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Florida Firefighting Exercise Goes Awry

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  • Florida Firefighting Exercise Goes Awry

    History repeats itself again.....

    Fourtunately no one was hurt or killed.

    Safety rules followed to a T.... Where was the engine?

    1403 is Free now for the downloading....

    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
    "Everybody Goes Home"

    IACOJ 2003

  • #2
    A fire rescue training exercise went wrong Thursday, gutting an abandoned house, damaging an occupied home next door and triggering an investigation into "mistakes" that were made, fire officials said.
    I believe I will wait for the facts and circumstances to surface...before I say another word.

    The Story
    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 www.section2wildfire.com


    • #3
      I am going to say alot of words right now. There can be little dispute that this incident was idiotic.


      "We have a strict safety rule if there's a fire in an abandoned structure like this, we're not going to risk their lives," Billington said. "We know the safety rules were followed to the T."
      What safety rules? You mean NFPA 1403? You mean the standard (Yes, S-T-A-N-D-A-R-D, STANDARD) that says you will have two charged hose lines? Or the one that talks about alternate water supplies? Or the one that talks about emergency planning? Or the one that talks about pre-exercise tour which includes life safety of the adjoining properties?

      This is NUTS! I hope the fire marshal whacks these guys. Someone, probably the Chief, deserves to lose their job!


      • #4
        Better Source Of Smoke For Drill

        Why didn't they bring in a generator, an extension cord, and a smoke machine? That would have eliminated the risk of an accidental ignition of the structure.
        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.


        • #5
          Dumb*** move. Plain and simple, it shows we need to keep talking and teaching about these mistakes with hopes that SOMEONE will listen and learn.

          I bet the cost of a smoke machine is a lot less than what they "should" have to pay.
          "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


          • #6
            Lairdsville Part 2

            When I read the headline, all I could think was "you've got to be kidding me". After all of the coverage that was done after the Lairdsville incident, how in the world could four "training officers" allow something like this to happen? Let me guess, they were not aware of NFPA 1403. Don't tell me that they were, because if they were, this wouldn't have happened.

            Chris Shields
            Lieutenant / EMT
            Haz-Mat Technician
            East Syracuse Fire Dept
            Onondaga County, NY


            • #7
              While he declined to say exactly what went wrong, the chief said the state fire marshal's office would be called in to investigate the incident.
              I think you can cancel the investigation. George has already identified the problem:

              There's no reason to preach about safety standards like NFPA 1403 when you overlook something so elemental as having a charged line handy.

              Also, I'm sure everyone noticed what ignited. In case you missed it:

              the barrel ignited a couch in the house
              Had this accident not happened, does anyone doubt it would have still been in the house when the real drill started?

              Apparently we (the fire service) think nothing will ever happen to us, it will always happen to the other guy. Of all people, we should know better.


              • #8
                They were using a barrel with wood fibers to create a real smoke "maze" as part of the exercise.

                Hmmm...let's light a live fire...while we have no fire truck...

                God, I guess this business is rocket science after all.

                Silly me, I can remember live burns 12+ years ago, long before anyone heard of "1403" using barrels with hay & pallets for smoke. And golly gee, what did we have in the same room but a crew with a charged line just in case it took off? And what did we have outside but a crew with another line, off a 1000 gallon plus Engine Tank that was dedicated seperate from the rest of the drill just-in-case?

                This is friggin common sense folks. We light fires inside building in let's see, fireplaces, woodstoves. Maybe we even take risks with gas ovens, kerosene heaters, and candles.

                I don't know many people out there who think it's a good idea to bring a barrel inside, put it in there living room, and start burning stuff in it.

                Failure to follow 1403 doesn't kill people. Failure to engage your brain kills people.
                Last edited by Dalmatian90; 07-08-2003, 10:59 AM.
                IACOJ Canine Officer


                • #9
                  "We realized something was wrong when one of the guys jumped out of a window and asked us to borrow a hose," he said. "I was concerned."
                  What was your first clue?
                  They were using a barrel with wood fibers to create a real smoke "maze" as part of the exercise.
                  But shortly before 2 p.m., something went wrong, and the barrel ignited a couch in the house, the chief said.
                  Yep, them darn burn barrels ... every once in a while the dagnabbit fire just jumps on out and starts lightin' everything on fire!

                  The following is an excerpt from the Secret List at Firefighter Close Calls.
                  While no firefighters were injured, (two civilians did suffer minor smoke inhalation) it appears this "Close Call" during training again provides some lessons learned. Preliminary reports indicate that some sort of a fire in a barrel/drum was burning...set by experienced fire training officers while getting ready for live fire training. Unfortunately, it appears that there was no apparatus was on the scene as this was just a "prep" detail for future training.

                  I guess what hit me first about this is that if the "public" set a barrel of materials on fire w/o following "the rules", THE FD (some FD's, but not any that you know of!) would jump up and down like a ****ed off spoiled kid who had their Playstation taken away...and we, "THE FIRE DEPT" would respond "Code 3", make'm put it out, threaten citations, fire marshals would get all excited thinking they could "write these people up" and maybe even threaten them with arrest! You know-you've seen it. After all-we lecture the public: "THIS IS ILLEGAL BURNING and could cause a TRAGIC FIRE"....but for some reason (and not only in just this recent example) "we" seem to think that "we" can (and are "OK" to) set a fire w/o worry. Yeah, we are different than the public... sometimes. "We" know how bad fire can be-and how fast it spreads since we ALWAYS tell the public that...but yet again: NTS** kicked in...and another "Close Call".

