“One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six who jumped in the rear, we need massive EMS here.”
Most of you reading this have already probably heard the sad news on the passing of FDNY Brother Joey DiBernardo, one of six forced to jump 4 stories rather than be burnt alive back in January of 2005 in what has come to be known as “Black Sunday.”
Of the six, Lieutenant John G. Bellew and Lieutenant Curtis Meyran succumbed to their injuries that day. Firefighters Jeffrey Cool, Eugene Stolowski, and Brendan Cawley survived their jumps along with Lieutenant DiBernardo with massive physical injuries as well as haunting emotional trauma which remains to this day.
This morning an email from www.FirefighterCloseCalls.com (Home of the Secret List) is making its way to thousands of Brothers and Sisters, imploring all of us to take a few short moments to fully understand what has happened and who we have just lost. Along with Chief Goldfeder and the others at Firefighter Close Calls, I want to make sure everyone gets this important message as we prepare to lay our Brother to rest tomorrow.
Please ensure these videos are seen by all your companies, either at roll call, or shortly thereafter. If you are on a volunteer department, please forward this information to all your contacts immediately.
For further enlightenment, utilize the NIOSH report and encourage discussion among your crews. As usual, Command Safety lays out all the information you need to make the training useable, understandable, and accessible.
Here are the links:
God Bless you, Joey. May he keep you in His tender care.
Today, I’m editing the most recent program from Firefighter NetCast which aired live Tuesday night, July 6, 2010. It was the Happy Hour with guest host Justin Schorr, a San Francisco firefighter/paramedic, and well-known blogger otherwise known as The Happy Medic. Many thanks to Justin, a natural for guest-hosting our podcast. We hope to have him back soon!
After eliminating about a thousand “uhhh’s” made by yours truly, and only about 8-9 minutes in, Justin has brought up the story of four Sacramento firefighters who were investigating an indoor natural gas leak at a home on Monday when the home suddenly exploded. The firefighters inside were all burned about the head, face, and arms from the blast, but all miraculously survived.
Here is a KCRA.com video from a press conference held earlier this week that gives quite a bit more detail into the incident and the investigation that continues, including a look at the conditions of the firefighters.
I did a quick follow-up on the story and became outraged when I saw the newest headline from the KCRA.com website where the original story broke on Tuesday.
It is here I found Fire Daily’s Wingnut of the Week.
According to that report, as our four brothers are just starting the recovery process from their extensive injuries, the homeowner named Chris Liu, sat in his car in front of what was left of the home, still dressed in his American Airlines pilots uniform last Tuesday and told investigators he suspected the firefighters caused the explosion.
Whoa. The firefighters blew themselves up?
He declined to be interviewed on camera, but from his car, the airline pilot reportedly speculated that the act of forcing entry into his home sparked the gas fumes. You know- the sparks and stuff that come off wood.
Or, he continued, maybe it was the static electricity in their clothing.
Yeah, that’s the ticket. Why don’t you investigators take a look at the static electricity theory.
Nice, Captain Liu.
Howabout we leave the flap settings, ILS intercepts, and all that other cockpitting crap to you, and let us do the firefighting and the associated investigation into an incident that nearly killed four of us.
By the way Captain, the professionals investigating the incident have already recovered evidence- “physical evidence” nonetheless- that indicates the incident was a deliberate act. You know, like the kind of criminal act that could potentially murder innocent people including your public servants, leaving their families forever crushed by the selfish act of one motivated to such evil.
According to acting Sacramento Fire Chief Lloyd Ogam, the evidence found by investigators would not normally be in a vacant home. Someone must have put it there, huh?
Maybe it was the combination of physical evidence AND the static electricity of the firemen’s clothing.
KCRA.com also reports that Captain Liu (airline pilot, not fire captain or fire investigator captain) was “upset” that his wife had been questioned by investigators as to her knowledge of the incident.
So sorry to upset you, Captain Liu.
Although I was never taught the glideslope of a Airbus A320 on a crosswind landing at Albuquerque, my extensive training and experience as a long-time fire investigator teaches me that the questioning of your wife is a normal and necessary component of a comprehensive investigation into any fire incident, especially in what now looks to be a criminal act with near fatal consequences.
In fact, along with all parties that had an interest in the property, get ready to be asked the same questions, Mr. Liu. The gall of those investigators!
When you’re done Sherlocking the cause and origin of the incident, why not change out of your pilot’s uniform and pop on over to the UC-Davis burn unit to check how the brave firefighters and their wives and children are getting along during this horrifying ordeal at the vacant home you are fixing up? You know, the quarter of a million dollar home you reportedly bought last year for 38 grand after it foreclosed last summer.
