Firefighting, Leadership


Issue 8 and Volume 144.

Photo by John Axford. On the night of Saturday, February 23, 1991, fire struck One Meridian Plaza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was to become one of the worst highrise fires in history. Three firefighters died and 24 were injured. Nine floors of the 38-story office building were completely destroyed, causing millions of dollars in damage. Operations and logistics were severely hampered by failure of major building operating systems: main electrical power, emergency generator power, and, most important, water pressure from the standpipe system. Rapid fire spread required a massive mobilization of firefighting forces. Hours into the operation, the advancement of the fire, the toll it took on firefighters, and the possibility of a major structural collapse forced withdrawal of personnel from the building. The fire burned freely until extinguished by automatic sprinklers on an upper floor, fed by department pumpers through the standpipe system. RELATED SOME OPERATIONAL LESSONS LEARNED FROM…

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