Monday August 24th is the sixth anniversary of a double line of duty death that must be studied and lessons taken by all firefighters responding to Type III legacy buildings If you are new to the service I have attached the report and also video and audio from the scene, crews arriving were met with a serious basement fire with reported people in the building.
The audio in my opinion should be a mandatory part of every command officer's training in this country and I encourage you to listen, take notes and practice what you and your department would do with a fire/MAYDAY like this in your town. It may also serve as beneficial training for your dispatchers.
On August 24, 2009, a 45-year-old male Fire Lieutenant (Lt Charles “Chip” McCarthy) and a 34-year-old male Firefighter (FF Jonathan Croom) died at a mixed commercial/residential structure fire in a first floor partial collapse. The involved building’s design was two story flat roof Type III construction. The first floor consisted of a heavily barricaded delicatessen with an adjacent rear apartment (unoccupied). The second floor contained two apartments, of which only the rear unit was occupied. The basement was also heavily fortified, with all basement windows covered over in concrete and steel bars.
At approximately 0351 hours crews were dispatched to a fire with an accompanying report of civilians trapped in the structure. The first arriving engine was met by a resident who directed them to a side door where he stated he heard trapped civilians calling for help.Dispatch Audio-Initial%20Size%20up%20report%20by%2031.mp3
20 Minute Update By Command-20%20min%20update.mp3
30 Minutes into incident Report-30%20Minutes%20in.mp3
At approximately 0422 hours members of Rescue 1 entered the delicatessen to verify all firefighters were evacuated from the first floor. Less than two minutes after their entry the structural members supporting the floor collapsed under and around a set of commercial wall coolers located at the rear of the delicatessen. Rescue 1 Lieutenant (Lt McCarthy) fell into the basement as the floor collapsed under him. The Lieutenant immediately began issuing calls for help over the radio and to those in proximity. The remaining members of Rescue 1 could not determine the origin of the “mayday” since the lieutenant was now below their grade level.Audio of initial MAYDAY-MAYDAY.mp3
Command deployed the Firefighter Assist and Search Team (FAST – Ladder 7) to side #2 of the structure where it was thought the “mayday” was emanating. Simultaneous to this FF Croom (Ladder 7), stationed in front of the building with his crew, heard the calls for help and ascertained that the distressed firefighter had entered from side #1. At approximately 0423 hours FF Croom entered the front of the building through the delicatessen door to initiate a rescue of the trapped member. FF Croom did not exit the structure after this point, apparently falling through the first floor into the basement in close proximity to Lt McCarthy.
Command prioritized the identification/rescue of what was believed to be one unknown victim, unaware that a second member had fallen through while undertaking a rescue attempt. At approximately 0431 hours the Rescue Group Chief ordered an “emergency head count” to ascertain which member was missing. At 0432 hours it was reported through the headcount process that Lt McCarthy of Rescue 1 was missing.Emergency%20HC%201.mp3
Second Emergency Head Count Conducted, Croom from L-7 still not identified as missing-Second%20EHC.wav
FF Croom was not reported missing at this point in the operation, as his company officer had responded to Dispatch that they were “OK” at the time. Rescue operations eventually focused on the first floor delicatessen (rear of store) since all members operating at the basement door (side #2) were accounted for with low probability of endangered personnel in that area. Firefighters operating in the storefront reported hearing a pass alarm activated but could not reach its origination due to extreme fire conditions, weakened flooring and continuing collapse. It was then determined that Croom was in fact missing, command determined that it had become unsafe for interior operations and at approximately 0448 hours crews were ordered out of the structure.-Third%20EHC.wav.
McCarthy and Croom were found around 0940 hours that morning, may they rest in peace and their sacrifice never forgotten,Honor them by preparing yourself and your crews.
(Pictures and Time Line Sources: Buffalo Fire Department Line of Duty Death Report)
Audio: Courtesy of Radio Reference-
Video from the scene