Fire Instructor I
Poinciana, Florida Live-Fire Training Deaths — July, 2002
NIOSH Report, 2002-34
Florida State Fire Marshal Report
Preventing Deaths and Injuries to Fire Fighters during Live-Fire Training in Acquired Structures, CDC Workplace Solutions — November, 2004
Links to Instructor Resources
Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute Drill of the Month
FirefighterCloseCalls.com Weekly Fire Drills
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE
|ASSIGNMENT:||OCFRD PERSONNEL:||OFD PERSONNEL:|
|TRAINING OFFICER / INCIDENT COMMAND (I.C.)||Lt. John Simpson|
|PUMP OPERATOR (P.O.)||FF Todd Mallard|
|INTERIOR SAFETY (Burn Room Area)||FF Steve Carroll & FF Bryan Harris|
|INTERIOR SAFETY (Outside Burn Room Area)||Eng. Hezedean Smith & Eng. Randahl Dickson|
|RAPID INTERVENTION TEAM (R.I.T.)||FF James Collings||Eng. Walter Lewis|
|SEARCH AND RESCUE (S.A.R.)||Lt. John Mickel & FF Dallas Begg|
|ATTACK TEAM - ONE (A.T.- 1)||Lt. Joe Long, FF Brad Shaffer & Eng. Dennis Whittemore|
|ATTACK TEAM – TWO (A.T.-2)||Lt. Michael Pelletier & FF Thad Heath, Jr.|
|EXTERIOR VENTILATION||Eng. Tim Wright|
|PUBLIC INFORMATION (Photographer)||Georgianne Cherry|
|OBSERVER||Insp. Carey Graham|
The training exercise was conducted by the OCFRD training officer. He was assisted by four firefighters in setting up the exercises. The firefighters assisting the training officer were also responsible as interior safety officers during the training evolutions. The training officer gave a safety briefing prior to the beginning of the exercise to all of the participants. The training officer walked all the participants through the structure and explained the safety aspects and goals of the training evolution. This was a Search and Rescue/Fire Suppression exercise where a mannequin dressed in firefighter bunker gear was placed inside the structure and a team of two firefighters would conduct a search of the structure, find the mannequin and remove it from the building prior to extinguishment of the fire by other firefighters.
On the first evolution the mannequin had been placed in the kitchen on the west side of the structure. A bedroom on the northeast corner of the structure was utilized as the room of the live fire. Fuel for the fire consisted of wooden pallets and straw placed in and outside a closet on the northwest corner of the bedroom. The fuel was ignited with a road flare and sometime prior to the beginning of the exercise a foam mattress was placed on the fire load. After the fuel had been ignited the exercise began. Firefighters entering the structure wore protective clothing (Bunker Gear) including Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). The four instructors were positioned in the interior positions to monitor for safety. The two firefighters that died during the exercise were assigned as the Search and Rescue (SAR) Team. The SAR Team entered the structure at the front (east) door and began a right hand search of the building. Three firefighters on Attack Team One (AT-1) with a 1 ¾” pre-connected hose line with a smooth bore nozzle followed the SAR Team into the structure. Two firefighters on Attack Team Two (AT-2) pulled in a 1 ¾” pre-connected hose line with variable fog nozzle and waited at the front doorway. Another firefighter was stationed on the exterior and waited for orders to ventilate (break windows or cut holes in structure to allow heat and smoke to escape). Two firefighters were assigned as the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) who would monitor the exterior for safety and enter the structure with a third 1 ¾” pre-connected hose line with variable nozzle in the event of a problem. There was one firefighter who was assigned as the pump operator who monitored the fire pump engines supplying water to the pre-connected attack hose lines. The training officer was the Incident Commander (IC) in charge of the operation and was stationed on the exterior of the structure monitoring and giving orders via radio communications during the exercise.
