Mayday Monday: Below-Grade Rescue

Colerain firefighter LODDs

By Tony Carroll

Happy 1st Monday of April. The staff here at Mayday Mondays hopes everyone is ready for springtime.  We are.

During the month of April, the fire service will see the anniversary date of a fire that took the lives of two Colerain (OH) firefighters.  Captain R. Broxterman and Firefighter B. Schira were killed while battling a basement fire in a two-story single family wood-frame dwelling.  A building that just about every firefighter may respond to. It is believed that as the two members were exiting the building, the floor system failed causing them to fall into the basement fire. To honor their sacrifice, the brave officers and members of the Colerain FD produced a very thorough report on this tragedy. Below are some related links on this fire:

Colerain report

NIOSH report

Entering Through the Door, Falling Through the Floor: Catastrophic Structural Collapse

Goldfeder: It’s ALWAYS a Fire

Mayday Monday: Saving a Firefighter Who Has Fallen Below Grade

The April Mayday training will be to practice rescuing a firefighter from a below grade area. One option for this scenario is to use the below grade rescue kit. To refresh, the kit consists of two 100-foot ropes configured with a knot at the halfway point and a carabiner affixed to the knot. This setup can be attached to the shoulder straps of a member trapped in the basement and the rescue team will hoist the member up and out of danger. In addition, the kit contains two 50-foot sections of smaller rope cordage to be attached to the rescue firefighter who was lowered into the basement. This “tagline” will ensure the rescue firefighter does not lose contact with the team above. Now, go practice this firefighter rescue scenario. We must be ready for this situation.

Please send in pictures of you and your crew performing this skill. Send them to In addition, check back during the month for other below-grade rescue options. Until next time–be ready!

Tony Carroll is a captain with the safety office of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

Mayday Monday: It’s Not Luck…

Mayday Monday: Radio Communications

Mayday Monday: Calling the Mayday

Mayday Monday: Search Rope

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