom window. T-82 reported it to dispatch and then took command. A-82, E-81, A-81, BC-81, E-181 and BC -181 were dispatched to the residence. It was undetermined if the house was occupied. A firefighter from T-82 had deployed a 1 ¾ cross lay, the fan, and a set of irons to the front door. A-82 arrived first and was assigned to fire attack. Command told fire attack team that an exhaust hole was made and to initiate a positive pressure attack. The front door was forced open showing heavy black smoke to the floor and the fan was turned into the structure. FF-2 checked the floor and attempted to check the ceiling but could not be reached by the hook due to the vaulted ceiling. Meanwhile FF-1 checked the nozzle pattern. FF-1 then entered the structure assuming that FF-2 had checked the ceiling. Heavy black smoke remained in the structure limiting visibility to zero. FF-1 advanced the hose line down the hallway to the bedroom looking back two times and seeing FF-2 behind him. Meanwhile, FF-2 could not see FF-1 due to zero visibility. Then FF-2 had turned around to check on FF-3 assisting with advancement of the hose and assumed he had exited the structure. Not wanting to leave his partner, he followed the hose line to catch up with him. As FF-1 approached the bedroom, fire was visible on the upper portion of the door frame and was knocked down. FF-1 continued the advancement of the hose line to the door of the bedroom. FF-1 saw heavy fire through the brown colored smoke and positioned himself to the middle of the door way to see the fire directly. FF-2 immediately turned back around and to catch up with FF-1. During that time FF-1 entered the fire room approximately 4’ unaware that he entered into the fire room. FF-2 had caught up with FF-1 and noticed snakes rolling out into the hall. FF-2 motioned to cool the ceiling to FF-1. The ceiling was cooled and the fire was extinguished. Overhaul operations began immediately to check for extension into the ceiling and adjacent rooms. No fire extension was found. As the initial fire attack team was rehabbing, it was noticed that FF-1s helmet was charred to the point that helmet had to be replaced and the nomex hood was burnt around the face and the SCBA mask was spider cracked. FF-1 had received 2nd degree burns on two fingers. During the fire investigation, a line of demarcation was clearly visible at about 3' above the floor. The structure had vaulted ceilings that peaked at 18’-20’ above the floor that covered half the of the fire floor. It was also found that the top part of the over range microwave had melted, which was on the opposite side of the house from the fire room. Light charring was visible on everything on the fire floor above 6’.
SLOW DOWN and be patient, wait for PPV to take effect, cool ceiling during hose advancement, coordinate with command adequate exhaust holes, never assume and avoid the unknowns, know the reach of the hose stream and use it to your advantage.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
We responded to a structure fire, while enroute and when arriving on scene we were getting reports of people trapped on the upper floors.arrived on scene and size up revealed a working fire in a 2 1/2 story woodframe structure. First engine arrived on scene and stretched an 1 3/4 handline, a back up line was also depliyed, ladders were placed to the upper floors, A Captain and a fire fighter went up to the second floor to conduct a primary search, the first door they encountered was a bathroom, they searched it and when exiting the Captain went to the right into a bedroom and the fire fighter coming out a couple seconds behind came out and went straight into another bedroom. while the Captain was conducting a search, he got turned around, he found the wall and started looking for an exit, not being able to find a window (one covered by sheet rock the other a small kitchen window) He continued to try and find a means of egress, the captain then started to become disoriented at which time he began to deplete the cylinder on his SCBA. He declared the MAYDAY and then completely depleted his air cylinder. The Captain then takes off his helmet and face piece and stays as low to the floor as possible, Hearing the mayday an ex chief equiped with a thermal immaging camera decends on the second floor and begins a search for the mayday fire fighter.(automatic mutual aid FAST team not on scene yet). At this point the ex chief locates the missing member, as he is going to try and remove him the Captain goes unconcious, the rescue fire fighter rolls the Captain on his his side and using his scba pulls him to the stairway and down the stairs where he assisted by other members. The Capatin then comes out of the structure unconcious at which time members start first aid and turn him over to EMS. The Captain was transported to the hospital and released later that morning with no injuries.
LESSONS LEARNED: Team integrity, slow down and look at the big picture, push to have building and fire inspectors be dilligent in their job this resdince was chopped up into 4 SRO's.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
We were called out to brush fire. Upon arrival fire had spread to trailer. First in Engine company assumed IC, and started extinguishing brush fire. The second in Engine Company started surround and drown on trailer. A Fire fighter with 5+ years experience neglected ICS and started pulling siding from trailer(freelancing). Fire was burning intensely and as fire fighter pulled a section off fire from inside trailer and engulfed fire fighter. Fire fighter had complete PPE on and was breathing air. Mask on BA had heat stress cracks in lens, hard plastic that holds exhalation valve in on MSA also melted, and nomex hood was singed and burned. Luckily no injuries resulted from this incident.
Always wear your complete PPE. Know what the fire is doing, and what you need to do (proper size-up/neglected IC) by checking with IC. Do not freelance on any scene.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I was a rookie firefighter going on my first structure fire. Ours is a small fire district with a combination department. We got the call at about 5:30 AM on a Wednesday morning and the driver, lieutenant, and I rolled out of bed and responded to a working fire in a 3 bedroom ranch style home. I was 2nd man on the 1.88" attack line. My lieutenant pulled the nozzle toward the fire in a bedroom on the C/D corner of the building. Thick white smoke was stacked down from the ceiling about waist high. I was humping hose across the living room floor when I noticed a five square foot black "stain" on the carpet. Under conditions at that time I could not determine if the mark I was looking at was in fact a stain or a wet spill of some kind. I rubbed my gloved fingers on it and could not see if wetness was on my gloves. Forgetting about my SCBA I actually raised my hand to my face to smell my glove but smelled nothing, of course, through my mask. I pulled the remaining hose needed and caught up to my lieutenant and asked him if saw the stain? He had not. He already had the fire knocked down and it stayed in the one room. With the fire out I quickly searched the home for any surviving pets as we found 2 dead cats and a dead dog. Turns out the large discoloration on the floor was gasoline. The homeowner had emptied a 5 gallon gas can inside the home and ignited it claim insurance fraud. Lucky for us, she did not open any doors or windows and the fire never got going. Also lucky nobody attempted any ventilation before the fire was out. Everything went fast and smooth and the fire was declared out exactly 15 minutes after the call came in.
LESSONS LEARNED: If I had that exact situation to do over again I would announce the "stain" on the radio. I would crack my seal on my mask enough to stick my glove in and get a whif, or step outside the structure long enough to smell my glove. Either way I would smell the accelerant, call for emergency evac of the structure and we would go defensive on that fire. At first we thought the animals died of smoke inhilation, but later found the the concentration of gasoline vapor killed them by asphixiation. It is still hard to think of what might have been if that fire had gotten a breath of air. I think the obvious lesson here is: Trust your instincts, if something looks suspicious say something. Then investigate it enough to rule out something dangerous.
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