A fire in a three story multiple family apartment building injured four City of Chicago (IL) firefighters when an interior stairway collapsed during firefighting operations.
The building was constructed in 1927 and consisted of 5456 square feet of space with 3-5 apartment units. Built of masonry wall construction with a wood floor joist system, the fire was reported at 8:43 a.m., in the Type III classified occupancy.
Street View Pre-Fire
The fire began as a basement fire that travelled up two floors, eventually compromising an upper stairway which resulted in compromise and collapsed injuring four Chicago firefighters.
The inherent characteristics of the building and the manner of fire travel and impingement are apparent contributors to the event.
Aerial- Alpha; Goggle Maps
CFD Fireground Operations: Photo Tim Olk
The four firefighters sustained injures during operations when the internal stairwell connecting the second and third floors gave way.
The mayday was transmitted, and a 211 Plan 1 at approximately 09:00 hrs., seventeen minutes into the operation according to published reports issued by Deputy District Chief Lynda Turner. Following the mayday and firefighter removals, defensive operations were initiated.
Two of the firefighters sustained smoke inhalation and two firefighters minor injuries, according to Fire Department officials.
A large warehouse fire in a 211,000 SF complex resulted from from a transformer explosion this morning at the Wix Distribution Center in Gastonia, NC. The building complex was a former textile mill and was built in 1917.
Published report indicate that more than 60 firefighters operated at the scene to control the fire.
It was reported that Fire Chief Phillip Welch stated firefighters started fighting the fires inside the building after the transformer explosion occurred, but it quickly got out of control.“There was an aggressive attack inside, but just because of the storage fight, we were not able to overcome that nor was the sprinkler system,” Welch said.
How prepared is your department for a large scale fire in a large footprint warehouse?
Have you completed pre-fire plans, walk through tours and table top exercises for the key at risk buildings or complexes?
Do you know what the sustained water flow requirements might be for a heavily or fully involved complex or building?
Practices and honed your skills on establishing and managing a complex, multi-operatonal period incident?
Have you looked at creating box alarms or pre-arranged greater alarm response and resource requests?
Have you trained with the departments, jurisdictions and companies that might respond?
Do you have strategies and tactics identified and have you trained on them for operations in large scale buildings? Don’t implment and treat the incident like you would a residential or small commercial fire….
Respect the building and predict with conservative decision-making
Manage and expect compromise and collapse, rapid fire extention and operational challenges to fixed suppression systems and protectivies
Don’t over extend companies while attmtping to operate in the interior: These are typcially closed building ( lack of immedate exiting capabilties) with a special need for air management and accountability and access control.
FDNY Bronx 66-33-2224 Third Alarm at 225 E 149th Street;
A three-alarm blaze tore through a South Bronx building on Saturday morning — leaving at least 37 people, including a child, hurt, according to published reports. The fire started on the fifth floor of the 27-story E. 149th St. building near Park Ave. about o7:40 a.m. More than 135 firefighters were operating. News media is reporting taht the fire was under control in a two hour time span. Fire officials say 37 people suffered injuries as a result of a three-alarm fire Saturday morning at a 27-story building in the Bronx.
From NYC Fire Wire on Facebook
There are almost 500 apartments in the building, along with more than 20 stores. Video Clip and FDNY Interview HERE
The Predictability of Building Performance must take into consideration that in the context of today’s fire ground, buildings and fire dynamics, small changes on initial compartment or structure conditions may often produce and result in large-scale or magnitude changes that affect the long term outcome of the incident.
We have assumed that the routiness or successes of past operations and incident responses equates with predictability and diminished risk to our firefighting personnel.
Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past construction systems, occupancies and building types; therefore the risk assessment and size-up process, and resulting strategies and tactics must adapt to address these evolving rules of combat structural fire engagement that challenge anecdotal practices and methodologies.
Today’s evolving fireground demands greater adaptive insights and management with an amplified understanding of buildings, occupancy risk profiling (ORP) and building anatomy by all operating companies on the fireground; demanding greater skill sets and knowledge of building construction, architecture, engineering, fire dynamics and fire suppression methodologies.
The equation for success rests directly on Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.
Don’t be complacent based on alarm type, building or occupancy type…expect fire, be prepared and understand the predictability of building performance. It should not be a surprise upon arrival of the first-due.
Some Training Aide Links from past Ten Minutes in the Streets
Ten Minutesin the Street A Buildingsonfire.com SeriesExecutive Producer: Christopher Naum, SFPE Ten Minutes in the Street; bringing you insightful and provoking street scenarios for the discriminating and perspective Firefighter, Company Officer and Commander; where you make the call. You don’t have to have any special rank to participate in this interactive forum, just the desire to learn and expand you knowledge, skills and abilities in order to better yourself, create new insights, while sharing your experience and perspectives to help you and others in the street in making the right call; so everyone has the opportunity of going home. Access the Series on Buildingsonfire.com and TheCompanyOfficer.com Don’t forget to access CommandSafety.com and TheCompanyOfficer.com . Buildingsonfire is also on Facebook.
Ten Minutes in the Street; Stretchin’ the line on the First-Due, HERE
Ten Minutes in the Street; “But it’s only a Garage..!”,HERE
Ten Minutes in the Street: “I Hear Ya Knockin’, But Nobody’s Home”
Fire in Syracuse: Four firefighters LODD: The 701 University Avenue Fire April 9, 1978
April 9th marks the 35th anniversary of the 701 University Ave. fire that claimed the lives of four Syracuse (NY) firefighters in 1978 while conducting search & rescue and suppression operations at an apartment building on the Syracuse University Campus, in Syracuse, New York.
The fire began when one of the tenants lit a candle in a styrofoam wig stand and left it unattended. At 00:46 hours on Sunday April 9, 1978, an alarm of fire was transmitted for a reported building fire at 701 University Avenue on the campus of Syracuse University.
The Victorian style house was a three story building constructed of wood balloon framing and was built circa 1898. The house had been converted into ten (10) apartments that were occupied by SU students. The gross area of each of the three floors was approx. 1,750 sq. ft., with a predominate rectangular footprint shape measuring 69 ft. x 35 ft. The third floor apartments only had access via a stairway in the rear, down a long narrow corridor that measured only 33 inches wide.
Post Fire View of Building from Bravo Side. Photo CJ Naum, 1978
The building had inherent vertical and horizontal concealed spaces indicative of balloon frame style construction along with additional concealed spaces in the third floor ceiling area. A partial automatic sprinkler system had been installed in the building in order to comply with a 1952 State of New York law. This system provided protection to the basement, means of egress, a storage area and a portion of the concealed space above the third floor.
The fire originated in a second floor apartment, and then spread into the combustible concealed space above the third floor ceiling. Approximately sixteen minutes into fireground operations the first indications of firefighting personnel being in distress were received. The first call to the Alarm center was made at 0045:17 hrs., with the first-due engine arriving at 0048:05 and first water applied at 0051 (est).
The four SFD fire fighters, Frank Porpiglio Jr., Stanley Duda, Michael Petragnani, and Robert Schuler, who were assigned to the Squad and Rescue Companies, entered the house to conduct a primary search of the premises for SU students thought to be trapped in the house.
While operating on the third floor inside, a scalding steam caused by triggered sprinklers prevented the four firefighters from escaping, and they eventually depleted their air supply and suffocated to death. The firefighters were operating with full PPE that was complaint at that time ( 1978) and were utilizing state-of-the art SCBA in the form of the new 4.5 SCBA systems. All the tenants had escaped safely before the fire fighters had entered the house. The fire was subsequently investigated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) at the request of the City of Syracuse and NFPA Report No. LS-3 was published.
Syracuse Post Standard Front Page April 10, 1978
Killed in the Line of Duty on April 9th, 1978:
Syracuse (NY) Fire Department
FF Michael Petragnani, Age 27. ~ Rescue Company – appointed 8/20/1973
FF Frank Porpiglio Jr., Age 24. ~ Squad Company – appointed 8/20/1973
FF Robert Shuler, Age 31. ~ Squad Company – appointed 1/24/1973
FF Stanley Duda, Age 34. ~ Squad Company – appointed 1/24/1973
Remembrance, Honor, Courage and Sacrifice
Post Fire View, East Adams Street and University Ave. Photo: CJ Naum, 1978
Martin J. Whitman School of Management stands today at the corner, Photo CJ Naum, 2013
Memorial Plaque placed in 2005 in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management located on the site of 1978 fire. Photo: CJ NAum, 2013
On March 14, 2001 the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department lost firefighter Brett Tarver at the Southwest Supermarket fire.
Remembering Brett Tarver and the Lessons Learned
In that event, it was 5:00 in the afternoon, the grocery store was full of people and fire was extending through the building. Phoenix E14 was assigned to the interior of the structure to complete the search, get any people out, and attempt to confine the rapidly spreading fire to the rear of the structure.
Shortly after completing their primary search of the building the Captain decided it was time to get out. Tarver and the other members of Engine 14 were exiting the building when Tarver and his partner got lost.
Here’s a link to a previous post on Buildingsonfire.com that provides insights and report links that are as pertainent today, as they were in 2001.
Take the time to read the Phoenix Report as well as the NIOSH Report.
Rapid Intervention Team: Are You Ready? Mar 1, 2007 FireEngineering.com By Robert L. Gray; HERE If you were assigned to be a member of a rapid intervention team (RIT) during your next structure fire-or had to command a fireground rescue as a chief officer-are you confident that you would be up to the task of successfully responding to a firefighter Mayday?
The IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program (FGS) is the most comprehensive survival-skills and mayday-prevention program currently available and is open to all members of the fire service. Incorporating federal regulations, proven incident-management best practices and survival techniques from leaders in the field, and real case studies from experienced fire fighters, FGS aims to educate all fire fighters to be prepared if the unfortunate happens.
For links to the IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program, HERE and HERE
The program provides participating fire departments with the skills they need to improve situational awareness and prevent a mayday. Topics include:
Preventing the Mayday: situational awareness, planning, size up, air management, fitness for survival, defensive operations.
Being Ready for the Mayday: personal safety equipment, communications, accountability systems.
Self-Survival Procedures: avoiding panic, mnemonic learning aid “GRAB LIVES”— actions a fire fighter must take to improve survivability, emergency breathing.
U.S. Firefighter Disorientation Study (1979-2001)
This study was conducted in an effort to stop firefighter fatalities caused by smoke inhalation, burns, and traumatic injuries attributable to disorientation. It focused on 17 incidents occurring between 1979 and 2001 in which disorientation played a major part in 23 firefighter fatalities.
