It was another tragic weekend for the U.S. fire service with the loss of lives of Lt. Steven Velazquez and Firefighter Michael Baik on Saturday.
As we mourn our fallen brothers, and while details about this event will likely continue emerging for months during the investigation process, it is important to resist rushing to conclusions about what did or didn't happen in Saturday's incident.
Still, there are a few things to remember that can help us all ensure their loss wasn't in vain.
More firefighters, and civilians, are killed in residential structural fires than in any other type of building. We often think of single-family dwelling fires as our bread-and-butter incidents — but are they really?
How much time do we actually spend training on the basics, versus worrying about, and planning for, the big one?
No matter the size or type of incident, success usually boils down to how well we execute basic tasks:
- Incident command
- Establishing water supply
- Placing apparatus
- Advancing hose lines
- Coordinating ventilation and fire attack
- Throwing ladders
- And deploying the rapid intervention crew, among other things
Residential fire sprinklers are not just for building occupants, they can save firefighters' lives, as well.
It's a difficult subject to consider, but every fire department needs a plan for addressing the aftermath of a firefighter fatality incident.
There are a lot of good resources available from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
None of us can afford to wait for the unthinkable to happen before ensuring all the pieces are in place to support the families of our fallen comrades.