Near-Miss: Chicago

On May 15, 2009, Chicago Fire Department (CFD) Engine 101 and Truck 41 responded to a fire alarm. Once on the scene, they encountered a two-story, ordinary construction, multi-occupancy (residential over commercial) structure with smoke showing from the...


On May 15, 2009, Chicago Fire Department (CFD) Engine 101 and Truck 41 responded to a fire alarm. Once on the scene, they encountered a two-story, ordinary construction, multi-occupancy (residential over commercial) structure with smoke showing from the second story. After forcing entry, crews...


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The final lesson to learn is the value of basic skills enhanced by thermal imaging, rather than basic skills replaced by thermal imaging. A thermal imager will not make you a better firefighter. You have to be that on your own. If you are ineffective without a thermal imager, then you will simply be ineffective with a thermal imager. In this case, a group of well-trained firefighters fell back on that training when the unexpected happened and because of this, I can title this column "Near-Miss" rather than "LODD."

I thank the CFD for letting me highlight a situation such as this. We can talk about thermal imaging tactics theoretically all we want, but there is nothing like a real-world incident to drive the points home. The CFD was an open book during my information gathering. Although I receive many stories from the field, many departments don't want to be named for myriad reasons. Not so with the CFD, who wanted these lessons to be learned by as many firefighters as possible and I applaud them for this stance. Thank you, CFD!

BRAD HARVEY is the Thermal Imaging Product Manager at Bullard. He is a veteran of public safety as a firefighter, police officer and paramedic and is certified through the Law Enforcement Thermographers' Association (LETA) as a thermal imaging instructor. Harvey has worked as a high-angle rescue instructor and is a certified rescue technician and fire instructor. If you have questions about thermal imaging, you may e-mail him at brad_harvey@bullard.com.