Fire Prevention & Protection, Firefighting, Truck Company

Lightweight Apartment Building Fires: Heavyweight Realities

Issue 6 and Volume 167.

BY DAN MILLER In March 2013, Captain Charlie O’Borny was leading Engine 71 (E-71) of the Omaha (NE) Fire Department (OFD), conducting fire attack on the top floor of the Hillsborough Pointe Apartment complex in Omaha, when a sudden roof collapse knocked him to the ground, separated him from his crew, disoriented him to his surroundings, and nearly cost him his life. Following the collapse, he had the wherewithal to manually activate his personal alert safety system (PASS) device and crawl through a narrow passage into a small bathroom for safety while he gathered his senses. In interviews following the fire, O’Borny stated that he wasn’t sure if he was knocked unconscious by the collapse or not. After searching for an exit and attempting multiple times to communicate with Command by radio, he discovered that his only way out was a fire-destroyed balcony, against which exterior firefighters had thrown ground…

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