To award the Medal of Freedom to the 4 Firefighters who were ambushed in
West Webster New York on Christmas Eve 2012
On December 24th 2012 4 West Webster Firefighters responded to a call of a vehicle/house fire. As they arrived they were ambushed by a lone gunman. Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka were killed on scene. Firefighters Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino both received life altering injuries which will require months of rehabilitation. These brave men were volunteers answered the call for assistance at 5:30 in the morning.
These brave men were ambushed by a coward. For their sacrifices, their willingness to help their fellow man they all should be honored with the Medal of Freedom.
Photo Credit: Smoke is Showing Fireground Photography
A whitehouse.gov account is required to sign Petitions.
To commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, NOVA presented an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit. With extraordinary access granted by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, “Engineering Ground Zero” follows the five-year construction of One World Trade Center (1 WTC) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. This is an encore presentation originally aired on 09/07/2011.
NOVA captures the behind-the-scenes struggle of architects and engineers to make the buildings safe and highly secure under the pressures of a tight schedule, the demands of practical office space and efficient “green” architecture, and the public’s expectations of a fitting site for national remembrance. The program features interviews with 1 WTC architect David Childs; Chris Ward, the Port Authority’s executive director; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation; and Michael Arad, the man behind the breakthrough concept for the 9/11 Memorial.
Firefighters rush into a burning commercial building with too-small hoses and insufficient water. The commander can’t reach them because the captain forgot his radio. Backup crews aren’t sure where to go or what to do. Confusion reigns as the building’s truss roof collapses in an explosion of flames.
This reads like the playbook from the deadly Sofa Super Store fire in June 2007, but it’s not. These dangerous missteps occurred at a March 1 blaze on Daniel Island, according to an internal report obtained by The Post and Courier.
Photo by Andy Paras
This blaze at an office building on Daniel Island on March 1 of this year has led to the demotion of a Charleston fire captain and controversy within the ranks.
They occurred despite nearly four years of intensive and expensive efforts to instill a culture of safety in the Charleston Fire Department.
What’s more, the commander in charge that day — a man repeatedly faulted in the in-house review of the blaze — was recently promoted to a top position in the department. And that’s causing some dissension in the ranks.
City fire officials stand behind their promotion of Troy Williams to battalion chief, and they said the portion of the draft report that leaked to the newspaper is incomplete, unfair, unofficial and riddled with inaccuracies.
Fire Chief Thomas Carr acknowledged problems at the fire, which gutted a two-story office building at 899 Island Park Drive. That’s why he authorized a six-member committee of firefighters to conduct what’s known as a critical incident review. But Carr said he rejected the resulting draft report when it landed on his desk six weeks ago because it had errors and failed to live up to its intended purpose, which is to be an educational tool, not an instrument for blame.
The 12-page portion obtained by the The Post Courier newspaper describes “major” violations of policy and assigns blame for those mistakes. It raises questions about the handling of the blaze, the effectiveness of the training firefighters have received and the integrity of the promotion process.
It also highlights the continuing conflict between the department’s hard-charging past and its new, risk-sensitive methods.
For the Complete Full version Article: The Post and Courier HERE
The Second National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium
A new report identifies seven critical areas where more research is needed to further reduce the number of firefighters killed or injured in the line of duty. These priorities were developed during the Second National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF).
More than 70 representatives from a broad range of fire service-related organizations met over two days at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Their goal, to update the current Research Agenda, a guide for research projects within the fire service. In doing so the following seven areas were identified as research priorities: Community Risk Reduction; Wildland Firefighting; Data Collection; Technology and Fire Service Science; Firefighter Health and Wellness; Emergency Service Delivery; and Tools and Equipment.
More than 70 representatives from a broad range of fire service-related organizations participated
The 2nd National Fire Service Research Agenda
The Second National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium was conducted on May 20 -22, 2011 and was also hosted by NFFF at the NFA campus in Emmitsburg, MD. The project was funded by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The purpose of the second Symposium was to produce an updated edition of the Research Agenda, based on current relevancy, as a guide for future research efforts. Following the model that had been established six years earlier, more than 70 individuals, representing a diverse range of interests participated in the 2011 Symposium.
The participants (who represented 55 different organizations) were asked to self-determine where they would best be able to lend the greatest expertise and guidance, selecting among seven different discussion groups.
Each group was assigned a range of subject matter as their primary area to focus upon; however, it was recognized that the individual domains were broad and the boundaries could not be precisely defined. The groups were encouraged to approach their task with a broad perspective and to seek broad consensus as opposed to narrowly defined priorities. Each group produced a set of recommendations that were reported back to the full assembly for further discussion.
The research areas and the facilitators assigned to each research domain are listed below. The facilitators were chosen based upon their reputations as leaders in their respective areas. They provided leadership for discussion within their groups, and wrote the reports. Kevin Roche of the Phoenix Fire Department was the general facilitator.
Community Risk Reduction (Vickie Pritchett, Shane Ray)
Wildland Firefighting (Stan Gibson, Nelson Bryner)
Data Collection (Lori Moore-Merrell, DrPH)
Technology & Fire Service Science (Gavin Horn, PhD, Daniel Madrzykowski)
Firefighter Health and Wellness (Murrey Loflin, Sara Jahnke, PhD)
Emergency Service Delivery (Christopher Naum, Victor Stagnaro)
Tools and Equipment (Bruce Varner, Robert Tutterow)
Participants were divided into discussion groups based on their expertise within one of the seven areas to develop specific research recommendations for each of the topics. Out of this process came 41 recommendations for potential investigation projects.
“The first Research Agenda Symposium was an outcome of Firefighter Life Safety Initiative #7 which directly links a national research agenda and data collection system to firefighter safety,” said Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director of the NFFF. “The second symposium was convened to assess the changes and advances that had occurred within the fire service over the previous six year and identify new needs and priorities for potential study.”
The updated Research Agenda is intended to provide a reference source and a starting point on where to direct efforts and funding.
The Symposium planning team asked each group to develop a maximum of ten recommendations for presentation to the plenary session on Sunday morning. The groups were also asked to keep their recommendations broad enough so they could be approached from a number of research perspectives and to include the rationale for recommending those particular subjects as research priorities. This proved to be an efficient process reflecting the high level of expertise represented in each group.
The Sunday session began with a discussion of grant programs and funding sources, led by AFG Branch Chief Cathie Patterson. The recommendations of the seven discussion groups were then presented by the respective facilitators for discussion by the full assembly. All of the 41 recommendations that were presented to the plenary session are included in the 2011 Research Agenda report.
The 2011 edition incorporates one significant departure from the 2005 Research Agenda report; the overall ranking of projects on a Priority 1-2-3 scale was omitted and only the priorities established within the individual discussion groups are included. This decision reflects a consensus of the assembled participants that it is extremely difficult and probably unrealistic to apply this type of prioritization process across such a wide range of subject areas.
There was also concern that a 1-2-3 prioritization might encourage researchers and funding organizations to limit their attention to only the highest priorities and thus to overlook the lower ranked topics. The participants wanted to emphasize that all of the identified projects merit attention and should be considered on their own merits. After considerable discussion the group voted to set aside the overall 1-2-3 ranking and asked each group identify one project that should be recognized as an immediate concern.
The number one recommendations are:
Community Risk Reduction: Creation of a community-scale model that evaluates fire prevention and response programs and quantifies their ability to produce a potentially positive outcome. This may include (but is not limited to) data pertaining to: occupancy types and numbers of each, fire prevention, codes adoption, mitigation, response, and recovery.
Wildland: Development of safe and reliable aircraft operations for suppression and team transportation to reduce Wildland firefighting injuries and fatalities.
Data Collection: Identification of cultural perception of data collection / Identification of barriers to capture of quality data.
Technology and Fire Service Science: Development of data, implementation of transfer mechanisms and updating of standards that will enable firefighters to learn the science and utilize the technology required to respond to the changing fire conditions in our modern built environment.
Health and Wellness: Effectiveness of intervention and screening for health and disease related to firefighter wellness and fitness.
Service Delivery: Development of a scientifically-based community risk assessment tool.
Tools and Equipment: Assessment of current PPE (entire ensemble) performance, functionality and related safety features for today’s fire environment.
Ultimately, the 41 recommendations contained in this report should serve as a roadmap for all researchers and applied scientists who are interested in firefighter safety and survivability. These recommendations must not be limited for use as AFG guidance only, but should serve as a guidance tool for all who seek grants within their various disciplines. It is also hoped that with these recommendations in hand, other potential research sponsors can be identified and successfully petitioned.
The Report of the Second National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium is available through the EveryoneGoesHome.com website.
A comments section has been added to the site to collect recommendations for future research from members of the fire service.
A recent video clip making its way around the cyber fireground clearly depicted a very close-call and resulting near miss event to four firefighters at a four alarm fire involving a commercial building that housed an established insulation manufacturer and installation contractor.
The video shows within a very compressed time frame, the progression of rapidly deteriorating interior conditions, the adverse affects on the building’s structural systems and the results from the loss of load transfers that lead to a catastrophic wall collapse narrowly missing the crew of firefighters who were operating a hand line in the vicinity of an exterior overhead door. Fortunately the injuries sustained to the firefighters were minor in nature; however the consequences and results from this collapse could have been far different and significantly more severe.
Following a series of repeated viewings of the video clip and with each successive viewing, it became readily apparent that there was a lot more to these images of the collapse and the cursory focus on the resulting near miss event. Closer examination of the video clip and the still frames brought to light some obvious conditions and indicators that easily become lost in the rapidity of the sequence of the collapse; which really has the true story to be told.
It’s the mechanism and sequence of the collapse, the dynamics of the building’s performance and the building indicators that provide a training opportunity in further examining key factors, presenting insights that could be a focus for operational and command personnel at future incidents with common parameters and gaining some mental models in recognition-primed decision making that contribute to the naturalistic decision-making process.
If you know what to be looking for, then when you see it, you may be able to anticipate, project and implement in rapid succession appropriate measures dictated by the incident.
Four Alarm Commercial Building Fire with Collapse: Fire Photo by Ben Goldberry
In an effort to promote additional insights and bring forward these fundamental observations and experienced-based presumptions extended from these and other news video images, still photographs, additional reporting research and examination, and a review of other published media resources; the following observations presented in this overview brief are being conveyed to increase firefighter, company and command level awareness of key collapse indicators such as those present at this commercial fire and to further the concept of adaptive fireground management principles and increase awareness of fundamental building performance indicators and principles to help you increase your intuitive observations skills and translate them into proactive operational actions on the fireground-before an adverse condition occurs.[ i.e., being five steps ahead of the fire conditions].
Although this briefing makes use of the images and conditions depicted in the video clip and encountered by the fire department evident in the images; the susequent commentary and insights provided are not meant to provide direct or indirect opinions, renderings, criticism or censure towards the conduct of operations or the management of the incident by the respective department and it’s firefighting, command and support personnel who operated at the actual fire and experienced this near miss event first-hand.
