Close Calls: Chief First on Scene: Working Fire, People Trapped

One of the most challenging times for chief fire officers is when they arrive before the apparatus. In most cases, it gives us a chance to size-up, conduct the 360-degree walk-around and do our job helping the arriving companies. However, in rare cases...


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Having trained so many times in live-fire conditions and experiencing them first-hand at incidents, I knew we had precious moments to effect a rescue. The first-due engine was still minutes out and there was really no other choice but to enter the building through a window. Time seemed to slow down as we maneuvered the woman to the window on the Charlie side of the home, the flames broke through the door and began crawling across the ceiling, and you know the kind – just before the room flashes. We tried twice to lift her fairly gently out the window, but seeing the flames crawl across the ceiling made me realize there was only one more chance for us all to get out.

Looking back, I wish I would have equipped each command vehicle with SCBA (it will be in next year’s budget). Also, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t even consider going through the wall like we train to do. I saw an open window and that was my only consideration at the time.

Even chiefs need to train with the crews to keep skills sharp if you are going to be in situations like this. Always, always remember to wear your personal protective equipment (PPE). We live eat and breathe that here at GVFD and I’m glad that I did too that day.

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