Poll: Knox-Boxes and Chocking the Doors
Event: You are dispatched to a AFA and it has a Knox-Box system and you are part of the investigation team on the first due.
Question: Do you chock the doors as you go inside?
From the www.ffnearmiss.com reporting website:
Responded to an automatic fire alarm. The occupancy was a renovated grade/middle school building that now housed the local Park District offices and the area headquarters for a State Representative. Building was of brick and block construction with large windows. Still-alarm assignment consisted of 2 Engines, 1 Tower Ladder, with Shift Commander aboard, and 1 Ambulance. First in Engine's lieutenant and (department specific name deleted) #3 firefighter entered the building leaving the engineer with the rig. Ambulance crew finished donning SCBA and gathered tools and staged. Both the lieutenant and firefighter had portable radios and the #3 firefighter had irons. Crew located the annunciator and found it indicating a smoke alarm, 2nd floor. Lieutenant radioed command and advised him that it smelled like paper burning, "like a trash can." Command acknowledged and requested to be advised of developments/needs. Crew proceeded to the 2nd floor and upon gaining the landing reported "light haze of smoke" at the ceiling. Again, command acknowledged. Lieutenant and firefighter began searching numerous offices and cubicles in the State Representative's office area. Second-due Engine arrived and requested orders. Command ordered the lieutenant and #3 firefighter to enter the building from the "C" side and meet up with initial crew to assist in search. Hearing this order via the radio the first-due lieutenant sent his #3 firefighter down to the rear entrance to open the door for the second crew as the Knox-box was on the front of the building and had already been accessed to enter the building. Not long after the #3 firefighter left, the lieutenant, alone on the second floor, radioed Command stating that conditions had deteriorated greatly, with thick black, hot smoke. Command acknowledged. This was then followed by another transmission from the lieutenant that, "It's getting hot up here and I can't find the door." Command then exited the Tower Ladder dressed only in his bunker pants and coat, entered the building to attempt to locate the lieutenant. He did not remain inside long. When he did emerge, he finally radioed our dispatch center to upgrade to a full-still and then a general alarm. In the meantime the second due engine crew along with the first-due #3 firefighter were attempting to retrace steps back to the lieutenant's last location. The doors in this government office, however, automatically locked upon closing. About this time the lieutenant made a third radio transmission repeating that it was "hot up here." Command acknowledged and reported that a crew was on its way up to get him. The second-due crew never reported to command the trouble they were encountering with the locked doors. The lost lieutenant eventually made his way out of the office on his own after locating a receptionist's desk and remembering that the door was just in front of it. He emerged into the hallway as the second-due Engine along with his #3 firefighter were coming down the hall. The lieutenant suffered no injuries as a result of this incident. The fire eventually went to a 2nd (alarm - department specific name deleted).
Lesson 1: An AFA can still be a fire. Treat every one like it is. Lesson 2: There are very few things on the fireground that can safely be done alone. Lesson 3: Be aware of building construction and features i.e. doors that lock behind you. Lesson 4: Locate second and even third exits when you enter a space. If there is only one way in and out ensure you know where you are in relation to that at all times. Lesson 5: Call the MAYDAY early and give as much information as you can as to your whereabouts. Lesson 6: Command is just that, command. He or she is not a line-participant. Lesson 7: Communicate your needs/difficulties/assessments to command so that other plans can be made if needed. Lesson 8: Complacency kills. This incident was the exception.