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Reality Training: Commercial roof collapse

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Reality Training Reality Training
by Reality Training

Reality Training: Commercial roof collapse

Use this incident to improve your firefighting abilities

By Tom LaBelle

This feature is intended to spark the sharing of ideas, information and techniques to make firefighters safer and more effective. The following video and discussion points must not be used to berate, belittle or criticize those firefighters. Rather, in the spirit of near-miss reporting, please use this feature as another teaching tool to help you better do your job. Please leave your comments below and use this material in your own department. I hope you find this Reality Training valuable; stay safe and keep learning.

This well-travelled video shows Dearborn, Mich. firefighters narrowly escaping a roof collapse on a commercial structure. The overhead camera shot gives us a vantage point we don't often get from on-scene video. Take a look and check out the discussion points below:

  • Vertical ventilation is labor intensive, and it's difficult for a line officer to balance tasks and watch for the overall safety of the crew. As a line officer, what do you do to maintain a balance of action and the big picture?
  • What are some of the ventilation cues coming from the roof being cut, and what are some cues from the roof the team moves to after the collapse?
  • What would your radio transmission be? Would you transmit an urgent message, a mayday message or just treat it as a normal fire ground communication?



Comments
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Aaron Perry Aaron Perry Monday, October 01, 2012 6:35:57 PM I would need to change my bunkers after that one. good looking out by the officer though. Glad no one got hurt.
Darin Balinski Darin Balinski Monday, October 01, 2012 7:16:05 PM Dearborn Fire Department. Went home and hug my family. Call my crew and say I'm buying.
Allen John Cameron Allen John Cameron Monday, October 01, 2012 9:15:15 PM I wasn't there, so I can't play Monday morning quarterback, but here's what impressed me about what I saw: They all knew their route of egress when the roof started to collapse, and there was no hesitation when the need for evacuation became apparent. They stayed together and helped each other out, like brothers should. "You go, we go." PTB - EGH. What this incident makes me think about in hindsight? (Thank you, brothers, for the learning we're gaining from your misfortune - I respect you unconditionally.) Maybe we need to take a roof ladder up, even on a FLAT roof, to lay across the rafters/trusses to stand on (like in an ice rescue). "Vertical ventilation is labor intensive, and it's difficult for a line officer to balance tasks and watch for the overall safety of the crew. As a line officer, what do you do to maintain a balance of action and the big picture?" - This was a tough one. I'm presuming they HAD to vent the roof because command NEEDED it to be done. The officer is focused on leading his crew to achieve the objective, and I'm sure he knew this was a time-sensitive matter. (These guys look salty to me, and I think they know the job really well.) Any of us could say, after the fact, that the officer should have seen this coming, but that's not fair to say. They got assigned to vent the roof, and they are aggressive firefighters, and the went up to do the roof like they've probably done a hundred times before. Could command have made a different choice? I don't know. "What are some of the ventilation cues coming from the roof being cut, and what are some cues from the roof the team moves to after the collapse?" - The smoke looks like it has a lot of steam in it - Engine's got water on the fire pretty good already. Smoke/steam pushing out of penetrations on BOTH roofs - how long has this fire been burning? A long time, I think. "What would your radio transmission be? Would you transmit an urgent message, a mayday message or just treat it as a normal fire ground communication?" - First things first; my hands are too busy trying to save my firefighter and I physically can't make the MAYDAY call when I need to. (But I would wish that I could.) Once everybody made it over to the roof which had not yet collapsed, and it looked like none of us would need assistance to retreat, I would press my emergency button on the radio and advise command to order an immediate EVAC due to the roof collapsing.
Pedro Lopes Pedro Lopes Tuesday, October 02, 2012 1:43:16 PM I would never get on that roof. I know that a think you do in US. But in Switzerland the Houses are made of concrete and the roofs are isolated. so if you want to cut them of. You will need mire then en hour. And it is not aloud to get over the Fire. What we do is to get from inside in to the apartment and use the Help of a fan to get over pressure in the House. Than we open a window on the top or the house as a special heat and smoke window. After open the door the unit will extinguish the fire with the less water possible end open a window to get the smoke and gases out of that part. I Know*! It?s total different but its how wee do it. Never get higher then the Fire!
Paul McKeever III Paul McKeever III Tuesday, October 02, 2012 5:14:07 PM My dad actually works with these guys in the city of Dearborn. He went off and said they should have used fans on the front of the building. The building had glass windows on the front, so it would have been easy to do so..... But I was glad that my dad is on an engine.
Paul McKeever III Paul McKeever III Tuesday, October 02, 2012 5:16:38 PM Also there is a difference between Detroit and Dearborn. Detroit would have had darker helmets and gear.




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