Porterville California Library Fire LODD Report Released

Firefighter Patrick Lee Jones and Captain Ramon Figueroa died in the line of duty February 18, 2020 in fire at the City of Porterville Public Library.

The City of Porterville Fire Department assembled a team of multiple agencies who participated in this investigation. The team then produced a comprehensive “Multi-Agency Serious Accident Review Team Investigation Report”. The findings of this report were recently released after being presented publicly on Friday April 11th, 2021.

When a firefighter is killed in the line of duty, we must honor their sacrifice through studying post incident investigations. Reading through this report and then sharing with your coworkers is a very powerful way to honor the life of a fallen firefighter.

Take a moment of pause and reflect how this tragic incident has impacted the fallen firefighter’s families, their department and the entire community. Firefighters do not routinely respond to a call thinking they will not return home.

Below is the Executive Summary from the report.

On February 18th, 2020, a fire occurred in the City of Porterville Public Library. During the initial minutes of fire department operations, while searching for a reported victim, two members of the first arriving engine company became disoriented and tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

On April 29th, the Fire Chief issued a Delegation of Authority to a Serious Accident Review Team (SART), authorizing an investigation into the incident. The Chief stated, “It is my hope that the lessons to be learned from this incident might benefit the entire fire service and result in a safer standard of operations for the entire industry.”

The SART timeline spanned a nine-month period, utilizing over 1,000 personnel hours. The process included the conducting of interviews, analysis of dispatch audios, CAD information, helmet camera footage, body camera footage, review of policies and procedures, research of laws, mandates, industry standards, and best practices, as well as regular meetings to comprehend, analyze, organize, and assemble the data into report form.

Early in the SART process, the team became aware that a significant number of potential factors were, once again, related to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fire Fighter Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) contributing factors of Firefighter line-of-duty deaths. Consistently the top ten contributing factors, as outlined in their most recent report, are:

1. Medical screening

2. Fitness and wellness program

3. Training

4. Medical clearance

5. Standard Operating Procedures/Standard Operating Guidelines (SOPs/SOGs)

6. Incident command

7. Strategy and tactics

8. Communications

9. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

10. Staffing

While each of the previously listed contributing factors are significant, and continue to remain a problem in the fire service, the following were the most prevalent during the Library Incident: Training, Standard Operating Procedures/Standard Operating Guidelines (SOPs/SOGs), Incident Command, Strategy and Tactics, Communications, and Staffing.

As the SART began to de-construct this tragedy, it became evident that other indirect factors were at play that all Fire Chiefs and Department Administrators should be perceptive to, so as to avoid long term systemic cultural and operational pitfalls. Vigilance in continual review and comparison to industry standards, policy updates, establishing relevant and realistic training programs, adjusting emergency deployment models, and strategically planning for organizational improvement, are some examples of preventive measures to avoid cultural complacency and creating an operational road map for the future.

This report is not intended to be unduly critical of the Porterville Fire Department or to place blame on any specific person(s). Unfortunately, these issues continue to be far too common across the country to simply focus on one organization. Until all Fire Service leaders begin to resist complacency and implement positive change, we will continue to lose our valiant Firefighters. Additionally, Fire Chiefs must continually educate appointed and elected officials on the importance of sufficient apparatus staffing. To their credit, the Porterville City Council is presently taking action to increase fire department staffing, even prior to the completion of this document.

62 Watts Street Manhattan FDNY – The Influence of Historical Fires

The influence of historical fires on modern fire operations allows firefighters an opportunity to learn from the past. A triple Line of Duty Death (LODD) fire event on March 28th, 1994, now known as “The Watts Street Fire” created several lessons learned opportunities that still apply to present-day fires. From their deaths, it is our obligation to learn from history, to prevent a recurrence of the past. After Watts Street, the FDNY made a significant operational update and overcame politics holding back necessary equipment. The fire reinforces the need for all firefighters to be combat-ready when going above the fire to perform any fire ground activities, recognize the warning signs of hostile or extreme fire events, and how actions taken in ventilation limited fires affect the whole fireground. Utilize the lessons learned by brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice to do your best to return home to your family.

