"It Felt Like a Bomb Went Off!" — Part 1

As firefighters, unless you work in a metro downtown or inner-city area, odds are your most common structural fire involves the single-family dwelling. In addition to building construction concerns related to firefighting (that we have discussed before in...


As firefighters, unless you work in a metro downtown or inner-city area, odds are your most common structural fire involves the single-family dwelling. In addition to building construction concerns related to firefighting (that we have discussed before in this column), the issue of "what's inside...


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Upon completion of this walk-around, I observed that a 2½-inch hoseline had been pulled off Engine 453 and laid to the front door. I met Captain Murphy, who had arrived on Engine 451, on side D and informed him of my findings. While I was doing this, a 1¾-inch hoseline was pulled off Engine 451 by Firefighter Gross and laid to the window on side D. Upon completion of my report to Captain Murphy, he had me stay with Firefighter Gross on side D and fight the fire from the window on side D. The window was about four feet off the ground and I was able to see inside the room. At this time, most of the room was on fire. Firefighter Gross started spraying water into the room. I heard something hissing on the left side of the room and the fire intensified.

Firefighter Gross continued spraying water into the room and the fire started to darken down and then there was another hissing sound coming from the left side of the room again and the fire intensified again. Firefighter Gross continued spraying water into the room and the fire darkened down again.

I then observed that most of the ceiling started falling down. I also observed there was still some fire on the right and left side, just inside the window, and an orange glow on the other side of the room. Firefighter Gross was attempting to put out these fires when I was informed that a crew was entering the house through the front door. I had Firefighter Gross stop spraying water into the window. I was then requested to go to side A and assisted with the hose that was going in the front door. As I got to side A, I heard and felt an explosion coming from inside the house and observed Lieutenant Dietz and Firefighter Claybern exiting the house. I assisted them with getting away from the house and checking to see if they were injured. Upon hearing command call for a squad and when Firefighter/Medic Payette came to their aid, I returned to assisting with fire suppression.

WILLIAM GOLDFEDER, EFO, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 33-year veteran of the fire service. He is a deputy chief with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio, an ISO Class 2 and CAAS-accredited department. Goldfeder has been a chief officer since 1982, has served on numerous IAFC and NFPA committees, and is a past commissioner with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and is an active writer, speaker and instructor on fire service operational issues. Goldfeder and Gordon Graham host the free and noncommercial firefighter safety and survival website www.FirefighterCloseCalls.com. Goldfeder may be contacted at BillyG@FirefighterCloseCalls.com.