When the SAR Team entered a hallway off the front living room that accessed the bedroom on the northeast corner of the structure conditions deteriorated with increase in air temperature with zero visibility from heavy smoke. As the SAR Team entered the fire room AT-1 was following into the hallway outside the fire room. Both of the Interior Safety Officers (Carroll & Harris) that were monitoring activities of the fire room area stated that they heard the Lieutenant of the SAR Team ask his partner if he had searched the entire room and they heard the answer yes. The Interior Safety Officer (Dickson) that was monitoring activities outside the fire room area was waiting to follow the SAR Team when they came out of the fire room. This Safety Officer (Dickson) yelled into the fire room area asking if the SAR Team was out of the fire room. Someone answered yes, however no one knows who said yes. The Interior Safety Officer (Dickson) who was going to follow the SAR Team assumed that he missed them going out of the fire room and began searching through the rest of the structure trying to find SAR Team. At that time AT-1 began applying water to the fire room in short bursts after the IC ordered the front northeast window to the fire room to be broken out. When the window was broken out a flashover occurred as seen on the video recording. At that time AT-2 was ordered into the structure. AT-2 could not make entry into the hallway because it was full of firefighters. The water that had been applied to the fire room by AT-1 caused the hallway area to fill with steam that caused both safety officers (Harris & Carroll) to exit the structure with steam burns. At that time the firefighter (Wright) that ventilated the fire room window came back to the same window and looked inside and pulled out the heat damaged outer shell of a firefighter’s helmet. The IC at that time inquired on the radio about who inside the structure was missing their helmet. The helmet actually belonged to the firefighter (Begg) on the SAR Team.
AT-1 also had to retreat out of the hallway into the living room. During this time the IC asked several times for a report of the SAR Team and received no answer. After AT-1 was out of the hallway, AT-2 entered the fire room and extinguished the fire. While AT-2 was overhauling the fire area they found a form in firefighter bunker gear face down on the floor. Both AT-2 firefighters thought it was the rescue mannequin not realizing it was the Lieutenant of the SAR Team.
After there was no response from the SAR Team for a report the IC ordered a Personnel Accountability Report (PAR) and ordered the RIT (Lewis & Collings) to enter the structure and find the SAR Team. Everyone reported PAR accept the SAR Team. The IC ordered evacuation of the structure. When AT-2 started to evacuate they reached down to drag out what they thought was the mannequin to discover a firefighter (Mickel). After the firefighter was taken out the window the second firefighter (Begg) was discovered on the floor next to the window and also was taken out the window. Advanced Life Support (ALS) medical treatment was administered to both injured firefighters by paramedics and transported to the hospital where they were pronounced dead.
On Wednesday, July 31, 2002, at 09:30 hours, I arrived at the District 9 Medical Examiners Office and met with the Medical Examiners Dr. William Anderson, Dr. Sara Irrgang and Dr. Merle Reyes along with the other investigators. The doctors were briefed on the findings of the scene investigation and initial witness interviews. They were also shown the videotape of the training exercise and scene photographs. The post-mortem examination of the two firefighters was performed and evidence was collected. Preliminary Medical Examiners Reports (MEKA-3259-02 & MEKA-3272-02) attribute the cause of death of both firefighters to thermal burns and smoke inhalation.
Tissue samples and clothing samples that were collected from the victims were submitted to the SFM Laboratory for analysis to determine the presence of a flammable/combustible substance. SFM Lab Report #021082 finds no ignitable liquid in any of the samples submitted for analysis.
Copies were obtained of the radio transmissions during the exercise that were copied onto Compact Disks (CD) by Robin Langlotz with Osceola BCC Communications. These recordings were submitted to the FDLE lab for enhancement.
On Wednesday, August 7, 2002, Detective King and I met with OCFRD Chief
Executive Officer Donald Adams and the Osceola County Public Safety Director
Tad Stone at Chief Adams’ office. This meeting discussed issues
concerning OCFRD policies addressing training in general and specifically
the arrangements with the use of the FBC for training exercises. Chief
Adams stated that the County Attorneys Office set up and approved the
contract that was made with the property owners. A copy of that contract
agreement was obtained. I asked Chief Adams what type of planning went
into the training exercises and were there any procedures that were required
to conduct the live burn exercises. Chief Adams explained that OCFRD does
not have any written policies that pertain to training exercises involving
live-burns of acquired buildings. Discussion followed on the understanding
that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 1403) “Standard
on Live Fire Training Evolutions” is a recommended standard for
conducting this type of firefighter training, however, it has not been
adopted by OCFRD as a standard operating procedure (SOP) nor has it been
adopted under the Administrative Rules under the Florida State Fire Marshal.
