Unless you have been living under a rock you know that a few days ago Capt. Jeff Bowen of the City of Ashville Fire Department, made the ultimate sacrifice at a medical office building fire on Thursday.
A lot of information is coming out now about the fire, the radio traffic, and reports from survivors (several other firefighters were injured). One thing to remember is that nothing discussed about he incident should be to ridicule, or insult yet it should be to learn so that the same fate is not met by someone else.
One thing that has come out was in an addition of “The Secret List”. A news paper is reporting that there was a significant issue with the standpipe system which caused a serious problem with applying water to the fire.
One thing that I feel is very important to stress is the importance of the initial attack hose line. The initial attack line is the make or break of any fire, if it can not get into place in short order and flowing an adequate amount of water to combat the fire then you are going to lose. If you are an engine company member and you have decreased water flow, difficulty getting water, or a loss of water then you must issue a MAYDAY. If you are a truck company, squad company, special service company, or another engine company and you hear the message that the first attack line is having difficulty, you need to immediately retreat to a safe haven, preferably out of the structure. If the attack hose line is not making progress on the fire, or is out of commission you have to stop advancing into the fire building as the fire is now burning uncontrolled and will be advancing.
This is not to say that we do not initiate search, or other interior ops in front of the hose line. It does say that we have to maintain our awareness and there is a certain point that we can not enter, or advance within a structure without the protection of a hoseline. One of these times is when we have initiated operations with a hose line and the water is reduced, or lost. When this is discovered we must stop our advance and retreat to a safe area, or exit the structure. Once water is restored operations can continue, but until then without making impact on the fire the risk may not equal the reward.
Rest In Peace Capt. Bowen.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!