The economic crisis that our country is currently experiencing has some far reaching effects. Not only are fire departments struggling with budget related issues, but most jurisdictions have also noticed an increase in the number of vacant and abandoned buildings. Unoccupied structures have become a target for vandalism, theft, and arson, and can also hide many potential hazards for firefighters. Planning for these situations can be difficult as building contacts and key holders are sometimes difficult to locate. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s featured report:
“Units were dispatched to a reported structure fire in an area previously partially developed as a residential subdivision. Recently, the entire property area had been purchased and was being re-developed. The structure was reported as well involved upon dispatch. As units arrived, they observed a 2 story structure, fully involved, from approximately 200 yards away. Due to the re-development of the area, actual road access was now only a dim wooded trail. It was at night and very dark. A captain exited his engine company, with his firefighter, and traveled through the woods, proceeding to the structure to locate an access road. As he approached the structure and began a more thorough size up, the captain fell into a swimming pool. The pool was covered with leaves, algae and growing vegetation. The captain immediately was submerged over his head in full structural PPE including SCBA…”
There are signs that the economy is turning around. As development rebounds, builders are returning to locations that were previously abandoned. The lessons you derive from this week’s report should be carried with you on your next and all subsequent runs in your district. Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:
1. What are some other possible hazards that can be associated with vacant and abandoned structures?
2. Has your department developed a plan or SOP regarding responses at abandoned buildings?
3. Has your department taken steps to locate and identify abandoned buildings in your jurisdiction, especially those with pools?
4. Are your members trained in surviving a fall into water while wearing bunker gear and PPE?
5. No matter what the situation or hazards that may be present, do you think working together as a crew helps to protect firefighters?
Have you been involved in a near miss involving a yard hazard? Submit your account today to ensure tomorrow’s attack teams benefit from your knowledge. Submit your incident to www.firefighternearmiss.com today so everyone goes home tomorrow.
Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.