The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is recommending fire departments have more involved risk evaluation during fire attacks and a better enforced policy on SCBA procedure after a firefighter died while conducting vertical ventilation.
LODD offers clear, and not so clear, lessons
By Adam K. Thiel
Firefighter line-of-duty deaths are always tragic, but they don't always have clear-cut solutions when it comes to preventing similar losses in the future.
From personal experience, I think that while it's critical to discuss lessons learned from other departments' incidents, it's important to remember the benefits of hindsight versus actually being there on the scene. I also hope that we always take time to honor our fallen brothers and sisters, as well as their surviving family members and fire departments, before participating in discussions about the events that claimed their lives.
After reading the entire NIOSH report on this incident, which I highly recommend by the way, and reviewing FireRescue1 readers' comments, I believe this is one of those cases where we're not going to find easy answers that will work for every fire department in every situation.
Lt. Todd Krodle, 41, a 17-year veteran of the Dallas Fire-Rescue was attempting to perform vertical ventilation during a fire an apartment complex, the report said.
When crossing over to the peak of the roof of the building to ventilate above the fire, he fell through the roof, into the attic. Although he was wearing his SCBA, he was not wearing his facepiece.
By the time fellow firefighters were able to get him to the hospital, he died.
An examination revealed he died from "asphyxiation from the products of combustion."
Investigators are recommending that the fire officer on the scene conduct an initial size-up on the attack, especially in terms of risk versus gain in high-risk and low-frequency incidents.
Incident commanders should follow risk assessment as outlined in NFPA 1500 and continually evaluate the fire attack to ensure that certain hazards aren't overlooked as the fire burns.
"The reason for the focus on low frequency/high risk incidents is that these incidents do not occur on a frequent basis, but when they occur, the outcome can be harmful or detrimental to fire fighters," the report said.
In Lt. Krodle's case, vertical ventilation in the involved apartment building was high-risk, because the structure was older and less stable.
NIOSH is also recommending that dispatchers be equipped with information pertaining to building code and structural integrity of buildings that crews are responding to.
Having this information on hand will allow firefighters to adequately prepare for any potential hazards and allows for pre-incident planning.
The apartment complex that Lt. Krodle was responding to had been previously damaged in other fires, although it is unclear if further inspections were conducted to reveal that the roof was not up to standard safety measures. Had responding crews been aware, they may have been able to avoid Lt. Krodle's incident.
Along with this, investigators say there should be stricter enforcement of building code and older buildings be brought up to current standards.
It is unclear why Lt. Krodle was not wearing his facepiece before the incident, but had he been on air, investigators say he would have had a much greater chance at survival. After falling through the roof, Lt. Krodle was unable to don his facepiece.
The report cites the International Fire Service Training Association, saying "firefighters should never get on a roof wearing anything less than full protective clothing, SCBA, and a PASS device…" in case of the toxic products of combustion.
NIOSH is also recommending that fire departments consider having a rapid intervention team to respond immediately to emergency rescue incidents and that incident commanders establish a command post.
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Cotton CollinsWednesday, October 03, 2012 6:53:10 PMWhere's the roof ladder the air pack had nothing to do with this
Richard DeldonnaWednesday, October 03, 2012 7:10:09 PMI agree with Cotton on this. A roof ladder would have distributed his weight better. Also allowing something to grab for in a collapse. And he should have been wearing his mask. It certainly could have bought crucial time for other firefighters to reach him for a rescue.
Parker SimpsonThursday, October 04, 2012 12:38:41 AMHe died from smoke inhilation, Id say not having his face piece on had a little something to do with it
Jon BrittThursday, October 04, 2012 6:50:17 AMDEFINITELY needed a roof ladder. However, even in the D we rarely ventilate a previously burned structure (often for reasons noted above, aside from the fact it either ventilated itself or was ventilated during previous burn)....although, I wonder was the roof spongy to begin with, looking at how the shingles (and yes this is monday morning quarterback) kind of flop or fold down would lead me to believe the attic was ROLLING and the slats holding up the shingles may have been significantly charred and/or weakened,...IF ventilation (on a possibly vacant apartment bldg) was deemed necessary he should have considered putting up the stick and working from the tip (avoiding a lot of danger).
Jon Britt, SFF.
Detroit Fire Department, (13 yrs).
Jim ThornThursday, October 04, 2012 7:42:26 AMPreviously burned structure, no roof ladder, not on air, 3 strikes. Where was the Safety Officer on scene? Sad for LODD, another example for the need of proper training with staff follow through. Sorry for the Lt's family.
Dave PachecoThursday, October 04, 2012 8:04:20 AMPoor decision making by a senior FF to operate without the proper/required equipment causes him to loose his life.......Very sad! Command & Safety officer should have taken into consideration the previous fire and that the building is already being compromised! R.I.P. Brother
Brian UlrichFriday, October 05, 2012 5:14:01 AMGet off of the roof! There are other ways to ventilate a structure. Wear your equipment properly.
Stephen PatrickFriday, October 05, 2012 5:18:28 AMMust be something that people think its the only way.
Jim AdamsFriday, October 05, 2012 8:40:47 AMAfter being involved in a roof collapse and surviving because I was wearing my Full PPE, I have to say you are wrong. The SCBA is key to surviving. The roof ladder is a complete different issue. RIP brother Krodle.
Audrey JohnsonFriday, October 05, 2012 2:08:38 PMsad and shouldn't have happened.
Audrey JohnsonFriday, October 05, 2012 2:12:13 PMmy first thought was....safety officer? wth?
Donald MackSaturday, October 06, 2012 7:20:33 AMThe facepeice is not for show but to where SAFETY FIRST.....
David FullerMonday, October 08, 2012 10:53:19 AMSure he should have had his SCBA on but I feel that many post are missing the big picture and that is to do everything to prevent the fall! AKA roof ladder. I have had a few falls in my 40 year carrer and in more cases than not my helment and face piece were knocked off. So In my opinion the fall period, due to the lack of use of a roof ladder or better a piece of areial equipment while doing ventilation is the #1 cause of this LODD.
W Chris MertzSunday, October 21, 2012 9:41:52 AMI wonder how dispatchers will obtain information about bulidng codes and structural integrity of the buildings FF crews are responding to, (NIOSH recommendation) and relay that information within the 3-6 minute response time to a structure fire. Enough information is comming to the MDC's and raidos, already and we are behind the time temprature curve. IMHO that's good information but don't get sucked into that the information will always be there or it's good information. Good training, and use of all PPE is what we can employ at the company level to keep us safe. So sorry for your loss Lt. Krodle Family and Dallas Fire-Rescue.