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• Personal protective equipment (PPE). A firefighter’s PPE is often the last line of defense against injury in critical situations, such as entrapment. It is imperative that the department foster a culture that ensures all personnel wear only department-approved, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-compliant PPE. An evaluation of the PPE worn by the injured firefighters at this incident revealed that several of them, including those most seriously injured, were wearing non-approved PPE items. Regular inspections are recommended to ensure compliance with all policies related to PPE, including the 10-year expiration contained in current NFPA standards.
• Strategy and tactical operations. This incident involved critical strategic and tactical decisions by the initial-arriving unit and command officers. Many training recommendations in the report identify the need to develop and deliver a standardized strategy and tactics training program for all ranks.
• Environmental conditions and wind-driven fires. Environmental conditions, such as wind, are significant factors that can dramatically impact fire development and spread. Personnel operating at this incident experienced significant sustained winds and gusts that impacted fire development and spread. Firefighter training curricula must incorporate the impact that environmental conditions have on fire development and spread at structure fires.
• Fireground communications. There were numerous portable radio transmission issues and significant challenges associated with radio communications during the incident. The report identifies the lessons learned and provides recommendations.
• Risk assessment and decision-making at structure fires. Initial-arriving company officers at structure fires “make or break” the incident operations by their initial decisions. The initial implementation of the strategic and tactical operations are set by the first-arriving company officers. Scene size-up, building construction, environmental conditions, fire development and spread as well as occupant and firefighter survivability are all important components of risk assessment and decision making for unit and incident command officers. This incident involved critical decision-making by the first-arriving unit and command officers. The report addresses the challenges the officers faced at the fire.
• Command and company officer training. This incident illustrates the need for a department-wide, comprehensive basic training program that focuses on the fundamentals of fireground operations. Compliance with all policies and procedures is critical to ensure personnel operate safely during routine and emergency situations. The crews operating at this incident did not follow all existing policies and procedures.
• Fire behavior and size-up. Size-up by company and command officers is an initial critical task that must be conducted by first-arriving officers. This provides intelligence for them to develop strategic and tactical decisions at structure fires. This fire demonstrates the critical need to ensure a complete 360-degree size-up of fire conditions, building construction, environmental conditions and life safety. A thorough understanding of fire behavior, including fire flow paths and the impact of ventilation and weather conditions, provides essential knowledge to effectively establish an appropriate incident action plan.
• EMS triage, treatment and transport. Response to structure fires requires the response of EMS units, which provide the necessary resources to triage, treat and transport occupant victims or injured firefighters. EMS units need to assemble the necessary equipment and stand by in a location on the fireground that enables the providers to access any victims or injured firefighters. This incident illustrated the need to have EMS resources respond to all structure fires.
Next: Recommendations resulting from the safety and operational investigation report. A complete copy of the PGFD Safety Investigation Report for this fire is available at www.PgfdFireReport.com.