Our thanks to Fairfax County (VA) Fire Chief John Butler and Asst. Chief Dan Shaw for passing this along. Note Chief Shaw’s “immediate lessons learned” that applies to every Firefighter, everywhere. The video is below w/slow motion review. We expect to have a follow-up tomorrow from them, that we will also send out:
The investigation is still ongoing between FIS and the Dominion Energy and as soon as we receive a final cause, we will share it with the field. Regardless, I am sure you have seen the multitude of opinions that typically generate from when an incident of this nature occurs, and especially when the incident is blasted across social media, and they are just that at this point – opinions. While we will work with our internal and external partners to definitively determine the cause and specific fire event – i.e – backdraft, smoke explosion, CO explosion, etc., it is important to devote more effort to the immediate lessons learned from the incident and not speculate on what specific type of fire event it was.
In the very near future, we will issue a Turnout Sheet to the field so a comprehensive review of the incident and lessons learned can be shared across the Department, but in the interim I wanted to share some immediate lessons learned that affirm the positive work that is occurring every day, and that we must remain vigilant so complacency does not creep in:
- Treat every call as the biggest call of your career until you get there and determine otherwise. Aside from this being our mission and what the citizens expect, having this mentality allows us to be more proactive than reactive to the dynamic situations we handle, which for us is many times in an IDLH.
- Wear your PPE properly. Due to the professionalism and training of those involved, they were in full PPE with their SCBA on when the incident happened. While luck plays a bit into when and where the fireball came out and what portion of the wall collapsed, what is not luck is that our personnel suffered no burns or respiratory injury because of their gear and their decision to do the right thing.
- Never let complacency creep in and overshadow the need to be a professional. This was dispatched as an outside fire, which is typically seen as a mundane incident removed from danger, but being vigilant and maintaining situational awareness to our ever-changing environment is imperative. This exactly what our personnel did, and it paid off with no injuries.
- The fundamentals are essential. From the proper donning of PPE, as previously mentioned, to securing a water supply, stretching the right hoseline, checking the door for heat before forcing the door, being efficient and effective at forcing the door, and moving out of the doorway entrance that will introduce oxygen to the environment, all these steps mattered and made a difference on this incident.
- The fire always gets a vote, no matter how tired, hungry, your lack of desire to train or study, the fire will always get a vote and sometimes, like we saw in this incident, a very violent vote. The best defense we can muster is to continue to train as you do, study, and know our doctrine, be accountable to each other and our mission. Once you have done these things you are prepared to arrive, recognize the situation, and equipped to handle it.
- Never be too proud to request help and keep your ego in check. We all have been in a position during the course of our career where the situation at hand is getting beyond your ability to handle all aspects of the incident. We are also all human and don’t want to give the appearance we can’t handle it but trust your gut, that instinct is guiding you in the right direction. At this incident, that right call was calling for the box alarm to get more units to search for the cause of the smoke and in anticipation that it may escalate to something much greater than an outside fire.
- Everything we do is being recorded.Almost simultaneous to when I received this video from our on-scene units, I was also shown it by fire department personnel from the other side of the Country due to the citizen posting the video online instantly. This is nothing new and will not lessen in the future, but this incident is yet another reminder that when we are called to execute our mission, we should all assume it is being recorded for all the World to view. Our personnel demonstrated the professionalism, high level of training, and accountability to our doctrine for all to see.
I am thankful that our personnel are not injured and encourage all to review the video and forthcoming information, continue to train and prepare, and always maintain your situational awareness for the unknown variables of our profession.
Thanks again to our friends in Fairfax County.
SLOW MOTION VIDEO HERE:
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.
The Secret List 11-12-2023-1200 Hours