Jason Cortez, the San Francisco Firefighter-Paramedic who was killed during a training mishap last week, was knocked over a third-floor railing by a 1.5″ water stream from a valve he had “inadvertently” opened, as per a preliminary report released Sunday. (report below),
Cortez, 42, was participating in a single company drill (multi company drills were generally not permitted due to Covid-19) last Wednesday when he lost his life. The married father of two (with another child due) actually died an hour later at a hospital.
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, members of the SFFD Engine 3 conducted a probationary Firefighter pump drill to practice a standpipe evaluation. Due to COVID restrictions, Engine 3 held the drill alone vs with additional companies. During the drill, Cortez was working on the third floor and returned to the fire escape. For what initially may be an unknown reason, he opened the gate on the wye which did not have a hose line attached. The stream of water from the wye struck him in the chest, knocking him backwards into the fire escape railing and off eventually of the fire escape.
Reports are that the pressure flowing from the wye outlet was flowing water at an unusually far distance. Witnesses said the stream from the 1.5″ wye outlet was flowing across the street, potentially 150′.
“The stream of water coming from the (valve) struck him in the chest, knocking him backwards into the fire escape railing, causing him to fall backwards off the fire escape,” according to the report.
His death may have also been due to confusion about drill staffing protocols designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to the report. Only 4 Firefighters — half the typical staffing — participated in last Wednesday’s exercise, meant to train a rookie.
HERE IS THE PRELIMINARY REPORT:
While a full and thorough investigation at the SFFD, local, state and Federal level will follow the above initial “green sheet” report, our condolences go out to his family and all those affected, especially the officers and members who were on the drill site with him that day. We look forward to more information about the tragic incident, so that FF/PM Cortez’s life is honored by us learning what can be done to avoid a similar situation from reoccurring.
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass it On.