We are grateful that the events of this alarm precluded anything worst occurring given the potential seriousness of the prevailing incident conditions and commend the fire department and it’s firefighters that provide these exceptional services each and every day to the citizens they serve and to the community they protect, in mitigating this serious fire; safely and successfully.
This incident and the resulting near-miss captured by the videographer provides the Fire Service with an exceptional opportunity given today’s far reaching capabilities of eMedia, this web site and direct and indirect readers, links, tweets, likes, reposting’s, uploads, downloads and sharing an opportunity to share the consequences of an extreme close-call and learn from it in a positive and constructive manner, so that firefighters, company officers, commanders and support personnel can better predict with knowledge, insight and at times intuition a better understanding of buildings and the structures and occupancies we operate within on the fireground.
There are numerous inherent indicators present at every incident scene we operate at that. As is in this near miss event and building collapse; it’s sometimes the subtle things that need to gain the attention of operationg companies and personnel and the ability to rapidly process, recognize and react.
Remember this: Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.
As a generality; it’s important to note that given heavy fire involvement in a structure (got fire), adaptive fireground management considerations would promote conservative considerations to anticipate and expect collapse (degraded or compromise; limited or catastrophic).
In the case of fires in commercial occupancies and buildings with;
Large Square footage/Floor areas
Significant fire loads
Large open structural system spans lacking compartmentation,
Unprotected steel components and assemblies
No Sprinkler Systems
Omitted, compromised or degraded passive or active protective or suppression systems
Significant openings along the exterior building envelope
Significant opening on the roof enclosure
Deep seated fires or rapidly escalating and extending fires
It is mission critical to comprehend and understand your department’s operational capabilities and the necessary deployment demands for fire suppression, fire flow and phased operations.
Respect these buildings for the occupancy risk they present and not the typical occupancy type that we develop our strategies, incident action plans and tactical deployments. Its alot more than that, with far greater consequences that may be very unforgiving.
Aerial Plan of Building and Collapse Area A-B
The fire incident involved a single story commercial building occupying approximately 32, 200 square feet of area on a multiple building site with proximal exposures. Manufacturing, warehousing and offices comprised the building’s operational use. An aerial plan view shows the geographical building scene divisions and the location and relationship of the Alpha- Bravo Side collapse zones that affected operations and resulted in the close-call and firefighter near-miss. The proximity of exposures, physical layout and orientation can be further assessed.
A review of public documents and records, incident reports and various media resources provided the following insights;
Alpha Street Side View- Adapted from Google Streetmaps
The view of the alpha street side identifies the building front facade, its main office entrance (center between dual overhead doors on the left and right). Pronounced on the alpha side facade is the presence of four (4) equally spaced overhead (OH) doors that provide direct access into the building’s interior. The subsequent collapse area is depicted at the A-B corner with special attention drawn to relationship of the wall plane and OH door proximity.
The relationship and this wall surface ( area square footage) and the presence of the OH door opening to the wall/ roof interface area that subsequently became compromised and collapsed is critical in further understanding the mechanism of the collapse sequence and also the positive effect it had on the survivability of the firefighters who were within the collapse zone at the time of the wall failure.
Don’t Always Stress the Corners
It’s been a common practice and fundamental fireground consideration to define the corner of a typical building as having safety considerations and prominence in the context of ladder company operations, laddering and roof work and in the placement of personnel and positioning of fireground operations.
Corner Building Operational considerations have included, but limited to;
Provides a potentially safe(er) area of operational refuge
Provides a location to safely position ground ladders for roof access/egress
Provides a location that has a potential higher degree of assurance for maintaining structural integrity in the event of a collapse condition of an outer wall
Will not fail in a catastrophic or monolithic manner due to the postulated presence of structural members on the vicinity of either the wall enclosure and/or the roofing structural system and assemblies
The design and construction configuration and orientation of the ninety degree angle of the building’s outer wall envelope (at the corner) provides predicated inherent structural stability
The typical type of structural or envelope construction may have a resulting ninety degree building corner having a more robust resistance to collapse and compromise due to the various types of enclosure systems (methods and materials) and assemblies and needed stability per engineering principles
In this instance (as shown in the Alpha side street view), the presence of the large overhead door in close proximity to the corner wall intersection and transition ( A-B side), actually makes this position, fireground proximity and travel paths highly prone to early and complete collapse potential in the event of a loss of the wall-roof component or assembly integrity or in the load bearing/transfer capabilities of the wall-roof assembly.
The presence and identification of a corner configuration similar to this in a commercial structure should result in a higher degree of considerations and risk assessment when formulation and deploying operational assignments and in the placement of personnel for task assignments in this proximity.
This operational area should be considered as a candidate for designation as a collapse zone based upon projected or defined operational considerations, incident conditions and predictive building characteristics, systems, materials and fire dynamics and conditions.
Alpha-Bravo Corner of Subsequent Collapse Aerial View
The view from the Alpha-Bravo Corner shows the collapse zones at grade and the affected area size.
As noted in the preceding narrative, the presence of the overhead door opening along the perimeter wall enclosure and outer envelope creates a risk area that would require monitoring, periodic reconnaissance and assessment during subsequent operations to determine structural stability and potential adverse conditions.
The proximity of the opening in relationship to the corner wall, roof support and structural span of the opening results in a very delicate balance of forces, loads, reliance and dependence that must be maintained for structural integrity and equilibrium.
The entire perimeter of the alpha side could be considered for a restricted collapse zone just in terms of wall opening alone sans the degree of actual or projected interior fire impingement or fire involvement.
Take some time to view the video clip a few times over before proceeding to the next sequence of fame images.
This videographer of this video was Aaron Dohring. (all rights reserved)
Aerial Overhead view of the building perimeter walls along the four divisions ( A-D) with the A-B corner that subsequently experienced the wall-roof compromise and resulting collapse.
The A-B corner and the affected ground areas around the collapse zone. Considerations for a collapse zone area on the A-B corner would have resulted in a minimum distance of twenty five (25) feet from the building base for all operations within this area. The collapse zone on the Bravo side extends into the exposure building due to its close proximity.
Always consider the building envelope materials of construction and systems present on the building. The use of concrete masonry units (CMU) is common, as is the use of pre-cast concrete and cast-in place and tilt-up concrete construction panels.
Variations in collapse dynamics and mechanisms of collapse may result in sizable increases in collapse zone distances from the building base with consideration for monolithic or partial wall collapse as well as safety considerations for bounce and travel over long distances of modular assembly building pieces ( i.e. concrete blocks, brick venner or material chunks).
We have not discussed collapse considerations for other building envelope systems such as metal panelized systems since these have entirely different collapse considerations and profiling, not applicable to this incident and assessment insights. The same is true when considering operating and collapse considerations at commercial buildings with ordinary construction or heavy timber systems (Type or Class III and IV). These to have different rules of predictive building performance and collapse safety considerations.
The interior of the building included unprotected steel components and assemblies consisting of steel columns, beams and open web steel joists. These common and conventional structural support systems provided large free clear spans, common for typical warehouse and commercial occupancies. The presence and operability of functional fire suppression sprinkler system coupled with passive and active protective devices and compartmentation can help support proactive and aggressive fire suppression efforts in those conditions that have appropriate risk determinations and balanced risk-gain benefits.
The presence of unprotected steel components ( Truss, column, structural beams etc. ) and assemblies requires an understanding of the effects of flame and heat impingement, rate of heat release and fire dynamics, potential for movement and displacement of structural components and effect on assemblies, systems and connections and the effect on structural stability, integrity and building load transfers and displacement that all can adversely affect building performance, integrity and collapse potential
Typical Structural System and Components
Interior View with Steel Columns, Open Web Steel bar Joists and Beams
Typical Open Web Steel Bar Joists w Metal Roof Deck
Large clear spans provided by the open web steel bar joists allowed for considerable free floor space typical of commercial warehouse occupancies.
Note the use of what appears to be combustible wood storage and staging areas that could have could potentially contribute towards increased fire intensity, extension and further contribute towards adverse affects on the unprotected structural steel components and assemblies.
Alpha Side Collapse Area Details: OH Door Pre-Collapse Insights
Pre-Collapse Operations on Alpha side with personnel in close proximty to the building perimeter
Pre-Collapse view of Operations on the Alpha side with personnel in close proximity, (within [a] collapse zone) to the building perimeter. It is evident that the degree of interior fire extension and involvement presumes a cautious deployment and placement of personnel in safe operational areas. When operating in such close proximity to the building wall and envelope, it becomes increasingly challenging for company officers and company personnel to monitor overall building performance indicators that may be prevalent or dominant from a view point further away from the building.
Fire extension, smoke conditions, component or assembly movement or displacement may be readily defined and identified from a vantage point away from the building, requiring additional independent operational assignments within the division if resources allow. Otherwise, officers are encouraged to get a big picture view and increase their span of vision of the building and progressing fire conditions and building performance
The pre-collapse frame image above identifies the building roof line in relationship to the ground operations, smoke conditions and also the directional flow of the elevated master stream [upper right corner]. The initial stage of the wall compromise and collapse can be seen in the Bravo wall pulling away. When watching the video, pay close attention first to the stream direction and flow and them at the location and movement of the wall, which is followed in rapid succession with the full wall collapse.
Close examination of the initial video frames shows the rapid displacement of the portion of the Bravo wall and outward collapse towards the B-Exposure (alleyway) Refer to the Aerial Plan for orientation. The A-B Collapse is progressing from the Bravo side to the Alpha side as loads are being transferred in rapid progression with further collapse expected.
The frame image above shows the bravo wall failing outward with the resulting loss in structural support of the roofing deck assembly.
Rapid fire migration and extension is evident after the wall section collapse with increased flames visible. In the video, one firefighter quickly recognizes the imminent collapse and reacts.
A significant section of wall area is present at the A-B side and progressing from the building corner to the left jamb of the overhead (OH) door. This area and the area directly above the OH door opening is calculated to weigh over 20,000 lbs.
