On December 28, 2015, a 28-year-old male career firefighter died because of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation with severe pulmonary edema at a single-family residential structure fire. Firefighter Patrick Wolterman of the Hamilton (OH) Fire Department was advancing the initial handline into a fire with reported people trapped when he fell into the basement. The arson fire had burned a hole through the floor. In the Hamilton Fire Department’s investigative report after the fire, the committee made the following observation:
“All fire officers should be using the same size-up process and communications model on the fireground.”-1310 Pater Avenue LODD Report, page 26
Above, Joe Pronesti interviews Hamilton (OH) Deputy Chief Jay Wirtz about the fire that claimed the life of Firefighter Patrick Wolterman in 2015.
This month’s skill/drill is to practice the size-up or brief initial report (BIR). If you have been with Mayday Mondays for awhile, you may remember this skill/drill using the Sunday Paper-Real Estate section. This time I want you to advance to the computer and use a mapping program like Google Maps and a drawing program like PowerPoint or Word to develop simple fire simulations. After you develop the fire picture, ask members to “size-up” the situation. Make sure to include different types of building construction and occupancies. Ensure the size-up report includes quadrants and appropriate exposure designations. Don’t forget to include a “practical” portion and get your crew outside to practice their size-ups in 3-D.
Here’s a quick tutorial on making a simulation:
- Open PowerPoint and start a new presentation.
- Go to Google Maps.
- Select an address in your area.
- Zoom to streetside view and get the shot you want.
- Press “Control” key and “Print Screen” key to copy picture.
- Go back to PowerPoint. Select “Paste” and the Google Map image should paste into slide.
- Using the “Shape” insert, draw fire and smoke with “Freeform” line.
- Fill fire with orange color and smoke with black/gray.
- Repeat for additional “simulations.”
- Print slides.
Time to practice!!
Just like donning your PPE, stretching a hoseline or a throwing a ladder, we must practice our size-up skills. The time you put into the practice will reap benefits when it really counts. Thanks for visiting for another firefighter survival skill/drill. Send in one of your simulations. We can post them for others to see/use. E-mail to mayday.Monday@dc.gov. See you next month/year.
Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.