Captain Yells "Run," Firefighter Yells "Collapse!" A Close Call for 10 Firefighters

So much of what is happening "right now" and what happened just a few minutes ago is viewed by millions via websites and other media. On June 5, 2008, many of us "watched" a video of firefighters in California dangling and bailing from the roof of a...


So much of what is happening "right now" and what happened just a few minutes ago is viewed by millions via websites and other media. On June 5, 2008, many of us "watched" a video of firefighters in California dangling and bailing from the roof of a burning commercial structure. While "instant...


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So much of what is happening "right now" and what happened just a few minutes ago is viewed by millions via websites and other media. On June 5, 2008, many of us "watched" a video of firefighters in California dangling and bailing from the roof of a burning commercial structure. While "instant media" provide a great value in many respects, they let viewers see the event while sometimes not fully understanding what they are seeing. It is our hope that we can share with you the facts as to what happened - and specifically what happened to those firefighters - at this fire.

 

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and Sacramento Fire Department crews responded (mutually due to an automatic aid program) to a commercial fire in south Sacramento County. (It should be noted that Sacramento City staffs companies with four members and Sacramento Metro staffs companies with three members. Additionally, as of this writing, the city is struggling to maintain its existing staffing through the budgetary/political process.)

The fire involved an 8,000-square-foot commercial structure that was well involved upon arrival. Several crews initiated fire attack operations on the interior, while ventilation operations started on the roof. During fireground operations, the roof suddenly collapsed, resulting in a close call for 10 firefighters.

Nine minutes after the first company arrived, there was a total catastrophic failure of the open-web truss system while crews were working above and below the fire. Interior crews evacuated without aid, but the truck company required rescue by ground ladders. A Mayday was called by the incident commander and a personnel accountability report (PAR) was conducted. No members were injured and the incident was classified as a close call/near miss.

Our sincere appreciation goes to all of the Sacramento City and Sacramento Metro firefighters and officers who were involved in this close call with the understanding that many outside of those departments will learn from this event. We also thank Deputy Chief of Operations Geoff Miller, Sacramento Metro, and Deputy Chief of Operations Lloyd Ogan, Sacramento Fire Department, for their help. Additionally, thanks to Sacramento Metro Fire Chief Don Mette as well as Sacramento Fire Chief Ray Jones for their support and cooperation.

These statements and descriptions are from fire department documents:

At 12:30 P.M., the Sacramento Regional Fire/EMS Communication Center (SRFECC) received a 911 call reporting a business on fire. This was followed by several additional calls within minutes. A first-alarm commercial assignment of two battalion chiefs, two truck companies, three engines and a medic unit was dispatched. A roll call was conducted by Battalion Chief 9 on the assigned radio tactical channel. Truck 10 responded with a crew of three. Engine 53 and Medic 53 arrived at 12:35.

Captain 53 reported that he had a single-story commercial structure with heavy smoke and fire through the roof. He assigned Medic 53 as "two-out" and directed them to pull a backup 1¾-inch line and assist with interior fire attack upon arrival of the second engine. He then requested the second engine to secure a five-inch water supply. Captain 53 then assumed interior. (Note: Captain 53 told investigators that he was surprised at the amount and intensity of the smoke so early in the fire, and stated that he thought this was probably going to be a defensive fire. However, he wanted to give it one good shot to try to save the business.) Firefighter 53 pulled a 1¾-inch handline, advanced it to the front and prepared to initiate interior operations. (Note: Firefighter 53 told investigators that he knew he should have pulled a 2½-inch line, but said that he did not think that he and his captain would have the mobility to advance the line effectively in the structure.)

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