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FIREGROUND

UPDATE FIREGROUND UPDATE 3807 Walls Lane Incident #92-02602 Written by Major stan Poole During the early hours of January 12, 1992, a fire started in the basement family room of 3807 Walls Lane. The adult occupants were awakened by the smell of smoke and began efforts to evacuate the house. As the four occupants, two adults and two children, exited the house by the interior hallway, the seven-year-old boy became frightened and returned to his bedroom next to the basement stairway.

Parris N. GlendeniDI County Executive Steven T. Edwards Fire Chief Chief of Department John E. Proels Lieutenant Colonel Field Operations

The purpose of this p.JbIca1!on Is to provide the men and \\Omen of thep~ Geofge'sCounty Fire Department with adetalled ax:cunt of r908nt major Inddents so that

all may shn in1helearning

Once outside, the family realized the seven-year-old did not come out but attempts to re-enter the house were not possible due to heavy smoke and heat. Neighbors called the Fire Department at 0243 hours, then placed a homeowner's ladder at the Side Two window with intent to enter the house for the seven-yearold. This was not possible due to heavy smoke conditions. The Bureau of Fire/Rescue Communications dispatched a street assignment consisting of Engines 27 and 29, Truck 26. The units responding were Engines 272, 294, and 293, Truck 26, Squad 27, Ambulance 269, Medic 5, Battalion 3A, and Chief 29. Additional apparatus: Truck 17, Engine 233. Battalion 3A, Engine 272, and Squad 27 left the station together.

prtX&S.

Written and prepared by The Bureau of Fire!

Rescue Operations

6820Webster Street Landover Hills, Md 20'784 Telephone

(SOl) 772路9100

The Structure The house at 3807 Walls Lane was a one-story, rambler-style, single-family house with three bedrooms and a basement. The construction was slag block masonry walls with composite brick veneer front wall. At one time, the basement appeared to have an overhead door making the

basement a garage area.

The overhead

door had been converted to a sliding glass door; the basement partitioned into a family room area and utility laundry rooms.

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off


Conditions

on Arrival

Battalion 3A and Engine 272 arrived on the scene with fire showing from the basement door on Side One, Quadrant A, and fire showing in windows on the first floor. Neighbors advised the house and directed Side Two.

fire personnel of the seven-year-old boy in them to the ladder which had been placed on Initial Actions

Engine 272's crew pulled a 2" line which was advanced to Side Two and entered the window with assistance from personnel from Squad 27. Continuous water supply was obtained by the driver hand laying lines directly to the hydrant across the street from the house. The second line was advanced to the front door on Side One, Quadrant D. Personnel advanced the line into the living room at the front door, attacked the fire in the living room and interior hallway area. The volunteer sergeant from Station 29 sent personnel from 29 and Squad 27 in the front door to search for the young child. At the same time, efforts to enter the Side Two window continued; and the fire was attacked in the rear Quadrant B bedroom. In spite of the heat from the basement, the rescue from the Side One bedroom was made and the seven-year-old boy was carried to the medic unit. The boy was transported by medic unit to the State Police, Aviation Division at Andrews Air Force Base and Medivaced by Trooper 2 to the Childrens' Hospital National Medical Center. While the rescue was being made, a 400' 2" line was advanced to the rear of the house. Because of fencing, autos, and other obstacles, advancing the 400' line took many minutes to complete with sufficient line to reach the Side Four basement windows. A 100' 1 1/2" line was advanced Side One. Continued

to the sliding

glass door on

Operations

After the rescue, personnel on the initial attack depleted their breathing air, masks and spare bottles were exchanged and the attack continued at the first floor stairway. Because of the narrow hallway and the debris covering the floor, the area at the basement steps became slippery and several firefighters reported slipping and falling at the top of the steps.

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How Did He Die An operational audit and inquiry was conducted to make every effort to determine how Fire Fighter Hedrick died. The inquiry determination was, no one event or action could be identified as the reason Fire Fighter Hedrick died. Fire Fighter Hedrick assisted in the rescue of the sevenyear-old child and in carrying the child to the medic unit. It is believed Hedrick left the medic unit and returned to the house by the front door on the first floor. He made his way to the stairway going to the basement. He may have descended the steps with intent to continue searching the building. However, it is very likely he slipped in the hallway at the stairway which was covered with fallen and wet gypsum wall board from the ceiling. It is believed he was at the base of the steps in the basement when the attack line from Side Three and Side One were opened up on the fire. The high heat caused Hedrick to retreat along the Side One basement wall where he ran out of air and died. Operational

Deficiencies

1.

Personnel working alone instead of working search teams (not using buddy system)

2.

Opposing

3.

Searching fire areas ahead of or without protection

4.

