Low Air: Quick Exit, Stay Calm, No Injuries

Harvey Eisner interviews a Fort Worth, TX, firefighter who experienced difficulties such as poor visibility, high heat and poor air supply in a narrow escape.


On Dec. 3, 2003, Fort Worth, TX, Fire Department En-gine 8 and Truck 8 quartered together began their tour of duty. Engine 8 consisted of Lieutenant David Collard, Driver Paul Jones, and Firefighters Bart Bradberry and Mike Pooler. The crew of Truck 8 was made up of Captain John Phillips, Driver...


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There was very little visibility, and Bradberry’s facemask had cracked from the heat. Bradberry reported it was still very hot. Bradberry said when he went out the window there was a short, two-foot roofline. As Bradberry started out the window Engineer Mike Woodard of Engine 17 also was in the room, but Bradberry could not see him. Woodard grabbed Bradberry’s leg, which kept him from falling the rest of the way. The wind was blowing in a direction that was pushing the heat right on the firefighters.

When Bradberry made it to the short roof, Collard went downstairs to look for him, thinking he might have passed him without knowing it. If Bradberry was not downstairs, Collard was going to give a Mayday. When Collard got outside, he saw Bradberry sliding down the overhang of the roof. Collard and the crew from Quint 17 assisted in catching Bradberry. There was a ladder that Quint 17 – the rapid intervention team – had positioned earlier, but with the low visibility and his facemask cracking, Bradberry never saw it.

Bradberry was then helped to the front of the house and to rehab. His faceshield, airmask and hood were damaged due to the high heat, but there was no other damage to his gear and he suffered no injuries. Bradberry said his gear did what it was supposed to do. Apparently, the room he entered was four feet from the stairway. This was the room on the right of the stairway landing that also had been involved in fire. Bradberry said after he was separated from the hoseline, he knew that he had to remain calm and find another exit. The training that he had received in “saving your own” also helped him. Bradberry was the junior man working that day. He said the training was like insurance; it is nice to have it and hope you never need it, but once you need it, is nice to have had the training.

If he had not found the window, he said, he would have activated his PASS device. Bradberry summed up the lessons reinforced by this incident: stay with the hoseline, keep a clear head and look for an alternate exit, but stay with the hose. You can look for the exits and windows when you do a size-up as you approach the scene.