Friday, October 28, 2011

Looks may be Deceiving

Does the exterior appearance of a residential structure "always" provide reasonable profile clues or assurances to the presence of an engineered structural support system (ESS)? What are occupancy profile signatures that you can read on a building that might support your observations and presumptions that will lead you directly towards you tactical engagement.

Would you expect to find the same ESS in the ajacent house along the same street or sub-division?
Think about it...There is always more to what we area "seeing" or processing based upon presumptions and assumptions.
  • Will incorrect assumptions contribute towards undesired results?
  • What are the building profile considerations that must be correctly identified that have the greatest impact on firefighting operations and the potential for the greatest risk(s) overall during transitioning operational phases?
More in the next post...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fireground Dynamics: Smoke Explosion during Interior Operations

Three Franklin (OH) firefighters were caught in what has been determined to be a smoke explosion at a structure fire involving a restaurant occupancy in what appears to be a building of Type III construction that published reports indicated was built in 1892.

Franklin (OH) FD Lt. Kyle Lovelace and firefighters Quincy Pearson and Brad Brown were caught in a smoke explosion while conducting interior fire suppression operations at which time conditions deteriorated and a smoke explosion occurred. Simultaneous with the recognition that something was not good; the crew immediately began to retreat when they were caught in the explosion. All of them luckily made it out unscathed.

According to published reports, "They reverted back to their training and did what they needed to do to get out," according to Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf . "We have a flashover simulator and we spend a good amount time talking about it each year."

Reports have indicated Lt. Lovelace stated that when they arrived on the scene, he noticed smoke coming from left side of the building above the second floor and thought that it may be an attic fire.

They attempted to gain entry through the front door, but before they opened it they noticed a crack in the window and decided to gain entry through the rear. Lt. Lovelace, FF Pearson and FF Brown entered an alley covered by an awning connecting to freestanding structures. Westendorf later said his guys were fortunate to be in that location because they were isolated from the brunt of the blast.

The crew advanced about 25 feet when FF Pearson, who was on the nozzle, saw wisps of smoke and began to feel extreme heat.

Lt. Lovelace used a thermal imaging camera to locate where the heat was coming from, but right before he could tell Person, he started yelling at him to get out. They made it about 20 feet when the thick black smoke started banking down on them. As Lovelace exited under the awning, conditions quickly worsened and the smoke explosion occurred. Video of blast HERE

Links for complete reporting insights and details;

Photo by Nick Graham Middletown Journal

Middletown Journal Photo Show from the Fireground, HERE

Alpha side from the Street, Image Capture from Google Street Maps

Aerial Image along South Main Street of the Building

Screenshot from video as smoke explosion occurs

Video: Caught On Camera: Backdraft Explosion At Franklin Fire

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend 2011

Help Spread the Word: Bells Across America Will Ring to Honor Fallen Firefighters
Make sure your website or blog is providing live coverage of 2011 Memorial Weekend

Information From the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 2011 Memorial Weekend Website (Direct Links HERE and HERE)

Please visit the web site directly for more information on the programs offered by the NFFF

For the first time in the 30-year history of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend the bells of the Memorial Chapel will ring on Sunday, October 16 to honor the fallen. As part of this tribute, fire departments and places of worship & other community organizations will join the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, the first nation-wide remembrance for firefighters who died in the line of duty. The NFFF created the website, which explains the program. A letter of invitation, frequently asked questions about the program and a response form are all available on the website. Fire department representatives are encouraged to work with their clergy and community leaders to decide what type of remembrance is best. Some suggestions include: ringing chapel bells, a moment of silence, a brief prayer, a hymn, tolling a ceremonial bell by members of the Fire Department, or any combination of these. The remembrance can occur at any time on Sunday, October 16.

"When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, the sadness resonates through an entire community. Through Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, everyone across the country has the opportunity to pay tribute to the lives of these brave men and women who willingly take risks to protect and serve their communities," said Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

In addition to Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, departments and individuals can add the National Fallen Firefighters Tribute Widget to their website, blog or Facebook page. The widget is a small box that will appear on the site, continually scrolling the names of firefighters honored in Emmitsburg. The photos of seven firefighters who will be honored are rotated each day for one week leading up to Memorial Weekend. Go to to copy and embed the widget.

The Fire Hero Network will be in full operation during Memorial Weekend. The Candlelight Service and Memorial Service will again be televised and sent around the world via satellite and the Internet. Departments can be a part of the network by streaming the events on your department's website. The NFFF invites all departments to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to encourage local news media to do the same.