The early identification and establishment of collapse zone(s) is mission critical especially at commercial buildings due to the considerations for rapidly changing operational conditions that may be a result of or influenced by the following;
lack of knowledge or understanding of the building’s construction, systems and characteristics
lack of adequate resources, skills and or capabilities for selected phase operations
fire loading, combustibles, flammables and other products
Last of or loss of compartmentation
fire and protective systems failures or inoperability
unapproved alterations, additions and renovations to the building, systems and occupancy
transitions for offensive to defensive operational phases, which at times may results in operating position postures too close to the building
failure to recognize situational factors that will drive appropriate operational phasing and task deployments
lack of building performance knowledge
not considering occupancy risk versus treating the building/fire relationship based upon occupancy type
not recognizing key collapse indicators and failing to implement timely actions [proactively versus reactionary]
being four steps behind the fire conditions evident instead of implementing adaptive fire ground management insights [five steps ahead of the evident fire]
use precise coordination when placing elevated masterstreams into operations with ground personnel operating within close quarters
understand the effects of master streams on the integrity of building features, assemblies and components
The image frame above shows personnel operating within an imminent collapse zone directing hand lines into the interior fire area. Further examination of the video frames clearly shows one firefighter quickly recognizing that a collapse is occurring and attempts to alert the other personnel to retreat. Simultaneously to the collapse progression, the crew immediately retreats away from the collapsing wall and falling building materials.
Within the span of four seconds, the wall compromise occurs and collapses on the ground at the A-B corner and immediate area on the alpha side. The slightly monolithic manner in which the wall plane first peels away and progressively collapsed is interesting for a CMU wall. Possibly due to the outward collapse of the Bravo wall, followed by the rapid succession of failure of the roof-wall connection interface resulted in an transitional downward force that pushed the alpha side wall outward allowing gravity to work its force
When operating in close proximity to a heavily involved forward interior condition [exterior position] it is important to maintain focused situational awareness and either directly maintain or delegate responsibilities for observations of fire and smoke progress and conditions while monitoring key functional building performance indicators and collapse pre-cursors.
Additionally, always re-evaluate the effectiveness of deployed and operational hose lines, streams and in water application to ensure they are adequate for the degree of fire suppression being undertaken and the corresponding fire flow requirements. Don’t just assume, determine with validity. [ Refer to Tactical Entertainment]
Obscured by the rapidly defining smoke which is a result of the developing and extending collapse, the frame image 04 below depicts the beginning of the compromise and collapse sequence commencing as a result of the Bravo wall compromise and collapse sequence at the B-A corner that will subsequently peel towards the Alpha side and continue up to the outermost jamb of the overhead door.
Pay particular attention to the first three to four seconds of the video clip and review the video clip over a few times; looking at the operating elevated master stream that is clearly visible and operating from the upper right part of the screen through the smoke plume; follow the direct orientation and stream flowing directly towards the bravo wall plane, and presumed penetrating into/through the roof deck or impacting through the metal roof deck and wall-roof assembly area at the upper roof edge.
Frame image 04 depicts the rapidly deteriorating conditions that are evident as the collapse sequence continues and the overhead door jamb (left) buckling and adjacent wall failing by way of an outward curl or peel away commencing from the upper (left image) A-B corner at the roof line and then peeling and failing from upper left to right.
The leading edge of the outward collapsing wall plane ( yellow dotted line) is failing with the greatest material concentration occurring at the A-B edge outward. Fortunately the presence and location of the overhead door opening lessened the amount and location of wall material ( concrete masonry units-CMU) and contributed to a void area being present and not fully impacting the firefighters who were operating within this collapse zone.
In other words, had this been a solid full wall collapse likelihood for significant firefighter injury would have resulted.
The affects of wall/roof compromise should be of focused consideration and monitoring when managing incidents of this size and magnitude in similar occupancies and building features. Flame and heat impingment can and will affect the structural integrity of lintels spans, beams and truss connects along roof lines and connections. Look for signs of impingment, degradation or compromise. watch for signs of probable inward/outward or curtain wall collapse.
The remaining images, frames 06 and 07 depict the location of the firefighters to the wall collapse, the relationship to the wall and roof system and the degree of wall area that became compromised and collapsed.
This brief video clip and these accompanying briefing insights provided a tremendous opportunity to examine in a non-critical manner an actual near miss collapse event and operational discernments that provide a focused training an awareness opportunity.
When given the time to analyze and assess, some things become so apparent and self-revealing that we might prematurely say why didn’t someone pick up that or those conditions while conducting operations at [an] incident. It is dependent on a wide variety of factors, conditions and parameters that are difficult at times to identify and harder yet to fully identify as common or contributing factors, errors or omissions.
It’s not always that easy; but contradictory – some time it really is (or should be) that easy.
Some things on the fireground may not be prone to being so readily identifiable or recognized.
It all depends what you’re looking for and whether you have the necessary insights, knowledge and skill sets. Incident priorities, demands, situational focus, awareness or disconnect all may have a part in how and incident is managed and mitigated.
It goes back directly on knowing what to look for and when; at what type of building with which type of occupancy and under what stage or stages of fire development and combat operations or engagement you might be in. It complex, it takes time and experience and learning’s.
There are numerous factors to be cognizant of in operations involving commercial buildings and occupancies; with special considerations and a diligent focus on a wide degree of facets on the fireground during combat fire engagement.
You need to start somewhere, thus the investment in these observations and insights for this event. Open your eyes on the fireground, there is so much to take in and respond to; if you know what to look for and can process what you’re seeing.
It is mission critical to comprehend and understand your department’s operational capabilities and the necessary deployment demands for fire suppression, fire flow and phased operations. Respect these buildings for the occupancy risk they present and not the typical occupancy type that we develop our conventional strategies, incident action plans and tactical deployments. It’s a lot more than that, with far greater consequences; that may be very unforgiving.
According to the recently published NFPA Research Report on Firefighter Fatalities in the United States 2010; In 2010, a total of 72 on-duty firefighter deaths occurred in the U.S. This is another sharp drop from the 105 on-duty deaths in 2008 and 82 in 2009, and the lowest annual total since NFPA began conducting this annual study in 1977.
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.
More than half of the deaths resulted from overexertion, stress and related medical issues.
Of the 39 deaths in this category, 34 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths (usually heart attacks) and five were due to strokes or brain aneurysm.
In 2010, a total of 72 on-duty firefighter deaths occurred in the U.S. This is another sharp drop from the 105 on-duty deaths in 2008 and 82 in 2009, and the lowest annual total since NFPA began conducting this annual study in 1977. The average number of deaths annually over the past 10 years is 95.
Figure 1 shows firefighter deaths for the years 1977 through 2010, excluding the 340 firefighter deaths at the World Trade Center in 2001.
Of the 72 firefighters who died while on duty in 2010, 44 were volunteer firefighters, 25 were career firefighters, two were employees of state land management agencies, and one was a member of a prison inmate crew.
In 2010, there were four double-fatality incidents. Two firefighters died in a vehicle crash while returning from a training weekend, two died in an apparatus crash while responding to a structure fire and four firefighters were killed during interior operations at two structure fires. More details are presented throughout the report.
Analyses in the NFPA Research Report examine the types of duty associated with firefighter deaths, the cause and nature of fatal injuries to firefighters, and the ages of the firefighters who died. They highlight deaths in intentionally-set fires and in motor vehicle-related incidents.
Finally, the NFPA study presents summaries of individual incidents that illustrate important concerns in firefighter safety.
The victims include members of local career and volunteer fire departments; seasonal, full-time and contract employees of state and federal agencies who have fire suppression responsibilities as part of their job description; prison inmates serving on firefighting crews; military personnel performing assigned fire suppression activities; civilian firefighters working at military installations; and members of industrial fire brigades. Fatal injuries and illnesses are included even in cases where death is considerably delayed.
When the injury and the death occur in different years, the incident is counted in the year of the injury.
The NFPA recognizes that a comprehensive study of on-duty firefighter fatalities would include chronic illnesses (such as cancer or heart disease) that prove fatal and that arise from occupational factors. In practice, there is no mechanism for identifying fatalities that are due to illnesses that develop over long periods of time. This creates an incomplete picture when comparing occupational illnesses to other factors as causes of firefighter deaths. This is recognized as a gap the size of which cannot be identified at this time because of limitations in tracking the exposure of firefighters to toxic environments and substances and the potential long-term effects of such exposures.
The NFPA also recognizes that other organizations report numbers of duty-related firefighter fatalities using different, more expansive, definitions that include deaths that occurred when the victims were off-duty. (See, for example, the USFA and National Fallen Firefighters Memorial websites.*)
Readers comparing reported losses should carefully consider the definitions and inclusion criteria used in any study.
Type of Duty
Figure 2 shows the distribution of the 72 deaths by type of duty. The largest share of deaths occurred while firefighters were operating on the fire ground (21 deaths).
This total is well below the average 32 deaths per year on the fire ground over the past 10 years, and less than a third the average of 69 deaths per year in the first 10 years of this study (1977 through 1986). The low number of fire ground deaths in 2010 is not only because of the small number of multiple-fatality fire incidents – the number of fire incidents resulting in firefighter deaths in 2010 was the lowest recorded, with 19 fatal fires, compared to an average of 28 annually in the previous 10 years. Fourteen of the 21 fire ground deaths occurred at 12 structure fires. Deaths in structure fires are discussed in more detail later in this report. There were seven deaths at seven wildland-related incidents.
There were no firefighter deaths at vehicle fires in 2010.
Twelve of the 21 fire ground victims were career firefighters, eight were volunteer firefighters and one was a firefighter with a state land management agency.
The average number of career firefighter deaths on the fire ground over the past 10 years is 12 deaths per year, while the average for volunteer firefighters is 16 deaths per year.
An additional four or more deaths of state or federal wildland management agency personnel, on average, occur on wildland fires each year.
Eighteen firefighters died while responding to or returning from emergency calls. It is important to note that deaths in this category are not necessarily the result of crashes. Twelve of the deaths were due to sudden cardiac events or stroke, five occurred in four collisions or rollovers and one firefighter was crushed between two fire department vehicles as one was backed into the station. All 18 victims were volunteer firefighters. All crashes and sudden cardiac deaths are discussed in more detail later.
Eleven deaths occurred during training activities. Two firefighters died when their personal vehicle crashed while they were returning from a training weekend. Four firefighters collapsed and died of sudden cardiac events after training exercises and one died during unsupervised physical fitness activities. One suffered a stroke after a weekly training meeting at the station, one suffered a brain aneurysm after hose loading training, one died after being exposed to smoke at a wildland live fire training exercise, and one hit his elbow during training and died of necrotizing fasciitis (also known as flesh-eating disease).
Five firefighters died at non-fire emergencies, including two at the scene of motor vehicle crashes (one victim was struck by a vehicle and the other suffered sudden cardiac death), one drowned during a swift water rescue, one died after clearing downed trees after a storm and one was asphyxiated while attempting to rescue a worker from a manhole without SCBA and before the oxygen levels were tested.
The remaining 17 firefighters died while involved in a variety of non-emergency-related on-duty activities. These activities included normal administrative or station duties (11 deaths), fire station construction projects (two deaths), vehicle maintenance (one death), driving to check on a wildland fire the previous day (one death), and a work project in a wildland area (one death). One firefighter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while on-duty.
