Front Door Left Open by Occupants Advances Fire Onto Firefighters

One of the great challenges facing firefighters these days is the staffing issue. In some fire departments, staffing is generally consistent day or night — such as in a career department or an in-house-staffed volunteer department. But for departments...


One of the great challenges facing firefighters these days is the staffing issue. In some fire departments, staffing is generally consistent day or night — such as in a career department or an in-house-staffed volunteer department. But for departments whose members are responding from work or...


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One of the great challenges facing firefighters these days is the staffing issue. In some fire departments, staffing is generally consistent day or night — such as in a career department or an in-house-staffed volunteer department. But for departments whose members are responding from work or home, generally, the rule of thumb is that the traditional daytime response is going to be less than who may turn out in the evening.

We'll discuss staffing and response below, but another "rule" is that if you know your fire department may have a less-than-adequate response, get more companies on the road — the sooner the better — in order to be ahead of the curve (ahead of the fire) in assuring adequate staffing for the required tasks when dispatched to a house fire. After all, there are a minimum of required tasks that must be performed at even the smallest dwelling fire and it takes firefighters to get that done quickly and safely.

The South Farmingdale Fire Department is a two-station volunteer fire department in eastern Nassau County, Long Island, NY. There are 81 members responding to 275 fire runs and 750 EMS runs annually. Nearly all of the fire departments in Nassau County are volunteer (two communities have fulltime career firefighters in combination departments) and most provide fire and some level of EMS. EMS is also provided by the Nassau County Police Department ALS Emergency Ambulance Bureau. Fire Communications for the South Farmingdale Fire Department and much of Nassau County is handled by the 911/Fire Communication Center (Fire Com), the county government-operated dispatch center. Some fire departments also have their own dispatchers.

Our thanks to Chief Steven Mormino, Deputy Chief Carl Schreiner, Ex-Captain Chris Klein, Ex-Captain Mike Dauth, and the officers, firefighters and commissioners of the South Farmingdale Fire Department for their cooperation.

The following account is by Deputy Chief Carl Schreiner:

On the morning of Jan. 2, 2008, the South Farmingdale Fire Department was alerted for a report of a house fire. The fire building is a 1½-story, wood-frame Cape Cod-style private dwelling with a rear dormer and a family room/den extension out the first-floor rear.

Responding from his residence to the firehouse the officer of the first-due engine (9-7-1), Ex-Captain Chris Klein, noticed a considerable amount of smoke over the horizon near the address of the fire building. With this visual confirmation of a "job," he contacted Fire Com requesting mutual aid for a truck company from North Massapequa (6-6) and an engine company from Farmingdale (9-2). While responding to the scene, I heard a chief from the Farmingdale Fire Department transmit information of heavy smoke showing. Upon arrival at the scene, I confirmed with Fire Com the need for the initial mutual aid request.

My initial size-up showed heavy smoke pushing out of an open front door on side A and heavy smoke and fire out the rear (side C) of the structure. It was later revealed that a neighbor opened the front door in an attempt to get a dog out. The neighbor could not locate the dog because of the heavy smoke and heat and left the front door open.

First-due South Farmingdale Engine 971 and Truck 978 arrived on scene and commenced their operations. Recognizing that fire conditions would require additional resources, I contacted Fire Com for a truck company from Bethpage (9-0). Subsequently, an engine from Bethpage was also requested.

Police on scene indicated that there were no occupants in the building. Neighbors confirmed this, but also indicated that there was a dog inside. Ex-Chief John DeBatto was on scene and assisted 971 with water supply. Ex-Chief Rick Bylicki acted as aide to command. North Massapequa responded as the rapid intervention team and Massapequa (6-3) provided an engine and ambulance to stand by at our headquarters. Farmingdale's Chiefs Jack Scherer and Keith Ryan assisted on the fireground. Chief Scherer handled operations at the rear of the building and Chief Ryan assisted at the front.

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