In addition, there will be a Fire Hero Radio webcast from Memorial Weekend and continuous updates on social media, including the Foundation's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

For more information about the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, go to

2011 National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend
From the Website, Direct Link HERE

2011 Memorial Weekend Coverage:

» More: Full Coverage of the 2011 Memorial Weekend
» Additional Coverage: Off-Site News
» Watch: 2011 Memorial Weekend Live on the Web

Memorial Weekend Videos:

» 2010 National Memorial Weekend Highlights
» Returning Survivors
» Behind the Scenes
» Intro to the Memorial Weekend
» Fire Service Intro to the Weekend

Ways to Observe the Memorial:

» New in 2011! Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters
» Observing the Memorial: Tell Us About Your Traditions
» Sign the Remembrance Banner: Share a Memory or Tribute
» Pay Tribute on Your Website: Display the Weekend Widget
» Download: 2011 Memorial Wallpaper
» Pay Tribute: Issue a Proclamation
» Honor: Lowering the U.S. Flag & Sound Sirens

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation:

» About the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (PDF)
» Video: National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Overview

Watch the 2011 National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend Live on the Web

Satellite Coordinates:
You can view both major Memorial Weekend events live via satellite. The Foundation will broadcast both the Candlelight Service and the National Memorial Service. We encourage you to contact your local cable provider and ask them to broadcast these Services on one of the public access channels.
» Download: Satellite Coordinates for Broadcast of the 2011 Candlelight & Memorial Services
Live Broadcasts:
» Candlelight Service Broadcast: Saturday, October 15, 2011 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
(Telecast Begins at 6:15 p.m.; Service Begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time)» Memorial Service Broadcast: Sunday, October 16, 2011 9:00 am - 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time
(Telecast Begins at 9:30 a.m.; Service Begins at 10 a.m. Eastern Time)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Don’t be trapped by Dogma, Strive for Excellence

Excerpt from Steve Job’s Commencement Address, Stanford University June 12, 2005

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Think about what drives you and as stated; Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice and have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Steve Jobs, June 2005


Whether you’re a practicing or emerging fire officer or commander, a designated leader or the unofficial leader, a seasoned veteran or a newly appointed probationary firefighter, there are some very important insights and values that can be identified in the words of Steve Jobs, especially in the context of his 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University. The video clip is posted as is a link to the transcript.

I’m certain you’ll see the value in these perspectives and their relationship on what we work to acheive each day in our richly rewarding profession. Look to identify the potential, make the improvements, grasp the innovations and don't settle for status quo. Strive for Excellence each and everyday.

Strive for Excellence

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Think Different, narrated by Steve Jobs

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembrance of 9|11, The First-due; Honor, Courage, Duty and Fortitude

FDNY 343

Remembrance: Honor, Courage, Duty, Fortitude

FDNY: 343 Firefighters | NYPD: 23 Officers | PAPD: 37 Officers

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tabletop Training for the Weekend: “Rubbish Fire-Fill the Box”

This special weekend edition of Ten Minutes in the Street TM is being offered on and is taking advantage of a training video produced by the LAFD in 2009 that involved a basis initial dispatch to a report of a rubbish fire that escalates into two structure fires and resulted in multiple alarm operations.

Take the opportunity to view the video clip and stop at various hold points to discuss and dialog operational considerations and issues affecting strategic command level management as well as tactical company level operational and safety issues.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

NIOSH Report addresses Operational Issues at Metal Recycling Facility Fire

NIOSH Report Issue: Seven Career Fire Fighters Injured at a Metal Recycling Facility Fire - California

NIOSH Exective Summary

On July 13, 2010, seven career fire fighters were injured while fighting a fire at a large commercial structure containing recyclable combustible metals. At 2345 hours, 3 engines, 2 trucks, 2 rescue ambulances, an emergency medical service (EMS) officer and a battalion chief responded to a large commercial structure with heavy fire showing. Within minutes, a division chief, 2 battalion chiefs, 3 engines, 3 trucks, 4 rescue ambulances, 2 EMS officers and an urban search and rescue team were also dispatched.

An offensive fire attack was initially implemented but because of rapidly deteriorating conditions, operations switched to a defensive attack after about 12 minutes on scene. Ladder pipe operations were established on the 3 street accessible sides of the structure. Approximately 40 minutes into the incident, a large explosion propelled burning shrapnel into the air, causing small fires north and south of structure, injuring 7 fire fighters, and damaging apparatus and equipment. Realizing that combustible metals may be present, the incident commander ordered fire fighters to fight the fire with unmanned ladder pipes while directing the water away from burning metals. Approximately 2 ½ hours later, two small concentrated areas remained burning and a second explosion occurred when water contacted the burning combustible metals. This time no fire fighters were injured.

Contributing Factors

  • Unrecognized presence of combustible metals
  • Unknown building contents
  • Unrecognized presence of combustible metals
  • Use of traditional fire suppression tactics
  • Darkness

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure that pre-incident plans are updated and available to responding fire crews
  • Ensure that fire fighters are rigorously trained in combustible metal fire recognition and tactics
  • Ensure that policies are updated for the proper handling of fires involving combustible metals
  • Ensure that first arriving personnel and fire officers look for occupancy hazard placards on commercial structures during size-up
  • Ensure that all fire fighters communicate fireground observations to incident command
  • Ensure that fire fighters wear all personal protective equipment when operating in an immediately dangerous to life and health environment
  • Ensure that an Incident Safety Officer is dispatched on the first alarm of commercial structure fires
  • Ensure that collapse/hazards zones are established on the fireground.
The fire department had a comprehensive list of SOGs and policies. However, the policy for the extinguishment of combustible metal fires was out dated. This policy called for copious amounts of water to be put on the combustible metal fire. The SOG for pre-incident planning was followed at this incident. However, due to the constantly changing business environment, the company had submitted a business plan that identified hazards to the city but this information did not get updated in the computer-aided dispatching (CAD) database for the fire department or dispatch.

