As we conclude our review of the #30 Dowling Circle event in Baltimore County, Maryland, we will expand on the truck company’s role in task assignments.
Once again, I must point out this is a learning piece not a critique or critical piece. If you have not reviewed the previous articles on this event you must in order to understand where we are in the fight.
Another Word On Tactical Ventilation
As we covered in the previous article, the coordinated ventilation plan must be pre-assigned and carried out if we have any hope of preventing rapid fire spread that traps our personnel or civilians above the fire.
The prevention of a build-up of by-products on the floors above the fire floor should be a priority to the outside vent crew. It is also extremely critical to notify the interior search crew of conditions above from the outside (rapid auto extension of fire from the vented apartment(s)). This information is critical to the team searching above the fire floor. Also, if for whatever reason the outside vent crew cannot accomplish the vent plan, that information is critical to the interior crews.
Interior search team(s) must use rapid search techniques to accomplish the task in a quick and effective manner. Time is critical to our survival.
As the search team makes its way above the fire floor, door control becomes a survival tool. Once entry is forced into apartments above the fire floor, it is extremely important that the search crew check for rapid fire extension from the auto exposed outside balconies, and shut the hallway door.
Yes, shut the hallway door.
Quickly locate alternative means of egress. Contrary to our way of thinking for years, you do not have to exit the way you enter and shutting the door provides the only protection you have from rapidly changing conditions in the hallway.
If auto extension is occurring from the balconies into the apartment you must search, you have very little time to make a sweep. You must provide a barrier to the hallway from that apartment in order to protect the interior stairs.
If conditions rapidly begin to change in the apartment you are searching, you have very few choices. Find a room of refuge and shut the door and/or bail. Remember, if you bail quickly from the apartment utilizing the hallway door, shut the door. It is the only chance your brother(s) above or opposite your position have to survive. Utilizing Thermal Imaging (TIC) equipment to assist in search is a significant benefit (that is a complete subject unto itself).
The loss of FF Mark Falkenhan is a great loss to the fire service. The only ability I have is to make every attempt at preventing this event from unfolding again. Mark and his family are great friends of mine. I know his wife Gladys is doing all she can to prevent this from happening again.
The lessons I want to stress from this event are:
• Pre-assign your task and crews responsibly before you get the call.
• Train and work as though your life and the lives of your brothers depend on you.
• Carry out your assigned task, or if unable make sure your crew(s) know you cannot.
• Vent quickly and smartly.
• Shut the door when you are searching above the fire.
• Know alternative egress means.
• Communicate conditions to your crew working inside.
• Plan for the worst, hope for the best!
There are many factors and actions that led to losing Mark. I am only focusing on the truck company and how we can work to prevent these events from unfolding.
Until next time, be safe, stay low and keep learning.
Photos Courtesy: FADO Fox, BaltCoFD and BaltCoFD
Part 1 Link:https://firefightertoolbox.com/truck-companies-garden-apartment-fire/
Part 2 Link: https://firefightertoolbox.com/truck-companies-garden-apartment-fire-part-2/