By Joe Pronesti
Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman of the Toledo (OH) Fire Department (TFD) died on a cold afternoon on January 26, 2014. This line-of-duty death (LODD) struck close to home; this department is less than 100 miles away from my home and fire department in Northern Ohio.
Machcinski and Dickman were killed when the apartment they were operating in flashed over. The fire was ruled arson and the suspect is to go on trial in February 2017. I have been to LODD funerals in the past, but this was one I will never forget; it will continue to motivate me to do all I can do to help prevent other LODDs from occurring elsewhere.
The service was one of a few that I have actually seen carried live on local TV, and it has since been historically archived on YouTube. I feel that it should be required viewing for all members, especially for chiefs and those who or will command fire events.
I feel that many in our profession are, quite simply, afraid to confront the reality of our job and truly unprepared to command and control a fire event. As a chief, can you truly look yourself in the mirror and ask if you have given all you can to your firefighters in terms of training and safety? As a command officer, are you nice and cozy in your office, looking at your future pension numbers, or are you out training and preparing yourself and your crews?
If the answer is no—or you work for one of these types of “chiefs”—have them watch the memorial service below.
Never forget the sacrifices of Machcinski and Dickman. The information based on their deaths is gathered from TFD audio, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s report, and the internal TFD after-action review. Please add this review to your department’s training in their honor.
To listen to the entire audio of the incident, click HERE
JOSEPH PRONESTI is a 26-year veteran of the Elyria (OH) Fire Department, where he is an assistant chief and shift commander. He is a graduate of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Executive Officer program and a lead instructor at the Cuyahoga (OH) County Community College Fire Academy. He is a contributor to fire service publications and sites, including Fire Engineering. He will be presenting a four-hour preconference classroom at FDIC International 2016 titled “Main Street Tactics and Strategies: Are You Ready?” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org