Technical Data & Reports to Review

What Happened?

On Monday, March 28th, 1994 at 1936 hours, Engine 24, Engine 55, Engine 7, Ladder 5, Ladder 8, and Battalion 2 responded to Manhattan Box 308 for a telephone alarm reporting smoke on the top floor of 60 Watts Street. Following the FDNY’s standard operating procedures the inside team of the 1st due Truck (Ladder 8) operates in the fire apartment. They perform forcible entry for the Engine, and primary search in the fire apartment. The inside team of the 2nd due Truck (Ladder 5) searches the floor directly above the fire. Unknown to the first arriving companies the fire had been burning inside the fire apartment for over an hour creating a ventilation limited fire. Several updates to the building had occurred since its original construction in the late 1800s. Prior to the fire, the fire apartment had seen several updates to increase its overall energy efficiency that includes energy-efficient windows, extra thermal insulation, and new doors.

Upon arriving at 1940 hours, Ladder 8 noticed smoke from the first-floor apartment of 62 Watts Street and transmitted the 10-75. The roof firefighter from Ladder 8 entered the fire building thinking it was Exposure 4 of the dispatched address, 60 Watts Street, to get to the rear of the reported fire building. He later gained access to the roof by climbing to the roof of Exposure 4, crossing over to the fire building’s roof, and opened the scuttle above the open stairwell in the multiple dwelling to allow for the escape of heat and fire gases once the apartment door was opened.

Ladder 5 notified Ladder 8 they were going above the fire, and Ladder 8 started forcing the apartment door on floor one. Ladder 5 encountered a fortified door to the apartment on the second floor, and the additional entrance normally found in this building style had been removed by construction. Engine 55 laid out their uncharged hose line near the apartment entrance awaiting water. Ladder 8 forced the apartment door open, and smoke from the fire apartment initially pushed into the hallway and then pulled back inside. Ladder 8 was unable to enter the apartment due to high heat conditions and ordered the Ladder 8 OV to vent the front windows.

Upon taking the windows the fire began overtaking the first floor, filling the stairwell, and Ladder 5 transmitted an “URGENT”. Engine 55 began attacking the fire and the intensity had increased tremendously. The fire was filling the entire stairwell from the first-floor apartment to 10 to 15 feet above the roofline from the scuttle and skylight. Moments later Engine 55 and the Ladder 5’s tillerman discovered Ladder 5’s three-person inside team badly burned with one fatality. This hostile fire event occurred within the first 10 minutes on the scene. Firefighter James Young died on the day of the fire. Firefighter Chris Siedenburg died one day after the fire. Captain John Drennan died 40 days later from his third and fourth-degree burn injuries covering over 60% of his body.

The men of Ladder 5’s inside team experienced temperatures over 2,200 degrees for 6½ minutes based on NIST modeling that occurred as a result of a backdraft. Previous attempts to upgrade from boots and long coats to encapsulating bunker gear from Morning Pride were denied by the previous mayor (Dinkins) and the budget office as too costly. Political arguments about the survivability of Ladder 5’s crew had they been equipped with turnout gear ensued, and firefighters stood firm that their brothers may have still been injured, but survived. The newly seated mayor that took office three months prior to the fire said the city would find a way to afford the 10 million dollar expense. Mayor Guliani even took the budget office director that denied previous requests, to the hospital to see the burned firefighters and impress the need for this personal protective equipment. The goal was to provide bunker gear that would sustain a 17.5-second flashover. The FDNY also added the FAST Truck on the transmission of the 10-75.

