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"Barrel roll him right over backwards," I said. We pushed, pulled and folded him, and out the window he went. When I came out the window, he was still on the porch. Everyone was screaming "Go! Just go!" His arm was caught on the newel post, so I reefed on his arm and he disappeared down the stairs feet first. My legs buckled. When he didn't wake up when we rolled him out the window, I thought, "This is really bad." Stepping off the first-floor porch, I was told, "No pulse." I kneeled down in front of Ladder 2 and took a moment to get my head screwed back on.
The people involved in this incident included:
- Incident commander - Mexico paid-call deputy chief, positioned on side A.
- Safety - One Rumford paid-call senior captain (dedicated function) on side A with D-side porch access; one Mexico paid-call captain (assumed function) with various suppression activities.
- Rapid intervention - A two-person RIT was established consisting of one Mexico paid-call firefighter and one Rumford paid-call firefighter. One member was inexperienced, but competent. Both were familiar with RIT operations through training; however, neither had attended specific RIT training. At the time of the Mayday, they were in full personal protective equipment (PPE) with SCBA. They had a set of irons and a vent saw that was warmed-up and ready.
- Third-floor crew - Firefighter 1 (the victim) was a Rumford full-time firefighter operating the nozzle on the third floor; Firefighter 2 (company officer) was a Dixfield volunteer assistant chief and Auburn full-time firefighter checking for extension with Firefighter 3 in an area approximately 15 feet from where Firefighter 1 was operating at the apartment door and Firefighter 3 was a Dixfield paid-call firefighter working with Firefighter 2.
- Rescuers - Firefighter 4 was a Mexico paid-call lieutenant operating on the B side; Firefighter 5 (Ladder 2 D/O) was a Rumford full-time firefighter and Mexico paid-call captain on Ladder 2's turntable operating the aerial; Firefighter 6 was a Rumford full-time deputy chief and Mexico paid-call firefighter on Ladder 2's aerial operating the pipe by remote control; Firefighter 7 (the Rumford officer-in-charge) was a Rumford full-time lieutenant and Andover volunteer first assistant chief supervising B-side operations; Firefighter 8 (the company officer) was a Mexico paid-call captain and Roxbury volunteer chief who established the RIT and with no assignment at the time of the Mayday); Firefighter 9 was a Mexico paid-call firefighter on Ladder 2's turntable as a backup for Firefighter 6; and Firefighters 10 and 11 were Mexico paid-call firefighters with no assignment at the time of the Mayday.
All Rumford personnel have annual firefighter self-rescue training, including calling a Mayday. Firefighters 5 and 7 are RIT instructors and the Mexico incident commander, Firefighter 6 and the Engine 7 D/O are RIT trained. No other personnel on scene had structured RIT training.
Firefighter 2 noticed that Firefighter 1 was not at the apartment door and saw the hoseline going through the door into the structure. Firefighter 2 positioned himself in the door and observed severe structural compromise of the roof/ceiling and the personal light of Firefighter 1 in the room. The Ladder 2 pipe was flowing water and Firefighter 2 began yelling for Firefighter 1 to get out. The stream from the pipe knocked down Firefighter 1. Firefighter 2 observed Firefighter 1 as he began to get up, then heard a loud crack and the roof collapsed, knocking him out the door onto the porch. Dazed and trying to recover from the blow, Firefighter 2 attempted to ascertain Firefighter 1's situation. The collapse completely covered all access points. Unable to determine the fate of Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 declared a Mayday. The RIT was activated and the Engine 7 D/O, hearing the Mayday, appropriately shut down the Ladder 2 pipe.
As the RIT approached the porch, the Rumford safety officer told them to drop the saw because they would not need it. (He thought the down firefighter had simply collapsed.) As they made the third floor, Firefighter 2 directed them to a window with about six inches of clear space at the top. Using the irons, they began to clear the window. With the Ladder 2 pipe shut down, Firefighter 5 donned SCBA and joined Firefighters 6 and 9, who were assembling at the porch entrance. Firefighter 4 joined the group to form a crew of four and took the saw left behind by the RIT. Firefighter 7 became available, donned SCBA and retrieved a saw. Just as the RIT cleared the window, Firefighters 4, 5 and 6 made the third floor and went directly into the window. Firefighter 9 posted at the window to keep an eye on the other three. Firefighter 7, with a second saw, followed Firefighter 8 up the stairs and was the last firefighter to make the third floor.