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Lairdsville Revisited

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  • There is another thread that discusses the entire incident. I am not sure the link nor the exact title. a nut shell......

    Abandoned house to be used for Training.
    Inneffective leadership
    No Plan
    No Organization
    No Safety briefing
    No RIT team
    No saftey line
    No alternate escape routes
    No accountibility
    Lack of Common Sense and NO Responsibility
    Ignorance of accepted practices for Live Burns (NFPA 1403)
    Live victims used (victims were new members with NO SCBA Training and told to "just lay there and someone will come get you")
    No crews ready when smoke drill started....Smoke drill turned into live fire when someone lit a chair on fire on first floor.
    Smoke and heat traveled to second floor and fire flashed...

    END RESULT....1 young firefighter died (murdered) and 1 badly burned...

    I tried the "search" method to get you the link but the response I got back was "disabled by administrator." It happened just days after 09-11-01 so you would have to go way way back to find the original thread.

    Baird was in charge and was convicted of negligent homicide...his lawyer got him an appeal and he walks the street awaiting appeal.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


    • Skimmed?@#!%

      Kvfcjr,DON"T "SKIM" IT, READ IT!Every page of every thread!Might require a little research on your part.A Fire service travesty of unparalleled proportions.Lairdsville stands as a model of how NOT to run a Fire dept.Every officer that was with Baird that night should swing right along side him and they should ALL be in jail now!Capt Stan has it about right,but this should be REQUIRED READING for all young firefighters(actually all ffs).The fact that this d**kh*ad is still walking the street make my blood boil!T.C.


      • ANYTHING NEW???

        Has anyone from the Utica area heard anything new on Baird's appeal status or other information regarding this case? It's been way too long since anything tangible has been reported.

        I am kind of guessing that "no news means no changes" and our Man Baird is as "free as a Bird".

        I just finished a four day Health and Safety course for work, and for me it only emphasised how important it is to have the proper gear and training, both on the safety gear and on the job practices before going to the job site.

        The more I learn, the more appalled I am that this incident happened the way it did.
        If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

        "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

        "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

        Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

        impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

        IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


        • Get a copy of "Lairdsville: What Went Wrong"

