Mayday Monday: Saving a Firefighter Who Has Fallen Below Grade

By Tony Carroll

During the month of October, there was an anniversary of a fire that helped advance firefighter survival in D.C. It has been 19 years since the fire that claimed Sgt. John Carter. Sgt. Carter had just assumed duty and units were dispatched for smoke coming from a building. He was leading his crew, backing up the first-due engine, which was looking for the seat of the fire. A jam-packed corner store had a fire in the basement that had been burning for hours. The fire had compromised the floor joists and as members were advancing their lines there feet were going through the floor. The decision was made to back out. When the crews got outside, they realized the Sgt. wasn’t with them–he had fallen into the basement.  Crews tried to go back in, but the conditions were too bad. His body was removed after the fire was extinguished. Here are links to the Reconstruction Report and a video in memory of Sgt. Carter:

Kennedy Street Report

Today’s Mayday Monday drill reviews the technique a crew can use to rescue one of their own if he or she falls below grade. If conditions allow, the hose team can send a bight of the charged hoseline down into a hole. The firefighter below can straddle, or step on, the hose as the crew above pulls the line up and out. Go give it a try. Send in some pictures of the crew performing the skill to mayday.monday@dc.gov. We would love to see you all training.   

FYI…In order to give all shifts the time to test out the suggested survival drills, Mayday Monday’s will be presented on a monthly basis now. Look for the posts near the beginning of each month. Thanks for your support and keep sending in your suggestions and comments. 

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

Mayday Monday: Size-Up

Mayday Monday: Entanglement

Mayday Monday: Air Consumption Drill

Mayday Monday: Hoarding

Mayday Monday: Situational Awareness

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