                  About 8 years ago, a very similar incident happened at a "live structural fire training" scene we were at-and it was ugly. Like in this recent case-a barrel was burning interior, supposedly being watched by a FF (who wasn't paying attention "for a second"...but WE are still responsible) and the fire took off up the stairs, due to the old wallpaper....FF's upstairs bailed out on ladders-very quickly. We were not as prepared as we should have been. Lesson Learned. Minor injuries-but could have been a lot worse. The STANDARD is now our "Bible" when we do ANY "live fire" training.

                  Be it training prep or actual live training (which we are big supporters of)...if we have a lighter or matches on the scene and ANY thoughts of setting ANYTHING on fire, we have an NFPA Standard that keeps us focused on what we oughta do and oughta not do so we don't screw it up...or worse. When a citizen says "We realized something was wrong when one of the guys jumped out of a window and asked us to borrow a hose,"...there are a few lessons out there.

                  Take Care,
                  The Secret List 7-5-03

                  (**NTS: Non-Thinking Syndrome.) PS-We have an "updates" section on the homepage of www.FirefighterCloseCalls.com that we've been using for some TSL followups. We are also going to be adding some additional "Close Call" photos we just received (from some of the fires recently written about) on the GALLERY section of the site.
                  BillyG summed it up nicely ... don't you think?

                  Stay Safe


                  • #10
                    Will We Ever Learn

                    I'm glad I'm not the only one that realizes we still have a problem when it comes to live fire training. Obviously they did not follow the rules as they were designed to be follwed in the interest of safety. I guess they are lucky that nobody got hurt, or even worse, killed due to another accident.

                    Hopefully at some point we will stop being our own worst enemy. Not to mention the embarrassment to the department and the minor damage to some of the neighboring homes. I thought the incident in New York would have been the wake up call. Maybe one day we will learn from our past mistakes.

                    Stay safe and learn from the mistakes of others!


                    • #11
                      I dont even think we need to wait for the report, fact is, they didnt have trucks there, how stupid do you have to be not to have trucks on scence if your going to light any sort of fire with the intention of filling the house with smoke? Geez, juniors could figure that out


                      • #12
                        Not everyone in FLA is.........

                        While it may seem that way from some of the news that I post from Florida.....not everyone here is that dumb! This story got past me as I have been out of town and very busy upon my return. Trying to find out more information and I will let you know when I do.........

                        Why don't we just mail them a copy of the Lairdsville investigation?
                        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.


                        • #13
                          Training Fire Goes Bad

                          I have a better idea, why not take the Lairdsville report, the Kissimee report, the Milford Michigan report, the Delaware report, and the many other reports into similar disasters, and hit these guys over the head with them, it may be the only way to knock some sense into people who would do something so stupid.

                          It was about 1 year ago, and only 120 miles away that 2 firefighters were killed in a training fire in Kissimee. I guess I'm old fashioned or naive, but I would have thought having something like that happen so close to home would make you very alert and very cautious when you conducted a live burn drill.

                          How many people have to die before we learn?


                          • #14
                            This incident is shockingly similar to the Mesa incident that occured in the 80's.

                            The incident that was one of several that led up to the development of NFPA 1403

                            They to were burning in a barrel. They did have an engine, but not a charged line
                            Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
                            "Everybody Goes Home"

                            IACOJ 2003


                            • #15
                              Another Article

                              e is another article I located on this. Also...I was at a Florida Fire Chief's Summer meeting in Daytona Beach this weekend (rough life!) and heard no mention of this by anyone at all...not a peep.

                              Fire turns exercise into real battle

                              By Andrew Ackerman, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
                              Friday, July 4, 2003

                              JENSEN BEACH -- A firefighter's exercise in an abandoned Jensen Beach home became more than a drill Thursday when a couch accidentally caught fire and prematurely lit the entire building, destroying the structure.

                              Four firefighters were in the house when the fire started, though none was hurt. Residents in an adjacent house -- who were not part of the exercise -- were treated for smoke inhalation as smoke and soot billowed into their riverfront house. They were not seriously injured.

                              The firefighters were preparing for a controlled burn scheduled for today. They attempted to create a "smoke maze," lighting 55-gallon oil drums that they had filled with wood to create smoke.

                              As the temperature inside the drums reached over 600 degrees, radiant heat from one of the barrels caused a couch to catch fire. Though much of the house was gutted, some objects, including the couch, were kept inside to make the exercise more realistic.

                              The four firefighters exited the building when the fire began and called for assistance. They followed safety protocols "to a T," said Martin County Fire Chief Tom Billington. Firefighters are supposed get out of a building if an unexpected fire starts. By the time help arrived Thursday, the home was already ablaze.

                              "You can't really control a fire," Billington said. "If something happens, everybody gets out. We did make some mistakes but we're gonna learn from them."

                              No address was visible on the charred house, but it was most likely 886 Sumner Ave. The owners, David and Anna Haman, who live in Palm City, did not return phone calls Thursday. Billington said they'd donated the house to the fire department and planned to build a new house on the land after the burn.

                              Vincent Molle, a neighbor who was treated with oxygen, said he was "pretty darn upset" and thought that his house would catch fire.

                              "There's soot and debris all over the yard and smoke inside the house," Molle said. "We'll have to stay somewhere else for the night."

                              The county conducts four controlled burns each year. Billington said Thursday's accidental fire will still count toward the four. The fire began shortly before 2 p.m. and was out by 3:30 p.m., after at least 20 firefighters worked to extinguish it.

                              About 2:30 p.m., police moved reporters and bystanders two blocks north of the burning house, warning that the firefighters had discovered explosive canisters in the house. But Billington said the steel barrels used to create smoke were probably confused as explosive tanks. Ultimately, they posed a threat only to the couch.

                              [email protected]
                              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.


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