Firefighters Trapped At Maryland House Fire - Part 1

On Feb. 24, 2012, the Prince George’s County, MD, Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department (PGFD) responded to a fire in a single-family dwelling fire in Riverdale Heights. During firefighting operations, seven firefighters were injured. Some of these...


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While the SIT analyzed the entire incident, the focus of the investigation was to determine what happened, what factors led to the injuries and, most importantly, what recommendations should be made so future incidents do not have similar or worse outcomes. During the course of the investigation, the team prepared many recommendations intended to assist the PGFD and other departments throughout North America in improving the operational safety of personnel, fireground operations, command and control of fire incidents as well as training. These recommendations will be discussed in detail in parts two and three. Following the issuance of the report on June 3, 2013, Fire Chief Bashoor established a second team consisting of both career and volunteer members of the PGFD to provide him with an action plan to implement every recommendation.

 

The response by the first-due units:

All dispatched units commenced an emergency response (emergency lights and sirens) to the alerted address and all successfully arrived. In addition, three volunteer chief officers responded with their respective companies and operated as chief officers on the scene. All units, except for Engine 807B, Engine 801 and Truck 801, responded from their quarters on dispatch. All units arrived in order of assignment, but due to the location of the structure, the first two engines (Engine 807B and Engine 809), the two trucks (Truck 809 and Truck 801) and the chief officer (Volunteer Chief 809A) all arrived within seconds of each other. The following sections are accounts of the unit and personnel activities as each arrived on the scene.

 

Unit/crew activities

The following accounts of each unit’s activities were derived from the witness statements provided by all personnel from units operating on the incident. Every effort was made to corroborate both the entire unit’s activities and the individual crew member’s activities with the other available incident records, such as computer-aided dispatch (CAD) data and radio system recordings. The units’ accounts are listed in order of arrival on the scene. This information was verified by multiple sources. If it was not verifiable, it was not included.

Engine 807B – Engine 807B was on the air, returning from another call, and was approaching their quarters on Queensbury Road when the initial dispatch was put out. Engine 807B responded as the first-due engine and arrived on the scene, stopping to lay out a single three-inch supply line from a hydrant at 6325 57th Ave. Engine 807B Officer placed the unit on the scene and advised of a “two-story,” single-family dwelling with fire showing from side Bravo. Engine 807B Officer observed embers and smoke blowing across the street when the engine stopped to lay out. Engine 807B Officer observed fire showing from the basement-level window on side Bravo. Engine 807B Officer verbally passed command and requested the “working fire dispatch.” Engine 807B’s crew pulled a 200-foot 1¾-inch attack line that was subsequently charged. The crew from Engine 807B forced entry to the front door on side Alpha.

Based on statements and physical evidence, there is no factual indication that any water was discharged from the attack line prior to or during the emergency that caused the firefighter injuries. There is no verifiable evidence that Engine 807B’s hoseline ever entered the structure, but it was most certainly not in the structure at the time of the emergency. Four personnel from Engine 807B were injured and transported to MedStar/Washington Hospital Center for treatment.

Truck 809 – Truck 809 responded from quarters as the first-due truck and arrived on 57th Avenue right behind Engine 807B. When Truck 809 stopped to let Engine 807B lay out, Truck 809 Can (the firefighter assigned to the water extinguisher) dismounted the truck and had to walk up the street as it pulled away. Truck 809 Officer observed a lot of smoke moving extremely fast through the front yard and across the street upon exiting the truck.

Truck 809 Officer and Truck 809 Forcible Entry proceeded directly to the front door on side Alpha of the structure. Because there was a car in the driveway, there were concerns of occupants trapped. Both of them entered the structure with full personal protective equipment (PPE), including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), but without the protection of a hoseline. Truck 809 Officer and Truck 809 Forcible Entry began primary searches on the first floor.

At some point during the primary search, as conditions worsened, the front door closed, trapping Truck 809 Officer and Truck 809 Forcible Entry inside the structure. This situation could not have occurred if a charged hoseline was operating inside the structure at the time the door slammed shut. They were the only firefighters operating on the first floor at that time.