Chief Adams said that NFPA 1403, was recommended to be used as a guide
during the planning stages for the FBC training exercises. We also discussed
scheduling follow-up interviews with the OCFRD firefighters.
All of the follow-up interviews of the participants and witnesses of the training exercise were documented by audio tape recording and conducted in the following manner where each witness understood that they were meeting me voluntarily and that the interview was follow-up to their previous written statement. They were also informed that the investigation was not administrative and I represented the State Fire Marshal and not their employer. During the follow-up interviews the videotape of the training exercise was reviewed along with the audio recording of the radio transmissions during the exercise. A diagram of the building floor plan was placed on the table and plastic firefighter figures with labels designating all of the firefighters participating in the training exercise were utilized by the training exercise participants only, to demonstrate what they saw during the training exercise. The portion of the interview where the participants used the floor plan demonstration was videotaped. All of the interviews that were recorded onto audiotape have been transcribed except for Georgianne Cherry because it was inaudible. The following are condensed versions that describe key points of information gleaned from each interview.
On Monday, August 12, 2002, at 09:00 hours, eight OCFRD firefighters who were participants of the FBC training exercise on July 30, 2002, met me at the SFM (BFAI) field office in Orlando, Florida. SFM Investigator Greg Kunkle assisted me in conducting tape-recorded follow-up interviews of the firefighters. Also present was Joseph Egan, Jr., who was legal counsel for the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) union representing members of the OCFRD local bargaining unit.
The first interview beginning at 09:56 hours was with OCFRD Firefighter Todd Mallard, who was assigned the duty as the Pump Operator during the training exercise. FF Mallard verified the positions of fire apparatus used to supply water to the three attack lines and identified some of the OCFRD personnel shown in the video recording. Most of FF Mallard’s focus was monitoring the fire pump control panel. FF Mallard assisted paramedics during initial medical treatment of the victims.
The second interview began at 11:00 hours with OCFRD Firefighter Steven L. Carroll, who was assigned as one of the four Interior Safety Officers. FF Carroll also set up the fire room for the fire by stacking five wood pallets and straw in the area of the closet. FF Carroll said that he used a road flare to ignite the fire through a hole at the bottom of the partition wall between the closet and the utility room. FF Carroll said that he was told later that a foam mattress had been placed on the fire sometime after he set the fire. During the exercise FF Carroll said that visibility became very poor that he could not see anyone. Carroll said that the SAR Team went into the fire room and he and another Safety Officer (FF Bryan Harris) were stationed next to the doorway entrance of the fire room in the area of the laundry room. Carroll said he heard the SAR Team talking to each other and remembered that one asked the other if the entire room was searched and the other said yes. Carroll said that AT-1 with FF Denny Whittemore on the nozzle, came into the hallway behind the SAR Team. Carroll said he heard one of the OFD Safety Officers yell in wanting to know if the SAR Team was out of the fire room and someone said yes. Carroll said that Whittemore started applying water from his hose line into the fire room and the room started to fill with steam. Safety Officer Harris had to evacuate the building because of the steam. Eventually Carroll had to evacuate the building and he went directly to the IC, Lt. Simpson and reported that the conditions inside the fire room were too hot. When PAR was called with no response from the SAR Team the building was evacuated. A search of the SAR Team began and Carroll re-entered the structure through the northeast bedroom window and found AT-2 firefighters dragging out SAR Team Lt. Mickel. Carroll said that when he was helping in removing Lt. Mickel he noticed SAR Team FF Begg next to the window but thought it was the rescue mannequin.
