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We have all been taught to crawl if you can’t see your feet, right?


Well, if you can see you feet and are not crawling you must look and sound floor before EVERY step! See the pictures in the link below. I could see my feet; I was walking with good visibility, limited heat, searching for fire ahead of hose line.


Here are some pictures taken during the investigation:


The h*** was a burn through from the top down. It was one of multiple areas of origin


I am OK, did injure my knee but I was very lucky that I was able to stop the fall as the basement was a long way down.



Here are some incident photos taken:




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PJ, excellent post phenomenal pictures, this could make a tremendous article if you're interested in writing it I would love to publish it.


Glad to know that you ducked that one.

Stay safe, Brother.

Thanks Chief! I will definitely write this incident up. My tactical decisions and mistake will hopefully educate someone else so it doesn't happen to them.

Bobby Halton said:
PJ, excellent post phenomenal pictures, this could make a tremendous article if you're interested in writing it I would love to publish it.

Thanks Larry me too! Please share the details with your brother and sisters.


Stay Safe!

Larry Lasich said:


Glad to know that you ducked that one.

Stay safe, Brother.

Excellent post Paul!

Only because I do not know, did you have a TIC with you?  I'm not bashing you more trying to learn...  Do you feel that having a TIC would have helped you if you didn't have one?



Mike, great question and a simple answer. No I did not have a TIC with me. Yes, it probably would of made a difference. Don't sweat the "bashing" part, it's not taken that way. I believe in sharing mistakes so others can learn. There are way too many egos that we need to break through to make strides in safety. Thank you for asking and thank you for reading, please share with your shift!

I most certainly will...  I know that questioning folks is a very delicate situation and I do my best to respect that.  Thanks for sharing this here, I am a HUGE proponent of the C.O. or Leader of the Interior Teams to have the TIC.  Glad that you were not seriously hurt.  As a fellow C.O. that has fallen through a floor, I know how it can be (my incidents occurred when I was a FF and 1 time was partially through a roof and 3 or 4 times through the floors themselves).


Thanks again for sharing your experience.  

Stay safe my friends..... 

Hi PJ,


First, congratulation. I think that the "near accident" is of a great interest. Concering the thinks you do, I just can give you the comparison with  what I teach, as a flashover instructor (Europe and South America)


1) I was walking with good visibility, limited heat, searching for fire ahead of hose line.

Point A- During my course, I tell my student that "No danger = Great danger". A structural fire always produce events, smoke, noise, movement and so all. Saying "Everything's OK" must be the warning sign to let you think "Oh, take care, problems are coming".

Point B- You were searching the fire ahead of the hose line. This is common in the USA and I must admit we really don't understand why. Imagine you're searching for the wolf in the forest. What will you do? search, find it, and run as quickly as possible to take the gun you let in your car? Me, I take my gun, then search. And when I find the wolf: Bang! So in a structural fire, I always enter with MY nozzle. Also, if you have a nozzle, you can use some method to see quickly were is the fire: just put a little water on the ground, and see the convection current which will indicate you were is the fire.  Notice also, that, in France a law text (Feb 2003) tells FF MUST have a nozzle able to flow 135GPM to enter a house. What you've made is, in France, illegal. :-)

2) We have all been taught to crawl if you can’t see your feet, right? No, I never say that to my students. If I have a smoke layer were well defined, I will see my feet, even during flashover. So I'm always on my knees. Never on my feet. And to people saying "This will hurt my knees" I just reply that they can quit the fire service and find an other job.   :-)


If you want to see how we enter a house and search for the fire, you can see a video here:

We've made it during a course, that's a real time demonstration, without fire so it's easy to see the technic.

Concering the "limited heat", please read that:

and especially the Bully-Les-Mines accident in which a friend of mine was holding the nozzle... "No signe = Warning!"


Best regards, and once again, congratulation for the info.

Pierre-Louis /



Pierre-Louis, first I want to say thank you and secondly I want to say thank you! You make some great educational points and provide valuable supportive information that I have learned from and I would predict many others will also.


I appreciate you taking the time to not only read my post but reply with the information that you have. Exchange of information such as this is exactly why this community is the best place to discuss issues and learn from others.


Again I thank you I look forward to future exchanges! Stay safe safe and keep up the good work brother.



Hi Tad,

What you're saying here is very interesting. If I undertand 'well' you are teached to crawl but don't do it on the fire ground.

You are right to ask "Why". I can imagine some reasons:

Maybe the instruction just tell the guy "You must crawl" without being able to explain and to demonstrate why. So after the course, the rookie face an other FF saying "this is for baby". No more explanation, no "why". But as the rookie stay a longuer time with the guys saying "this is for baby", he just stop crawling. And of course, after a few years, when he will be an "old FF" he will tell the rookie that 'this is for baby".

In fact, if you see some videos i've made during my flashover course and see the photo galery at you will see a very important thing, that I've not seen in US course. During our course,  the instructor don't explain: he demonstrate. I can't be on my feet saying "you must be on your knee". I must be on my knee, saying to rookie "I'm on my knee because..." and explain while doing what I'm talking about.

It's very very hard. But you must demonstrate. You must absolutly avoid showing wrong thinks. I'm instructor or flashover instructor. The instructor course is 9 days long and during these 9 days Icheck, check, and check again for the instructor to perform the right gesture at the right time, with the good explanation at the right time and so on. It's a hard work, but now we are more than 160 instructor and we have teach more than 10.000 FF with a marvellous result. Instruction is not the key: good instruction is the key.


This is adult pedagogy. The result is that our "students" are ALWAYS on their knees on the fireground and we have far more less accident than in the USA.

I reply for years that you must change. What is incredible is that the best pedagogical method, the one we use with marvellous result is the TWI. Which was use by US War Comitee during WWII. You had the tool and you just loose it.


Best regards




Excellent topic chief, and Im glad you are ok and did not get any serious injuries from this.  I was curious, did you eventually write the article for Mr. Halton?  I would be interested in reading it if you had.


As captain in my department I always tell everyone to get down.  For some reason they all charge in on their feet and than come out later saying "It was so black I couldnt see my hand in front of my face!"  and I just calmly reply, "Oh, well the visibility down where I was was a lot better."  They usually just kind of stare at me for a while...LOL

The same goes for holding off on using the nozzle until you find the seat of the fire.  Lots of guys by me go rushing into the house water blaring out of the tip like we were in a flashover, yet it was only smoke coming out of the door...Its amazing how the faces look when I tell them, hold off until you get the seat, you will be able to see the floor and where you are going when there isnt a large amount of steam and a disruption in the thermal layer, and to try and explain about water damage is just another discussion alltogether.

We are working on getting a TIC right now, we are a small rural dept with only 20 active members, and we need a TIC.  They make a world of difference so if you know of anyone that has a spare laying around, tell them to hit me up!

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