Louisville, Ladders, and Interior Firefighting..

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Progressive and Aggressive! Photo by: Captain Joe Williams, Louisville Fire Department

Two Civilians were killed and five others injured in an Apartment Fire in Louisville. One Firefighter was trapped on the second floor and rescued by other firefighters. Some civilians were forced to jump for survival.

Almost every city, county, town/community has some building that resembles the above. We have them all over Escambia County. I keep looking at this photo and thinking how I would command this incident as the only chief on-scene with half the staffing. America Burning was nearly 40 Years ago and America had nearly 10,000 civilians dying each year by fire.  It is 2015 and we still have nearly 3,000 dying by FIRE. The number is down because the American Fire Service was founded and is focused on SAVING CIVILIAN LIVES like in the above picture. This was not and is not a fire that exterior water will extinguish the fire. This is/was a FIRE that required the LFD to aggressively fight for the safety of the citizens they SWORE to PROTECT. This is/was a FIRE that required previous INTERIOR EXPERIENCE. I’m challenging you to study this photo and evaluate with your company/battalion on how you would deploy. What would your staffing be? What would a 1st Alarm, 2nd Alarm,  3rd Alarm, etc., get you?? It is GREAT to be ready for the Bread and Butter. But this is not your Bread and Butter Fire.

This is more than a Bread and Butter, even for the Louisville FD. Are you READY?

This Fire Service must stand its ground on Interior Operations. We are not dying from Interior Firefighting. We are dying because so many are focused on the wrong thing. Some are just looking for their next teaching gig and getting their name out there. I believe we have been on the right track for the last 30 years. I believe we have been doing it right. I believe we save a lot more lives than we lose because we are aggressive. Civilians are dying INSIDE.  We must continue to Fight Fires from the Interior when possible. We must SHUT DOWN the Keyboard experts that have very little if any fireground experience.  Interior Fire Attack and Vertical Ventilation is statistically safe. Check the numbers.

If you support Interior Fire Attack than share this, post AMEN, tell someone, Lets join together for the SAFETY of all Americans. Lets join together to keep property loss down.

Civilians Lives and Civilian Property still counts.

Have a Happy Fourth of July and remember what this Country stands for and how it was founded.

I Love this Job and everything about it. I’m Proud to be FIREFIGHTER!

Thanks-Curt Isakson

Click link below for more info on this fire.



22 thoughts on “Louisville, Ladders, and Interior Firefighting..

  1. I support interior firefighting, I also support exterior firefighting when it’s needed. The problem with your this fire required previous interior fire experience is that it provides no solution to departments that don’t have any! Since the experience advocates say training is not enough what should the small rural dept do when faced with this? Not go? That’s not an option! I think experience is important and its valuable but it can’t be the end all be all because if it was then fires wouldn’t go out and success stories like my rookie on his first fire wouldn’t be possible.

    I am I support of whatever puts the fire out fastest cause that’s what’s best for victims, and property.

    • I totally agree. I was teaching water application from the exterior and attacking from the burned side for the last 15 years. But, this cant be what your looking to do before you even arrive. Hopefully your nozzle firefighter will not have this as their first fire. If it is, maybe you should swap out before entry. I grew up going to fires in a suburban community. I have worked in rural, suburban, and urban districts. I am the only chief on-duty to cover 664 sq miles. I get it when it comes to low staffing. I also get that the fire does not care. It does not care about our excuses. I totally agree that this fire in a rural district would be attacked totally different than Louisville. The problem is when rural firefighters start attacking the urban firefighter and the RISK they are willing to take based on past experiences. I do not like that the Urban Firefighter is somewhat being thrown out with the bath water. Thanks-Curt Isakson “Rural, Suburban and Urban Firefighter”

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  3. I don’t know of any people or agencies that are saying that we should rid ourselves of interior attack. Transitional attack is the big thing now, and there is nothing wrong with hitting the fire from the outside first and then venturing inside when conditions warrant. My agency has been pushing transitional attack as an option, not a requirement. We have experimented with it and have found that it works well, but we are just as aggressive as we always have been. We are just smarter about it now. It won’t work for every fire, but when it works, it really does work.

    • Mark-I actually have Captain Dern in my program that I just taught at FDIC and the Atlanta Fire Conference. VERY FEW get injured or killed in relation to the frequency. We actually can not find a LODD from vertically ventilating a residential structure where the firefighter was wearing full gear. We do however have a large number of deaths from being overweight, out of shape, not wearing seatbelts. Should our military not go into battle because soldiers have died in the past? We must learn and continue to move forward. Link below is from a few years ago. I fully support direct water application and have for 15 + years. I also think anytime we operate on the roof we should be breathing air. There is still a need to vertically ventilate some fires.


      • I did and I have. What’s more, I’ve attended several of your training events and as a result I have great respect for your knowledge, enthusiasm and ethic. However, to tell me “You have no clue and probably need to get out of the bussiness of fighting fires.” shows your unprofessional and witless persona.

    • Mark- I said you had no clue, because you were very rude/disrespectful by utilizing Captain Pete Dern. I meant you have no clue of my thoughts towards him, his family, the Fresno FD, and/or how much I’ve studied that incident and the one years ago in Medesto. I actually implemented breathing air while operating on the roof immediately after reading the Modesto Report. We the Fire Service can not stop going on roofs or inside because a tradgedy happens every so often. We study and learn from it, but continue to push forward. Vertical Ventilation is still needed at some fires. I have never advocates venting a vacant structure. But I have yet to figure out what is ba am and what is not , until after a search is completed. Death On The Nozzle is more real, than Death On The Roof.

      I respect your willingness to speak up. I would like to extend you a free admission to HROC 2015.

      • Curt,

        You’re right. I only know you after a few interactions over several years. I don’t know Fresno Captain Pete Dern at all and I’m completely unaware of the relationship between the two of you.

        However, I’ve seen the video of him climbing onto and walking around on the very smoky roof above a fire in an unoccupied garage. I saw him fall through the roof into a ball of fire and the determined three minute rescue made by the other firefighters on scene to pull him from that hell.

        I’m also aware of the lengthy recovery he is enduring and the impact that has had on his family as well as the firefighting community. My question: Given his training, experience and the outcome of his actions that day, would he climb onto that roof, or any roof, in similar circumstances?

        According to the report STRUCTURAL COLLAPSE RESEARCH AT NIST: “Approximately 20% of the fire fighters killed at structure fires over the past ten years (not counting the World Trade Center towers) have been as a result of structural collapse.”


        That statistic doesn’t include injuries; but, I would say together it’s significant and contradicts your contention “…Vertical Ventilation is statistically safe.”

        The Phoenix Fire Department and NIST performed a study and found it only takes about 17 minutes for a modern roof to collapse upon exposure to fire.


        I contend, firefighters performing vertical ventilation above a fire, especially if the fire has self-ventilated or is on the verge of doing so (evidenced by off gassing or smoke), are dancing with disaster.

        I’m grateful for the offer of a free admission for the High Rise Operations Conference 2015 in Pensacola Beach, December 1-3. However, I don’t have time this year. If you were to extend the invitation for the 2016 event, I’ll do my best to attend, Mark

  4. How are you to take action on a fire like this with 3 personnel. I have have used transitional attack on many occasions and IT WORKS. It is a tool in the tool box, it does not stop the need to go interior, it’s just a quick method to change the conditions of the house. In this picture, why would you not want to try and control this fire on the C/D corner while crews are searching. Why would you want to have firefighters and civilians at risk when you can be hitting the fire. I have 10 years as a Safety Officer and operations BC in a large urban department. We are aggressive but use the new tactics as a tool. IT WORKS.

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