Ultimate Firefighter

Mayday Monday: Calling the Mayday

Mayday Monday

By Tony Carroll

When in trouble, a fire fighter’s first action must be to declare the Mayday as accurately as possible.”

The above quote comes from NIOSH report #F2014-19, Career Fire Fighter Dies From an Out-of-air Emergency in an Apartment Building Fire- Connecticut. At this incident, Hartford (CT) Firefighter Kevin Bell was located by the searching rapid intervention team (RIT). He was found with an empty SCBA and his face piece still in place. A Mayday message was transmitted by his officer in charge but never received.  During the fire, Firefighter Bell’s low air alarm began sounding and his officer advised him to exit the building. Unfortunately, he did not make it out before depleting his air supply. Bell did not declare a Mayday. Here is the link to the NIOSH report. Another excerpt from the NIOSH report:       

“A Mayday declaration is such an infrequent event in any fire fighter’s career that they need to frequently train in how to recognize the need for a Mayday, how to declare the Mayday…”

RELATED: Hartford (CT) LODD Report: Firefighter Became Entangled in Furniture | Injured Hartford Firefighter Returns to Duty After Fatal Fire

It is imperative that all firefighters train on Calling the Mayday. This month we will. Here is the plan:

1. Review the Mayday procedures.

2. Call communications and secure a radio channel to Call the Mayday.

3. Don turnout gear including SCBA and portable radio. Ensure members are wearing firefighting gloves while manipulating the radio.

4. Have each member issue a Mayday message on the secured radio channel.

5. Include activating the EBS button on the portable radio.

Please practice calling the Mayday. As stated in the report, members need to frequently train on how to declare the Mayday. Don’t let the first time making this transmission be during the stress of the emergency.

Remember to send in pictures of you and your crew practicing the monthly Mayday drill/skill. Send to [email protected]. See you next month.


Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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