Reported Structure Fire with Trapped Occupants: Are YOU Combat Ready?

Just another day… On any given day, at any given time in the streets, buildings and occupancies that comprise the fabric of our communities and ultimately our response district and first-due areas; the citizens we protect go about their daily...


Just another day…
On any given day, at any given time in the streets, buildings and occupancies that comprise the fabric of our communities and ultimately our response district and first-due areas; the citizens we protect go about their daily lives and activities as we go about ours.
On any given day, at any given time the typical radio transmissions are intervened with a distinction we know all too well when we are called upon to respond to a dispatcher’s punctuated voice, transmitting an alarm for a reported residential structure fire, with trapped civilians.
This is when our training, knowledge and capabilities must be at our highest state of readiness, with expected flawless performance; when we need to expect fire and to ready to go to work.
Prepared for the arrival, with the understanding of the incident uncertainty, but with the confidence in our skills and capabilities and those of our company and the balance of the alarm assignment. 
Not Today….
At 07:49 hours on Friday morning November 11, 2011, a 911 call and subsequent dispatch for a reported house fire in a quiet residential neighborhood in West Seneca (Erie County) New York brought fire, law enforcement resources to a residential house fire with initial reports indicated that there were people trapped inside. Numerous Town of West Seneca Police units arrived on scene within minutes of the first call from a neighbor across the street from the residence and reported that the residence was fully engulfed in flames.
Witnesses on scene reported that two adolescents had already escaped from the residence through second floor windows, with the assistance of a neighbor, but there were still a mother and her child trapped inside on the second floor. Officers attempted to make entry from several locations around the house, but the fire was so intense, they were repelled by the smoke and intensive heat of the fire.
Fire units from Seneca Hose Fire Company (NY) arrived on scene shortly after the patrols and made entry into the residence under severe fire conditions that had extended rapidly throughout the two story single family residence.   
  
Video:
 
The following series of photos captured from video taken by a neighbor illustrate the intensity of the fire as well as the degree of fire involvement that extended through the eight room house.  The video clip of initial arriving companies and deployments also exemplifies the conditions encountered by first-due personnel and the need for aggressive and effective assessment, rapid identification of required actions and assignment of resources to task jobs.
This is when each and every member of a fire company, an alarm assignment, a greater alarm resource or a mutual aid unit must be ready to put their training, experience and fortitude to work in the seconds and minutes that will determine the outcome of an incident.
Are you combat ready for engagement? Mentally, Physically, Emotionally and Technically?
 
Operative Questions;
  • Given similar arrival conditions, what would be some of your considerations based upon your role as a Company Officer or a Commanding Officer?
  • Discuss the various roles and responsibilities necessary to be conducted with urgency and effectiveness for your company as arriving first or second due engine company units or as the first arriving truck company.
  • Identify and discuss key tactical functions that must be coordinated and executed. What would some of the challenges be in your first-due or mutual aid response areas with a similar structure and fire conditions?
  • Identify and discuss some of the Capabilities and Gaps that are present or would become evident during initial or sustained operations?
  • How prepared and capable is your company or department to meet the demands from a high risk building occupancy with extreme fire behavior?
  • What have you encountered during past operations that worked effectively or hindered operations? What was done to improve on those conditions?
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