Firefighting, Health & Safety

Search and Rescue Above the Fire

Issue 3 and Volume 170.

By Daniel Stratton on a floor above the fire’s origin is the most hazardous place for search and rescue groups to operate. In Wilmington, Delaware, on September 24, 2016, Lieutenant Christopher Leach, 41, and Firefighter Jerry Fickes, 51, perished from injuries sustained while conducting such an operation. Firefighter Ardythe Hope was in critical condition and died of her injuries 61 days later. Firefighter Brad Speakerman, who sustained burns over 30 percent of his body, was hospitalized for 41 days. This fire was in a row home and originated in the basement. It’s suspected that a floor collapse as the crews were conducting search and rescue may have contributed to the tragedy. (1-4) Note the time stamp on the four photos. This is a testament to how fast fire can communicate to the floor above. (Photos by the late Steve Skipton.) Hazards The primary hazard is the fire itself; it will…

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