Mayday Monday: Getting Air to a Firefighter in Distress

Mayday Monday

By Tony Carroll
Courtesy the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department

Over the past month there were some anniversaries of important fire service events. One of them was the tragic Southwest Inn fire from Houston, Texas, which took the lives of four firefighters and injured several more, including Captain “Iron Bill” Dowling. Captain Dowling was on the second-arriving engine that day. He and his crew joined first arriving E-51 to advance a 2 ½-inch handline into the building. A collapse occurred, trapping Capt. Dowling and other firefighters. During the rescue of the captain, a member of the RIT removed his helmet and SCBA face piece to complete his mission of getting air to the member in trouble.  Are you prepared to do that? What do you need to be prepared? Training. Let’s do some.

Today’s drill is getting the face piece on the down firefighter.  Now, let’s practice.

  • Get a partner and his/her face piece.
  • Get the mask ready by extending the straps and bend webbing over front.
  • Crawl to the down firefighter.  
  • Pull firefighter up to a sitting position.
  • Sit behind firefighter.
  • Locate the firefighter’s chin.
  • Pull the facepiece up into place with the chin in the chin cup.
  • Pull webbing over head.
  • Tighten straps.

Check out your work. Could they pass a fit test? Now, try it again but black-out your facepiece and wear firefighting gloves. Note:  Use clean gloves. Until next Monday…have a good week.


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

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