Lack of ancillary commands and not using sector supervision. There was a lack of communication from forward officers to command, because there were not any forward command supervisors.

attack

as a company

or in

lines attack

line

Need for Changes The inquiry identified several operational concerns which involved safety issues. Fire Chief Steven Edwards directed that necessary changes be implemented to improve operational safety. The changes involved three general orders which included: Standard required

fireground procedures, the first arriving to initiate the Incident Command System.

officer

Special Service Officers (truck/squad) are now initially assigned sector responsibilities unless otherwise directed. The Bureau of Fire/Rescue Communications will now issue a duration reminder to incident commanders and ask for an update at 20-minute intervals from the time the incident command is initiated.

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is


At the 20-minute duration alert, incident commanders will have sector officers verify the accountability of crews under their supervision. Accountability expectations of supervisory personnel is now defined in greater detail and requires knowledge of the whereabouts of subordinates at all times. Use of PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) devices mandatory and activation procedures are defined.

is

Establish that personnel are to be required to work in teams of at least two for assignments such as building search. Incident commander must designate first incident progress report. strategy

a safety officer

by the

and Tactics

The report of the trapped child was the significant factor which influenced the fire operations. The initial actions by the personnel to make the rescue based on inaccurate information from neighbors continued to affect the fire operation after the rescue was completed. Tactical decisions were made and some overlooked because of the rescue objective. After the rescue was made, the fire operation could not recover from the primary rescue strategy, although the strategy was changed from rescue to fire attack. The tactics necessary for a coordinated fire attack could not be redeployed. The results were opposing attack lines and fragmented crews that were not adequately supervised. Rescues have always been the Fire Department's highest priority, but officers and firefighters must remember, good strategy and tactics allows for rescue coverage and good fireground practices need not be forsaken nor should they be abandoned for rescues. The successful rescues are accomplished with coordinated team work. Our basic fire operation responsibilities provide for engine companies to advance and operate attack line(s) between the fire and means of egress of victims and firefighters. Truck companies responsibilities provide for secondary egress (ladders), ventilation, interior and exterior, forcible entry, search, etc. Squad companies are ideal units for systematic interior search and victim removal.

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Engine, truck, and squad companies provide a triad of operations, 1) fire attack, 2) ventilation/egress control, and 3) search and rescue, which can ensure a coordinated fire attack and victim rescue strategy. Fireground Command Officers must hold individual companies accountable for the appropriate responsibilities within the operational triad. Although everyone must be aware of the importance of rescue, the engine company's contribution to the rescue effort is the properly placed attack line with sufficient water supply to ensure truck or squad personnel are able to find and remove victims. Truck and squad personnel take pride in accepting the risk of searching ahead of attack lines under the assumption the engine company will be advancing the protective line or hold the fire until the search and rescue is completed. Truck and squad officers should ensure that search personnel are not taking foolhardy risks no matter how well intended. Engine officers must realize their responsibility in the operations triad and that victims and firefighters safety depends on effective attack line usage. Fire incident/operations command officers must ensure the strategy (what is to be accomplished) is clearly understood. The tactics (How is it to be accomplished?) are proper, sound, and safe. That the operation is coordinated with appropriate supervision using ancillary commands. Multicompany team work, coordination, and discipline are the mark of emergency incident command professionalism. Recommended

Action

The Walls Lane fire origin was in the basement extending to the first floor by the stairway cutting off the victim egress. The strategy is to attack and hold the fire at the basement steps on the first floor while the search for the boy is undertaken. Once the rescue is complete, the strategy becomes containment and extinguishment. The tactics to accomplish the strategy would be to advance the first hose line to attack and hold the fire at the top of the stairway allowing hallway egress to the bedroom for rescue. Simultaneously, egress through the bedroom window by ladder could be used. Rescues could have been accomplished by either interior hallway or bedroom window. Had the second line advanced through the sliding glass door in the basement level on Side One attacked the seat of the basement fire, the operation would have been coordinated and efficient. The assurance of a coordinated effort should have been reported back to command by the basement sector officer and the first floor sector officer. The third line, if needed, should have been a back-up line on the first floor. The back-up line advanced to the stairway could have held the fire from the basement allowing the first line to be advanced down the hallway to extinguish the rest of the first floor.

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At the same time, the crew from Station 29 advanced the 400' line from Side Three basement window and attacked the fire in the basement. The 100' 1 1/2" line was advanced several feet into the sliding door on Side One and opened on the fire. The attacking of the basement fire from Sides Three and One caused the heat to go up the interior stairway; and as the first floor line hit the fire at the stairway, the fire flashes over in the Side One bedroom. The nozzle man on the first floor line kicked a hole in the hallway/bedroom wall and alternates attacking fire in the stairway and bedroom. The fire from the basement continued to ignite, burning in the bedroom repeatedly until after continual alternating the nozzle from the stairs to the hole in the bedroom wall, the fire could finally be knocked down. Fireground Commanders, Battalion 3A and Chief 29, are concerned about the continued flare up of fire on Side One. 29 orders the roof to be opened.