Firefighter Fatalities in the United States 2010
Rita F. Fahy, Paul R. LeBlanc and Joseph L. Molis, June 2011. 33 pages.
Overall statistics on line-of-duty firefighter fatalities in 2010, including non-incident-related deaths. Includes patterns, trends, career vs. volunteer comparisons, and brief narratives on selected incidents.
Abstract: In 2010, a total of 72 on-duty firefighter deaths occurred in the U.S. This is another sharp drop from the 105 on-duty deaths in 2008 and 82 in 2009, and the lowest annual total since NFPA began conducting this annual study in 1977. 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. More than half of the deaths resulted from overexertion, stress and related medical issues. Of the 39 deaths in this category, 34 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths (usually heart attacks) and five were due to strokes or brain aneurysm.
Woonsocket mill fire courtesy Matt Gregiore Providence Fire Video
A 112-year-old building, once the home of the Woonsocket Rubber Co., a firm that made decoy tanks for the D-Day invasion in World War II and later manufactured Keds sneakers, was destroyed Tuesday night by a spectacular fire. Smoke from the blaze could be seen as far away as Providence.Fire Chief Gary Lataille said 10 to 15 departments from Rhode Island and Massachusetts were called in to help battle the seven-alarm blaze. While the fiire appeared to be small at first, according to Mayor Leo T. Fontaine, the fire quickly spread to engulf the 180,000-square-foot mill structure.Lataille said that with the river bordering one side of the complex, and a huge parking lot bordering another, he determined early that the best strategy was to contain the fire so it would not spread to houses along River Street and to let it burn completely to the ground
Residual heat from a blow torch used by a contractor is believed to have sparked the fire Tuesday evening. The building owner told investigators that the contractor was using that blow torch for some plumbing work inside the building.
More than 125 firefighters from as many as 15 different departments in Rhode Island and Massachusetts assisted in knocking down the blaze at the former Alice Mills Rubber Manufacturing Plant in Woonsocket.
Building Construction and Systems Training for Commanders, Company Officers & Firefighters
New for 2011
An intense and concentrated series of programs examining trends and methods in building construction for the fire service with an emphasize on construction and occupancy risk assessment, structural and construction systems, and their direct relationship on structural combat firefighting operations, firefighter survivability and the command decision-making process. Understand building systems and occupancy performance under fire conditions is mission critical with new and emerging technical information and data that is redefining tactical and operational models and firefighting protocols with new rules of engagement.
Firefighters and Officers will gain a new understanding of inherent construction features and hazards that directly influence effective risk management and decisive strategic and tactical considerations with a focus on key construction features, inherent occupancy profiles that will influence strategic, tactical and task level operations and crucial assembly systems affected by fire dynamics, extreme fire behavior and combat fire suppression operations.
These programs & seminars examine crucial considerations for Reading the Building, Occupancy Risk Profiling, Adaptive Fireground Management, Tactical Patience, Predicative Occupancy Performance and Construction Resiliency correlating building construction performance toward combat structural fire suppression operations. Case studies will reinforce concepts presented and evoked.
2011 Training Program Offerings
Building Construction for the Company and Command Officer
Tactical Patience and the New Rules of Combat Fire Engagement
The New Fireground: Engineered Systems, Construction & Tactics
Building Construction and Tactical Operations
Reading the Building: Predictive Occupancy Profiling
The Doctrine of Combat Fire Operations 2011
Dynamic Risk Assessment & Firefighting
Tactical Renaissance:Building Construction & Tactical Excellence
Extreme Fire Behavior & Fireground Operations
Tactical Entertainment and Firefighter Safety
Occupancy Risk Profiling and Firefighting Strategy & Tactics
Keynotes, Lectures, Special Presentations & Programs Available
Other Building Construction, Command, Tactics and Fire Fighter Safety and Operations programs Available
There have been two fire ground collapse events this week; the first in Gary Indiana on April 5th, the other in Washington DC on April 8th that resulted in a total of eight firefighters being injured. The collapse conditions presented themselves during the course of operations in which suppression or search and rescue operations were being conducted. Each occupancy and construction type presents unique challenges and risks related to construction, materials, dead load and resiliency when impacted by fire, heat or fire suppression activities.
Maintaining effective and focused situational awareness of developing and progressing fire conditions, position and company assignments, and related monitoring of occupancy risk profile conditions may provide timely insights to changing conditions that may influence the incident action plan, strategies and tactics deployed or implemented.
As always, when physical conditions allow and there is an uncertainty of building risk profiles, occupancy charactoristics, construction type and fire conditions, a 360 is advised.
Never under estimate the severity of what may transpire when a partial collapse of a roof or ceiling assembly may have on operating companies and personnel.
When ever feasible, timely opening up of concealed spaces within the ceiling void, cockloft or truss loft of a roof assembly is imperative to assess the extent of fire, travel and intensity.
Observations openings within the ceiling membrane (from below) or roof deck (above) allows assessment determination for impingement of structural or support members and systems.
Use caution and be conservative in the use of Thermal Imaging devices for determining extent and magnitude of fire conditions within the concealed compartment; Refer to test results from the UL Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber in Fire Conditions Report and test data, HERE
When feasible, ensure eitehr dedicated truck/ladder companies or assigned task resources are available to provide coordinated tactical support to interior suppression and search and rescue assignments to manage fire behavior factors with appropriate incident, occupancy and building defined tactical deployments.
Think about what’s burning above you…it may very well be burning around or ontop of you, if systems, assemblies or components fail.
Three Gary (IN) firefighters were injured when the third floor ceiling of a burning building collapsed on Tuesday April 5th during search and rescue operations. According to published reports their injuries weren’t believed to be life-threatening, but they were taken to a hospital.
Battalion Chief Robert Groszewski stated about 20 firefighters responded to the fire at the site of the former Campbell Friendship House. He says no one was at home when the fire began.
Groszewski says the fire may have begun in a third-floor stairwell.
A ceiling collapse during a fire at a three-story building in Gary, Ind., injured three Gary firefighters Tuesday afternoon. (Credit: Gary Post-Tribune)
Aerial Delta Side
Aerial of Charlie Side, Roof and Exposure
The fire and collapse in Washington, DC has resulted in five DCFD firefghter injuries, of which one firefighter is in critical condition following a roof collaspse, entrappment and mayday in an unoccupied single family residential structure during primary search and rescue operations that was known to have homeless people occupy the structure on occassion. According to various published reports, companies were making entry with pronounced fire conditions when the roof collapsed trapping the operating companies.
Reports from both STATter911.com and DCFD provided the following; DC Fire & EMS Department spokesman Pete Piringer indicated that five firefighters were hurt during a two-alarm house fire at 813 48th Street, NE. The fire was reported around 12:40 this morning. Three of the firefighters were from Rescue Squad 3 and were caught in the collapse of the roof of the one story, wood frame, single family home. At 7:30 AM Piringer reported one firefighter was in critical condition with significant burns, the other three with varying degrees of burns with expected early release.
According to the report there were 85 onduty firefighter fatalities in the United States as a result of incidents that occurred in 2010, a 6 percent decrease from the 90 fatalities reported for 2009.
The 85 fatalities were spread across 31 states.
Illinois experienced the highest number of fatalities (9).
In addition to Illinois, only New York (8),
Pennsylvania (7), and
Kansas (5) had 5 or more firefighter fatalities.
Heart attacks and strokes were responsible for the deaths of 51 firefighters (60%) in 2010, nearly the same proportion of firefighter deaths from heart attack or stroke (58%) in 2009.
Nine onduty firefighters died in association with wildland fires, about half the number that died in association with wildland fires in 2009 and a third of the 26 such fatalities in 2008.
Forty-eight percent of all firefighter fatalities occurred while performing emergency duties.
Eleven firefighters died in 2010 as the result of vehicle crashes, down substantially from 16 deaths in 2009, and for the first time since 1999, none the of the deaths involved aircraft. Four firefighters in 2010 died in accidents involving firefighters responding in personal vehicles. Seven firefighter deaths involved fire department apparatus, one of which was a double firefighter fatality incident.
These 2010 firefighter fatality statistics are provisional and may change as the USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify the names of firefighters reported to have died onduty during 2010.
The final number of firefighter fatalities will be reported in USFA’s annual firefighter fatality report, expected to be available by July.
2010 Firefighter Fatality Provisional Statistics (PDF, 11 Kb) HERE
2010 Firefighter Fatality Provisional Statistics (Text, 4 Kb) HERE
At 2356 hours on Saturday March 19, 2011, the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department was alerted for the reported Chimney Fire at 3380 Soper Road in Huntingtown. While en-route, firefighters received information that the owner was trying to extinguish the fire and believed it had spread to the attic. Units alerted were: Chief 6A (Montgomery), Chief 6C (Morris), Safety 6 (McKenny), Lieutenant 6 (Buckler), Engine 62 (Smith), Engine 61 (Gaylor), Squad 6 (Wallace), Tanker 6 (Robison), Brush 6 (Montgomery Jr), Ambulance 68 (Jeffery, M) and Ambulance 69 (Bevard).
Chief 6C arrived to find smoke showing from the second floor eves of a 10,000 square foot mega-mansion. Engine 62 arrived, laying a supply line, advancing the 400′ pre-connect and began pulling the ceiling, at which time; they found fire in the attic spreading rapidly. Within seconds, conditions deteriorated significantly resulting in zero visibility and intense heat. Command immediately ordered evacuation tones. Due to high winds off the river, water supply issues, distance from the fire house, and the size of the structure (10,000 square feet), fire spread rapidly.
Immediately thereafter, the second floor flashed over resulting in nine firefighters being injured, five from Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department and four from Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department. As a result of the unbearable heat, several firefighters took extreme measures such as jumping out of windows and running through walls to evacuate the structure. Chief 6A immediately ordered a Full Second Alarm with two Tankers. Later in the incident, additional units were Special Alarmed to the scene. On scene were several ambulances and medics providing care to the injured firefighters.
Although units from Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, Anne Arundel, and Prince Georges were utilized, fire spread in such a rapid manner that the home is considered a total loss.
Two of the Huntingtown firefighters were seriously injured and transported by aviation to Washington Hospital Center. The other seven firefighters were transported to Calvert Memorial Hospital for evaluation and treatment. Subsequently, six of those initially transported to Calvert Memorial, two from Huntingtown and four from Prince Frederick, were transported to Baltimore Shock Trauma and Washington MedStar for follow-up evaluation and treatment for smoke inhalation. All seven firefighters have since been released.
The event narrative was issued through Chief Jonathan Riffe of the Huntington VFD, MD (HERE)
Do you know what's underneath you as you're making entry?