          First of all, if you read this, it is no substitute for the NIOSH report or the story "Lairdsville: What Went Wrong". I have them both and they are invaluable. Get them and read them.
          I believe that I have read and studied just about every piece printed on this tragedy. By that, I say that I participated in just about every thread that was posted in the forums, read every thing that was printed in Firehouse, read all the articles from the Utica Observer Dispatch and I have also read, dissected, discussed and cussed the NIOSH report of the fatal fire that occurred on the evening of September 25, 2001.
          It was to be a joint live burn training exercise with Lowell, Westmoreland and Lairdsville Fire Departments participating.
          As a sidebar, I am in the process of writing a paper in the memory of Bradley Golden that will be posted at www. once it is completed; most likely in observance of the second anniversary of Brad’s passing.
          I said that it was to be a “joint live burn” training exercise, because there was some confusion at trial over whether or not it was to be a smoke exercise incorporating RIT training or a live burn training exercise. There was confusion over who actually lit the fire on the first floor. Asst. Chief Gary Spaven was accused by defense counsel for Alan Baird III of setting the fatal fire, a charge Chief Spaven denied. Adam Croman was accused of setting a second fire upstairs, which he denied. He stated at trial that he was “commanded” by Alan Baird III to throw him down the mattress that was lit in conjunction with the foam-cushioned couch at the base and to the side of the stairs.
          The two victims used upstairs for the training had a total time on the department of less than one year and three weeks! Neither was certified on SCBA use. There is speculation to this day as to whether or not Brad’s SCBA unit was turned on. Burns on both victims is consistent with having the masks OFF during the flashover. Ben Morris, who survived the fire, but was badly injured, only remembers Adam Croman, the “RIT consultant and second story safety officer”, in Croman’s words, coming back to the door of the front upstairs bedroom and yelling “come on guys, we gotta go.” That was the last time Ben Morris or Brad Golden saw Adam Croman, because Adam Croman left them to fend for themselves and he exited the house through a window. Here are some of the conclusions that I drew from my reading. Keep in mind that these are my opinions based on my review of this case.
          1)The defense that was used, the “he is just a volunteer and wouldn’t know the standard that governs live burn training” failed miserably at trial.
          2)Immunity from prosecution and especially the one granted to Chief James Kimball was unnecessary and wrong. They didn’t need Kimball’s testimony and he should have been on trial as well. Chief Lance Croman asked his son, Adam Croman to oversee certain operations for the exercise and sent Ben Morris and Brad Golden to act as victims. He should have stood trial.
          3)Adam Croman was 21 years old at the time of the incident and should not have been have been in charge of the other two; Ben Morris, 19 and Brad Golden, 19 at the time of the incident. Adam Croman LEFT THEM in a panic to save himself. He did nothing to get the other two to safety, even though he was the “RIT consultant and second floor safety officer.” Adam Croman should have been charged and tried for contributing to the injuries of Ben Morris and the death of Brad Golden.
          4)Though Chief Kimball may or may not have been on-scene at the time of the tragedy, clearly there was no formal incident command structure in place. There was no safety officer present who briefed all participants, especially those lacking experience, Baird included. Baird admitted at trial that he had never before conducted that type of training, nor was he trained or certified to do so. The fire district’s safety and health officer, Robert Walsh, didn’t arrive on scene until AFTER the injured and dead were taken from the scene. In my mind, the safety officer should have been charged for a failure to fulfill his duties.
          5)The fires were lit BEFORE fire apparatus were on scene, I suspect in order to simulate a “timed out response”. Anyone who has ever been involved in an acquired structure burn knows that you never light so much as a burn barrel until you have a water supply as a safety precaution. They could have simulated a response, but a unit should have been on scene at the beginning of the training exercise.
          6)No escape plan was in place. Baird claimed at trial and in statements made to fire investigators that ladders were not placed at the upstairs windows because he thought that the windows were “a little too small”. But yet, a window is exactly how Adam Croman was able to escape the second story. If Baird expected a RIT to go up the stairs to rescue the “victims”, then setting the fire next to the stairs becomes a monumental act of stupidity.
          7)Baird stated all along that someone upstairs had a portable radio, so “they should have known what was going on”, but he couldn’t say who had the radio nor could he explain why there was no communication, unless as I would suspect, the radio (Croman) jumped out the window! He never acknowledged hearing radio traffic or issuing a “mayday” for that matter, nor did anyone else at trial mention communicating with ANY interior people. AND, if Baird was leading the training exercise, then why didn’t he have a radio?
          8)Baird claims that he didn’t know another person (Brad Golden) was still upstairs, but someone called Chief Lance Croman prior to the training and asked for (2) “victims”. Ben Morris and Brad Golden went to the site of the training and undoubtedly told SOMEONE that they were to be the “victims”. If Adam Croman was the “RIT consultant”, then when Baird “helped bring Morris out” as he claims, how could he not know someone else was still upstairs? He knew Croman was already out because he (Baird) claims that he started treating him. That left (2) inside. They got Morris out, but not Golden. Morris survived because he was found quickly and Golden wasn’t. It is unknown how long it was before Golden was actually discovered.

          But I have to wonder this: if Adam Croman was already out and was conscious, they why didn’t HE say that Morris AND Golden were still inside? He knew that; he had to know that. Or maybe not, since he left them to find their own way out.

