-Wow, what a great learning tool. The important thing to remember is that what we see in this video is a snapshot in time and therefor one persons perspective. There are several valid points that can be made from a learning perspective without bashing the department as a whole. No one department does it perfectly. This incident was however caught on video and we can learn from the mistakes of others and hopefully prevent having to learn the hard way ourselves.
-First and foremost, the thing everyone will point out is the lack of proper PPE usage. SCBA use is documented in the video as very poor. Not all members re even wearing them let alone using them. Gloves and hoods are missing as well as the most important piece of PPE... the portable radio.
-Radio traffic is almost nonexistent in this video and one must conclude that not everyone has a radio and/or not everyone is using them. Fire scene videos are usually a cacophony of noise and blaring radios in the background. I heard very little radio traffic in this clip.
-An unbelievable lesson here is impressed on the firefighter wearing the camera... never leave the apparatus without tools!!! A firefighter without tools is nothing more than a well dressed spectator!!! Actually walking up to the door, sizing up the need for forcible entry and then having to return to retrieve the tools AND THEN having to walk back to the door is a monumental waste of time, energy and is an example of unprofessional firefighting.
-As is the unprofessional actual "forcible entry" that took place on the door. This was clearly a firefighter that does not understand forcible entry or how to perform it properly. The Halligan does very little without the driving force of a flat head ax or sledge to drive it into position to properly force the door. This video demonstrates the lack of basic firefighting skills that Tom Brennen preached about for so many years. And the message continues to fall on deaf ears. There is no excuse for a lack of basic firefighting skills in a professional fire dept. Brennen was all to correct when he pointed out that the basics will always make or break the operation.
-Forcible entry is a basic, yet crucially essential firefighting skill that far to many firefighters think they understand, yet most have not mastered. To many FDs spend so much time on training and refreshing on everything under the sun except basic firefighting skills. Why?
-Another huge concern is the selection of small inch and three quarter hand lines for a developed fire in a commercial occupancy. The old school rule of thumb is,
1. If the fire has control of more than 2 residential size room, OR
2. If the fire is in a commercial occupancy, OR
3. If the fire is of an undetermined size and location
STRETCH THE 2 1/2
-Lastly, why were there interior operations in a building of such advanced fire conditions? This is clearly a needless endangering of firefighters. Again, the absence of radio communication heard on the video demonstrates that adequate communication was not taking place. If it were firefighters would have been ordered withdrawn from this fire in what looks to be nothing more than quite literally a disposable building.
-Judging from the video there is no way to tell for sure if primary search took place and if so, did the search take the proper ascendency priority of being conducted immediately.
-This video is a learning tool and not a bash on the St Louis FD. Nobody does it perfectly and we should be grateful for the opportunity to learn from others so as to prevent the same mistakes from reoccurring.