What This Means For Firefighters Today

  • This event pushed lagging departments nationwide to move into Turnout Gear from long coat & hip boot configurations.
  • Going green, and energy efficiency building initiatives are not going away. Tighter homes will continue to increase the potential to produce hostile/extreme fire events in ventilation limited fires.
  • When operating above a fire, notify the Engine and Truck companies below where you are going. If time allows, establish an area of refuge prior to the companies operating under you opening up the fire apartment.
  • Know the location of other companies operating on the fireground, and understand the greater impact your tactical actions can have on other firefighters operating within a fire building.
  • Be prepared to protect the interior stairs in a single or multiple-family dwelling.
  • Have all your bunker gear on and buttoned up, SCBA on, and flowing air. Anticipate rapid changes in conditions when the fire apartment door is opened up, and with modern combustibles.
  • All firefighters need to understand fire behavior and reading smoke. Drivers are critical to keeping watch curbside even if an incident commander is present. If smoke conditions are not improving, hostile conditions may be imminent.
  • The Watts Street fire had a significant hostile fire and flow path event. Another significant flow path fire event killed Firefighter Mark Falkenhan, January 19th, 2011, in Baltimore County Maryland.
  • Fireground Commanders must be ready to deploy a rapid intervention team when crews are operating within the IDLH atmosphere and have an immediate plan if the first due unit is making an immediate rescue.
  • Recognize near-miss events as learning opportunities through tailboard talks and AAR’s.
  • Discuss this fire with your crew, and assess how you would operate in a similar fire situation.
  • Know the TPP rating of your PPE, know what it means, and utilize time delayed tactics if needed.

Firefighter Rescue Survey Study Concluding, Chief Brian Brush

Nearly three months have passed since the Oklahoma State University, Firefighter Rescue Survey graduate research project has been collecting data on Fire Service Wins. This is the first research project of it’s kind, a paradigm shift from our traditional NFIRS USFA data collection.

Today marks the final weekly update published from the project. The news is good, the scientific data shows “It’s Worth The Risk”, and Firefighters are rescuing significant numbers of civilians from fires in residential homes. The fire service in the United States now has a tremendous number of facts and research between this project, and the completed UL studies. Fire departments now have the ability to make data-based decisions with confidence, and make updates to standard operating guidelines if the data shows it to be necessary.

CF Tactics made an educated guess early on in this study that the results would conclude firefighters are making a significant impact on the citizens they serve. We hope you shared that same thought as a member of our like minded community of fire service professionals.

Across the United States between January 1st, 2021, and March 28th, 2021, Firefighters rescued a total of 829 civilians from 431 residential fire incidents. Of the 829 rescued 630 survived to live another day due to the heroic efforts of firefighters.

If this is your first time encountering this data, review it, and start a conversation with your fellow firefighters about your plan for encountering a victim. As referenced in previous articles about the project, when arriving on the scene of a fire we must anticipate that:

  • Single Family Home Fires will have more than one victim.
  • Multi-Family Home Fires will have nearly three victims.

Listed at the end are a number of additional articles CF Tactics has published about the Firefighter Rescue Survey project, and real life GRABS.

While the last three months served as the data collection period for this study, we look forward to the final published research project results with any additional arguments or conclusions. See additional Firefighter Rescue Survey links below the CF Tactics articles.

Firefighter Jared Lloyd, Deepest Sympathies, Heroic Life-Saving Actions for Them

The County Fire Tactics family recognizes Firefighter Jared Lloyd’s heroic life-saving actions in the overnight hours of March 23rd, 2021. We express our deepest sympathies for his loss of life in the line of duty to his family, fire family, friends, and coworkers.

A statement from Columbian Engine Co. #1 stated that “Firefighter Lloyd was in the process of searching for and rescuing trapped residents and is credited with saving multiple victims.”

Firefighter Lloyd answered the 12:58 am call for an odor of something burning inside the Evergreen Court Home for Adults, at 65 Lafayette Street in Spring Valley, NY. Soon after Police on the scene reported smoke in the building to dispatch. Firefighter Lloyd was one of the first to arrive on the scene and without hesitation, he placed the lives of these residents above his own as he searched through smoke and flames for residents in need of rescue. An exemplary number of rescues were made by firefighters in the facility housing 112 residents with space for up 200 residents.