          These are just a few of the questions that will roll around inside my mind for some time to come. Please keep in mind that it's done in hindsight. It is also a stark review of what can happen when an officer uses what can be his worst tactical enemy-ASSUMPTIONS!The statements at trial and the results of the NIOSH investigation have some inconsistencies, but these recommendations were made in the NIOSH report on the fatality:
          1)No “live” victims for live-burn training.
          2)Certified instructor in charge of live-burn training and a separate safety officer with the authority to intervene and stop the training at any time.
          3)Only one (1) is lit by a designated ignition officer and that a charged hose line is ready at the time of the ignition.
          4)SOPs are developed and FOLLOWED.
          5)All firefighters participating in the exercise have a minimum level of basic firefighter training.
          6)A pre-burn briefing, an evacuation plan and signal are discussed with ALL participants.
          7)No fires are to be located near exit paths.
          8)Fuels used in the burn are to have known burning characteristics and the structure be inspected for environmental hazards.
          9)Develop a permit system and require NFPA 1403 be followed when issuing a live-burn training permit.
          This one is far from over. At the present, Alan Baird III remains free pending the outcome of his appeal.
          Civil lawsuits have been filed by the family of Bradley Golden. There may be others.
          The short life and the tragic death of Brad Golden will never be forgotten, at least in my mind.
          And when discussing this tragic event that occurred just 14 days after 9/11, remember that it was NEVER AN ACCIDENT! It was a tragedy that could have been easily prevented.
          Be safe and always protect your brothers/sisters.
          Last edited by ChiefReason; 05-11-2003, 10:10 PM.
          Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
          RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)


          • Chief, as always, your assessment of this incident shows a tremendousn amount of research and study. I'm glad you posted it. Isimply did not have the energy to rehash this all over again. Especially in light of the fiasco outside of Orlando, FL in which exactly the same mistakes were made. I know for a fact that another disaster is awaiting us around the corner BECAUSE WE NEVER FREAKING LEARN!

            Thanks again, Chief. Your passion for this subject is inspiring.


            • Dear "Frequent Visitor"

              MembersZone Subscriber
              Registered: Jan 2003
              Location: New York
              Posts: 1
              chief reason u have NO clue!!!!!
              This is directed towards the road scholar or scholars, whom are nothing more then monday mourning quarterbacks!!! Were u there chiefreason? These post's have gone on for to long. Only the people who were there that tragic day know what happened. All the information you have received, are only half truths. This incident claimed a life of a very honorable young man. It is in his memory that i can not see you people "i.e chiefreason" to spew half truths and think they know exactly what happened. Lets all learn from this tragety and move on. Let it go people, let it go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
              So, you are shutting this thread down? Monday MORNING quarterback? You know what? I didn't kill anyone in a training exercise the entire time I served my 22 years on my fire department.
              But before I say something that I will regret to YOU, I will only say:
              We will not stop discussing this terrible tragedy. Just like we won't stop discussing the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. Or Worcester. Or Osceola County. Or 9/11 or how to prevent the next firefighter tragedy.
              And for the record, it is ALSO in the memory of "this very honorable young man" that we continue to discuss this and will until the person/people that were responsible are held accountable.
              "Spew half-truths"? Are you telling me that the trial transcripts and the NIOSH report was "spewing" half-truths? I question whether you read any of it.
              I really don't care what you think or if you even think at all.
              So you can crawl back into your cave and come back when you have something to say that will be worth discussing.
              And leave this thread for the ones who wish to discuss and learn.
              I don't need "clues". I have the facts. I read the reports.
              Stay safe.
              Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
              RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)


              • Re: chief reason u have NO clue!!!!!

                Originally posted by nferno24
                This is directed towards the road scholar or scholars, whom are nothing more then monday mourning quarterbacks!!! Were u there chiefreason? These post's have gone on for to long. Only the people who were there that tragic day know what happened. All the information you have received, are only half truths. This incident claimed a life of a very honorable young man. It is in his memory that i can not see you people "i.e chiefreason" to spew half truths and think they know exactly what happened. Lets all learn from this tragety and move on. Let it go people, let it go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                nferno 24...

                60 "monday mornings" have passed since the Lairdsville incident.

                The outcome still hasn't changed.

                Brad is still dead.

                The State of New York proved it's case against Alan Baird.

                Alan Baird is still walking the streets.

                The NIOSH report had all the facts. What part of it don't you understand?

