THE Fire: If I Could’ve Gotten In, I Would’ve Gotten In!

By Billy Goldfeder

There are lots of discussions these days about firefighting…some of it good, some of it head scratching. But that’s OK, lets keep talking–and learning from facts, experiences, and each other. 

But while we are talking, we need to not lose focus of the fact that there are “those fires” where we must decide immediately what to do. And unless you really are not “into the job” (career, volunteer, whatever, as JohnS says) you have, in the back of your mind, the understanding that the “next” fire may be THE FIRE. It’s why we plan, train, and train. And train. 

When we get to THE FIRE, we must rapidly size up, looking at the conditions, the needs and our immediately available resources.  

There was a horrible dwelling fire in Baldwinsville, New York, last Sunday that I wanna pass on to you. It was THE FIRE to the members of this fire department.

Two-year-old Nora Lamirande was napping inside her upstairs bedroom Sunday while her mom and brother were outside in the nice weather. The four-year-old boy ran to a neighbor’s home and his mother followed after. When she looked back to return home, she saw her home, with her little girl inside, on fire.

THE FIRE.

Neighbors called 911 immediately. The Baldwinsville firefighters responded. Fast. REALLY FAST. Neighbors tried to help until the first FD unit arrive…and they did within 3 minutes. Fire investigators said the fire started in the kitchen because of something on the stove. Neighbors first tried to rescue the little girl, but the fire was too heavy…the smoke too thick.

Baldwinsville Firefighters responded in minutes. Impressive response times for any FD.

1431 Dispatched

1434 On Scene

1434 Working Fire Transmitted 

1434 2nd Alarm Transmitted

1435 Crew Goes In-Finds Child In 2nd Floor Crib

1439 Firefighter (D/C) Collapses On Front Lawn After handing Off Child For Treatment

Veteran 40-year firefighter Deputy Chief Anthony DiGregorio was the first to arrive and attempt entry – but the fire conditions stopped his heroic attempts. He tried his best-he gave it his all. He made a difficult but no other option decision to wait for the engine company that was on the way, while he sized up the fire and determine exactly what to do when companies arrived.

Chief DiGregorio told the media “I didn’t want that child to die alone. People know me. I would have…if I could have gotten in there, I would have gotten in there.”

Chief D told Engine 7 to hit the stairs with their line. The fire conditions were extremely heavy-but there was a baby inside and a family on the front lawn. Engine 7’s crew, lead by Lt. Corey Perkins did just that-they protected the stairs. They needed a way to get in-and get out-if at all possible. Ladder 2’s crew, with Lt Tony Harper, went up the stairs behind the two Chiefs to protect their means of egress.

After Chief D and Battalion Chief Tim Kennedy found the baby, they removed the baby (because they could-because the engine and truck crew did their jobs) and gave the baby to EMS…Chief D collapsed on the front lawn. A superhuman attempt in a beyond human situation. The fire conditions were extremely heavy.

Chief DiGregorio, Kennedy and their companies did what they did based upon decades of experience and decades of training-the two go hand in hand. Then, when THE FIRE comes in, we apply our very best in a battle that we sometimes win-and sometimes don’t win…it is not always within our power. 

The loss of a victim is never easy. 

The loss of a child victim goes beyond that. 

And while this is about as tough as tough gets, those Baldwinsville Firefighters-can hopefully find some level of peace knowing that they did what Firefighters are expected to do, and they did their very best. 

Hearing and then reading about the loss of this child hit me. 

Middle of the day? 

How can that happen?

All the questions go thru our minds. 

I’m a Dad and I’m a Poppie. I LOVE being a Dad and a Poppie. My two without question most important jobs. If you are a parent or a grandparent you know the love and feeling of “I would do anything for these kids”…and when you are a firefighter, it multiplies and emotionally explodes in numerous dimensions…when you hear about THE FIRE. In this case, the BFD members experienced THE FIRE. With all the emotions that go along with it–as parents, as firefighters.

The fact is that food was left on the stove-we have all done it-but this time resulted in a horrific outcome for the family. The fact is also that the Baldwinsville FD members did their very best and as Firefighters, we often feel that our best (solid training, rapid response etc) is not enough. Sometimes it isn’t-but it’s all we can do when dealing with THAT FIRE that we are presented with.

Our condolences to everyone involved in this very tough situation.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH CHIEF DiGREGORIO:

http://tinyurl.com/nk46z34

BILLY GOLDFEDER, EFO, Billy Goldfederis deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department. He has been a firefighter since 1973, a company officer since 1979, and a chief officer since 1982. He serves on the International Association of Fire Chiefs board of directors, the September 11th Families Association, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. He has taught at FDIC for 30-plus years and is a member of the Fire Engineering editorial advisory board and the FDIC executive advisory board.

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