Chief

After the fire is knocked down, the officers of Engine 27 and Squad 27 report they are missing a firefighter from Squad 27. Crews report the primary and secondary search of the house has been completed. The missing firefighter assisted in the rescue of the sevenyear-old boy. It is initially believed the firefighter assisted with transport of injured victims and was with medic or ambulance crews. The fireground was checked and personne1 removed from the house to account for the missing firefighter. When he was not located, another search of the structure for the missing firefighter was undertaken and he was found deceased in the basement in Quadrant D. Casualties Ma1e - Age 7 Died at Chi1dren's Fema1e - Age 4 - Transported for smoke inhalation

Hospital.

to Southern

Maryland

Hospital

Male - Age 32 - Transported to Southern Maryland Hospital and then to University of Maryland Hospital, Baltimore, for burns and smoke inhalation. Female - Age 30 - Transported to Southern Mary1and Hospital and then to University of Maryland Hospital, Baltimore, for burns and smoke inhalation. Male firefighter

- Age 18 - Deceased

on the scene.

Male firefighter - Age 16 - Transported to hospital, and released - possible smoke inhalation. -22-

treated,


Simultaneous with the engine company operations, the truck companies provide ladders for egress, exterior/interior ventilation, utility control, and checking fire extension as well as possible rescue of victims over a ladder through a window should interior search be delayed. The squad crew is divided into two search teams; one team provides search and rescue of the victims on the first floor; and the other team searches the basement as the fire is being knocked down. Coordinated efforts of engine, truck, and squads should ensure all assignments are covered. Incident Commanders must continually evaluate the fireground strategy and receive communication from sector officers regarding tactical status such as fire knock down, primary search, fire extension, and personnel accountability. These efforts should ensure a coordinated, safe, effective operation.

Company Unity Engine companies advancing and operating interior attack lines are able to ensure a reasonable amount of unity and team work. Without unity and team work, the attack line cannot be advanced or operated. Engine officers should know who is operating on interior lines at all times. Truck and squad company personnel should be divided into tactical teams, no less than two firefighters per team, to carry out the varied duties. It is important for each company to have a company SOP or a plan for the tactical teams to update the company officer on status and progress prior to 20-minute duration/accountability reports. As an example, search tactical teams may meet or pass the officer in the stairway or hallway while completing the primary search of one floor or apartment prior to beginning secondary search of the next floor or apartment. This would be the appropriate time for an officer and tactical team to exchange information for a status report update. Effective and safe fire operations depend on proper tactics, companies disciplined to complete their assigned duties, and communications of officers through the Incident Command System.

Special

Note:

It is hoped friends

of Fire

this

article

Fighter

striving

for excellence

to make

the fire service

Department,

which

for professional suggestions author

believes

For Kenneth

service

Kenny

the leaders Hedrick

George's

affiliated,

and emergency

article

were

as a tribute who dedicated

by his impressive

in Prince was

serve

Hedrick

displayed

Kenny

of this

will

Kenneth

has always scene

intended

and the Morningside

of our Fire

is the last

George's

his life training

record

his profession. been

e~cellence.

Department

let us make

change

Firefighter

-23-

and activity with

Out of respect

Volunteer

County

of the

direct

work

would

level.

and

He did so His goal was

VOlunteer

outstanding

Fire

traditions

for that organization. but constructive. want

to ensure

to make

family

of others.

The Morningside

an organization

forward.

Fire

on behalf

to the service

to be straight

Department,

Prince

County

by the author

The

it that way.

that Fire

the supreme

Fighter

sacrifice.

the


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3807 WALLS LANE SUITLAND UPPER FLOOR BAlH

GIRL'S BEDROOM

KITCHEN

DININGI!OOM

BOY'S BEDROOM

LOWER FLOOR

LOCATION OF FATALITY

E-272

ATTACK LINE PLACEMENT JANUARY 12, 1992 0243 HOURS

INC.# 92-02602 DRAWING

-25-

NOT TO SCALE


3807 WALLS LANE SUITLAND UPPER FLOOR KITCHEN

MASTER BEDROOM

GlIll'S BEDROOM

DININGROOM

BOY'S BEDROOM

LOWER FLOOR

LOCATION OF FATAUTY FUSE PANELl!!::.:::l====-=Jl==路2~~~~===::::Jb===::::I===f:====:::::!:========~

RECOMMENDED

E-272

ATTACK LINE PLACEMENT JANUARY 12, 1992 0243 HOURS

INC.# 92-02602 DRAWING NOT TO SCALE

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Fireground update 3807 walls lane incident 92 02602  
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