                "Let it go?" Hell no! Brad's death was a caused by ignorance arrogance and afterwards, a total lack of penance for Brad and the Golden family.

                The drum will keep beating until there are "no more Lairdsvilles" and Alan Baird serves his sentance!"
                ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


                • nferno 24, I for one am extremely interested in the "other side" of the story. IF we've only seen one chapter, I'd like to see the rest. I'm truly interested to see what the "rest of the story" is. If things are so m uch different than what they appear, why were these facts not made available to NIOSH investigators, or to the jury at trial? Let us hear the rest of the "half-truths" of which you speak.

                  You want us to learn from this tragedy, how can we do that with only half truths, partial chapters, and innuendo. If Baird got hosed, tell us how? You obviously know the whole truth, and have so much as said so. You've got an obligation now to enlighten us with the facts that you hold in your possession. How can we learn from this tragedy, without all the facts. How can you possibly want to see open discussion of this issue silenced in his memory?

                  I'm serious....let's have the whole story. After all, it's not a state secret.
                  Steve Gallagher
                  IACOJ BOT
                  "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes


                  • Re: if you only knew!!!

                    Originally posted by nferno24
                    Chief Reason,
                    You think you know, but you have know Idea!!!!!

                    I'm not here to argue with you. All I'm saying is that you have only heard one side of the whole picture. I understand your intrest in this incident but before you go writing a report, how about asking the people whom were there, their side of the story.
                    If there IS another side of this story to be told, I'd certainly like to hear it. Your post seems to imply that you have personal knowledge of what went on that tragic day.

                    Maybe you'd like to share it with us? I'm asking you directly....If you were there and have firsthand knowledge that disputes the court testimony and the NIOSH investigation...speak up.

                    Why have you waited for 20 months...yes, 20 tell us that the facts of this case are not known?

                    I, and many others, await the true story! Let's hear it nferno24.
                    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
                    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

                    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
                    On the web at


                    • But guys, we HAVE heard the other side of the story. We have heard the other of the story in the pathetic game of "CYA" that has taken place since the incident. We have seen it in the GJ transcripts, we have seen it in the newspaper accounts and we have seen it in the trial transcripts.

                      nferno24, come out of the shadows. What is your connceciton to this incident? Do not insult our intelligence and tell us you have none. To date, the ONLY people who have defended these idiots in Lairdsville have been people who were involved (including an inept and irrespeonsible defense attorney).

                      Chief; keep up the fight brother.


                      • I love these guys with Cerebral-rectosis who keep trying to say we don't know what happened.Fact 1 The NATIONAL STANDARD on live fire training was not followed or for that matter even used.Fact 2 a 19 yr.probationary FF was KILLED IN A TRAINING EXERCISE!Fact 3 NONE of the SO CALLED OFFICERS had enough common sense to stop this exercise.Now those are three of many FEDERALLY investigated FACTS that have been released in a NATIONAL report which I'm more inclined to believe than your I know what happened line.CR keep doing it for all the RIGHT reasons,I'm right there with you.To suggest that a man with Chief Reasons track record is clueless would lead me to the conclusion that you're probably one of Bairds wackers.You CERTAINLY have some fire science education to catch up on.T.C.


                        • OH BOY


                          Let me jump back in here.

                          NFERNO24.... You are so far off base on you verbal attack on ChiefREason that it is pathetic. WE have heard both stories.. We have heard testimony from the idiot Baird who killed young Brad. WE have heard testimony... (it is a matter of public record you know and we have read the transcripts)...of others who refused to accept responsibility for killing the firefighter and severely burned another. These two firefighters had no training in SCBA and were left in the house unsupervised using equipment that they were untrained to use.. (Baird admitted to this in his testimony and orignial statement) and as a result of this irresponsible action, one firefighter died and one was injured. No I have to ask you NFERNO24...What other part of the story is there? We have read it all..

                          Do not come on here and unnecessarily attack us when we are discussing issues and cases that effect the safety of all the firefighters across the nation. You sir are the one who is uninformed! I can not help but to wonder what part you had in this entire incident???? Do you want to share that with us????

