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A tragic event: What would you have done?

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Adam K. Thiel Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

A tragic event: What would you have done?

We all know how fire and smoke conditions can change throughout an interior structural firefight

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: A police officer found the lifeless body of a man at his burning home after firefighters who had searched the property said no one was inside, an inquest heard in the UK this week. Check out the background to Chief Adam K. Thiel's commentary here.

Wow! This is a really tough story for everyone involved in this tragic event.

As firefighters, we all know how fire and smoke conditions can change throughout an interior structural firefight.

Sometimes these changes occur suddenly and with little warning, sometimes they are more gradual. But they always affect the visibility inside, generally going from bad to worse and back again as the fire is vented and the smoke (eventually) dissipates.

Most people have no idea that it's usually pitch-black inside a burning building and visibility often approaches zero.

While these conditions make search-and-rescue difficult, as firefighters we also know that it is always our first (and last with a thorough secondary search performed by a fresh crew) priority.

It would be easy to "armchair quarterback" (after all, Super Bowl Sunday is coming fast) this incident, but instead of doing that, think about what you might have done in the same situation?

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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