I was riding as acting officer on our ladder truck (my officer is off hurt). We had a fire alarm run yesterday during one of the worst lightning stoms I have ever seen. We were staged and didn't get out but I got to watch one of the most vivid lightning displays I have ever seen. We knew we were going to get a run and we did...lightning strike to a single family split-entry home with two 2'x2' holes blown right though the roof.
Here is the issue...
Soon after aiding the first-in engine by providing them with our thermal imaging camera and an attic ladder to access the attic to check for extension, I was ordered (as acting officer) to set up our aerial device (1997 Pierce Dash with 105' straight stick) to the roof and seal the holes with plastic ASAP to reduce water damage to the interior of the home. I complied and sealed the holes with the help of my crew and the aid of Rescue 1's crew. We sealed the holes during an active lightning storm with bolts striking nearby throughout the process and HEAVY rain.
What do you think? Should we have put the stick up in the lightning storm? Risk a lot to save...water damage?? Your opinions please...
View Poll Results: Put up the ladder to stop water damage or not?
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Do as I was ordered...Put up the stick and cover the hole...ASAP...lightning or not.
Wait for the storm to cease, water damage or not.
08-29-2005, 10:35 PM #1
Ladder in the Lightning? Your opinions?
08-29-2005, 10:44 PM #2
- Join Date
- May 2005
Here in Florida we take lightning very seriously. Not only was putting up the stick a lousy idea but even putting FF's on a roof to cover some 2x2 holes borders on insanity. I don't see any benefit vs the risk ratio in this situation. Most counties here in Fla have SOP's that prohibit the use of aerial ladders during peiods of heavy lightning activity.
08-29-2005, 11:06 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
The thing to remember is "never play golf during a thunderstorm" why? because 1. you may be the tallest thing for lightning to hit. 2. You are holding a 42" lightning rod for lightning to hit. I agree with you, it is not safe to place ground ladders or elevated ladders during a thunderstorm. What's more conveinient than a 28' or 100' lightning rod? As a matter of fact this is one of the driving forces behind myseld to promote to Lieutenant. I had some officers here in Texas telling me to raise ladders during bad a%& Texas turdfloaters with lightning popping all around us, so I figured the sooner I promoted away from these idiots the safer I and the people around me would be. Lightning travels 186,000 miles per second. I'm not that fast and I'm sure you are not either. It does not have to be a direct hit to hurt you and yes, the ladder truck is grounded but how about the wet ground around it? The heat. I was in a basket of a tower overhauling a roof after a thunderstorm (lightning caused the attic fire) it wasn't raining anymore but it was still cloudy with no air movement. Aprox. 30 minutes since the last boom so it was deemed safe to start overhaul and salvage work on the roof. No sooner did we pull some the roof back that lightning struck a tree and roof on the house directly behind us. We felt the heat and the tingle (and some movement in the back of our bunker pants) and vacated the ladder directly. My advice is, get some recommendations from some weather experts, power company people and hold a class on the dangers. I don't think we are looking out for our people when we put them in dangerous situations like that. Take as many precautions from the interior and come back when the storm is over, I'm sure the homeowner will understand.
08-29-2005, 11:13 PM #4
Boy your crazy?!?!?
2. Incident Stabilization
2. Then Property!
Our first lesson in probie school.Jason
Paid Professional Firefighter/ EMT
Department Computer Administrator
City of Beacon, NY Fire Department (IAFF Local 3490)
http://www.BeaconFD.org (Department's Website)
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08-29-2005, 11:24 PM #5
Homeowner's insurance will cover the water and storm damage. Insurance can't cover the loss of a life.
08-29-2005, 11:32 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
While I never agree with disobeying orders, in the safety of your crew, which YOU are resposible for, I would have told the IC to do it. It's not safe. You always could have gone from the inside and sealed it up put the plastic on it, seal it up as best as you can, then make alternative fixes, maybe you will need to make a water chute or somthing similar out of your salvage covers. Or use some plywood, and use some caulk to seal it up. There are ways around things, but if all else fails, do what you can to keep damage to a minimum, take up and go home. Remember you didn't cause the problem. You just need to solve it the best that you can.FF/NREMT-B
Brass does not equal brains.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to control it.
08-30-2005, 01:40 AM #7
- Join Date
- Feb 2003
- Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
All metal ladders have caution stickers on them about putting them up close to power lines. I think lightning applies as well, your putting up a huge conductor then your going to climb it! I think not. Most departments have SOP's in regard to raising ladders and aerials in lightning and high winds. Just follow those and you should be safe. And if your department doesnt have one, maybe its time to make one. Plus you gotta think once your on the roof, depending on what structures are around you, your probably the highest thing around with probably a metal haligan and a metal headed axe in hand.
The best solution i can think of is to place a catch all inside and move and cover all the furniture with plastic or tarps and wait for the lightning to end.
08-30-2005, 01:40 AM #8
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
No To Roof Repairs
Explain to the IC your concerns and he/she should understand. The amount of damage that you save the owner was not worth the life of a firefighter.
Alot of the time we find ourselves doing the job "because we always do it". Sometimes we get into a rut and find ourselves falling back on what we have always have done.
There is not amount of water damage that is of equal value to a firefighters life. The storm will pass and then the necessary repairs can be completed.K-9 hunt, the ultimate challange.
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