Mayday Monday: Communications and the Mayday

Mayday Monday on Toledo LODDs
Mayday Monday on Toledo LODDs

For the first Mayday Monday of 2021, we remember two firefighters from the Toledo (OH) Fire Department. Firefighters Steve Machcinski and Jamie Dickman were killed while fighting an arson fire on January 26, 2014. The building owner set a fire on the first floor of the two-story structure.  As firefighters from Engine 3 and other companies arrived, they saw smoke coming from the second floor and began to search for the fire and the reported trapped occupants.  No access from the A-side was found by E3 so they decided to use a ground ladder and enter a window.  Other companies were, also, trying to get to the second floor. While this was going on, units found fire on the first floor extending to the second floor. Conditions began to change quickly.  E3’s officer reported:

Conditions were now that we were back up on our knees and I could see an orange glow in front of us. Before I could tell Dickman to start hitting that area, thick black (smoke) came down on us and the heat was now coming up that I could fell it under my coat.”   

Fire Engineeirng/YouTube

That’s when the Mayday calls started. Dickman gave one. Then the officer in charge from E3.  Rescue teams attempted to make entry but were pushed back by extreme heat.  FF Dickman was located 15 minutes after the distress call.  The RIT found Machcinski 10 minutes later.  Both firefighters died of thermal burns and carbon monoxide exposure.  Learn more about this fire in these reports:

Toledo FD report              

NIOSH report

Toledo Fire and Rescue completed an investigative report after the fire that included 12 findings.  This month we will focus on this one:

Finding No. 8: Some communication failures occurred during the incident.

I think we can all say some communications problems exist on every incident. Whether it is missed messages, operator error, unfamiliarity with equipment, or too much radio traffic, these issues can affect operations. 

This month’s skill/drill is to work on making sure our message is heard. Officers/leaders get a simple Lego set and have members direct others to complete the puzzle. Those who will be doing the talking should have their facepieces in place and firefighting gloves on. The objective is to increase the chances our message will be received and increase our comfort with using the radio. 

Please send in pictures of you and your crew completing the o puzzles!  Send to mayday.Monday@dc.gov  See you next month, and don’t forget to wear a mask and wash your hands.   

Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

RELATED FIREFIGHTER TRAINING

Radio Messaging Under Warlike Conditions

MORE MAYDAY MONDAY

Mayday Monday: Remembering the Worcester (MA) Tragedy

Mayday Monday: Fire Behavior and Ventilation

Mayday Monday: TIC and Search Operations

Mayday Monday: Deploying the RIT SCBA

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