 A month prior to this incident on June 11, 2010, at 11:00 a.m., the same business owner's metal processing facility located diagonally across the street from this incident, had several small explosions and fire. This incident required 36 fire department companies, 16 rescue ambulances, 1 USAR team, 2 hazardous material teams, 7 BCs, 1 DC, and a DDC, totaling 248 fire department personnel, in addition to mutual aid. Approximately 2 ½ hours of fire suppression operations with water brought the fire under control, which encompassed a 150' x 100' area of combustible metal shavings.

The company had metal –X (a brand of combustible metal fire extinguishing agent) available, but not enough of it to be effective. No fire fighters were injured. However, a civilian worker was critically injured and a police officer received minor injuries.

  • NIOSH REPORT 2010-30 Direct Link HERE
  • Fom the LAFD Press Release on July 15, 2010
On Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at 11:43 PM, 41 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 21 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 3 Arson Units, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 1 Hazardous Materials Team, 3 EMS Battalion Captains, 8 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team and 2 Bulldozers under the direction of Deputy Chief Mario Rueda responded to a Major Emergency Structure Fire at 761 East Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles (CA).

More than 200 Los Angeles Firefighters were requested over the course of the incident to help battle blaze at a large two-story commercial structure that encompassed six occupancies over an entire city block. Firefighters quickly arrived at United Alloys and Metals to find heavy fire at an industrial facility known for processing titanium and super alloy scrap.

The 73 year-old structures between Paloma Avenue and Mckinley Avenue, were quickly engulfed in flames and forced firefighters into a defensive attack early during this huge fire fight. Shortly after midnight the decision was made to pull all Firefighters out of the structure and attack the flames from the exterior.

Approximately 20 minutes following this decision a partial wall collapse, roof collapse, and a total of three explosions took place. These massive blasts rained down debris of concrete and titanium on Firefighters and even shattered windows of emergency vehicles.

From this point forward it became a heavy stream operation with ladder pipes and portable monitors that provided huge volumes of water against the intense flames. Despite the challenges of extinguishing burning titanium and the devastating explosions, the blaze was controlled in just five hours. Exhausted Firefighters were relieved the next morning by their colleagues who continued the extended overhaul and detailed salvage procedure. Link HERE
Operational and Training Questions:
  • What training and education have you attained on combustible metals fire? Are you prepared to handle the first-due or initial command?
  • How prepared are your Company Officers and Incident Commanders in addressing Strategic and Tactical operations at incidents involving combustible metals?
  • Does your fire department, company or jurisdiction have the resources to command, control and mitigate such an event?
  • Are you aware of properties, occupancies and structures in your jurisdiction that contain, process, store or have primary or ancillary combustible metals risk, hazards or expsoure concerns?
  • Are they pre-fire planned, are those plans up to-day?
  • Are you and your organization prepared?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Defining Operations on the First-Due

First-due company operations are influenced by a number of parameters and factors; some deliberate and dictated, others prescribed and prearranged and yet others subjective, biased, predisposed or at times accidental, casual and emotional. For many of you riding the seat or arriving assuming command; you understand the connotations and implications I'm making here.

Here’s an excellent discussion and debate point to bring up, when time permits today or this evening with your company or personnel; one that leads to a multitude of viewpoints, opinions and divisions.

On the first-due; what are the three or four key parameters when confronted with arrival indications of a fire within a structure that define your deployment and transition into operations?

Now, before everyone gets worked up; we all realize there are numerous variables affecting key decision-points that must be recognized, imputed, synthesized , analyzed and decisions made, assignments formulated and the task deployed; this list can be long - very long.

However, giving a building and occupancy with indications of a fire within, what has your experience provided you with the KEY influencing parameters? Are there key factors, or are there "lists" of factors based upon yet another "list" of conditions. The question is rhetorical the answeres are not.

Is it occupancy type, occupancy risk, fire behavior or fire dynamics, time, risk, communicated information, past performance factors (experience), presumed or known life hazards, predicated building or system performance, crew KSA sets or other factors, etc? Does naturalistic or RPDM decision-making influence; is the deployment tactically driven or predisposed by SOP, SOG or personal attributes and biases? Safety Conscious or aggressively driven? You get the picture.....

Try to distill them down to three or four mission critical key issues (if you can). This is a great exercise to see what everyone else considers the key factors to be or should be when deploying and going into operations; sometimes it’s more complex than just “pulling the line” or getting in….

Take the time to talk about the determinations made, question the rational and use some critical thinking and don’t be subjective….think about the responses and ask why?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Building Knowledge = Fire Fighter Safety

"Modern incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past requiring incident commanders and commanding officers to have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity to fire behavior, a focus on operational structural stability and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type."