Static electricity? Maybe.
Something else? Maybe.
See how premature and unfair it would be to come to a conclusion on this investigation, Captain Liu? Now, many of us brothers and sisters are interested more than ever in the outcome of this one.
So settle back, relax and have a nice flight Captain Chris Liu. You’ve earned your wings, sir.
Fire Daily’s Wingnut of the Week.
Last night, while I was working on finalizing plans for our Firefighter Netcasts at FDIC next week, a strange even occurred. The evening sky lit up from what is claimed to have been a meteor about the size of a soccer ball headed straight for the area of Lone Rock (oh, the irony) in southwest Wisconsin.
Here is a police cruiser’s dashcam video
From Pat Curry at WGN News:
Over in Avoca, 55 miles due west of Madison, where rumors of treetop fires spread, volunteer Adam Lins said he didn’t hear of any such fires. But he did see the blazing fiery object overhead while his wife and he drove home from a meeting.
“It started out small, then got bigger and bigger,” Lins said. “It was going from northwest to southeast and looked like it was headed somewhere around Highland or Lone Rock, about 8 miles away. It was going very fast. My wife saw it better than I though.”
And then something happened, Lins said.
“We stopped to talk to people in the street. About a minute afterward we heard what sounded like a sonic boom. You could feel it.”
My thoughts turned to those of the poor company officer, who, when dispatched to a call of a fully-engulfed meteor fire, would begin pre-planning his attack.
Does your department have a SOP/SOG on mitigating this event? Go ahead, look.
If none exists, then you are in luck. If you are a firefighter looking for a bugle, or a bugle looking for a band, here’s golden opportunity to prove you are a self-starter, a problem solver, a go-getter.
Prepare a draft SOP/SOG for meteor fires (you may also want to include asteroids, depending on what they made you for dinner that night). Specifically, you may wish to address the following points:
What level of response should be assigned?
What size line should be used?
Is this a HazMat incident?
Are there any government agencies that should be notified?
Should we wake up the Chief?
Submit your suggestions in the comments section below.
Today is the beginning of the rest of your career!
Did you get enough training so far this week? Because you are a proud and professional firefighter, I already know your answer. So allow me to offer some more.
Here’s a little something to think about:
Is everyone on the same page regarding MAYDAY’s on the Fireground?
Many departments have “talked” about MAYDAY’s, maybe even practiced one on that burn down in September, remember? No, seriously, do you remember?
MAYDAY’s are like aircraft crashes- very rare but we’d better be ready to act decisively when they occur. This is when you need to be at your peak performance. It’s Showtime.
- Have you put much thought into what you should do if confronted with a situation in which you need to initiate a MAYDAY?
- Do you know what information to give on the radio?
- Have you heard of the acronym LUNAR? Quick- what does it stand for?
- As you come to realize you are having the worse day of your life, will you able to verbalize that information succinctly and effectively?
- How will the other members of your own company respond to a MAYDAY report from a company operating nearby?
- Is some form personal accountability utilized on EVERY incident?
The time to answer these questions is now, BEFORE the crisis, so that your actions will be effective and REFLEXIVE. Your ability to respond to this nightmarish event WILL make the difference between a successful outcome and a department funeral.
So What Should I Do?
Start with a thorough review your department’s SOP’s/SOG’s on initiating and reacting to a fireground MAYDAY. Sit down with your company and make sure that you understand what will be expected of you should a MAYDAY occur.
Sadly, there are still some departments out there without an SOP/SOG for MAYDAY’s. If that’s your case, don’t let that stop you. Step up. Draft one up with your group and submit it to the proper people on your department. Get the ball rolling. It’s your ass on the line, too.
Practice verbalizing your own MAYDAY. Actually performing this task will make it more AUTOMATIC for you when the feces hits the fan. That’s where you want to be in your head- AUTOMATICALLY ACTING.
Review the responsibilities of each crew operating at your incident when a MAYDAY is called. Do you drop everything and save the firefighter? Ignoring the fire can kill your trapped comrades, as well as those who need to effect a rescue.
Bottom Line: Everyone on your department needs to be on the same page so that you act REFLEXIVELY and EFFICIENTLY together when a MAYDAY is called.
* * * * *
Watch this video from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation ‘Courage to be Safe Program’ of a MAYDAY in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It will get your juices flowing to make sure you are all on the same page
» The Mayday – “Are you ready?”