                          What is sadder than the tragic loss of life is the fact that the Chief chose immunity (for testimony) rather than accept the responsibility for what happened. And furthermore.....More heads besides Baird's should roll. The city manage who put him in the position, the commission who approved his appointment, the other officers on the scene...and the list goes on. But then again....if you read all the information that has been posted on the several threads listed here on this subject you would know all of this.

                          Again, I can not help but to think that because of your abrasivness on this subject that you are involved in the whole thing.,....
                          09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
                          IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
                          "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
                          BMI Investigator
                          The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


                          • I wasn't going to, since you're all doing such a good job, but....

                            Fellow crusties;
                            Though I appreciate the support, we cannot lose sight of the reason for this thread.
                            You know, last night when I read the eloquent post of nferno, I started to giggle because I knew the torrent of response that it would unleash in everyone who is passionate about firefighter safety. Nferno's posts to this point are as empty as his profile. He is so proud, that he leaves alot to the imagination in his profile.
                            But I am humbled by the fact that he chose as his very first post under the pseudonym of nferno24 to attack me. So let me address a couple of errors in his posts.
                            First of all, I am not writing a report; I am writing a paper!
                            Secondly; everything that is quoted has a source. You are ignorant when you state that I have only read "one chapter of the book". You are moronic to state that we only heard one side of the story. Everything that has been discussed here and elsewhere has been from information gathered at trial, from the NIOSH report and statements made to the news media; all information that is in the public domain. Several articles appeared right here in Were they "spewing half-truths" too? No, because they named their sources.
                            And the last issue to clear up is your belief that "if you weren't there, you shouldn't be discussing it". Congratulations; you are the pinata that has been getting hit with the idiot stick. If we were to use your logic, the history books would be empty, because if you weren't there, you shouldn't discuss it. Fascinating.
                            And while we are on that subject; check your grammar and spelling before you hit "submit". And I am going to have to take points away from you for using too many exclamation points! One at the end of a sentence is sufficient.
                            Now, to the real crux of this whole thing. You want to attack me, fine. Go start a thread. I'll post there. But you don't come in here and INFER that you know anything about this incident without posting same. Put up or shut up! Otherwise, you're just another smart-aleck hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.
                            Ladies and gentlemen; please resume the meaningful dialogue.
                            Last edited by ChiefReason; 05-12-2003, 12:51 PM.
                            Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
                            RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)


                            • nferno24... Sorry I blasted you but it was obvious that you were involved in some way.

                              As far as Chief Reason goes....well...I will not attempt to fight his battles for him..he has done well in that arean and is well qualified.

                              I will just say that I do not feel Chief Reason was implying anyone was a coward. He was just questioning the content of the story and trying to make a point.
                              09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
                              IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
                              "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
                              BMI Investigator
                              The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


                              • Nferno24,
                                Your apology is a start, but there is much more you need to clarify.

                                Other than saying you are a friend of Adam Croman, you haven't explained what additional knowledge you have of the incident. Are you a firefighter? Were you there the day of the incident? Or, are you just relaying things you've heard from your friend?

                                You are correct in saying that there are few people in the world who have had to make a decision like you say your friend had to make. The point you miss is that many of those "few people" are here. We are experienced firefighters and instructors. We have run training fires. I've been caught in a flashover & had to react. I have NEVER mismanaged or been allowed to mismanage a training fire like that one was. ChiefReason and others can say the same.

                                I disagree strongly that Baird is the only guilty one. His entire chain of command failed to ensure the incident was planned. At the minimum, your friend failed to say he was not experienced enough to serve in the role he was ask There is a clear difference in what you are saying your friend did with what all of the other testimony states he did.

                                I don't understand your question about us feeling differently if Baird had nothing to do with the fire service. First, that isn't the case - Baird was in the fire service. Second, I feel the same way about any trainer who doesn't know what they're doing and injures someone - no matter what the field.

                                Please expand on what you've said so far.
                                Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.


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