…NOT Every LODD Is Avoidable
By Billy Goldfeder
April 11 was the ninth anniversary of the line-of-duty death of New Jersey Firefighter/Foreman Kevin Apuzzio, who gave his life while attempting to save the life of a trapped civilian.
There are times where firefighters take risks and there is no reason to do what we did…and it was obvious even beforehand. Sometimes we find ourselves so off the scale of doing something so ridiculous (sometimes just ’cause we ‘wanna) that we are just thankful we got away with it–or didn’t. We freelance, we don’t size-up, we ignore officers orders–it happens.
However, there are times where we absolutely must do what we are expected to do—when the conditions indicate that we, the FIREFIGHTERS FROM THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, must do whatever it takes, to take the risk to do the right thing in helping people who count us as their last resort. That happens, too. While many absolutely are, NOT EVERY LODD is avoidable.
Below are the factual details from the Incident Commander, Chief Danny Krushinski (who is featured in the Pennwell/Fire Engineering book “PASS IT ON”) of the East Franklin (NJ) Fire Department about the fire in which Kevin gave his life in the line of duty as a true hero :
“…On April 11th, 2006, many of our lives changed in a heartbeat, especially the life of 21 year old Firefighter Kevin Apuzzio. Kevin stood courageous on the front lawn of 36 Whittier Avenue and said “Chief, what do you need my crew and I to do?” I Said “Kevin, go in and get her.” While it only seems like yesterday, to me it is still clear as day. With a house full of smoke and an elderly women trapped, Kevin did not hesitate and attempted to rescue her. I knew when the floor collapsed and my Firefighters fell into that basement from that point forward, their lives along with many others would be changed forever. While several were seriously injured and burned, Kevin lost his life with the victim he and his Brothers were valiantly trying to save.
UNDERSTAND THE FIRE DETAILS
On April 11, 2006, Foreman Kevin Apuzzio died while he and four members of the East Franklin VFD selflessly and heroically attempted to rescue 75-year-old Betty Scott from a single family dwelling fire. Foreman Apuzzio died when he became trapped after falling through a floor that collapsed into a well involved basement…he fell just a few feet from the front door, with Mrs Scott in hand. Mrs. Scott also died in the fire as Kevin and crew, just a few feet from the front door, were attempting to remove her.
It is sadly but widely acknowledged, that most firefighter LODDs can clearly be prevented. However, in this case, it is documented that Kevin died while he and his crew were heroically attempting a rescue – that based upon conditions and size up, was the right thing to do.
HERE is the FIRE / LODD REPORT: http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/dfs/reports/eastfranklin.pdf
HERE is the EFFD Website: http://www.station27.com/
HERE IS RELATED VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w05Y6saNYEw
While most LODDs have proven to be avoidable, some are not. Consider the critical factor of planning before “the fire” to minimize the potential of inappropriately placing your members in harms way by assuring solid and everyday training, adequate resources, and reliable, qualified leadership.
We take a moment to again remember Kevin, the Apuzzio Family (Kevin’s Dad, Dr. Joe Apuzzio also wrote a chapter in the Pennwell book “PASS IT ON”) and the members of the East Franklin Fire Department, along with all area fire departments that were impacted by Kevin’s death. Rest in Peace.
BILLY GOLDFEDER, EFO, has been a firefighter since 1973 and is a deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), and the September 11th Families Association. He, along with Gordon Graham, hosts and co-sponsors www.FireFighterCloseCalls.com, a noncommercial and free Web site dedicated to firefighter survival. His book Pass It On (Fire Engineering) will be released at FDIC 2014. All of the proceeds will be donated 50/50 to the Chief Ray Downey Scholarship Fund and the NFFF.