Firefighters Trapped in a Flashover

By John K. Murphy

On October 7, 2008, a structure fire at Stilt Court in Sacramento, California, was reported to the alarm center. An ordinary and “routine” house fire turned into something else for the firefighters within the first several minutes into this residential structure fire. In just minutes after entering the structure, Captain Jeff Helvin and his three firefighters were caught in one of the worst possible scenarios of their careers – a flashover.

Listen to Captain Helvin as he describes the harrowing tale of his near-death experience and his crew’s survival in a new podcast HERE.. Listen to how those lessons learned has changed Captain Helvin’s approach to all types of fires. You will hear how Captain Helvin’s mental and physical preparation begins while he driving to the firehouse at the beginning of his shift and how he passes those preparation lessons to the audience.

To see Captain Helvin’s experience through a helmet camera’s real time view click on and go to the Thursday’s presentations and scroll down on the menu of presentations. It’s one presentation you do not want to miss.

You can also read Captain Helvin’s description of the events HERE or contact Captain Helvin directly at

John K. Murphy has been a career member of the fire service for 32 years. He retired as a deputy fire chief with Eastside (WA) Fire & Rescue in Issaquah, Washington, and the fire chief of the City of Sammamish (WA). He is an attorney whose focus is on employment practices liability, policy, internal investigations, and firefighter health and safety. He is an expert witness and consultant on risk management for private and public entities. He lectures and writes on fire service topics related to company officer operations, organizational liability, and personnel issues.

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