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Someone please tell me that the VACANT commercail laundry building had people in it to save.  That there was an occupied exposure attached, or something so I am not scratching my head in wonder as to why 2 Brothers died?  This was totally wrong.  There is an officer somewhere that has to be held accountble.  I remember a great Chief telling me not too long ago, that when a police officer dies in the line of duty, it is investigated to the max, and acted on.  When a firefighter dies, we have a great funeral.

  We need to start being brutally honest about ourselves, and not be afraid to call anyone to task if they screw up.  It is not too soon to do this.  There is going to be another VACANT commercial laundry building fire in America tonight.  What is that first due officer and Chief going to do?  What would you do?  Honestly.

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Maybe we can hold off with hanging anyone till the FACTs of the fire are known...   And vacant does not mean unoccupied.    Fact is at the end of the day how can anyone sit and say nope can't be anyone inside that building until you have actually searched it.. ...  This is very good reading on just this topic. http://backstepfirefighter.com/why-we-search/.

 

Wow, not even 12 hours later and someone already points the "vacant" finger.  Lets look at the facts. Vacant, yes.  Unoccupied, unknown at the time, with known vagrants who frequent this building. Amount of fire, minimal. Structure, appeared sound. Bow string truss, yes.  Fire involvement in truss, none. Im sure thats what went through the mind of the Batt Chief when he pulled up and allowed those guys to make an interior attack.  Id say its a go. 

 

 What wasnt taken into fact, was the City of Chicago's lawsuit against the property owners citing multiple roof violations, specifically rotten rafters and trusses.  Now add the 6 inches of snow we got over the last  4 days and four guys on the roof beating a h*** in it and its a recipe for disaster nobody could predict.  Fire was declared under control before the collapse even occured. 

 

Maybe you should look at all of the facts, allow the investigation to be completed before you pass judgement.  We are not in the business of crucifying our company officers here, how do you discipline a company officer who loses one of his men?  Thats ludicrous. What we are in the business of is learning and understanding what happened, educating our members and preventing this from happening again.  What we need to learn from this is how to better communicate with our building department on which vacant buildings really are ready to fall down.  And in a city with as many as 1200 vacants buuldings in a single companies still district, thats no easy feat.  And once we have that information, how can we realistically provide it to companies responding to alarms in a useful real-time format. 

 

I was with their company officer after he was pulled out.  The look on his face and and his voice was something nobody in our career ever needs to experience.  Right now he is playing that scene over and over in his mind, I think he's probably wrongly holding himself accountable enough for what happened.  "You can do everything right in this job and still get killed" - Patty Brown

 

Thanks Chris, I had a similar reply that didn't come through. 

 

It's dangerous to generalize without having all the specifics.  I understand that emotions run high when we lose one of our own, but we can't characterize decisions as "totally wrong" until we know how and why those decisions were made. 

Taken from the Chicago Tribune online:

"It's unclear why the abandoned laundry's heavy roof caved, Hoff said. The fire did not reach that area of the building, so officials speculated that snow and ice, coupled with its age, may have played a role in the collapse.

Though the front of the structure had a flat roof, the truss covered the back. There was no indication of structural damage when the firefighters entered, officials said."

 

Another important note regarding the dangers of using labels to define your strategies (I see Jay already beat me with the reference to Bill C.'s info.):

"The building, which had been vacant for years, has become a haven for homeless people looking to escape the elements, neighboring businessmen said. It did not have gas, electricity or water service, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford."

I agree 100% Nate & Chris just to add: The reason we have such parades is to show our respect to those who have given the ultimate sacrafice.

Nate Quartier said:

Thanks Chris, I had a similar reply that didn't come through. 

 

It's dangerous to generalize without having all the specifics.  I understand that emotions run high when we lose one of our own, but we can't characterize decisions as "totally wrong" until we know how and why those decisions were made. 

Taken from the Chicago Tribune online:

"It's unclear why the abandoned laundry's heavy roof caved, Hoff said. The fire did not reach that area of the building, so officials speculated that snow and ice, coupled with its age, may have played a role in the collapse.

Though the front of the structure had a flat roof, the truss covered the back. There was no indication of structural damage when the firefighters entered, officials said."

 

Another important note regarding the dangers of using labels to define your strategies (I see Jay already beat me with the reference to Bill C.'s info.):

"The building, which had been vacant for years, has become a haven for homeless people looking to escape the elements, neighboring businessmen said. It did not have gas, electricity or water service, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford."

Brothers,

Thanks for the first hand info on the fire.  I have a friend in CFD, I was so glad to hear he was okay.

 

I have learned over the years to stay quiet until the info comes in, although it crosses my mind, "Why were they in there?" Not an accusation, just a question.  Just like the brother above, those questions come up.  We weren't there, all we know is those words in the press.  I thank those of you that know from personal witness, for spreading the word so that the loss of life is not accompanied by accusation and bickering.  Also, although I come from a much smaller town environment, we frequently have vacant occupancies to deal with, especially as the economy gives the North Land a rough time.  Additionally, the West Coast is known for being more "safety" oriented and we are constantly being confronted with excuses to not do what we have been trained to do.  You guys on the "Right" Coast, and throughout the Mid West have a long standing tradition of aggressive firefighting and the injuries and deaths to prove it.   But you work in a place that requires greater investment perhaps.  I'm not sure I could make an effective fire attack on the third floor of a three decker or brownstone without adopting some of the tactics that you brothers so excel at.  Out here, most of the time its the front door and a simple stretch.

But what I have learned is that a choice in firefighting tactics is not so easy to judge.  Without having been there, I would  agree with brother Grande above, its way to early to be pointing the "vacant building" finger although I don't believe the brother meant any offense.  A friend of mine was in there as well, he made it out before the collapse and I am sure that he would not have wanted to give his life for a laundry mat.

The "Why We Search" post is to the point.  Couldn't be more on target. We are paid to protect and intervene to save life.  I would like to think that I will not sell my life or the lives of my crew cheaply.  But I have an intense desire to do my job.  But the only way to elimnate all the danger, is to stay back at the house.  RFB.

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