The Colombian Engine Co. #1 has established a fund to benefit the family of Firefighter Lloyd. According to multiple sources, this is the only “Officially Sanctioned Columbian Engine Company Fundraiser for the Lloyd family.”

Throughout this time of healing may all who read and remember Firefighter Lloyd recognize his sacrifice and utilize the power of family, their faith, and professional assistance to cope with his untimely passing. Please take a moment of pause and remember Firefighter Lloyd with the readings below.

Firefighters Prayer

When I am called to duty, God wherever flames may rage,
give me strength to save a life, whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child before it’s too late,
or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert to hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,
to guard my neighbor and protect his property.
And if according to your will I have to lose my life,
bless with your protecting hand my loving family from strife.

John 15:13, The Vine and the Branches

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Matthew 7:13-14, The Narrow and Wide Gates

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

May these words of faith, scripture, and prayer guide you through this time of grief and loss as we mourn and remember Firefighter Jared Lloyd for his actions and ultimate sacrifice.

Death on the Nozzle, Boarded Up, Trust Your Gut, Nozzle Firefighter, Coordinated Attack

A coordinated fire attack is essential in our modern fire environment where fires are burning hotter and faster than ever with our synthetic home furnishings. Civilian lives are depending on the synchronized actions of firefighters to remove heat and improve their oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Together the fire conditions and civilian lives present tremendous challenges for the incident commander and the nozzle firefighter that at times will require you to listen to that voice inside called gut instinct.

Oscar Armstrong

County Fire Tactics asks you to take a moment of pause while reading this article to remember the loss of Firefighter Oscar Armstrong II 18 years ago today, March 21st, 2003. In March 2003, Firefighter Armstrong was assigned to the nozzle position when his life suddenly ended in a flashover during a residential fire at 1131 Laidlaw Avenue in the Bond Hill section of Cincinnati Ohio. At the time of his death, he was 25 years old and left behind two children, and a fiance expecting the birth of another child.

 

When the incident commander arrives on the scene, regardless of rank or vehicle style, the framework for the overall success of the fire begins with the scene size-up, selection of the tactics that will put out the fire based on manpower available, and the tempo at which the tactics are carried out. The photo shows smoke coming from a one-story wood frame with a central hallway leading from the front to the rear. This older home is sealed up tight, boarded up windows, and a damaged roof tarped with furring strips. A gut instinct by the IC drove a slightly slower tempo in recognizing the potential for extreme fire conditions upon opening up this oxygen or ventilation limited fire.

257 Elm Street Atlanta Georgia

This fire occurred less than six months after Firefighter Steven Solomon lost his life in a fire that occurred on November 23rd, 2006 at 257 Elm Street in Atlanta Georgia. Chief Isakson attended Firefighter Solomon’s funeral and received a first-hand account from an Atlanta Fire Chief regarding the initial conditions and operations where Steven lost his life. Isakson’s gut instinct to slow the tempo and open up before letting his firefighters advance was based on the fire behavior similarities that the two fires presented.

Steven Solomon

The unedited house fire video below shows in real-time how the nozzle firefighter is challenged more than ever to read smoke, understand fire behavior, and prevent rapidly changing fire conditions through the proper application of water with a gallons per second mindset. Gallons Per Second is a firefighter’s primary weapon to level the playing field and defeats the enemy by controlling and reducing the heat, also known as the third leg of the fire triangle. The video also captures the actions of both firefighters and the driver operator confirming proper stretch of the attack lines, proper operational pump discharge pressure, and adequate fire flow to get water on the fire in the right gallons per second.

 

 

The time-delayed tactics employed during the operation included utilizing the booster backup concept from the second due unit, and utilizing the third due unit for a sustained water supply. The fire was controlled with only about 1,500 gallons of tank water from the first two engines on scene. Employing actions like these place people before water in support of incident priorities on the modern fire ground.