If you’ve been paying attention to the latest news and on the job reports these past few days, you may have noticed there’s been an emerging trend evident in near miss, close-calls resulting in maydays, RIT deployments and self-rescue resulting from floor compromise and floor collapse.
As I was doing some research and posting links related to the first one or two events on Buildingsonfire on Facebook, HERE, it became evident that there was an immediate opportunity to get some learning’s and insights out. If you have a chance head over to Facebook and link into Buildingsonfire and check out the incident links posted as well as some immediate report links.
I’ll plan to develop some operational safety and awareness insights related to building construction, floor systems and operational integrity in the next few days. I’ll get a comprehensive list of events and incident parameters compiled and posted also.
In the meantime here are some links I pulled together that you should take the time to read and share with your companies, personnel and staff…..
This seems like a good time to have a ten minute drill on these events as Operating Expeeince (OE) on floor systems and operational safety.
Reference Links for Operational Insights and Operating Experience (OE)
For a Today’s Fire Officer to be truly effective, accountable and responsible to their duties, function and assignments; they must have the requisite training and skill sets that correspond with their job performance and functions. Regardless of your affiliation or membership, career or volunteer, rank or title; if you are performing as an officer in the fire service you need to have the right combination of training to support and augment the experience you obtain while working in field operations or other administrative or staff positions. The question is do you know what is expected of you? Does your organization provide you with the road map? Is it defined, is it part of the recognized national standards process?
It’s no longer acceptable to be functioning and performing in a rank and position of responsibility without the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) in order to execute those duties in an effective, efficient and compliant manner aligned with your department’s policies, procedures and standards. The aspect of Officer Credentialing and Qualifications isn’t anything new.
The NFPA Professional Fire Officer Qualifications standard has been around since 1976, as have a variety of Pro Board, IFSAC and State approved training programs that lead to certification, credentialing and have a sequential qualifications track.
Origin and Development of NFPA 1021 In 1971, the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations (JCNFSO) created the National Professional Qualifications Board (NPQB) for the fire service to facilitate the development of nationally applicable performance standards for uniformed fire service personnel. On December 14, 1972, the Board established four technical committees to develop those standards using the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards-making system. The initial committees addressed the following career areas:
Fire Service Instructor, and
Fire Inspector and Investigator
The first edition of NFPA 1021 was published in July 1976. The original concept of the professional qualification standards was to develop an interrelated set of performance standards specifically for the fire service. The various levels of achievement in the standards were to build on each other within a strictly defined career ladder. In the late 1980s, revisions of the standards recognized that the documents should stand on their own merit in terms of job performance requirements for a given field. Accordingly, the strict career ladder concept was abandoned, except for the progression from fire fighter to fire officer. The later revisions, therefore, facilitated the use of the documents by other than the uniformed fire services.The 1992 edition of NFPA 1021 reduced the number of levels of progression in the standard to four. In the 1997 edition, NFPA 1021 was converted to the job performance requirement (JPR) format to be consistent with the other standards in the Professional Qualifications Project.
To order a complete version of the NFPA 1021 standard go HERE.
The scope and purpose of the NFPA 1021 standard is to identify the minimum job performance requirements necessary to perform the duties of a Fire Officer and specifically identifies four levels of progression— Fire Officer I, Fire Officer II, Fire Officer III, and Fire Officer IV.
The intent of the standard is to define progressive levels of performance required at the various levels of officer responsibility.
The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) has the option to combine or group the levels to meet its local needs and to use them in the development of job descriptions and specifying promotional standards.
The NFPA 1021 standard does not restrict any jurisdiction from exceeding the minimum requirements defined by the standard.
In most progressive organizations there is a formal and defined process whereby a firefighter transitions and becomes a fire officer. The general practice consists of time in grade, examination, oral and sometimes practical examinations, followed by a list ranking and then appointment. Some organizations utilize an appointment process based upon wide latitude of criteria and still others utilize a popular voting process. There are stringent civil service requirements and protocols that define the qualification, ranking, selection and appointment process in career organizations. There are numerous variations on these themes that take into account a variety of local or regional commonalities, and elements that define the process and procedure in becoming a fire officer. It’s safe to say that the vast majority of volunteer organizations utilize some form of membership voting process or an appointment process often with little to minimal prerequisites. This form of promotion has varied measures of liability and risk for those individuals who attain leadership roles and responsibilities as company or command officers with nothing more than a few “basic” training courses, a few years of experience and a following.
The lack of creditable and measurable knowledge, skills and abilities that align with nationally recognized processes and standards in this day and age is questionable at best, and may border on the edge of negligence. A candidate or appointee who assumes the role of a company or command officer or raises through the ranks without any balance of credentials and qualifications in so doing, has the potential to practice with a degree of assumed risk.
The volunteer fire service has traditionally been recognized as being seriously challenged when it comes to officer credentialing and qualifications for a variety of reasons. The inability to follow or complete the rigors, burdens and demands associated with traditional and conventional credentials and qualifications programs leaves many officer candidates or appointees with little in the way of quantifiable and documented training and education.
An innovative process was developed and implemented in 2009 in Onondaga County (NY) that was designed to bridge the gap between conventional State and/or national certification, credentialing and qualifications processes and officer requirements that prevailed at the local department level; providing a structured and recognized methodology and basis that would allow knowledge, skills and abilities to be attained and documented within the officer ranks.
Based upon selective NFPA 1021 standard criteria that formed that basis and provided a recognized structure and methodology, a Voluntary Fire Officer Qualification Based Credentialingprogram was established to meet the needs of the volunteer fire service sector.
The Onondaga County Executive’s Fire Advisory Board recognized the need to address today’s challenges for fire officer development. The goal of the Voluntary Fire Officer Qualification Based Credentialing Program is to assist individuals and organizations in improving safety, health and operational efficiencies. This program provides a “map” to guide individuals and organizations towards leadership training and an opportunity for advancement in the fire service.
The County Fire Advisory Board recognized New York State legislative “home rule” that essentially allows each organization to determine the acceptable criteria for training, skills and competencies for fire officers within its organization. The Voluntary Fire Officer Qualification Based Credentialing Program offers one method to achieve fire officer development based on generally accepted standards and practices.
Program Overview Inconsistencies in training levels, skills and operational proficiencies existed in the county’s emergency services organizations related to fire officer qualifications. The Onondaga County Fire Advisory Board recommended the implementation of a voluntary fire officer qualification based credentialing program that may increase the opportunities for safe and successful emergency operations. The purpose of the voluntary credentialing program is to provide a sequential template of training, education and knowledge steps for supervisory and management levels within the organization structure of an agency. Enhanced personnel safety and operational effectiveness may be achieved, contributing towards operational excellence and risk reduction measures. Furthermore to enhance individual responsibility, empower leadership, provide technical skill uniformity and operational integrity.
1. Provide Onondaga County Emergency Service personnel with a disciplined and uniform approach to learning, skill and knowledge, aligned with New York State and national standards and recommendations.2. Provide a career path to achieve proficiency and skill development to meet the demands of officer positions and ranks commensurate with roles and responsibilities.
3. Provide a systematic approach towards officer development and growth that is based upon recognized curriculum and subject areas.
4. Promote voluntary compliance to achieve regional uniformity, consistency and standardization of fire officer training.
Voluntary Fire Officer Qualification Based Credentialing Program
The recommendations promulgated by the Voluntary Fire Officer Qualifications based Credentialing Matrix are based upon the following subject and topical areas;
The Voluntary Fire Officer Qualifications program allows for maximum flexibility, allows for awarding of equivalencies in nearly all subject area categories and promotes the implementation of grandfathering exiting agency personnel based upon documentation of past training, education and structured training drill opportunities.The purpose of this program is to provide a means to document training, skills and proficiencies aligned with standard rank and position responsibilities. This would allow an agency to determine the method for phased implementation of the elements of this program. The intent of the Voluntary Fire Officer Qualifications Credentialing Matrix is to provide a sequential model for training, education and skill set development that provides uniformity to achieve increasing proficiencies that align with advancements in rank and responsibilities. ( It is not the intent to replace traditional certification paths and processes)
Credentialing Subject Areas
There are seventeen (17) subject areas that comprise the Credentialing Matrix (based upon NFPA 1021);
Whatever path you select; traditional certification, degree program or hybrid, ensure you choose one and work towards achieving credentialing and qualifications commensurate with your rank, roles and responsibilities. You own it to yourself, the firefighters you supervise and the community and citizens you protect.
Thirty years ago on the morning of November 21, 1980, 85 people died and more than 700 were injured as a result of a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the second largest life-loss hotel fire in United States history. It was determined during the investigation that the fire originated in the wall soffit of the side stand in the Deli, one of five restaurants located on the casino level. The investigators concluded that several factors contributed to the cause of the fire but the primary source of ignition was an electrical ground fault.
Once the fire ignited, it quickly traveled to the ceiling and the giant air-circulation system above the casino. In the casino, flames fed on flammable furnishings, including wall coverings, PVC piping, glue, fixtures, and even the mirrors on the walls, which were made of plastic.
The fire burned undetected for hours until it flashed over just after 7 a.m. and began spreading at a rate of 19 feet (5.8 meters) per second through the casino. As fire companies and firefighters were arriving, according to published reports, an estimated one-million-cubic-foot wall of flames was rushing through the casino, melting slot machines and sending a cyanide-laced cloud of killer smoke pouring upward.
The investigation determined that the rapid fire spread was due to a series of installation and building design flaws. A wire at the point of fire origin that had been improperly grounded could’ve been discovered had the area been inspected. A compressor wasn’t properly installed. A piece of copper wasn’t insulated correctly. A fire alarm never sounded. A stairwell that was a crucial escape route filled with smoke. The laundry chutes failed to seal and defects existed in the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. All of these factors contributed to the spread of smoke.
Photo: AP/World Wide
This fire provided a wake-up call for the industry to improve fire safety standards in hotels around the country. As a result, hotels today are safer than ever.
About 5,000 people were in the resort when the blaze started to burn in earnest.
Many were trapped in their rooms, in the corridors, and in stairwells, and most of the victims died at the scene or in Las Vegas Valley hospitals.
Another handful of victims succumbed to fire-related injuries within a year.
Fourteen firefighters were hospitalized, most suffering from smoke inhalation.
According to the newspapers reports, NFPA’s Fire Investigation Manager, David Demers, concluded that “with sprinklers, it would have been a one or two sprinkler fire, and we would never have heard about it.”
An employee cutting through the closed Deli on the way to work was the first to see the fire. The worker, not identified by name in the fire investigation report, called security, then tried to put it out. The worker wasn’t trained and the proper equipment wasn’t there, the NFPA investigation said.
