Features, Firefighting

Mayday Monday: Basement Fires

Mayday Monday on Basement Fires

With all the attention on the coronavirus pandemic, we also need to remember that we are still responding to fires.  On the morning of April 3, we woke to the following headline on fire service social media sites:

North Carolina Firefighters Fall Through Floor in House Fire

Reports are that Burlington firefighters began a search for possible trapped occupants and during the search effort the crew fell into the basement.  They were quickly rescued.  Over the years, the month of April has seen several basement fire incidents.  Here are a few:

APRIL 12, 2015: Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies in a Floor Collapse While Working Above a Residential Basement Fire—South Dakota, F2015-21

APRIL 4, 2009: A Career Captain and a Part-time Fire Fighter Die in a Residential Floor Collapse—Ohio, F2008-09

After learning of the death of Columbus (OH) Firefighter John Nance (story), several departments began training on a rope rescue technique for a basement rescue scenario.  The D.C. fire department created the below-grade rescue kit.  This month the Mayday Monday skill is to review the operation of the kit (or other basement rescue techniques). See the image above.

RELATED

Training Days: The John Nance Drill

The Rochester Drill: Rescuing a Firefighter Trapped in the Floor

Basement fires continue to be a dangerous operation for firefighters.  To help with managing the risk associated with basement fires, firefighters need to perform a thorough size-up including a 360° and attempt to attack the fire on its level.  Advancing down the interior stairs to attack the fire should be a last resort and performed with a flowing handline. Here is a link to recent research on basement fires by UL and the ISFSI. 

Thanks for viewing this month’s Mayday Monday.  Send in any pictures or videos of you and your crew practicing basement rescue techniques to [email protected].

On a non-fire related survival note, please take all precautions when responding on suspected COVID-19 incidents.  Take some time and practice donning and doffing your PPE.  While not as fun as donning your turnout gear, it is extremely important to get it right.  We will get through this, but we must be vigilant!!