Mayday Monday: Entanglement Hazards

Entanglement hazards

By Tony Carroll

The “Mayday Monday” firefighter survival campaign emphasizes the need to be prepared for the hazards we may face. One of the hazards which seems to appearing more and more is getting tangled in wires while battling a fire. This scenario took the life of a firefighter in Memphis, Tennessee, back in 1994. The victim was found and removed by search crews, but it was too late.  Here’s an excerpt from the NIOSH report on the fire:

“Fire fighter No. 9 and No. 10…opened the ninth floor exit door, and as they entered, spotted a downed fireman approximately 9 feet from the door, tangled in wire cables.”

Here’s the link to the whole report:  Hazard Health Evaluation


Photo of wire cutters by J. Jefferies, CFD, NC

Last Monday, firefighters from the DCFD’s 1st Battalion practiced this scenario.  Using an entanglement simulator, members trained on negotiating the wire hazard. There were several lessons learned from the drill, including:

  • Know which parts of your PPE will get snagged by wires (helmet, SCBA, etc.).
  • Get a good wire cutter.
  • Make sure you can access the wire cutter.

This month’s survival drill is to practice negotiating an entanglement hazard. You don’t need a simulator. Run some rope or wire between a couple of pallets or between lockers in the locker room. Include in your drill a “test’ to see whether the vision-obscured, fire-gloved member can get their wire cutter out and use it. Remember to send in pictures of you and your crew performing your drill to

One more thing, the staff at Mayday Mondays will be going to the FDIC International 2018 conference next April to present about the firefighter survival campaign. Below is a video about the presentation. Please take a look, and thanks for your support

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

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