We must ask "WHY?"

We must ask "WHY?"



Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Line Chief's comments on the Kent lane fire

I was sent this on Sept 2. For reasons that I won't go into I was asked to delay posting it.

I usually tell you guys “Good Job” and “Thank You” for your efforts at the fires, car accidents, EMS calls that occur on our shifts. After witnessing your actions and having time to contemplate I decided a quick (long) note would be better.

I want to say not “Good Job” but “Great Job”.

As luck would have it, we had 14 Fire Fighters because only one Fire Fighter was off due to an OJI and had Engine 3 in service. Gone are the days that I would wonder “what if” Engine 4 was still in service at East Station on Northampton Street… “What may have been the difference” if Engine 4 arrived one minute before me and three minutes before Engine 3 is anyone’s guess. I guess Engine 4 is now like Engine 5, 7, 8, 9, and Truck 5 that are memories of being in service in my time, yet alone the ones prior.

But with what we had and the work that was done, I have no complaints or criticism. The call came in at 1848, I arrived at 1852, M-3 at 1853, Eng.3 at 1854. I am sure Eng 1 was at the hydrant at the same time. The turn off Meade onto Metcalf is tight and from Metcalf to Kent even tighter. Ed Smith, Brian Drevitch, and Capt Suchoski quickly had an attack line thru the back door and an additional one down as a back up to the side. Dan Emplit gave them water as they proceeded into the house. Eng 1 Capt McHenry, Francis Meehan, and Rob Sudnick dropped 5 inch hose down Metcalf, onto Kent and stretched it to Engine 3 and had it connected and flowing before Engine 3’s tank emptied and then followed them in. I do not know how Angela Patla ended up connecting the hydrant and turning it on after being in front of the house with us initially. I had concern when I called for the hydrant to start flowing and heard her voice. Knowing how stiff some hydrants are to open had me worried. I will not repeat Ang’s statement on how she could handle it, even made me blush. Jeff Berlew and Tom Burke got our Aerial to the intersection of Metcalf and Kent and quickly had the PPV fan set up and were packed up also. Engine 2 Capt Zenda, Tom Klapat, and John Ulichney arrived shortly thereafter, packed up, tools, ready to go. I was surprised to hear Jude Spellman and Rob Steininger at the scene when I requested them to respond. On their own they came, in service, but were there in case we needed them. Even our ‘Wayward son” Bill Court arrived on scene quickly with Don Hall, Paul Meehan, Capt Smith, and Capt Murtha after hitting a third.

You on duty guys, knocking down the fire, proceeding to do a primary search of the first and then second floor, eventually finding the victim, Betty, bringing her down to give her at least a chance, all while the fire was still not under control is still amazing to me even though you have done it before. I cite Pine Street. You go beyond to give them a chance. I look forward to the days when there will be a good outcome instead of just being told we did our best.

This fire had its difficulties, a hot and humid day to start with, the fire vented out the front and the radiant heat even made me use my coat to shield myself while doing a 360 degree and directing out front. Another thing… the stationing of Eng 3 and 1 by their drivers prevented any damage to the apparatus from the intense heat.

This first floor front room went from the free burning phase to the rollover stage shortly before arrival. The amount of fire venting out the front window and door confirms that. Your efforts to contain it to the front room prevented more fire damage and definitely extension to neighboring houses. The evidence of heat and smoke damage to the second floor indicates that it only needed a few more minutes before that went off. Some of you wanted to go to the second floor even before the fire was knocked down right below you. While commendable the risk was too great. The damage was done and your safety would have been in danger.

In a six story high rise with a raging fire on the second floor, the second floor is the most dangerous, followed by the third, then the sixth, then the fourth and fifth, and finally the first. While searches to the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors can be done without protection of a hose line, searches to the 2nd and 3rd floor needs that protection. In a 2 ½ story wood frame house, you need a hoseline flowing at least on the fire and another coming to the second floor soon.

Like I said before there are no complaints from me. I could not ask any more from you. In fact nothing but praise and admiration.

Like any fire, I get constructive criticism from below and above. Even this fire I got some, while I consider it small and insignificant in the big picture. I will relay.

When doing something to another’s apparatus, please inform the driver. This will prevent damage later on if not known to the driver. And I will do a better job of putting on all my gear, I should have put on the pants before leaving HQ. I got a little busy upon arrival. In that regard even with the high heat and humidity, all of you were in full gear. ATTA BOY. I think there was only one small first degree burn on unprotected skin. That is my main concern anymore, you going home safe.

I appreciate all the overhaul work done by the third alarm guys. You guys were exhausted, I knew it, only asked you to do additional work if no one else could do it.

Thanks also go out to Mike Stadulis for checking on you and providing rehab with Jude and Rob. Captain Williams, Mark Lear, and Shawn Williams for handling calls and helping put Engine 3 back in service and washing the over 500 ft of 1 ¾ hose.. That is why I sent Engine 3 back to SS asap. It was not in service the next day and I knew there was a lot of work to do that night. See….There is a method to my madness.

While I try to show my appreciation for you guys by trying to make sure your pay is correct, being accommodating with the work schedule to give you time off the best I can, being the middle man, and trying to make sure you do go home safe, I feel you guys deserve to see it in writing.

See you at the next one.

Remember T.E.A.M. Together Everyone Achieves More

Thomas Makar
Asst. Chief
Bureau of Fire

Late add on:
I wasn't going to add anything, But...
I was Engine 3 driver for this fire, I was down to 1/8 of a tank of water when we finally got hooked up to the hydrant. That is about 20 seconds of water for ONE hose line. Without Engine 3 that night, We would've been fighting TWO house fires as Engine 1 would've ran out of water and Engine 2 was coming from the other side of our city.

Dan Emplit WBFD
AKA Don Quixote

1 comment:

  1. Great Job. You guys deserve more. Like it was said, there will be some who dont agree with everything and being that you are understaffed as you are will create those situations. Talking them out will serve a greater cause. God bless