Photos and report by Rita Reith
Three firefighters were injured during a recent working fire at an abandoned double residence in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Two firefighters fell through the floor into the basement and another was hit on the head by a falling joist. One firefighter was on the first floor attack line and fell through a hole down into the basement. Another firefighter was on the attack line and had just reached the second story landing when the floor gave way and he fell from the second story – down through the first floor and into the basement – landing on top of the first firefighter.
A third firefighter was on the first floor attack line and was hit in the head by a falling joist which knocked off his helmet, despite the secured chin strap and his SCBA face piece. A Mayday was established but rescinded after all three firefighters were quickly brought out of the structure by other crews. All three were transported to an area medical facility to be checked out for back, elbow, shoulder, neck and arm pain.
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Indianapolis firefighters have battled 27 structure fires since November 1, 2017, 13 of which have been in vacant structures, including this one. Investigators continue to work on cause and origin for the fires, but state that neighbors are reporting activity happening in and around the vacant structures. This is the second time in less than a month that three firefighters have been injured while battling fire in a vacant structure. The structural integrity of these homes is often compromised because of lack of maintenance, vandalism, arson, or theft and presents a huge and significant safety issue for firefighters responding to the fire. Whether the cause is trespassing by squatters trying to keep warm, the crime of arson, or any other reason, making unauthorized entry into a structure is illegal and needs to be reported to police.
RITA L. REITH is a battalion chief with the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department and serves as the agency’s public information officer.