🚒 A rapid response from Escambia County firefighter Charles Bailey saved the life of a victim trapped inside a home on Sunday, July 19.
👨🏽🚒 Bailey, rescued one adult from the window of a home after just 1 minute and 40 seconds.
“This is an outstanding display of situational awareness, confidence, training, and actions leading to the saving of a life,” said Paul Williams, Escambia County Interim Fire Chief. “This was one of those times that required immediate action, and firefighter Bailey’s response was the right decision for the situation in which he encountered.”
SEARCHING WITHOUT A LINE: WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
BY MIKE LOMBARDO
Risk analysis models influence much of the fireground decision making in the fire service today. But at times we are called to go against these models, act against the odds. The results of such actions are sometimes tragic and sometimes successful. Regardless of the outcome, the fire service must remember that we are a human service, and a standard set of rules or guidelines cannot always dictate the actions of the firefighters who serve the public.
On the evening of January 29, 1998, at approximately 6:30 p.m., a full first-alarm assignment was dispatched to a report of a fire on Townsend Street in Buffalo, New York. The assignment consisted of three engine companies, two truck companies, a rescue company, and a battalion chief.
Truck 11 arrived right behind Battalion 3; the fire was only two blocks from the unit`s quarters. It is a single unit stationed only with the chief; it carries no water and was staffed that evening with five firefighters and an officer. On arrival, the fire was observed venting from two doors and two windows on the number 4 side, from the first-floor rear apartment of this two-story wood-frame dwelling.
With very heavy fire venting from every opening on the number 4 side of the building except one and no engine company yet on location, the prudent decision would have been to await the arrival of an engine and the stretching of a line. However, there were also a frantic mother and father screaming that one of their children was not yet out of the apartment.
Battalion Chief Tom McNaughton also relayed to us that a child was indeed inside the building. He requested that we attempt to enter and search for the child.
There were no openings on the number 3 side of the structure, and windows on the number 2 side were immediately inaccessible by security bars (doors to the apartment were on the number 4 side).
I made the decision to enter the only remaining window into the apartment that was not venting fire. Heavy smoke pushed from the window. Firefighters Tom Jackson and Chuck Sardo and I entered the window into a bathroom. There was a high heat condition in this room. Ahead was a small hallway, where fire was rolling across the ceiling. Jackson crawled through the hallway and into the kitchen. Conditions were worsening rapidly. Fire was heavy in the kitchen.
Outside, Truck 11`s driver, Firefighter Tom Schmelzinger, handed a 212-gallon extinguisher into the bathroom window to me while Firefighters Tom Sullivan and Mike Taube went to the number 2 side of the building to force entry through the security bars on the windows there. (There were also scissor gates on the doors of this apartment house, though they were not a factor in the fire.)
Jackson traveled through the kitchen, with Sardo following. I tried to protect them as much as possible with the water can. Then Jackson entered a small bedroom off the kitchen. He searched a set of bunk beds in this room, with negative results. He came to a pile of clothes in front of the bedroom closet. He found a two-year-old boy.
The bedroom window was barred, providing no exit. Jackson rushed the baby out of the room and almost became trapped in the tiny space at the beginning of the hall between the kitchen sink and hallway wall, which measured less than 18 inches. His helmet was dislodged halfway off his head. He handed the baby to Sardo, who handed the child to me, and I passed him outside to firefighters. The child was in cardiac arrest, and the firefighters performed CPR as they rushed him to a waiting ambulance.
Meanwhile, I used the water can to protect Jackson and Sardo as they made their way forward to the bathroom. It did not extinguish much fire but slowed its progress. I ascertained from Chief McNaughton that th