Salka: Blountstown Fire Video Revisited

Just days after posting a blog about the Blountstown trailer fire, I spoke with the fire chief and he shared some of the changes the department has made.


One of my entry team members complains on video, of his neck getting too hot.  It was indeed red and hot.  He was in full PPE with SCBA and hood and still suffered a minor redness.  We've since switched to a different brand hood and had no other issues.  The firefighter working through the window, who after I've reviewed it today, should've been on a ladder (we've addressed that training since then as well) was not working against an inside crew.  I've had that done to me and it wasn't pleasant.  Our entry crew was outside the structure and once we sent another crew in, the outside attack stopped.  Toward the end of the video you see the original first due department arrive and give our guys some relief.  

Like I said, it was hot.  I do acknowledge that some things were done wrong, and the video makes it look much worse that it was, because it only paints a one dimensional picture.  Since this call we have trained extensively on forcible entry, PPE, SCBA use and several methods of ventilation.   Like I said before, this was four years ago and we've grown quite a bit since then.  

I didn't want you or your readers to think we as a department were ignoring the highlighted issues from this day.  If you're wondering, as many do, what the cause & origin and damaged sustained was to this structure?   A 14 year old occupant left the iron laying on his bedroom floor after ironing his clothes for school.  He left the home shortly before 8:00 AM.  We got this call during lunch.  I don't remember the exact time but I'm sure it was between 11:00 and noon.  Our department, mistakes and all, contained the fire to the room of origin and some minor flame damage to an adjacent bathroom.  There was a five foot hole in the doorway of the room of origin.  No one was injured that day.  Everyone went home.  

I challenge any of these who are commenting on your story, or any of the other places this video has been posted (and there are several), to claim to have never made a mistake or had a bad day.  Ours just got caught on camera for the world to critique.  

One last thing, as I read your article you did indeed mention that your blog post wasn't meant to damage the reputation of the department or hurt anyone's feelings.  Well, feelings are for children, so that doesn't concern me.  But to have our department called out on a national website is not only damaging to our reputation but to department morale.  I encourage you to please consider that before your next article.  It is already difficult to recruit volunteers for little or no compensation and then require them to engage in training away from their families, during their personal time.  But now, when I attempt to recruit, I'll be met with "yeah, you're Blountstown, I saw your video, no thanks".   

Chief I hope you have a great and safe day and if you have any questions or suggestions I'm always open for discussion.  

Sincerely, 

Ben Hall, Fire Chief

Blountstown, Fla., Fire Department

You can contact Chief Salka at: john.salka@firehouse.com.