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By now I would assume you have all seen the dramatic video footage from Dearborn MI. 

If you haven't already seen it watch it here:

Now please clearly understand my intentions here! I am looking to spur thoughts and discussion on the tactical and safety decisions made that we can see in the video. I am NOT looking to point any fingers of wrong at these brothers or the Dearborn MI Fire Department. I am NOT writing to throw stones or to Monday morning QB the decisions made at an incident that I was not at. I am simply looking to now analyze this video and see what we all can learn.

This is a perfect discussion to keep on the Fire Engineering Community where Chief Halton demands all users use first and last name. This allows no one to hide behind a screen name and their key board.  

To the Dearborn FD and the Brothers that were on the roof. I am very happy this worked out the way it did! I am very happy you all returned home to your families. I would truly love to hear what you learned and your feedback that you are willing to share. Additionally, maybe you can give us all some additional details to the initial size up and tactics deployed.


Ok, let's go........ Let the opinions fly all in the name of learning so everyone goes home!!

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This has been viewed 55 times and not 1 comment yet.

Let's look at safety....what did they do well at and what can they improve on?


I think Trevor raises some intresting points, if they sounded the roof given the size of the collapse I wonder if they would have gotten any indication about the stability of the roof. It appears that multiple trusses must have given out simultaneously to precipitate this particular collapse. Does anyone know what the roofing system was at this point?

Another question I'd like to find out from someone who may have been there if that is a true firewall that were seeing the Dearborn team crawl over?





what was the building and roof construction?  was the roof support system a truss?  Wood or steel?  was that known while they were on the roof?

Since this topic is not drawing many comments I would like to raise the idea of new technology that might be considered as an option to the standard ventilation objectives. My field of research and development is studying new ways to clear the interior environment of toxic gases and absorb heat. There needs to be formal studies into the use of hydrophilic (carbon loving) surfactants that have shown to scrub the air of carbon products of combustion and absorb heat many times more effective than water sprays from fire fighting nozzles. Has anyone noticed how the CAFS foam systems demonstrate this concept?
With just a little training and experimentation you will see the unique effects of the foams ability to rapidly improve the interior conditions without rooftop ventilation. You might notice the effects of cooling the fire gases, which contain a lot of CO2, without causing the ventilation chimney fresh oxygen effect that feeds the fire. The contained CO2 helps to extinguish the hidden and non-accessible fires.

Hope this starts some comments or at least some new ideas.
Mark Cummins

A few observations, my crew had a very simulat fire in a structure like this. Luckily the roof totally failed as we were inches from getting on it. I asked Chief Dunn and Frank Brannigan what I missed. Here we're some of their comments, how long was this fire burning? What fire detection was used, it happen to be heat detectors that were mounted on the bottom on of 30" steel bar joist. the fire had to spread above the heat detector a long time before they activated. The fire came in around 4 am and had vented out the front window upon the still engines arrival. Long burn time impinging on the bar joist for a long time. The occupancy was unfinished wood furniture, a heavy fire load. Along with HVAC units on the roof, why were we ordered to vent it? Heavy fire , 4 am, no occupants. Should have been a defensive fire in our case, what was saved? Not sure how long Deaborns fire had burned and I'm really glad they made it off safely but maybe we should rethink being up on these roofs if it's been burning a while.

Great talking points. I've been searching the web for discussion on this and I'm glad I found this thread. I just had a couple points.

One camera angle showed them exiting the roof and I didn't see an inspection h***. I feel it's critical to have one on a commercial roof so you know what kind of roof your cutting. Panelized, light weight vs. conventional, wood vs. steel truss, smoke/ fire conditions below, etc.

Another camera angle shows two business in that building and what appears to be a fire wall, but you can clearly see smoke coming from roof vents on both sides of the fire wall. Common attic? Fire stop vs. fire wall? Who knows....

All in all I think these guys did great, very aggressive and they knew when it was time to exit stage left. Glad they are okay.

what was the roof construction?????  was this a steel or wood truss?

Just from looking at the video, it does look like a simultaneous collapse of multiple truss'. Good teamwork by all 3 of them and great situational awareness to know where the closest egress was. We've been taught to run perpendicular to truss's in the event of collapse, but the fire wall (?) was the closest and they got to it.

Smart for the officer to not be doing the work, and watching over his team. Too often you get officer's who want to do everything even when their primary mission is to ensure safety.

By watching the video, it appears that the 1st exterior sign of collapse is right when the firefighter pulls his saw out of the roof after making a cut. It also appears that he is having some difficulty making tthat particular cut. Could this be because he was actually cutting a truss? This would validate the way the roof seems to collapse in a "wave" pattern. Perhaps other truss's already collapse or were weakened. When the firefighter possibly cut a truss, the extra loads might have overpowered other truss's. The fact that the roof covering held also assisted the firefighters.

To pose another question, would a mayday be called in this situation? You obviously need a radio transmission to notify everyone, especially the IC of the collapse, but is a mayday warranted due to the severity of the incident?

Elliot, great observations!

I will address the May Day question and am hopeful some others will jump in with their thoughts.

A May Day transmission must be reserved for anytime a member is trapped, lost, injured or needs immediate help to avoid such. This situation the first priority is self rescue as they did. Then a radio transmission that should be preceded by the terminology "urgent".

Thats what I had originally thought, I just wasn't 100% sure.

Towards the end of the video, you see a zoomed out camera view of the scene, but there appears to be only 1 engine. I would like to know of the ladder/apparatus placement, other egress, how the size-up was conducted, andthe real building construction.

But once again, great job by the firefighters and officer to get home safe.

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