Kevin Sehlmeyer, Chief of Training, Grand Rapids Fire Department (MI)
If you haven’t already done so, visit the Everyone Goes Home Website and take advantage of the Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives Resource Kit Volumes 1 – 4. DVD’s 1, 2, and 3 offered for viewing on this page.
Then click here to request a copy of DVD #4 be sent to you free of charge.
Finally, share them with every firefighter you can. Keep on training. Help spread the word.
Help get your team better prepared so that Everyone Goes Home.
-Send me a note on a MAYDAY in which you may have been involved.
Share your experience so that others may benefit.
More Apparatus Accidents
Apparatus Accidents are headlining the news far too frequently again. After medical issues, vehicle accidents kill more firefighters every year. Read up the horrific injuries sustained by by firefighters in New Jersey, Kentucky, and North Carolina as related in FirefighterCloseCalls.com Then, take an active role on doing whatever you can to keep your department out of these types of headlines.
Do that today.
When Maydays Bring Crickets
While looking for a way out during a search, two veteran Cincinnati firefighters became trapped by a burning stairwell after one of them tumbled face first down six stairs, knocking his helmet and air mask off.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday!” his partner called out over his fire radio.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday!” It was so quiet they wondered aloud if they were on the wrong channel. “Is anybody copying?” he asked as both men got critically low on air.
Why was this happening? Read the article in Cincinnati.com by Sharon Coolidge to find out more on a new threat to modern firefighters.
Virginia Firefighters in Haiti Safe Following Aftershock
As if they didn’t already have enough on their plate, Mother Nature continued to keep things interesting as a 6.1 aftershock hammered the disaster area Wednesday morning.
All 83 members of the Virginia Task Force 2 were unscathed and are continuing their efforts at this moment. You can follow VTF 2 on their cool website.
Despite all the obstacles that have been overcome by all of our heroic expert rescuers, the worse may still be on the way. Unfortunately, civil unrest is already making the situation more dangerous as Haitians increasingly turn to violence in their quest for the basic needs of food, water, and medicine.
An Indescribable Sense of Loss on an Incredibly Lucky Day
Fire Daily started just a few scant months ago as a way to stay involved in the fire service after suffering a disability on the job. Forced into an early “retirement” of sorts, I was surprised at how much I really wasn’t enjoying it. Beyond the medical issues, I have to tell you about the overwhelming sense of loss which became almost unbearable.
I have been a firefighter all my adult life, starting as a volunteer in my home community and eventually becoming my department’s first full-timer. After a long while, I started all over again at a career department down the road where I began that special firefighter relationship with a whole new group of guys and gals. My second job was as a fire and EMS instructor. My whole life revolved around my family at home, my family at work, and my family of students and fellow instructors.
Then, the accident happened. Another quarter of an inch shift in location, my neurologist explained, and my skull fracture would almost certainly have resulted in me becoming a quadriplegic. So I fully appreciate the “luck” that befell me on that warm spring day in May. But, even with help from above, I must tell you how everything changed in the blink of an eye.
Let me repeat that.
Everything changed in the blink of an eye.
The regularity of having contact with the guys and gals with whom I truly held a special bond was severed. One day there, next day- crickets.
It’s difficult to try to describe the different relationship that developed when I was no longer part of the “team”, yet always still a part of the “family.” Although I’m able to pop in anytime I want (there’s an open invitation forever) to break bread and bust a gut with the guys, it just isn’t the same. I’m not going to be on the line with them for the next “big one.” Or even the next little one. Or even the advanced living center call for assistance. Or training. Or shopping. Or watching “Family Guy”.
In the blink of an eye, it’s all gone now.
The longer I’ve been away, the deeper the sense of loss of being apart from them and the job I honestly loved. This emotional response must be similar to the feeling experienced by firefighters that are forced to retire before they want to due to age. Be kind to them, folks.
Enter Fire Daily.
It all started out as a means by which I could remain somewhat connected to the fire service without gearing up and actually battling the red devil. Blogging has been extremely medicinal for this injured firefighter/paramedic.
Just like the change that happened halfway through my career by switching departments, this new change has brought me into yet another family- a group of bloggers and readers that have quickly become my friends. As the days and weeks and months plod along, these ties, too, will continue to strengthen. How can I be sure? Because we enjoy a certain pact– call it brotherhood- that is inherent to the fire service. It lives in each of us and continues to develop each day no matter who we are, where we live, or what capacity we hold.
Although I will always have a sense of loss, I thank each and every one of my readers and fellow bloggers for allowing me to remain connected.
As another well-established blogger puts it- “Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff!”
You are my new family.
