Mayday Monday: Fire Behavior and Ventilation

Mayday Monday on Chicago LODD
Mayday Monday on Chicago LODD

This Mayday Monday post begins the seventh year of these firefighter survival messages and training.  Thanks for your support!  Exciting news: in addition to the usual written media, this month you will find a Mayday Monday podcast brought to you from Fire Engineering Magazine and the great people at Clarion Events Fire & Rescue Group.  You can watch that video in the player below.

Fire Engineering/YouTube

November 2 marked the eighth anniversary of a fire that took the life of Captain Herbie Johnson, a 33-year veteran of the Chicago (IL) Fire Department. Units responded to the neighborhood on a “smoke in the area” run and found a house on fire. Captain Johnson and his engine company, E-123, were stretching an attack line onto the second floor of a typical Chicagoland 2½-story single-family dwelling when conditions changed. The hallway where the captain was operating quickly became filled with fire gases and heat after a door to the fire-involved stairwell failed. Temperatures went from 70°F to upwards of 500°F in seconds. Here is a link to the NIOSH report. In addition to the NIOSH report, NIST recreated the fire with its Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS).  You can find a video of the FDS below.


When you read the reports and watch the video, you will hear some terms which you maybe unfamiliar with. Terms like:

Thanks to UL FSRI for the explanations.

It’s great to watch a video and read reports, but we want to reinforce the information with hands-on practical evolutions.  This month’s skill/drill is to build a training prop and get up close and personal with fire behavior.  Thanks to our friends at Stop Believing and Start Knowing, here are the plans to build and burn a Palmer’s Dollhouse.

Fire Engineering/YouTube

Here’s your chance to show off your carpenter skills. Now, get to work!  Don’t forget to send pictures of you and your crew(s) performing the Mayday Monday skill/drill. Send to !!

Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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