Vertical ventilation can be a risky evolution

Incident commanders must always weigh the costs and benefits of vertical ventilation

Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Todd Krodle died Sunday after falling through the roof of a burning apartment building. While investigations will be ongoing, the tragedy is a general reminder of the dangers involved when conducting vertical ventilation says our Editorial Advisor Chief Adam K. Thiel.

As with any firefighter line-of-duty-death, it will take quite a while before the details of this incident are completely understood.

Regardless of the specific circumstances around this tragic event, we already know that vertical ventilation can be a risky evolution, even when performed by experienced and skilled firefighters.

Incident commanders must always weigh the costs and benefits of vertical ventilation, along with other ventilation options, when selecting fireground strategy and tactics.

Garden apartment buildings of this vintage and construction type can be found all across the United States, in cities and counties of all sizes.

Along with the usual list of size-up considerations, understanding building construction features is critically important for both ICs and company officers tasked with performing vertical ventilation.

Developing this familiarity requires ongoing professional development, area familiarization, and a constant willingness to train. As the late Frank Brannigan used to say, "know the enemy."

We all stand with Dallas Fire-Rescue and Lt. Krodle's family...

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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