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In Honor of Firefighter Mark Falkenhan, CLOSE THE DOOR!

On the evening on January 19, 2011 Fire Fighter Mark Falkenhan lost his life while working inside a building fire.

While we should try to honor all LODD, this one holds a special place in my heart because at the time of his death I was on my quest to learn more about fire behavior and was reviewing the latest reports from UL and NIST.  These reports along with talking to actual smart firefighters I soon  realize that I really needed to know more about fire behavior, than just how to quote what fire is. If most firefighters were truly honest with themselves and their crew they would have to acknowledge that they have been trained to recite the definition of fire and have fought many fires however,  the depth of most of their knowledge about fire is only a canned response from what they learned in recruit class.

It is refreshing to see brothers that are honest and admit they have much to learn about fire even though they have fought many fires and this morning these brothers made me proud of them and the excellent work they are doing on Holding 1&1. Check out a good honest post they wrote about how Firefighter Mark Falkenhan death was not in vain and they have also made it their quest to learn more about fire behavior.

As I mentioned before the time of Mark’s death I was actively reading over and over the latest reports that were coming out and trying to soak it all in.   I was beginning to notice that regardless of rather the report was from UL, NIST, Kill The Flashover or UK and Sweden scientist the common theme was if the door was closed the fire was controlled.  Also around this timeframe I had a facebook conversation with Chief  Shawn  Oke about how much impact a closed door had on fire behavior and saving both firefighters and civilians life’s.

Chief Oke conversation motivated me to take the CLOSE THE DOOR message to the masses.  Then unfortunately  came 30 Dowling Circle 01.19.2011 Box 11-09.  This incident and Firefighter Mark Falkenhan death made my desire to spread the message about closing the door become a driven passion.

So the best way we can honor Firefighter Mark Falkenhan today is too revisit information about this incident and other credible fire behavior sources.

ATF MAYDAY/LODD Fire Modeling Analysis with Scene Audio, FF Mark Falkenhan, Baltimore County FD:


Baltimore County (MD) Fire Department 30 Dowling Circle Fire Line of Duty Death Investigation Report (Here)

ATF Report (Here)

Another great read on this incident from my friend Chief Christopher Naum (Here)

While we can see from the modeling and reports that if the original fire room had been closed we still might have Firefighter Mark Falkenhan here today! However here is some photos from the same incident where crews done a proper VES saved a life and closed the door which had a huge impact on the fire damage in that room.



Behind the CLOSED DOOR!

Behind the CLOSED DOOR!


Firefighter Mark Falkenhan isn’t the only firefighter who  still might have been here with us today if we had gotten the message to the general public. So lets do more than talk about being our brothers and sisters keeper lets do it by spreading the CLOSE THE DOOR message to everyone we know!




Online Class @ Fire Training Toolbox (Here)

Articles: (Here) (Here)

Good Fire Behavior Knowledge Resources:

UL Firefighter Safety (Here)

NIST (Here)

CFBT-US (Here)

Kill The Flashover (Here)

ISFSI (Here)

Fire Training Toolbox (Here) (Here)

Fire  UK (Here)

Enclosure Fires Sweden (Here)

Now you have NO excuse to only know to put the wet stuff on the red stuff!!!

Please share in honor of Firefighter Mark Falkenhan!

Stay Safe

Captain John Shafer

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Comment by John Shafer on January 20, 2014 at 3:45pm

Very true Chief Halton we have never had excuse!

Comment by Bobby Halton on January 20, 2014 at 1:30pm


I admire your passion and your insight. I always enjoy reading your posts however we have never had any excuses to just put the the wet stuff on the red stuff. "Now you have NO excuse to only know to put the wet stuff on the red stuff!!!" And no one who has been a student of Tommy Brennan's thinking firefighters club would ever condone such an attitude.

For those of who study the fire service it is not acceptable to not try as best one can know everything in a profession where our lives are literally on the line. Why just the other day I was directed to a post from an Englishman who said the following "On the first discovery of fire, it is of the utmost consequence to shut, and keep shut all windows, doors and other openings. It may often be observed after a house has been on fire, that one floor is comparatively untouched, while those above and below are nearly burned out, this arises from a door in that particular floor having been shut, and the air track (draught) directed elsewhere." The man who posted it  was James Braidwood London Fire Establishment 1866.

We need to keep studying, we need to keep spreading the message. We need to continue to be thinking firefighters one would think that apparently the last 148 years it has gone unheeded. But this would be untrue the current practice of failing to control air tracks / flow paths is a relatively new unintended consequence of several issues from the 80's. Issues which we are again correcting.

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