"Strategies and tactics must be based on occupancy risk, not occupancy type, and must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and tactical patience orchestrated in a manner that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy profile and accounts for presumptive fire behavior."

Christopher Naum, SFPE

Building Knowledge = Fire Fighter Safety...Where do YOU fit into this equation?
….where do you fit into this equation

Friday, August 5, 2011

NIOSH LODD Report Released on Fire and Collapse Which Killed Two Chicago Firefighters

NIOSH LODD Report Released on Fire and Collapse Which Killed Two Chicago Firefighters

F2010-38 Two Career Fire Fighters Die and 19 Injured in Roof Collapse during Rubbish Fire at an Abandoned Commercial Structure – Illinois

NIOSH Executive Summary
On December 22, 2010, a 47-year-old male (Victim # 1) and a 34-year old male (Victim # 2), both career fire fighters, died when the roof collapsed during suppression operations at a rubbish fire in an abandoned and unsecured commercial structure. The bowstring truss roof collapsed at the rear of the 84-year old structure approximately 16 minutes after the initial companies arrived on-scene and within minutes after the Incident Commander reported that the fire was under control.

The structure, the former site of a commercial laundry, had been abandoned for over 5 years and city officials had previously cited the building owners for the deteriorated condition of the structure and ordered the owner to either repair or demolish the structure. The victims were members of the first alarm assignment and were working inside the structure. A total of 19 other fire fighters were hurt during the collapse.

Contributing Factors

  • Lack of a vacant / hazardous building marking program within the city
  • Vacant / hazardous building information not part of automatic dispatch system
  • Dilapidated condition of the structure
  • Dispatch occurred during shift change resulting in fragmented crews
  • Weather conditions including snow accumulation on roof and frozen water hydrants
  • Not all fire fighters equipped with radios.

Key Recommendations

  • Identify and mark buildings that present hazards to fire fighters and the public
  • Use risk management principles at all structure fires and especially abandoned or vacant unsecured structures
  • Train fire fighters to communicate interior conditions to the Incident Commander as soon as possible and to provide regular updates
  • Provide battalion chiefs with a staff assistant or chief's aide to help manage information and communication
  • Provide all fire fighters with radios and train them on their proper use
  • Develop, train on, and enforce the use of standard operating procedures that specifically address operations in abandoned and vacant structures
NIOSH Recommendations

  • Recommendation #1: Fire departments and city building departments should work together to identify and mark buildings that present hazards to fire fighters and the public.
  • Recommendation #2: Fire departments should use risk management principles at all structure fires and especially abandoned or vacant unsecured structures.
  • Recommendation # 3: Fire departments should train fire fighters to communicate interior conditions to the Incident Commander as soon as possible and to provide regular updates.
  • Recommendation # 4: Fire departments should consider providing battalion chiefs with a staff assistant or chief's aide to help manage information and communication.
  • Recommendation # 5: Fire departments should provide all fire fighters with radios and train them on their proper use.
  • Recommendation # 6: Fire departments should develop, train on and enforce the use of standard operating procedures that specifically address operations in abandoned and vacant structures.
  • Recommendation # 7: Fire departments should develop, implement and enforce a detailed Mayday Doctrine to ensure that fire fighters can effectively declare a Mayday.
  • Recommendation # 8: Fire departments should ensure that the Incident Commander maintains close accountability for all personnel operating on the fireground
  • Recommendation # 9: Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters are trained in fireground survival procedures.
  • Recommendation #10: Fire departments should ensure that all fire fighters are trained in and understand the hazards associated with bowstring truss construction.

The tragic events in the City of Chicago on Wednesday December 22, 2010, when Chicago Firefighter Edward J. Stringer – Engine Co.63 and Firefighter/EMT Corey D. Ankum, Truck Co.34 were killed in the line of duty while operating at a structure fire in an abandoned one-story brick building in the 1700 block of East 75th Street on the City’s South side, exemplifies the demands, challenges and sacrifice that come with responsibilities, duty and sworn obligation that distinguishes the honorable profession of being a firefighter.

The fire was first reported at about 06:48 hours during the night and day tour shift change, with companies arriving at 06:52 hours reporting moderate fire in the buildings northeast corner. The single story commercial structure was vacant, however it was readily known that squatters were known to seek shelter in the abandoned structure especially give the harsh weather being experienced in the city. The fire was quickly contained at approximately 07:00 hours according to published reports, and radio communications, with coordinated suppression, search and rescue and ventilation operations being conduction by companied both within the interior and on the roof.
  • For a comprehensive look at this incident, the report and further details on Bowstring Truss Construction, go to the HERE

Some additional Insight Materials for discussion from and


  • National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System Operational Safety Considerations at Ordinary and Heavy Timber Constructed Occupancies PowerPoint Program developed by Christopher Naum, HERE
  • Informational Support Narrative download, HERE

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Hyatt Regency Skywalk Collapse 1981; The Begining of Urban Heavy Rescue

Thirty Year Anniversary 1981-2011

The Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse July 1981
On July 17, 1981 a suspended walkway collapsed in The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, killing 114 people and injuring 216 others during a tea dance. At the time, it was the deadliest structural collapse in U.S. history. This event and a subsequent series of other major incidents in the early and mid 1980's began the formulative efforts towards defining the emerging field of Urban Heavy Rescue (UHR) that would transition into Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Another significant incident occurring in 1981 included the Harbor Cay Condominium Collapse (Cocoa Beach, Florida, 1981). This building was under construction at the time of collapse. Heavy floor and wall construction consisted of precast reinforced concrete slabs and cast-in-place concrete components. All five floors and the roof of the condominium collapsed in a pancake configuration, trapping a large number of construction workers.

