Features, Health & Safety, RIT

Mayday Monday: The Denver Drill

By Tony Carroll

The 28th of this month will mark 27years since the death of Denver (CO) Firefighter Mark Langvardt. Anyone who has done any Mayday training knows the story of Mark. Here is a review.

On September 28, 1992, Mark responded with Truck 16.  They found fire in several locations of a two-story commercial printing business. During the search of the second floor, Mark became separated from his partner and could not exit via the interior stairs. The incident commander saw a light shining out a window on the second floor and sent a crew to go check on it.

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The crew found Firefighter Langvardt unable to rescue himself in a very tight space with a high window sill. Crews repeatedly attempted to rescue Mark through the window. The rescue went on for almost an hour when finally a second plan of removal was tried. After 55 minutes, Firefighter Langvardt was removed and transported to the hospital. He died from CO poisoning. The Denver Fire Department was devastated  Some of the lessons learned:

  • Have a stand-by fresh rescue team (rapid intervention team).
  • The stand-by team should develop several rescue plans.
  • Practice removal techniques in confined spaces.
  • Bring an air supply for member in trouble.

Please review the incident and learn from it. Although these types of emergencies don’t happen very often, they do happen. A recent 2018 fire in Worcester, Massachusetts, took the life of Firefighter Christopher Roy. Worcester firefighters worked heroically to rescue Roy, even attempting to cut down the window to facilitate removal.  Cutting down the window is a tactic born out of our learning from the Denver incident 27 years ago.

Now, it is time to practice the Denver Drill. Ready, go!!

Please send picture/videos of you and your crew practicing this month’s skill/drill. Send them 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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