Firefighter Fatalities, Firefighting, Fireground Safety, Health & Safety

May Their Sacrifices Not Be in Vain: Bryan (TX) LODD Case Study

Bryan (TX) LODDs: Lt. Gregory Pickard and Lt. Eric Wallace

By Joe Pronesti

As officers, one of the most potent lessons we can offer our firefighters is the review of line-of-duty death (LODD) reports and close calls. Unfortunately I also see a new pattern in the fire service of members not taking the time to read, whether that be books, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports, etc.

We live and work in an “app” society in which everything needs to be quick and to the point. To be a good firefighter, that doesn’t cut it, but I do understand the need to streamline learning to help educate today’s firefighters. With that said I have developed a few reviews of several line-of-duty deaths which have occurred in the last 10 years or so. These LODD review “apps” if you will, contain information about the event and only the facts taken from the after action reviews and reports. They are made with the intent of being taken and used in the firehouse setting to help members remember the sacrifice of fallen firefighters, educate, and also provide stimulation and dialogue on locations in those reviewing towns where a similar event could occur. This by no means replaces the need to read and study LODD events and reviews, but my hope of providing that spark to learn something, apply it to your community or protection district, and inspire a further search for knowledge.

This will be Part I of our LODD/Close Calls Case Studies.

Bryan, Texas: February 15, 2013

Two Bryan (TX) fire lieutenants, Gregory Pickard and Eric Wallace, were killed and two other firefighters were seriously hurt when a fire occurred in a Knights of Columbus Hall. Lieutenant Wallace was on the initial attack line and became disoriented and low on air. Lieutenant Pickard was leading the rapid intervention team trying to rescue Wallace when a flashover occurred, seriously injuring him and his crew and ultimately resulting in his fatal injuries.

There were three reports completed, one by the Texas Fire Marshal, NIOSH, and an internal report. Some top considerations taken from the reports are as follows:

Firefighters did not recognize the conditions indicative of two dangerous situations that were present or developing while conducting interior operations:

1. Fire was involving concealed spaces above the ceiling.

2. Flashover conditions.

3. Communications and calling Mayday.

Review the full incident via PowerPoint HERE.

Joe PronestiJOSEPH PRONESTI is a 26-year veteran of the Elyria (OH) Fire Department, where he is an assistant chief and shift commander. He is a graduate of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Executive Officer program and a lead instructor at the Cuyahoga (OH) County Community College Fire Academy. He is a contributor to fire service publications and sites, including Fire Engineering. He will be presenting a four-hour preconference classroom at FDIC International 2016 titled “Main Street Tactics and Strategies: Are You Ready?” He can be reached at [email protected]