Eleven were killed and 23 injured. The incident involved more than 60 hours of continuous rescue operations and resources from 5 county fire districts; 16 municipal fire departments; and a response of Civil Defense, military, and private sector technical specialists.

Today marks the thirty year anniverary of the Kansas City event and the lessons learned that continue to be applied towards collapse rescue, urban search and rescue and techncial rescue operations, protocals, techniques, methodologies and preparedness.

On July 17, 1981, approximately 1,600 people gathered in the atrium to participate in and watch a dance competition. Dozens stood on the walkways. At 7:05 PM, the second-level walkway held approximately 40 people with more on the third and an additional 16 to 20 on the fourth level who watched the activities of crowd in the lobby below. The fourth floor bridge was suspended directly over the second floor bridge, with the third floor walkway offset several feet from the others.

Construction difficulties resulted in a subtle but flawed design change that doubled the load on the connection between the fourth floor walkway support beams and the tie rods carrying the weight of both walkways. This new design was barely adequate to support the dead load weight of the structure itself, much less the added weight of the spectators.

The connection failed and the fourth floor walkway collapsed onto the second floor and both walkways then fell to the lobby floor below, resulting in 111 immediate deaths and 216 injuries. Three additional victims died after being evacuated to hospitals making the total number of deaths 114 people.

Direct Link to the 1982 NIST Report, HERE

The hotel had only been in operation for approximately one year at the time of the walkways collapse, and the ensuing investigation of the accident revealed some unsettling facts:

  • During January and February, 1979, the design of the hanger rod connections was changed in a series of events and disputed communications between the fabricator (Havens Steel Company) and the engineering design team (G.C.E. International, Inc., a professional engineering firm). The fabricator changed the design from a one-rod to a two-rod system to simplify the assembly task, doubling the load on the connector, which ultimately resulted in the walkways collapse.
  • The fabricator, in sworn testimony before the administrative judicial hearings after the accident, claimed that his company (Havens) telephoned the engineering firm (G.C.E.) for change approval. G.C.E. denied ever receiving such a call from Havens.
  • On October 14, 1979 (more than one year before the walkways collapsed), while the hotel was still under construction, more than 2700 square feet of the atrium roof collapsed because one of the roof connections at the north end of the atrium failed.
  • In testimony, G.C.E. stated that on three separate occasions they requested on-site project representation during the construction phase; however, these requests were not acted on by the owner (Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation), due to additional costs of providing on-site inspection.
  • Even as originally designed, the walkways were barely capable of holding up the expected load, and would have failed to meet the requirements of the Kansas City Building Code.
  • The Kansas City Star has a dedicated memorial website established with images, video and information; HERE
  • A look back at the Hyatt Regency Skywalk Disaster, HERE
  • Kansas City (MO) Fire Department, HERE
  • Photos from Hyatt Regency Skywalk collapse aftermath, HERE
The high number of dead and injured, the location of the collapse, the size of the collapsed material, and the ineffectiveness of the typical emergency service tools created severe rescue limitations.
The incident required a large number of medical personnel working alongside the rescuers.

Twenty-nine live victims were removed from under the debris during the rescue operations. Heavy rigging and construction specialists and heavy equipment were needed to remove the debris during the rescue operations. large scale rescue operation soon unfolded. Heroes of the evening ranged from a husband who pulled his wife's trapped foot from the wreckage, to a surgeon who performed an emergency amputation to save a trapped and bleeding victim, to construction crew workers who toiled throughout the night clearing the debris.

A local crane company arrived at the scene to remove sections of collapsed walkway. Dispatchers called in emergency vehicles from throughout the city. Outlying cities such as Belton and Lee's Summit offered help within minutes of the dispatch calls. Victims were rushed to four nearby hospitals. Donors poured into the Greater Kansas City Community Blood Center. Local talk-show host Walt Bodine broadcast throughout the night. As late as midnight, excavators were trying to reach over a dozen people still trapped under the debris. At 5 a.m., workers uncovered the final 31 bodies from the last slab of concrete to be removed.

The rescue operation lasted well into the next morning and was carried out by a veritable army of emergency personnel, including 34 fire trucks, and paramedics and doctors from five area hospitals.

Dr. Joseph Waeckerle directed the rescue effort setting up a makeshift morgue in the ruined lobby and turning the hotel's taxi ring into a triage center, helping to organize the wounded by highest need for medical care. Those who could walk were instructed to leave the hotel to simplify the rescue effort, the fatally injured were told they were going to die and given morphine.