During the initial fire attack, the ongoing size up revealed a separate one-bedroom apartment only accessible from the Charlie side of the structure. The line going down the Bravo side continued the interior fire attack in this section of the converted single-family home. Direct water application through interior fire attack allows firefighters to rapidly remove heat, and replace it with oxygen through our fire ground tactics. Water creates and maintains survivable space giving trapped civilians the highest probability of survival. View a related article titled “Gallons Per Second, Creates Survivable Space, 2.50″ Smooth Bore Attack, Water On The Fire”.

As referenced above, from the Nozzle Firefighter to the Fireground Commander, knowledge and understanding of fire behavior and fire dynamics is more important than ever before. By studying ALL of the UL studies we can continue to operate as an aggressive fire service utilizing scientific facts to occupy interior space and improve incident outcomes for civilians and firefighters. Part of this knowledge must include the opportunity for more than one flashover event.

Maurice Bartholomew

While the first room may flash in as little as three minutes and twenty seconds (00:03:20), other compartments within the structure will continue to heat and await additional oxygen as seen in this ventilation limited fire. UL has conducted tremendous fire behavior research in real structures over the past decade. UL’s scientific research indicates the first flashover in a structure occurs between 00:03:20 and 00:04:50 during four experiments under similar conditions from 2009 to 2020. View the newly produced UL fire video.

Fire conditions rapidly evolve and as professionals, we must continue to educate our peers, and superiors on the need for training, proper fire flows, and nozzles capable of punching the fire in the throat. Train and mentor your brother and sister firefighters. This article is written in memory of Maurice Bartholomew, Steven Solomon, Oscar Armstrong, and all firefighters who have died on the nozzle.

CF Tactics Seminar Agenda, Command & Control of Fires & Emergencies by Vincent Dunn, Chief Curt Isakson

$225 with 'FIRST20' Discount Code Full Registration Investment $299

Chief Isakson has released the agenda and for his upcoming two-day Command and Control class April 12th-13th, 2021, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Hilton Hotel on Pensacola Beach. This seminar-style event is limited to 48 professionals without only about 20 seats remaining. The program size promotes manageable classroom interaction and nightly networking opportunities.

 

This class offering will differ from County Fire Tactics “Commanding from the Sidelines” seminar that took place November 17th-19th, 2020 at the Pensacola Beach Hilton.

This seminar will blend Chief Dunn’s book with what Chief Isakson’s mentors have taught him, and what he has learned in 17 years of commanding fires as Battalion Chief in a diverse countywide setting.

Fire Officers today are juggling an infinite number of job duties related to administration, budgets, political interaction, medical response, fire prevention, inspections, and more.

The class agenda will be focused on topics from Command & Control of Fires & Emergencies by Vincent Dunn, to bring the active fire officer back to their primary focus, Fighting fires and responding to emergencies.

In a recent webcast interview with Strike the Box Training LLC, Chief Isakson said this class will be different from his other programs in the fact that he will discuss the need to have eyes on the fire building, allowing the incident commander to see in mere seconds what is and is not working, and make an immediate tactical decision. Why? … Because Tactics Put Out Fires !!!

CF Tactics Command & Control Seminar Agenda

  • Command Presence
  • Life-and-Death Decision Making
  • Locating a Fire
  • Size-up of a Fire
  • Command and Control at a Fire
  • Hoseline Placement
  • Preventing Fire Spread
  • Changing Strategy
  • Ventilation
  • Terrorism
  • Fireground Communications
  • Demobilization
  • Fireground Dangers
  • Products of Combustion
  • Managing Fireground Risks and Dangers
  • Epilogue
  • Answers to Study Questions
  •  

HOTEL DISCOUNT CODES HERE BEACH DINING & NETWORKING$225 with 'FIRST20' Discount Code.Full Registration Investment $299

CF Tactics 1st Due to Your E-Mail

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Firefighter Rescue Survey Update, Chief Brian Brush, The Initial Results Are In

After two months of data collection, the results from the Firefighter Rescue Survey graduate research project continue to justify “It’s Worth The Risk”. Firefighters are rescuing significant numbers of civilians from fires in residential homes. We congratulate these Firefighters for putting the civilians first and providing them a chance to live another day.

