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I want to share this communication I sent out to my department after one of our company officers experienced a fireground Mayday event. Our focused training continues to be the critical link in our firefighter survivability profile. We will continue to train, train, train!
Several Montgomery County Fire and Rescue (MCFRS) units responded mutual aid to Frederick County to a structure fire. During incident operations, a Mayday was declared because one of our Montgomery County personnel fell through the floor with one leg and was temporarily immobile and attempted to self rescue, but was unable to do so. The Montgomery County crew that was operating as a rapid intervention team immediately came to the rescue and held onto the trapped Montgomery County person. A Mayday was declared and the individual was successfully removed and unharmed. A thorough medical check proved no apparent injuries and the personal protective equipment (PPE) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) were rendered safe and serviceable by the on-duty MCFRS safety officer.
In my discussions with the crew that was at the scene, several items are clearly apparent.
1. Our recent training efforts with firefighter Maydays, rapid intervention team training, firefighter self rescue and our Mayday floor-collapse prop proved beneficial.
2. Crew integrity was critical because the personnel stayed together and were able to immediately react and come to the aid of the Mayday individual.
3. Our transition to the third-due engine being the rapid intervention team is a critical part of having a dedicated rapid intervention team early in the incident.
4. Our personal PPE specifications are sound and aid in protecting our personnel while engaged in the interior fire environment personnel are subjected to.
We will formally examine this incident and the Mayday and learn more from what occurred in an effort to reduce fireground risks and injuries to personnel. Please stay focused on the fundamentals, execute the basics and train, train, train!
Montgomery County, MD,
Fire and Rescue Service
Chief Bowers, a member of the Firehouse Editorial Advisory Board, was interviewed in the February issue.
When All the “Wrong”
Pieces Come Together
In the fire service, one can never tell what the next event will entail. Responders must be ready for myriad incidents – hazardous materials releases, structure fires, medical emergencies and specialized rescue operations. We train daily to prepare for these situations and hone our skills to make emergency scenes seem routine. We are more prepared than ever, surrounded by a world with information at our fingertips. Training involves placing all of the “right” things in motion. We all know the type of incident where “everything just falls into place” and the job is accomplished because all the right pieces come together.
But what happens when all the “wrong” pieces come together? This is an overview of a “routine” gas leak that occurred in the City of Lakeland in central Florida.
With a population of nearly 100,000, Lakeland is the largest city in Polk County. Fire service is provided by the Lakeland Fire Department, a city department composed of 149 personnel. The city is divided into two battalions with 43 line personnel per shift working a 24-hour day. Resources include seven engines, five rescues, two battalion chiefs, a heavy rescue, an aerial platform and an aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) unit. Lakeland Fire covers 80 square miles, running about 16,000 calls per service each year.
At 11:08 P.M. on Aug. 12, 2011, Engine 31 responded to a call for “smell of gas” in a home. A resident reported smelling “gas” when she operated her bathroom faucet. Prior to the incident, Lakeland experienced a late-night thunderstorm producing lightning, rain and 25-mph wind gusts. The officer from Engine 31 investigated the complaint and found highly pressurized water emitting from all household faucets. The water had a distinct smell of ethyl mercaptan, an odorant that is added to odorless fuels to warn of leaks or spills.