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I debated myself on whether I should post this video or not. I don’t like to be critical of fire departments and how they handled a call. I, and many others have made poor decisions on the fire ground over the years and we will likely make unintentional mistakes in the future. After all, we are human.

But, the more I thought about it the more I believe that there is just too much to learn from here. Notice the word learn? This video is being shared as a learning tool and to show how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking it will never happen to me. We have all been there and done that and this video will hopefully provide as a reminder of what we need to consider on the fire ground.

So, I ask you, what is to be learned here? What lessons would you share with your crew and fellow firefighters? Be constructive and not critical. Remember, you never know when the camera will be on you and I know I am not perfect.

Let’s learn something that will keep us safe and make us better and thank the guy who filmed and posted the video for the experience.

Stay safe and be careful.


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-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.
Mike,
Great points and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for all of your positive input on these posts. You offer a great deal for other to learn from and always look forward to reading what you have to say. BTW, it is East St. Louis and they are really suffering from staffing cuts.
Again, thanks for using the video as an excellent learning tool. I usually will pass these on to my crew.

Jason

Michael Bricault said:
-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.
Jason, I have used this video in training. Brick as usual made great observations. We touched on all in the training. I was also able to see things we need to work on, such as pulling a 2.5" line. Not done often enough in our part of the Fire Service. The Brothers on the East St. Louis Fire Department have been behind the eight ball for as long as I've been on the job. This is a great learning tool as are many videos, but, the key is getting our crews to think about the jobs as though they were in our first due area. That mentality has made a difference for me. Great Job!

Stay Safe!
Jeff
With the level of involvement on arrival, particularly with amount of fire showing in the attic and medium velocity smoke emerging from all the eaves, an interior attack was a poor choice due to the potential weakness of the roofing system. Since this occurred in the wee hours, it wouldn't be immediately known how long this fire had been burning prior to notification.

Mike and Jeff made excellent points, and a special thanks to the cameraman for sharing this valuable learning tool.

Stay safe, Brothers & Sisters!
Drake
Here are some more key points to a successful operation that I noticed did not happen.

1. I never seen a hot lap of the building. (It might have happened It just want seen.)

2. When the second line was advanced knowing it was going to operated on the second floor why was it advanced right off the top flake of the preconnect instead of taking half the preconnect so you have your needed hose at the second floor and all the extra is there with you. (back to the basics again) or why was a 2 1/2 wyed not used with a high rise pack?

3. Nobody seems to really care that a low air alarm is going off? Especially in a lightweight construction commercial building with a well off fire? Why?

4. The IC should know with that amount of fire through the roof a 2 small lines are worthless.

5. 8 minutes before the second due pumper is on scene, never seen a truck arrive and never heard a second alarm sounded. If staffing is low invite your neighbors I'm sure they wouldn't mind going to a working fire.

Basics, Basics, Basics in all functions and all pay grades.
I hope everyone gets something out of this and thank you to the camera man.
All good comments and accurate critiques of what seemed to be happening here. Our East St Louis brothers are definitely understaffed and under equipped, but mutual aid is available though not often used. Key point here has been made by several of you: Late night unoccupied commercial structure; lightweight construction; advanced fire condition on arrival. Definitely calls for a 2.5 in line off first. This is a disposable building!! Big line, then call for second alarm (mutual aid here) and start securing a water supply for defensive master stream attack. This is a classic case of firefighters who love to fight fire, (totally understand!) who have lost the big picture and failed to use any type of "risk vs. gain" evaluation of the situation. When the IC orders companies to evacuate, don't second guess, just get out. If it can be extinguished quickly from the exterior and it is deemed safe by an IC, then you can (maybe) return to interior firefighting. As famous Boston Fire Commisioner Leo Stapleton once said, "Sometimes you're gonna' make parking lots, and there ain't nothin' you can do about it." I just thank God that no one got hurt - or worse - at this fire.

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