#09-298 Event Description After a recent third alarm was brought under control, a ladder company firefighter (who was performing overhaul) stepped out of a third floor window onto a wooden balcony which immediately collapsed. The balcony and where it was attached to the building had been weakened by fire. The third floor collapsed onto the second floor causing that balcony to collapse and sending the member violently to the ground. The condition of the rear wall and balcony were well known throughout the operation. There were numerous radio messages warning of this condition. The breakdown in communications occurred when a relieving unit was not notified of these dangers. The situation could have been a tragedy. Incredibly, the member only suffered minor injuries.
Lessons Learned 1. All transmissions during an operation involving safety concerns should be clear in describing the danger and acknowledged by the receiving member. If the message was not transmitted directly to the incident commander, he or she should clarify the safety concern and make the situation known to all members, via radio. 2. When warranted, a safety plan for the particular safety concern should be developed by the incident commander and safety officer. This plan shall be kept at the command post. The safety officer (or his/her designee) shall ensure a visible warning barrier is provided. 3. All serious safety concerns should be written onto the command board and all units subsequently assigned to the affected sectors(s) should be advised by the incident commander of these safety issues. 4. Company officers being relieved by another unit shall advise the relieving company officer of safety issues/concerns in his/her sector. This simple act can make all the difference in the world. 5. Properly wear PPE at all times, including the helmet chinstrap. The chinstrap prevented the firefighter from losing his helmet and possibly sustaining severe head trauma.
#09-298 Discussion Questions 1. Overlay your departments 3rd alarm response to this incident. How many people and apparatus will the incident commander be responsible for? 2. What methods does your department employ to ensure scene hazards are communicated to all personnel? 3. What steps does your department take to mitigate scene hazards? 4. What is the threshold that drives the level of action taken to monitor, mitigate or remove a scene hazard? 5. Who in your on scene command structure can declare a situation unsafe?