Saturday, January 16, 2010

Close call

Last night was another reminder of how so many little things can go wrong and create a dangerous situation for everyone.

There were problems with water supply, nozzle placement, communication, equipment, and more.

We were lucky. We were extremely lucky.

The crew assigned to water supply was not the crew that completed the assignment. Another unit said they'd dress the hydrant and the original crew moved on to a new assignment. Because of what I personally feel was a poor decision, the crew that dressed the hydrant slowed the process. They chose to flush the hydrant before attaching the 2 1/2" to Stortz, and never put a ball valve on the other side. The hydrant had to be flushed, closed, dressed, and charged. It felt a lot longer than it actually was I'm sure, but it still took a long time.

The 2nd line off the pumping engine ended up in a dead end, at the opposite end of the hallway from where it needed to be. Too many firefighters were cramming into the space and communication deteriorated. We think the crews outside were flowing water and pushed the fire onto the crews with the 2nd line. The flames rolled over 2 times, and both times I was on my knees because of the heat (most of us were pretty low) and the flames were near eye-level.

After the rollovers, the nozzle finally got moving in the right direction and we got water on the fire.

1 person experienced a major malfunction of their SCBA and was breathing hot smoke. He is doing fine now, but a rookie from his station was scared to death that he was seriously hurt. I'm unclear right now as to the finer details of the malfunction. I heard something about the facepiece may have cracked, or the regulator wasn't locked in all the way, or whatever. I'm not going to speculate because I don't know the real answer. I'm just glad he wasn't seriously hurt.

At some point or another, pretty much everyone was some degree of disoriented. I know of at least 2 guys that lost the hoseline and weren't sure exactly where they were or where the hose went.

After a short scare, all occupants were located and accounted for.

The fire was stopped and the majority of the house escaped fire and water damage. The roof was intact, the occupants are alive and unscathed, their property can be cleaned, rebuilt, or replaced.

We all went home at the end of the shift.

I'm still tired, even though I came home and slept roughly 9 hours. I'm sore, I'm sooty, and I smell like a BBQ pit. Yet, I'm content. I'm extremely dissatisfied with how the fire went, but everyone did do a good job overall, and just getting to go into a fire makes my day.

I hope we are able to get some of the crews together next shift and go over what happened and see the different perspectives. It doesn't seem to be done as much lately and this call definately needs a field-level review. I know the powers-that-be review every fire, but so should we.


Capt. Schmoe said...

As one of my heroes, General Chuck Yeager once said: "Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good"

Hope it holds for you.

The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

Woof. Scary stuff. Hope the after action meeting thing works for you guys. When done right, it helps a lot, but it sure can be done wrong, too.

The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

Thank you Lord for Firelady being able to post this!