A visiting firefighter from Illinois breakfasting in an adjacent coffee shop also tried to help a security guard find an extinguisher to put out the electrical fire, but they couldn’t locate one.
A flame front moved into the casino, where the fire gained speed and strength, fueled by more flammable materials, including the highly flammable adhesive used to attach ceiling tiles.
Again, sprinklers would have put the fire out there.
Without them, within minutes, the fireball tore through the casino, blowing out the doors leading to the valet area.
Soon, killer smoke rose through the 26-floor high-rise tower via ventilation ducts.
While the lack of sprinklers was a major factor contributing to the severity of the MGM fire, it’s not that simple. Blame also has to be given to code violations, design flaws, installation errors, and materials that made the fire worse.
The fire alarms didn’t sound because they were manual and nobody pulled them. However, the disaster might have been worse if the alarms had prompted more people to rush into smoke-filled hallways.
Despite the discovery of 83 building code violations, nobody was ever charged criminally with any wrongdoing
To make matters worse, fire marshals had insisted sprinklers be installed in the casino during the building’s construction in 1972, but the hotel refused to pay for the $192,000 system, and a Clark County building official sided with the resort. Authorities later said the sprinkler system could have prevented the disaster at the hotel, which is now Bally’s Las Vegas Hilton Casino Resort. The fallout was $223 million in legal settlements, in addition to the lives lost.
Construction of the 26-story MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (currently Bally’s) started in 1972 and it opened in December of 1973.
There were 2,078 rooms at the hotel and the total area of the hotel and casino was approximately two million square feet.
Fire sprinkler systems were not installed in the high-rise hotel, the casino (approximately 380 by 1200 feet, or 450,000 square feet), and the restaurant areas.
Only partial fire sprinkler protection was provided for limited areas (arcade, showrooms and convention areas) on the ground level.
Where the sprinklers had been installed, they clearly worked. But sprinklers weren’t anywhere near where the fire broke out behind a wall near a serving station at The Deli that Friday morning about 7:10 a.m.
The Deli had received an exemption for sprinklers because it was supposed to be a 24-hour restaurant. It was assumed someone would always be there to put out a fire.
But then the hours changed and The Deli wasn’t open all the time. It was closed when the fire erupted.
The fire, caused by an electrical ground-fault, smoldered for hours before breaking through the wall.
According to NFPA’s final investigation report , several major factors contributed to the large loss of life in this fire. Among them was the rapid fire and smoke development in the casino in the early stages of the fire due, in part, to the lack of sprinklers and adequate fire barriers.
The fire generated massive amounts of smoke that spread up the hotel’s 23-story high-rise tower through unprotected vertical seismic joints and elevator hoistways and the substandard interior stair enclosures and exit passages.
In addition, the hotel’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning continued to operate during the fire, pushing smoke throughout the high-rise.
Investigators found no evidence that the hotel had executed an emergency plan or sounded an evacuation alarm signal. Nor was there any evidence of manual fire alarm pull stations in the natural escape path in the casino.
The number and capacity of the exits from the casino were deficient, and the travel distances from certain areas of the casino to the exits were too long.
Finally, there was no automatic means of recalling the elevators to the main floor during the fire to prevent people from boarding them. Ten of the MGM Grand victims were found in the hotel’s elevators.
As a result of this fire, NFPA Life Safety Code® requirements for stairwell re-entry onto building floors if the exit stair enclosure becomes untenable were changed to include three options.
Stairwell doors must now remain unlocked on the inside of the stairwell so that people can get from the stairwell back to guest room floor.
Or they may be locked, but they must automatically unlock when the building’s fire alarm system activates.
Or hotels may use selected re-entry, in which there may be no more than four intervening floors between unlocked doors and signs must be provided to direct occupants to the floors with unlocked doors
Graphic by Mike Johnson.
On the night of February 10, 1981, just 90 days after the devastating MGM Grand fire, an arson fire started at the Las Vegas Hilton, which at the time was being retrofitted with modern fire safety equipment. Firefighters, using the knowledge they had learned from the MGM fire, used local television networks to notify people to stay in their rooms and not go out to the halls and stairwells. Because of the lessons learned, only eight people died in this fire compared with the 84 people who died in the MGM Grand fire
USFA Topical Fire Report Series; Hotel and Motel Fires, HERE
Lessons from the Past: MGM Grand Fire on Firehouse.com, HERE
Las Vegas and Nevada history as told by those who lived it- The MGM Fire 1980. This six part series was broadcast in 2000 and produced by KNPR’s Tim Anderson with support from the Nevada Humanities Committee. HERE
These links from the Las Vegas Review Journal Media covered the 25th Anniversary of the event;
An estimated 3,900 hotel and motel fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 15 deaths, 150 injuries, and $76 million in property loss.
Hotel and motel fires are considered part of the residential fire problem. However, they comprise only approximately 1 percent of residential building fires.
Half of hotel and motel fires are small, confined fires.
Cooking is the leading cause of hotel and motel fires (46 percent). Almost all hotel and motel cooking fires are small, confined fires (97 percent).
Eighteen percent of non-confined hotel and motel fires extend beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of these larger fires are electrical malfunctions (24 percent), intentionally set fires (15 percent), and fires caused by open flames (12 percent). In contrast, 42 percent of all non-confined residential building fires extend beyond the room of origin.
While bedrooms are the primary origin of non-confined fires (23 percent), when confined cooking fires are considered, the kitchen or other cooking area is the most prevalent area of fire origin.
Hotel and motel fires are more prevalent in the cooler months due to increases in heating fires and peak in February (9 percent).
Bally's Las Vegas, formerly the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino today
Wednesday Night’s Program has been postponed due to Emergent Server issues at BlogTalkRadio.
The Program has been rescheduled for Thursday November 4th at 9:00pm EDT
Turn Out to FireFighter NetCast.com and Taking it to the Streets for; “Redefining the Fire Ground”
If you missed last month’s program on the Tactical Renaissance of Combat Fire Suppression Operations and the new Rules of Engagement, with Chief Gary Morris (ret) Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department and Dr. Burt Clark from the NFA, then you missed out a some great insights and discussion. This month Taking it to the Streets is looking to further the dialog and look at “Redefining the Fire Ground”. Many would argue that the fire ground doesn’t need to be “redefined”; that the way we do business in the Streets is just fine and that the American Fire Service knows how to get the job done, at any cost.
The recent release of the NIST Technical Study of the Sofa Super Store Fire – South Carolina, June 18, 2007 has presented compelling data and information that provides further discernments of how our buildings react under fire conditions and how our tactical assumptions and deployments continue to be willfully miscued. Joining Chris will be Chief Douglas Cline, from the City of High Point FD, North Carolina, a highly regarded national instructor, author, advocate, tactician and incident command.
Don’t miss out on debating and dialoging the transitional fire ground. It is here and it’s here to stay; you just didn’t know that it was changing. But then again, was anyone paying attention? Join the live broadcast on Thursday night November 4th at 9:00pm ET, or download the post production podcast from Firefighter NetCast.com.
For additional Taking it to the Streets programming, HERE
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced the Faces of Fire campaign, featuring personal stories of those who have been affected by fires in the home. Faces of Fire is a tool to promote the required installation of fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes and is part of NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative. Faces of Fire was developed with funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Faces of Fire features the personal stories of home fire survivors, family members of victims, first responders and homeowners whose property has been protected by fire sprinklers. Through video interviews, photographs and written profiles available online, Faces of Fire is a resource for local advocates and fire personnel, putting personal stories front and center during consideration of fire sprinkler mandates.
The campaign was unveiled at a conference of fire and building officials in Boston today that included a live side-by-side burn to demonstrate the effectiveness of fire sprinklers. Speakers at the burn demonstration included U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines; Gary Keith, NFPA vice president of field operations; and Princella Lee-Bridges, fire survivor and Faces of Fire participant, Greenville, S.C.
“Home fire sprinklers save lives, protect property, preserve community resources and are affordable in new construction. They should not be considered optional in new homes,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA president. “It is our goal that states across the country require lifesaving home fire sprinklers in new construction.”
Because the tragedy of home fires doesn’t discriminate, Faces of Fire features stories from across the racial, gender, geographic and economic breadth of America.
Stories like those of Ms. Lee-Bridges, a former operating room nurse and Desert Storm veteran:
“In the grand scheme of things, how does the cost of putting in sprinklers at $1.25, 2.60, or 3.40 per square foot compare to the loss of a loved one. For me, the burns I suffered in a home fire led to not only physical impacts, but also the loss of a marriage, and the loss of a career I loved,” she says. “How does the cost of installing sprinklers measure up to all of that?”
Each year about 3,000 people in the United States die in home fires. Many home fire deaths and injuries could be prevented through the increased use of fire sprinklers. Today all relevant model building codes call for the use of sprinklers in such homes. By containing fires before they spread, home fire sprinklers protect lives and property.
“Sprinkler opponents are spreading misleading information about sprinklers and putting false information in the minds of consumers and policy makers,” said Shannon. “Such tactics of delay and defeat can cost lives. NFPA is fighting back by sharing research-based information, advocacy tools and now, personal stories of those affected by home fires.”
“One of the toughest parts of my job is seeing the faces of people who have been killed by smoke, heat and flames from a home fire that could have been controlled easily with a residential sprinkler system,” said Mark Showmaker, chief fire marshal/emergency management director for Upper Southampton Township in Southampton, Pa. “In the fire service, we do everything we possibly can to save lives. Our counterparts in the home building industry can do the same by simply supporting the installation of fire sprinklers.”
The Faces of Fire campaign will be shared through traditional news as well as social media outlets and will be available on NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative® website: www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/faces
About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org
About the Fire Sprinkler Initiative®
The Fire Sprinkler Initiative®, a project of the National Fire Protection Association, is a nationwide effort to encourage the use of home fire sprinklers and the adoption of fire sprinkler requirements for new construction. Visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website at www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.
Remembering the Sacrifices’ of that day in September and all of those who came before us in this the United States Fire Service and those that were with us, in the commission of our sworn duties who didn’t go home…..as we do what we do best, being Fire Fighters.
The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program has released the investigation report of the line of duty deaths of two career FDNY firefighters during a 2007 seven-alarm high-rise fire in the former Deutsche Bank building undergoing deconstruction and asbestos abatement.
