Children Reported Trapped in a House — Part 2

It's so often a combination of small "things forgotten or ignored" at a fire that can lead to tragic outcomes. In this month's continued close call, we learn how firefighters from Frederick County and Carroll County, MD, properly understand the...


It's so often a combination of small "things forgotten or ignored" at a fire that can lead to tragic outcomes. In this month's continued close call, we learn how firefighters from Frederick County and Carroll County, MD, properly understand the importance of being fully prepared. As you will...


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It's so often a combination of small "things forgotten or ignored" at a fire that can lead to tragic outcomes. In this month's continued close call, we learn how firefighters from Frederick County and Carroll County, MD, properly understand the importance of being fully prepared. As you will recall from part one (November 2010), this house fire was one with reports of three children trapped.

Worthy of review is the pre-fire preparedness, the "being ready" plan that every fire department must employ. Being ready doesn't mean waiting for the tones to go off and then taking it from there. Being ready means looking at your community and your department, and then matching the two to ensure you are genuinely ready. Being ready takes on several levels of importance. Being ready means:

  • Pre-planning. Pre-plan the buildings, the area, the neighborhood, the community and the risks you respond to. Ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen in our community?" Now plan for it.
  • Pre-determined staffing. We must know how many firefighters we will have at anytime. We cannot tone it out and wait to see who shows up.
  • Alarm assignments. Match your known resources to your known risks. Planning before the run comes in so that we are able to match our response to the incident potential is what the public and our members deserve.

This account is by Chief Gary Keller of Frederick County's New Midway Volunteer Fire Company, who was the incident commander:

The New Midway Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched (as a part of a full first-alarm assignment including numerous departments from Frederick County and Carroll County) for a mobile home fire with reported persons trapped. I could see smoke visible from my home. Receiving updates enroute, there was a possibility of three children trapped inside. An officer from Carroll County Company 8 (Union Bridge Volunteer Fire Department) said neighbors reported three children as residents.

There was a report that a gate across the property was chained and locked. I arrived on the scene and tried to break down the gate with my own personal vehicle, but I could not. Because the gate was locked, we lost precious time to size-up the fire and rescue situation. It understandably ramped up the frustration and intensity of the call.

I set up command and I did my size-up. At this point, it was still unknown whether there were children or anyone else inside that structure. Neighbors were trying to confirm for us that the children were inside. We could not find any information as to their exact or even estimated whereabouts. As I was giving my size-up to the Frederick County Emergency Communications Center, two firefighters from Carroll County opened the trailer door to do a quick search of the property, at which time the fire came down on the two firefighters who entered. The first firefighter's gear became engulfed with flame. The second firefighter quickly removed him from the doorway. We immediately put his gear out with minimal injury to the firefighter. Without question, personal preparedness, properly worn gear and proper gear being used saved him from further injury.

This account is by Lieutenant Steve Schultz of the Frederick County Department of Fire & Rescue, who was the covering safety officer:

I responded as part of the assignment to Box 09-11 on Keymar Road for the reported mobile home on fire. Enroute, communications advised that one of the callers reported that there may be children trapped. Any time you take in a call, you have, of course, the safety of all your folks in mind, but the remote location of the incident, the type of structure involved and now reports of children trapped heightened my anxiety level.

"Driving in Slow Motion"

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