Letters to the Editor: August 2021

Read some letters the staff of Fire Engineering received, including thoughts on Mike Rowe and Eagle Scouts.

What I Learned from Training Minutes

On April 30, 2021, I responded with my rescue company to what would become a two-alarm fire in a three-story wood-frame garden-style apartment. On arrival, we had what was believed to be an occupied apartment building with an advanced fire on several balconies and in the attic space. On reaching the top floor of the building, my lieutenant assigned me and my crew primary search of the C/D apartment. We held back for a moment so that the first line was in place and started to make a knockdown in the A/D apartment, which my lieutenant and his crew were searching. Once inside the C/D apartment, my crew made fast work of searching the three-bedroom layout and went to head back out. During our search, we noted that the balcony was well-involved in fire.

We made our way back to the main entry and, on opening the door, noticed that our egress had been cut off. While we were searching the apartment, there had been a collapse of the breezeway ceiling and attic space.

We quickly went back to the balcony to recheck fire conditions. Conditions on the balcony were the same as before, so we decided to make our exit in the breezeway. I told my crew member to transmit a Mayday, which he did in a calm and concise manner. I proceeded into a void space under the collapse debris. I was then able to remove some debris and bicycles, exposing a section of railing. From this point, I beat out a few spindles in the railing to make a large enough hole for us to crawl through and then drop down onto the second-floor breezeway.

A few years ago, I remember watching a Training Minutes video in which Michael N. Ciampo was demonstrating how to get off a crowded stairwell. His technique was to remove spindles from a second-floor railing, making a hole for a crew to move off the stairs. I can say with certainty that recalling the skills from this video assisted my crew in self-extricating from our situation in an expeditious manner.

Ciampo: Remove the Balusters

I would like to thank the team at Fire Engineering for producing quality firefighter training videos that are easy to digest and recall in a time of need. I will most definitely be rewatching older Training Minutes videos and am looking forward to new segments. Again, thank you for your diligent work in getting these training videos to the public.

Aaron Schwarzenegger
Fire Technician/EMT
Loudoun County (VA) Department of Fire Rescue


Scoutmaster Minute

In “Risk and Rewards” (Editor’s Opinion, March 2021), Bobby Halton noted Mike Rowe and his “Safety Third.” Rowe is an Eagle Scout and has talked about his time in the Scouts very highly and what it has done for him. Being a Scoutmaster Emeritus, I climb the stairs for an assistant scoutmaster who did not return to our troop after 9/11 (that is why I wear a Scout T-shirt). I read/follow Rowe because he offers ideas for Scoutmaster Minutes.

The Scoutmaster Minute is when the scoutmaster speaks to the Scouts at the end of a meeting, camping trip, or event and gives them some words to think about. It could be something about a point in history, something in the news that day, or something inspirational or even funny. Halton’s Editor’s Opinions have very much the same feel—sometimes history and very much current. In many ways, he is giving the Scoutmaster Minute to the readers of Fire Engineering.

I had to point that out and, more important, say thanks. We all need that support.

Tim Pillsworth
Past Chief
Winona Lake (NY) Engine Company #2
Scoutmaster Emeritus
Troop 416
Washingtonville, New York


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