Workmen from a local construction company were also hired by the city fire department, bringing with them cranes, bulldozers, jackhammers and concrete-cutting power saws.

The biggest challenge to the rescue operation came when falling debris severed the hotel's water pipes, flooding the lobby and putting trapped survivors at great risk of drowning. As the pipes were connected to water tanks, as opposed to a public source, the flow could not be shut off.

Eventually, Kansas City's fire chief realized that the hotel's front doors were trapping the water in the lobby. On his orders, a bulldozer was sent in to rip out the doors, which allowed the water to pour out of the lobby and thus eliminated the danger to survivors.

For the Full Article, diagrams, videos and photos- Go to HERE

Friday, July 15, 2011

Near-Miss Report of the Week

As an officer, you need to stay abreast of operational issues and situations in order to be knowledgeable and conversant with the variables that may affect company deployments and subsequent operations. The National Fire Fighter Near Miss Reporting System (FFNMRS) has a vast collection of resources that are a few keystrokes and links away.

One of the most useful tools in the FFNMRS Tool Box of resources is the Near-Miss Report of the Week (ROTW). The direct link to the page is here.

Take some time to look over the content and subject matter available to you in the form of the weekly publication. The information provides insights and examples of situational near miss events and close calls that provide the lessons learned so that, when confronted with similar precursors or subtle indications, you may be able to draw from the ROTW and the from the lessons and insights of other Near Miss Reports that may prevent a similar close-call/near miss event or from escalating into a more serious event.

Take the time to review the ROTW, sign up for the weekly email delivery and most importantly- read the reports and integrate them into your training, drills, discussions, tabletops, chalk board or podcast talks. Get the FFNMRS reports embedded into your psyche.

Here's what was sent out this week....

Multiple units responding to the same incident from different directions creates the potential for unscheduled arrivals at intersecting points. These points are most frequently intersections that are in one form or another controlled by devices ranging from stop signs to traffic lights. In this week's ROTW, report 11-179, reminds us that a green light does not necessarily guarantee the way is safe to proceed.

[ ] Brackets denote reviewer de-identification.

"A municipal ALS equipped engine and a third service county ALS ambulance were dispatched by the same dispatch, on the same radio channel, to a local park for a trauma patient. While enroute, and less than two miles from our station, we approached a heavy traffic intersection, which is blind to the south side. Upon approach, the [brand deleted] signal preemption system (which both the engine and ambulance are equipped with) was delayed in capturing the light. The driver of the engine began to reduce speed and decelerate toward the intersection. As we approached the intersection we captured the light with the signal preemption system, giving us a GREEN light, but for whatever reason, the driver of the engine made a complete stop at the intersection. Just then the ambulance blew through the intersection, not stopping for the RED light. To our surprise, we didn't hear or see this ambulance until they were in the intersection. Only because of the driver's situational awareness and intuition (gut feeling) did we come to a complete stop to avoid a collision."

Right of way rules, line of sight approaches, traffic light pre-emption devices and emergency response SOPs all support apparatus arriving at the scene of an emergency call. Despite all these efforts, human factor plays a role in the safe arrival of all units to their dispatched destination.

Once you have read the entire account of 11-179, and the related reports, consider the following with your colleagues.
  1. Many departments now have specific rules requiring units to stop at all red lights during emergency response. If your department has such rules in effect, are there any other recommendations for intersection travel to consider?
  2. The reporter states the driver's "situational awareness and intuition" contributed to collision avoidance. How large of a role do you believe the two factors played? How do you promote/teach the effect of the "gut feeling" in your driver training sessions?
  3. How often do you encounter intersection situations with crossing emergency vehicle traffic? Given your estimate, what is your assessment of the likelihood of a collision based on the frequency?
  4. If your agency uses traffic pre-emptive signaling, how often is the system calibrated/fault-checked to ensure accuracy?
  5. How many "blind side" intersections exist in your response area? What is the significance of knowing where they are?
Emergency response ranges from high frequency, high risk to low frequency and high risk depending on how many calls for service a department receives. Reducing the risk associated, whether the frequency is high or low is an essential element of keeping our promise to the communities we serve. Doing your part by keeping your speed under control and being on the lookout for hazardous situations like intersections, will promote getting you to the scene quickly and returning for the next run.

Related Reports - Topical Relation: Driving: Intersections
Experience a near miss with another piece of apparatus while responding? Submit your report to today.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

To Sign up to receive the Near-Miss Report of the Week by email, forward your request to is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. Founding dollars were also provided by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. The project is managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and supported by in mutual dedication to firefighter safety and survival.

We’ve provided some direct links from the ROTW webpage here, but there is a lot more on the site.

FFNMR - Report of the Week Archives [Direct Link, HERE]
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
File TitleFile SizeFile Description

  • ROTW Binder, Cover and Spine Label

  • 990 KBCover and Spine Label to make your own ROTW Binder.

