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Frozen Hydrants Inhibit Fire Attack

Posted By Near Miss Team/ Wednesday, April 10, 2019 / Print


What was your initial size up?
I responded to a 1 1/2 story wood frame residence with heavy smoke showing from the gable ends and roof.
Enter a summary of your event:
I arrived on scene to find a 1 1/2 story wood frame house with heavy smoke showing from the delta gable vent and roof peak. I assigned units to fire attack, water supply, ventilation, search, and RIC. I then completed a 360 with my vent group officer and a TIC. It only showed heat at the peak of the house. Water supply reported a frozen hydrant at the first one they tried. The second hydrant was reported frozen but they were eventually able to get good flow out of it. This delayed the fire attack crew who reported light smoke on the second floor. Fire attack was having difficulty finding the fire. They checked the attic scuttle hole and found smoke in the attic but no fire. The vent group made the decision to go to the roof for vertical ventilation due to the amount of heavy smoke coming from the attic vent. At about the same time they were going to the roof, fire attack asked for the roof to be opened up. The vent group was on the roof for a few minutes and started to cut a hole near the peak. Dispatch advised command of a twenty minute on scene time. About this time fire was showing from the gable vent. An officer on the ground noticed some fire at the base of the roof ladder and advised the vent group of the hazard. Command repositioned and observed a small fire next to the dormer, near the ladder. IC radioed for the vent group to get off the roof because they had fire below their ladder (they never heard the radio transmission, on the recording it is garbled). The vent group started to leave the roof within a minute of the order, due to the officer feeling like something was wrong. It was at this point that the firefighter from the vent group backed down the ladder and stepped off the ladder onto the roof to move to the extension ladder. The firefighter fell through the roof and was fully engulfed in flames. The officer was above the firefighter on the ladder and tried to pull the firefighter up but was unsuccessful. The fallen firefighter was engulfed up to the chest with fire while balancing on a two by four. The firefighter pulled herself up and rolled out, on her own. While this was happening the RIC team was deploying and command called for a second alarm, advising of a firefighter down. The member was helped down the ladder and turnout gear was removed. The structure was evacuated and a PAR was conducted. The firefighter was transferred by ambulance to a hospital with second-degree burns and was released within a few hours.
Which of the following occurred, if any?
Structural collapse

Describe the Lessons Learned at this Event. What recommendations do you have to prevent a similar occurrence?
Several factors were identified that we could improve to help prevent something like this. 1. We need more assistance when frozen hydrants are found. This kept crews looking for a water supply rather than assisting finding the fire. 2. A 16' roof ladder was used, we needed at least a 20'. Several years prior to the decision to downsize the complement of roof ladders was made. The truck only carried 16' roof ladders. This is being changed. A roof ladder should reach from the peak to at least the outside wall. 3. Communications need to be improved. 4. It was determined the fire started in the porch roof at the alpha bravo side. The firefighter fell through on the alpha delta side. There had been no prior indications that the fire was in the porch roof and void space. Command incorrectly assumed it was an attic fire. 5. The safety officer needs to be free to watch for problems rather than getting bogged down healing ladders.
What changes are being implemented due to this event?

1. Trucks will have longer roof ladders. 

2. There will be training for officers on situational awareness. 

3. There will be a formal safety officer program. 

4. All suppression personnel is required to read through the After Action Review (AAR) of this incident.


Date the event occurred (mm/dd/yyyy):
Approximate time the event occurred (00:00):
Location of emergency/event:
Was a 360-degree scene size up performed?
Which strategic mode was initially implemented?
Were you responding to a known a life hazard (i.e. CPR in progress, known rescue, critical patient entrapment, etc.)?
List any other info that was important for situational awareness. What were key indicators and factors to consider?
The fire was hidden in void space and mimicked an attic fire. There was no smoke on the first floor, light smoke on the second floor, and no real heat.

Contributing Factors 

Factors that contributed to the event:
Training Issue
Situational Awareness
Not enough resources
Resources and Weather 

Which of the following resources were on scene when the event took place?
How many?
Approximate number of personnel per unit:
Command Vehicle
How many?
Approximate number of personnel per unit:
How many?
Approximate number of personnel per unit:
How many?
Approximate number of personnel per unit:
Did the weather/environmental conditions impact operations or the event?
Wind speed:
Light (4-12 mph)
Poor visibility
Additional comments on event conditions:
It was about 12 degrees and snowing. There was about six inches of snow in the yard and the driveway and roadway were icy.
Were there civilian injuries or fatalities?
Were there any firefighter injuries?
How many firefighters with injuries?
If injured, did the individual:
Get transported to the ED/Hospital
What was the nature of the injuries?
The firefighter had minor second-degree burns.
Was work loss time incurred because of the event?
If so, estimate the number of days lost
Less than 7
Was there substantial department-owned property/equipment damage or other department cost?
Describe the department owned property/equipment damage:
Two 16' roof ladders were melted and one chainsaw burned up.
Describe the other cost to the department associated with this event:
The firefighter was off duty for the day and was then on a four day off so was able to return the next duty day.

Report Id9e62ccce-e240-4b44-820b-6a2aa304bbba

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