In January of 2002, a fatal fire broke out in the Plaza on DeWitt condominium hi-rise at 260 East Chestnut in Chicago. In that fire several firefighters were injured and residents were rescued from the building’s roof where they were forced to flee to escape severe smoke conditions.
A few mornings ago as reported here on Fire Daily, history repeated itself. As the first brutally cold and windy night of winter charged into the city, fully one-third of the on-duty personnel of Chicago’s firefighters were again called to the Plaza on DeWitt. The 36th floor fire was again fatal; again eight firefighters were injured; several residents again were rescued from the building’s roof where they were forced to escape severe smoke conditions.
A little over a week ago on December 3, we all took pause to remember the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire of ten years ago. Six firefighters lost their lives that day on an interior rescue for squatters believed to be inside the old building.
Yesterday, history again repeated itself.
A two-alarm blaze in a vacant South Boston warehouse yesterday was eerily reminiscent of the Worcester fire. Boston Fire Rescue Company 1 was advised that the building was known to be occupied by squatters and people may be trapped inside. They entered, split into two groups and began their search. Two of Boston’s bravest tripped and fell into FOUR FEET of standing water during the effort.
One of the firefighters was able to feel his way up some stairs and found the lone occupant who had become disoriented in the heavy smoke conditions. That firefighter, 63-year old John Smith, a FORTY YEAR VETERAN FIREFIGHTER. led the man outside to waiting EMS workers.
The report from the Boston Globe describes the scene:
“Fire officials said the rescued man was one of several people living in the warehouse. Inside the building, an intricately organized squatters’ residence could be seen, with beds, televisions, microwaves, and even a stocked kitchen setup, complete with a spice rack. Fire officials said yesterday that the legally vacant building was even wired for electricity.
South Boston is home to an array of warehouses and industrial-type buildings, and fire officials know that homeless people gather here.
“Since Worcester, there’s been a heightened awareness among firefighters’’ as they go about their searches,” (Boston Fire Department Spokesman Steve) MacDonald said.
Smith said his crew stayed focused on saving anyone who might be inside the warehouse yesterday. “This is a prime spot for homeless people at this time of year,’’ he said. “Inside these buildings, they can set up quite a bit of housekeeping and stay there for quite some time.’’
The firefighters in Massachusetts and Chicago have witnessed history repeating itself.
Because they applied knowledge gained from these previous incidents, they were better prepared to handle the next incident.
Here is tangible proof that the Worcester 6 an others like them have not died in vain.
We have learned from their tragedy and all become better prepared to handle the next call where history will invariably repeat itself.
Amid blaring bagpipes, the crowd erupted with even louder cheers, whistles and shouts when firefighters entered a high school auditorium to receive their promotional badges after a 5-year legal battle that ended with a U.S. Supreme Court victory. Read more on the promotions of the group who became known as the New Haven 20 and the finish line they crossed yesterday in a contest that began back in 2003.
A five alarm fire marks the end of a historic and beloved building in the Massachusetts Berkshires this week. The Egremont Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, having been around since before the American Revolution. The three-story wood frame structure did not have a sprinkler system. Of course, the cause has not yet been determined. One firefighter suffered minor injuries. Read more from the Boston Globe here.
VIDEO: When it becomes second nature, training can save your life.
Toronto firefighters on a residential second-floor interior attack forced to bailout a window and down a ladder. See how each firefighter came down the ladder and file it away in your memory banks under training. Also a great “Reading Smoke” video…
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An AMR ambulance was involved in a near head-on crash last night in Tampa, FL while responding to a medical call without lights and siren. The two EMT-B’s and an EMT student on board were able to immediately begin treating the injured as companies from Tampa Fire Rescue responded.
The driver of the pickup truck was heavily pinned, requiring 45 minutes of extrication work. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in serious condition. Two young boys, also in the truck, were not pinned, but transported as well with non-life threatening injuries.
Once TFR arrived, the ambulance crew was able to tend to their own minor injuries. It is unclear if they were transported to a hospital.
Two Bailouts in 24 Hours
Less than 20 hours before a Yonkers, N.Y. firefighter lost his life bailing out of a third floor window, the Syracuse, N.Y. Fire Department nearly lost one of theirs during an eerily similar bailout early Thursday morning.
WSYR-TV reports that firefighter Ray Duncanson had run out of air while he was in the third floor attic of the vacant house fire and had to be rescued after a mayday was called. After making his way to the window and being helped out and down a ladder, Duncanson was able to walk to the ambulance and was taken to the hospital.
As we mourn the death of Yonkers firefighter Patrick Joyce, we should give ardent thought to self-rescue and your department’s mayday procedures.