  • 2006 Report of the Week Library

  • 14.8 MBComplete 2006 Report of the Week Library. ZIP File.

  • ROTW 122107: What's in your pockets? (07-1116)

  • 35 KBFF becomes entangled in wires.

  • ROTW 121407: The deafening silence of culture. (07-1142)

  • 38 KBSafety issues overlooked during emergency response.

  • ROTW 120707: 'Sun' and 'Block' take on a new meaning. (07-1119)

  • 36 KBSunshine fould driver's vision.

  • ROTW 113007: Use 3D for vacant and burning: distance, defensive, deluge. (05-618)

  • 49 KBFighting fire in a vacant structure, concerns addressed.

  • ROTW 111607: Probies are not expendable. (07-776)

  • 35 KBAerial stabilizer narrowly misses firefighter.

  • ROTW 110907: Nearly done in by our own kind. (07-1108)

  • 35 KBRe-opening a roadway requires coordination.

  • ROTW 110207: The importance of using wheel locks and its effects. (06-173)

  • 37 KBWildland/urban interface fire reveals personnel/equipment needs.

  • ROTW 102607: Contractor Mishap. (07-1043)

  • 37 KBApparatus electrified during test by contractor.

  • ROTW 101907: Asleep at the wheel and no one noticed. (07-752)

  • 35 KBDriver falls asleep on EMS call.

  • ROTW 101207: Faster than you can call a Mayday... (05-567)

  • 38 KBRoof collapse ignites bedroom injuring firefighter.

  • ROTW 100507: It's not 'just a car fire...' (07-800)

  • 28 KBEngine contacts downed powerline at accident scene.

  • ROTW 092807: Intuition adverts danger. (05-553)

  • 38 KBStructure fire in concealed ceiling causes collapse, nearly trapping interior crews.

  • ROTW 092107: Blowout on the front apron. (07-910)

  • 34 KBTire blows following apparatus check.

  • ROTW 091407: Leave your eyes to Z87.1. (07-964)

  • 35 KBSafety glasses do their job during extrication.
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    For some Program insights, check out the recent posting on National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System; Untapped Resource or go Directly to the site, HERE

    These are some of the Site File Categories;

    National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System on Facebook, HERE

    For a direct point of contact at the NFFNMRS;

    Rynnel Gibbs, Program Coordinator
    National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System
    4025 Fair Ridge Drive Fairfax, VA 22033
    P: 703-537-4858 F: 703-273-0920

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Remembering Hackensack and Gloucester

    As we approach the July 4th holiday period, two significant LODD incidents previously occurred during this time frame that hold a number of lessons learned related to command management, operations, building construction principles and building performance, fire behavior and the ever present dangers of the job.

    Take the opportunity to learn more about these events, and expand your insights and knowledge base.

    Take a moment to reflect upon the supreme sacrifice made by these heroic firefighters and the messages that lay within the pages of the incident case studies, reports and summaries.

    There’s a lot of practical safety and operational information on these events along with a tremendous volume of information in the various text books on strategy and tactics, incident command and building construction.

    Learn from the past so we don’t repeat it. Remember- NO MORE HISTORY REPEATING EVENTS!

    For the complete article and insights on the Hackensack Ford Fire (1988) and the Gloucester Collapse (2002) go to HERE

    Addtional Link on Bowstring Truss Safety Considerations;



    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System; Untapped Resource

    Have you heard about the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System (NMRS)? Have you used the NMRS Reports, or submitted a near miss event? Did you know there is a wealth of resources available on the NMRS web site or that there is a Report of the week that is published weekly?

    If not, this is a great opportunity to learn about this national fire service program.

    The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System is a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive and secure reporting system with the goal of improving fire fighter safety.

    Submitted reports will be reviewed by fire service professionals. Identifying descriptions are removed to protect your identity. The report is then posted on this web site for other fire fighters to use as a learning tool.

    Have you submitted a near-miss event? If not, Why Not?

    The reporting system is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The program was originally funded by DHS and Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.

    There are three main goals:

    1. To give firefighters the opportunity to learn from each other through real-life experiences;
    2. To help formulate strategies to reduce the frequency of firefighter injuries and fatalities; and
    3. To enhance the safety culture of the fire and emergency service.

    Fire fighters can use submitted reports as educational tools. Analyzed data will be used to identify trends which can assist in formulating strategies to reduce fire fighter injuries and fatalities. Depending on the urgency, information will be presented to the fire service community via program reports, press releases and e-mail alerts.

    Why should I submit a near-miss report? A near miss experienced by a firefighter can improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of everyone who is made aware of it. Reporting your near-miss event to will help prevent an injury or fatality of a firefighter. Near-miss reporting has worked effectively in other industries, especially aviation, since team members have more knowledge. Industries using near-miss reporting systems have lower injury rates and fewer worker fatalities.

    Take the time to browse through the NMRS web site and familiarize yourself with the content, resources and information available to you.

    Realize that the resource center and the near-miss reports are all formulative and can very easily support training drill development, just in time training, table-top discussions, scenario based exercises and review discussions with company, staff or command officers and all station or company personnel.NMRS Resource Section, HERE


    Near-Miss Reporting Form example, HERE
    Got a Near-Miss Report to Submit?