To keep our readers in touch with this important data, We feel it is important for our readers to have direct access to Chief Brush’s most recent posts to influence and motivate those throughout their chain of command to put the citizens first. CountyFireTactics.com has created a page right here on our site for you to find the most recent updates from Firefighter Rescue Survey.

Across the United States between January 1st, 2021, and February 28th, 2021, Firefighters rescued a total of 594 civilians. Chief Brush has coined these statistics as “Fire Service Wins”. This is the first time someone has academically tracked this type of data.

  • 282 people rescued from Single Family and Mobile homes
  • 312 people rescued from Multi-Family dwellings
  • 10+ people rescued daily for the past eight weeks.

Continue reading

“Registration Now Open” Command & Control Class, Pensacola Beach FL, Chief Curt Isakson, CF Tactics

$225 with 'FIRST20' Discount Code ……Full Registration Investment $299 Battalion Chief Curt Isakson, County Fire Tactics, Pensacola Florida Battalion Chief Curt Isakson, founder of County Fire Tactics (CF Tactics, CFT) will host a two-day Command and Control class April 12th-13th, 2021, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in picture-perfect Pensacola Beach, Florida. The venue for this program will be the Pensacola Beach Hilton.

REGISTER NOW

 

Registration is now OPEN, and the first 20 to register using the discount code “FIRST20” will attend for an investment of only $225.

The program covers Chief Vincent Dunn’s Command and Control book and blends Chief Isakson’s 17-years of experience as a line Battalion Chief commanding fires in a metropolitan county. Isakson’s immersion into this countywide working environment requires the use of both rural and urban fire-tactics. Continue reading

Command & Control Class, Pensacola Beach FL, Chief Curt Isakson, CF Tactics

$225 with 'FIRST20' Discount Code ……Full Registration Investment $299 Battalion Chief Curt Isakson, County Fire Tactics, Pensacola Florida Battalion Chief Curt Isakson, founder of County Fire Tactics (CF Tactics, CFT) will host a two-day Command and Control class April 12th-13th, 2021, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in picture-perfect Pensacola Beach, Florida. The venue for this program will be the Pensacola Beach Hilton.

REGISTER NOW

 

Registration is now OPEN, and the first 20 to register using the discount code “FIRST20” will attend for an investment of only $225.

The program covers Chief Vincent Dunn’s Command and Control book and blends Chief Isakson’s 17-years of experience as a line Battalion Chief commanding fires in a metropolitan county. Isakson’s immersion into this countywide working environment requires the use of both rural and urban fire-tactics. Continue reading

Brian Brush, Firefighter Rescue Survey, This is going to be HUGE

Over the past 10-years, significant research has been conducted on firefighting operations, tactics, and service delivery. Studies on how we do business when the bell rings and we roll out of the fire station have been authored and published by NIST, UL FSRI, and the ATF. The results of these studies have driven significant changes in the fire service.

But until 2021, the fire service has been missing out on a huge data set that will be the next significant change in how we do business. NFIRS and other data collection programs focus purely on the negative, lost lives, property loss, firefighter deaths, etc. While we know that we have been saving civilian lives in residential fires all across the nation, Brian Brush is on a mission to prove it through academic research.

Welcome to the 2021 Fireground Civilian Rescue Research Project. Hold onto your seat, because the initial results are already astonishing. County Fire Tactics (CF Tactics, CFT) stands with and backs this initiative by Chief Brush. The final results are going to be HUGE, providing evidence to what we already know, that it’s worth the risk. Firefighter Rescue Survey is the first of its kind, focusing purely on saving lives, our primary mission focus.

Initial results of the 2021 Fireground Civilian Rescue Research Project Continue reading