On August 18, 2007, two FDNY firefighters; Fr. Joseph Graffagnino and Fr. Robert Beddia both assigned to Engine 24 and Ladder 5 in SoHo lost thier lives while operating at this incident. The seven alarm fire was being worked with a contingent of over 275 firefighters when the pair became trapped on the 14th floor of the building after being overcome by blinding concentrations of dense smoke after their air supply was depleted during the course of combat fire suppression operations. FDNY Fr. Robert Beddia a twenty-three year veteran and FDNY Fr. Joseph Graffagnino, became trapped in the maze-like conditions of a high-rise building undergoing deconstruction. The building’s standpipe system had been disconnected during the deconstruction and the partitions constructed for asbestos abatement prohibited fire fighters from getting water to the seat of the fire. An hour into the incident, the fire department was able to supply water by running an external hoseline up the side of the structure. Soon after the victims began to operate their hoseline, they ran out of air. The victims suffered severe smoke inhalation and were transported to a metropolitan hospital in cardiac arrest where they succumbed to their injuries.
By the time the fire was extinguished, 115 fire fighters had suffered a variety of injuries.Key contributing factors to this incident include: delayed notification of the fire by building construction personnel, inoperable standpipe and sprinkler system, delay in establishing water supply, inaccurate information about standpipe, unique building conditions with both asbestos abatement and deconstruction occurring simultaneously, extreme fire behavior, uncontrolled fire rapidly progressing and extending below the fire floor, blocked stairwells preventing fire fighter access and egress, maze-like interior conditions from partitions and construction debris, heavy smoke conditions causing numerous fire fighters to become lost or disoriented, failure of fire fighters to always don SCBAs inside structure and to replenish air cylinders, communications overwhelmed with numerous Mayday and urgent radio transmissions, and lack of crew integrity.
NIOSH has concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:
review and follow existing standard operating procedures on high-rise fire fighting to ensure that fire fighters are not operating in hazardous areas without the protection of a charged hoseline.
be prepared to use alternative water supplies when a building’s standpipe system is compromised or inoperable.
develop and enforce risk management plans, policies, and standard operating guidelines for risk management during complex high-rise operations.
ensure that crew integrity is maintained during high-rise fire suppression operations.
train fire fighters on actions to take if they become trapped or disoriented inside a burning high-rise structure.
ensure that fire fighters diligently wear their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) when working in environments that are immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH).
train fire fighters in air management techniques to ensure they receive the maximum benefit from their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
use exit locators (both visual and audible) or safety ropes to guide lost or disoriented fire fighters to the exit.
conduct pre-incident planning inspections of buildings within their jurisdictions to facilitate development of safe fireground strategies and tactics.
encourage building owners and occupants to report emergency situations as soon as possible and provide accurate information to the fire department.
consider additional fire fighter training using a high-rise fire simulator.
Manufacturers, equipment designers, and researchers should:
conduct research into refining existing and developing new technology to track the movement of fire fighters in high-rise structures.
continue to develop and refine durable, easy-to-use radio systems to enhance verbal and radio communications in conjunction with properly worn self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
ensure that construction and/or demolition is done in accordance with NFPA 241: Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations.
develop a reporting system to inform the fire department of any ongoing, unique building construction activities (such as deconstruction or asbestos abatement) that would adversely affect a fire response.
establish a system for property owners to notify the fire department when fire protection/suppression systems are taken out of service.
The Waldbaum’s Supermarket Fire and Collapse FDNY 1978
The Waldbaum Super market fire, Brooklyn, New York occurred on August 2, 1978. Six firefighters died in the line of duty when the roof of a burning Brooklyn supermarket collapsed, plunging 12 firefighters into the flames. The fire began in a hallway near the compressor room as crews were renovating the store, and quickly escalated to a fourth-alarm. Less than an hour after the fire was first reported, nearly 20 firefighters were on the roof when the central portion gave way.
Thirty-four firefighters, one emergency medical technician and one Emergency Services police officer were injured in the fire and the tragedy is remembered as one of the worst disasters in the New York City Fire Department’s 143-year history.
The FDNY members killed in the Waldbaum’s fire included: • Lt. James E. Cutillo, Battalion 33 • Firefighter Charles S. Bouton, Ladder Company 156 • Firefighter Harold F. Hastings, Battalion 42 • Firefighter James P. McManus, Ladder Company 153 • Firefighter William O’Connor, Ladder Company 156 • Firefighter George S. Rice, Ladder Company 153
The fire started at 8:40 am in Waldbaum’s supermarket located at 2892 Avenue Y and Ocean Avenue in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Nearly 23 electricians, plumbers and contractors were renovating the building when the fire was discovered in mezzanine area. Box 3300 was transmitted at 08:39 hours and the All hands transmitted at 08:49 and subsequently a 2nd alarm at 09:02 hrs. Shortly after 09:20 with 20 firefighters operating on the bowstring truss roof a crackling sound was heard and the center portion of the roof fell into the smoke and flames. Some of the firefighters were seen running toward the edge of the roof; some made it, others nearby fell into the gaping hole. The third alarm was transmitted at 09:18 3rd alarm and subsequently escalated to a Fifth alarm assignment during the rescue and recovery operations.
Roof Operations prior to collapse
Laborers and firefighters managed to pull out some who were near walls, some crawled out. Several holes were made into the wall to pull out injured survivors and victims.
The approximately 120 ft. x 120 ft. primary building was originally built in 1952 as a supermarket and at the time of the fire was undergoing extensive renovations and was open and operating. Constructed with exterior masonry bearing walls of with timber roof trusses with a 100-foot clear span, supported on pilaster columns embedded in the exterior walls, it was classical Type III construction. The truss system supported an ornamental tin ceiling and 18 inches below that concealed space a conventional suspended acoustic ceiling tile panel system was present. Reports indicated the tin ceiling was attached directly to the bottom cord of the truss system. A two story mezzanine and machine room was located at the north wall of the original building. Access through the truss loft area was accessible through man-doors at the plane of each truss.
Waldbaum Supermarket FDNY Box 3300 1978
The heavy timber bowstring arch roof consisted of seven (7) truss units constructed of 4-5 bundled 3 inch x 12 inch attached assemblies. Two factors contributed to the collapse of the bowstring arch truss system; double roof (rain roof) alterations with concealed spaces and the extent and severity of the fire within the concealed spaces affecting the assembly’s structural stability. The presence of the double concealed ceiling systems; the truss system supported an ornamental tin ceiling and 18 inches below that concealed space a convential suspended acoustic ceiling tile panel system was present. Reports indicated the tin ceiling was attached directly to the bottom cord of the truss system. The failure of operating companies and command personnel to recognize the signs of an unchecked concealed fire that was propagating at a rapid pace impinging upon critical structural assembly points was a significant contributing factor in the incident outcome.
Typical Heavy Timber Bowstring Arch Truss Configuration
This roof collapsed 32 minutes after the initial units arrived. The immediate collapse occurred approximately 85 feet inward from the Alpha side (Ocean Avenue) and approximately 50 feet from the Bravo side (Avenue Y). The immediate failure and loss of structural stability and collapse of truss unit #5 was followed with the subsequent collapse of truss units #6 and #4 that were interdependent on the roof rafter and purlin system to maintain thier structural stability and vertical orientation. This type of interdependent structural system of structural trusses, rafters and roof deck (membrane) result in large area collapses since the primary truss will usually cause the adjacent two truss systems (on either side of the primary compromised truss) to fail by pulling downward.
The effects of direct flame impingement on the truss assessmblies, thier connection points of bearing at the outter masonry walls, coupled with the tactical trench cut that had been comopleted by the operating ladder companies resulted in 4,000 sf section of roof to collapse in the truss #5, 6 and 4 bay areas. Rapid and progressing fire travel within the concealed spaces and the degradation of the roof assembly and structural support system, failure to recognize the inherent opertaional risks associated with roof and interior operations on heavy timber truss roof systems and the failure to correlate continued interior suppression operations with simultaneous roof ventilation operations with no significant change in operational progress or mitigation contributed to the tragic outcome of the incident.
A short ten years would pass and the lessons from the Waldbaum Fire would soon be forgotten when on July 2, 1988 operations in a Type III building consisting of an auto dealership would lead to the deaths of five (5) Firefighters in Hackensack, New Jersey when operations were being conducted in the truss loft storage area when an 80 foot heavy timber truss collapsed trapping the firefighters. The Hackensack Ford Fire occured less than four weeks short of the tenth anniversary of the Waldbaum Fire right across the Hudson River. More on the Hackensack Ford Fire HERE.
NFPA Fire Command Magazine, Brooklyn Roof Collapse Claims six Lives. Demers, David P.; December 1978
Waldbaum Fire Facebook page, HERE with numerous photos and recollections honoring those that lost their lives and those that operated at FDNY Brooklyn Box 3300.
Rescue efforts on the Bravo Side
2892 Ocean Avenue Today
The lessons learned in the years following the Walbaum’s fire in 1978 and the subsequent Hackensack Ford Fire, NJ in 1988 focused on understanding building construction systems, occupancies and structural assemblies, in both of these cases the timber bowstring truss systems. Over the years the foundation of knowledge necessary to build competencies and knowledgeable firefighters, fire officers and commanders cognizant in the science and technology of building construction has waned and at time has been less than an area of focus.
Take the time to learn about the FDNY Walbaum’s fire, its history repeating significance as a major fire service LODD event, the lessons learned from the Hackensack Ford Fire (July 2, 1988) and other related case studies that can be found on the NIOSH, USFA and NFPA web sites.
Look at your buildings within your response areas and jurisdiction. Understand how they’re built and more importantly how they are affected by the exposure and impingement of fire and its byproducts. Understand key building performance indicators and appropriate strategic and tactical actions based upon building profiles, occupancies, fire loading, construction features and fire service resources. Take the time to honor the brave brother firefighters from FDNY who made the supreme sacrifice thirty two years ago, and gave a legacy to learn from in this and in future fire service generations.
It’s time to think; BUILDING KNOWLEDGE = FIREFIGHTER SAFETY
Without understanding the building-occupancy relationships and integrating; construction, occupancies, fire dynamics and fire behavior, risk, analysis, the art and science of firefighting, safety conscious work environment concepts and effective and well-informed incident command management, company level supervision and task level competencies…You are derelict and negligent and "not "everyone may be going home".
Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past conventional construction; risk assessment, strategies and tactics must change to address these new rules of structural fire engagement. There is a need to gain the building construction knowledge and insights and to change and adjust operating profiles in order to safe guard companies, personnel and team compositions. It's all about understanding the building-occupancy relationships and the art and science of firefighting, Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety (Bk=F2S)
The Newest radio show on FireFighter Netcast.com at Blogtalk Radio… Taking it to the Streets with Christopher Naum. On the Air Monthly on Firefighter Netcast.com. A Buildingsonfire.com Series and Firefighter Netcast.com Production. Advancing Firefighter Safety and Operational Integrity for the Fire Service through provocative insights and dynamic discussions dedicated to the Art and Science of Firefighting and the Traditions of the Fire Service.