    Click on the button for a direct link to the NFNMRS here

    Frequent Questions:

    Taking it to the Streets, Blogtalk radio on (link here)
    Taking it to the Streets presented a great program originally aired on Wednesday March 16th , 2011 where we discussed the National Near Miss Reporting System and program with Chief Steve Mormino, NMRS Program Advisor past Chief with South Farmingdale (NY) Fire Department and retired Lieutenant , FDNY. Download this exceptional program from iTunes or here

    Taking it to the StreetsTM is a monthly radio show featured on BlogTalk Radio and is hosted by nationally renowned fire service leader Christopher Naum, a 36-year fire service veteran and highly regarded national instructor, author, lecturer and fire officer and the distinguished leading national authority on building construction and fire ground operations.

    Taking it to the StreetsTM is a Series and Production, © 2011 All Rights Reserved

    Taking it to the Streets: Near Miss Reporting and One Captain’s Close Call

    Podcast: Play in new window | Download
    The progam was produced from the Live Broadcast on March 16th, 2011

    Taking it to the Streets: Near Miss Reporting and One Captain’s Close Call

    On Your Street, In Your City, Across the Country, Around the WorldTM

    The direct show link is here

    The line-up of Program guests included, Lt. Steve Mormino, FDNY (ret), Captain CJ Haberkorn Denver (CO) Fire Department and Special Guest Captain Michael Long, Camp Taylor (KY) Fire Protection District.

    Grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a special two part, two hour program with Taking it to the Streets on where we’ll be discussing the National Near-Miss Reporting System and the untapped resources that the program and system provides with Christopher Naum and this outstanding group of fire service leaders. The second part of the program will dedicated to the personal account of Captain Long’s Close Call event from July 25, 2010 (NMR #10-1072) when a catastrophic floor collapse at a residential occupancy plunged him into a fire involved basement.

    Check out the latest downloads of recent programs in the archives by visiting Taking it to the Street’s webpage on or for program insights at
    • HERE
    • Taking it to the Streets Radio Programs, HERE and HERE
    •, HERE
    Taking it to the StreetsTM, radio program hosted by highly regarded national instructor, author, lecturer and fire officer Christopher Naum, continues to provide provocative insights and dynamic discussions with leading national fire service leaders and guests on important issues affecting the American Fire Service with applications internationally within the tradition and brotherhood of the Fire Service.

    Taking it to the StreetsTM, is a Series and Firefighter Production, in affiliation with the Command Institute

    National Fire Fighter Near Miss Reporting System’s Support for the 2011 Safety Week

    Don’t forget to go to the National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System for number of exceptional training aids, resources, PPT and more. NFFNMRS, HERE

    Here are some of the National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System Programs that were produced for this year's 2011 Safety

  • Presentation: Preventing The Mayday

  • A powerpoint presentation about situational awareness, planning, size-up, and defensive operations

  • Presentation: Being Ready for the Mayday

  • A powerpoint presentation about personal safety equipment, communications, and accountability systems

  • Presentation: Fire Fighter Expectations of Command

  • A powerpoint presentation about fire fighter expectations of command.

  • Presentation: Self-Survival Skills

  • A powerpoint presentation about self survival skills at a mayday.

  • Presentation: Self-Survival Procedures

  • A powerpoint presentation about self survival procedures.

  • Grouped Report: Preventing The Mayday

  • A grouped report about situational awareness, planning, size-up, and defensive operations

  • Grouped Report: Self Survival Procedures

  • A grouped report about self survival procedures

  • Grouped Report: Being Ready for the Mayday

  • A grouped report about personal safety equipment, communications, and accountability systems
    For more information on the NMRS:Rynnel Gibbs

    Near Miss Reporting System Advisory Board
    • Dennis Smith, Chairman, First Responders Financial Co. (Chair of Advisory Board)
    • Jim Brinkley, Director of Occupational Health and Safety, International Association of Fire Fighters.
    • Alan Brunacini, Fire Chief
    • Linda Connell, Director, NASA/Aviation Safety Reporting System
    • I. David Daniels, Fire Chief/CEO, Woodinville Fire and Rescue (WA)
    • Gordon Graham, Graham Research Consultants
    • William Goldfeder, Deputy Chief, Loveland-Symmes Fire Dept. (OH)
    • Manuel Gomez, Chief, City of Hobbs Fire Dept. (NM)
    • Bill Halmich, Fire Chief, Washington Fire Dept. (MO)
    • Christopher Hart, Vice Chair, National Transportation Safety Board
    • Mark Light, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, International Association of Fire Chiefs
    • Ed Mann, State Fire Commissioner, Office of the PA State Fire Commissioner
    Take a look at the NMRS Partners, HERE

    As a Company or Command Officer you have an obligation to capture your department’s near-miss events and contribute to the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System data base so the fire service can learn from each event with the objective that they are not repeated or escalate into something more severe or significant in terms of injuries or line of duty death events.

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