Martin McNamara, Lancaster, Massachusetts Fire Department
On November 29, 2003, a 31-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (the victim) died while fighting a basement fire in a residential structure.
The victim and another fire fighter were in the basement applying water to the fire on the ceiling. A Deputy Chief in the basement reported to Incident Command that the fire was knocked down and requested ventilation.
A positive pressure ventilation fan (PPV) was started at the front door as the basement windows were vented. Suddenly, thick black smoke filled the entire basement area as the hoseline became covered by debris falling from shelving in the basement.
The Deputy Chief called for a Mayday as he was running out of air just after he told the crew to exit the basement. He was assisted from the structure, fell unconscious, and was rushed to a hospital.