Near-Miss, Weekly Report: Unstable Building

I was unsure of the decision making process that led anyone to believe we needed to be operating inside.

A second crew was sent in to suppress stubborn fire inside the south wall. A ceiling collapse inside pinned 2 members momentarily. This was directly in the area that our crew had been standing. Upon collapse, the BC requested a status report. It was reported no members were injured and they were exiting.

Less than five minutes later, a firefighter operating a hose line on a ladder to roof line fell 20 feet due to nozzle reaction that made the ladder unstable. The ladder was not being sufficiently "footed" at the time. The firefighter was transported to hospital w/ non-serious injuries.

Lessons Learned

Do not go into unstable buildings. Conduct thorough evaluation of structure before following orders from another jurisdiction. Aggressively foot all ladders when personnel (Reviewer added) Immediately report any signs of collapse or instability to the Incident Commander and others operating on the fire ground.


Department type: Combination, Mostly paid

Job or rank: Fire Fighter

Department shift: 12 hour days, 12 hour nights

Age: 34 - 42

Years of fire service experience: 7 - 10

Region: FEMA Region V

Event Information

Event type: Fire emergency event: structure fire, vehicle fire, wildland fire, etc.

Event date and time: 09/13/2006 03:30

Hours into the shift: 5 - 8

Event participation: Involved in the event

Do you think this will happen again? Yes

What do you believe caused the event?

  • Command
  • Decision Making
  • Accountability
  • Decision Making

What do you believe is the loss potential?

  • Life threatening injury
  • Lost time injury is working with the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System to get the word out about previous fire fighter near-miss incidents. Each week, will publish the Fire Fighter Near-Miss Report of the Week (ROTW). If you would like to receive the ROTW, please e-mail: with "subscribe-FHC" in the subject line. If you have had a similar experience and would like to report it and to learn more about the program, please visit: