“The building involved was a three-story, wood-frame structure with a basement and was constructed on a sloping grade that caused the building to have a different appearance depending on the side being viewed. Firefighters entering the building saw only one side and were not aware of the building’s actual arrangement. The firefighters’ distorted perception of the building may have impaired their ability to assess alternate escape routes.”
This passage is the opening paragraph of the NFPA report on the fatal fire that occurred at Bricelyn Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 14, 1995, a fire that resulted in the deaths of Fire Captain Thomas Brooks and firefighters Patty Conroy and Mark Kalends. When we are presented with information that specifically details factors contributing to the line-of-duty deaths, we owe it to the memory of those fallen to learn
from them. Chapter 12, Page 119
When we read LODD reports, such as the Bricelyn Street report in this excerpt, we must learn from their tragic event and it should trigger us to assess what we do. Would this happen to our FD? If so, what can we do today to prevent the same outcome tomorrow?
The simple step of implementing a 360˚ lap of the structure prior to entry (or to an another unit if access is restricted on side Charlie) can be that first step to preventing a LODD and ensuring a successful outcome on the fireground. The information gained from the 360˚ lap that is completed swiftly, but thoroughly, will close the loop in our tactical decision-making. Before you cross the threshold and lose your sense of sight in a zero visibility environment, the lap can provide plenty of information on the building, the fire, and occupant status, all of which will guide that critical next tactical decision you make.
The one failure with any process is not explaining the “WHY” or “WHAT”. Anyone can run around a building, but a professional will move methodically and interpret all of what he sees, hears, and smells to build the plan of attack in a manner of seconds.
So, what do you look for when you take a lap? What information do you need to make the right tactical decision? What information do those entering into harms way and are entrusted to your command need to know prior to entry?
We look forward to this, and many more tactical conversations on April 18th, 2016 at 1:30pm at FDIC International 2016