The third interview with OCFRD Firefighter James Collings began at 12:20 hours. FF Collings was assigned to the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) with OFD Eng. Walt Lewis. Collings said that he assisted Firefighters Carroll and Harris setting up the materials to be burned in the closet of the northeast bedroom. Collings said that wood pallets, straw and a bi-fold door were piled in the closet. Collings said that Carroll ignited the fire with a road flare. Collings identified himself walking out of the structure during the first part of the video and he said that he had gone inside briefly to see if the fire had been started prior to the beginning of the exercise. Collings said that after the exercise began the SAR Team entered the structure with AT-1 following behind them. Collings said he heard OFD Eng. Wright ask IC Lt. Simpson if he should break out the northeast window to ventilate the fire room. Collings said Simpson gave Wright the go-ahead and after the window was vented smoke came out first followed by flames. Collings then said that Wright went around to the north side of the structure and removed the gable vent and then came back around to the front and looked inside the fire room window and pulled out a firefighter’s helmet. At that time Collings said he saw FF Carroll come out and talk to Simpson. Collings said that PAR was called and the RIT team was ordered inside to find the SAR Team. During the search Collings heard the firefighter down report over the radio and eventually both firefighters were removed from the structure.
The fourth interview began at 13:56 hours with OCFRD Firefighter Bryan Harris. FF Harris was assigned as an Interior Safety Officer monitoring the fire room area with FF Steve Carroll. Harris said that he also helped Firefighters Carroll and Collings set up the materials to be burned in the fire room. Harris said Carroll ignited the fire and left the room while he was donning his protective gear. Harris said two OFD Safety Officers (Smith & Dickkson) brought a foam mattress into the room and told him to place it on the fire. Harris said that he placed the mattress on top of the pile of materials that were already burning. Harris said that Carroll radioed that they were ready to begin the exercise after everyone was in position. Harris said that when the SAR Team entered the hallway the smoke and heat were not very bad and he was still standing up when FF Begg ran into him. He told Begg that he was not a victim and to continue with his search. Harris said that the SAR Team continued into the fire room and he heard one ask if the whole room had been searched with the other answering yes. Harris said the AT-1 was in the hallway and began applying water into the fire room causing a lot of steam to the point he had to evacuate the structure. Harris said when he went outside Lt. Simpson asked him if he was all right. Harris said that Simpson tried several times to get a report on the SAR Team and eventually called for PAR. During this time Harris said he put his gear back on and entered the structure after Simpson gave the evacuation order. He searched the house and couldn’t find the SAR Team and then he heard the radio report of firefighter down. He met up with FF Randy Dickson and gave him his flashlight. Harris said that he followed Dickson and Collings followed him into the fire room where they found FF Begg by the bedroom window. They removed Begg out through the window opening.
The fifth interview began at 15:00 hours with OCFRD Lieutenant Joe Long who was assigned to Attack Team One (AT-1) with Engineer Denny Whittemore and FF Brad Shaffer. Lt. Long said that his crew entered the structure after the SAR Team had entered. Long said they began a right hand search and visibility was gone by the time they entered the hallway leading into the fire room. Long does not remember hearing anyone ask if the SAR Team was out of the fire room. Long said that his nozzle man applied water to the fire using a smooth bore nozzle. Long said he never saw fire. Long said that his crew backed out to make more room for other firefighters. Long said he reported PAR after he made physical contact with Whittemore and Shaffer. Long said he evacuated the building when ordered.
At 15:58 hours the sixth interview of OCFRD Engineer Denny Whittemore was conducted. Whittemore was the nozzle man on AT-1 crew with Lt. Long and FF Shaffer. Whittemore said that his crew had to wait a few minutes outside until the SAR Team searched the structure before AT-1 started a right hand search toward the fire room. Whittemore said that there was no visibility by the time they got into the hallway leading to the fire room. Whittemore said he was talking with Interior Safety Officer Steve Carroll when he started applying water into the fire room. He heard someone say hang on a second, I’m getting steamed and someone went by him. Whittemore said that he advanced and applied water in the direction he knew the fire was located but never saw fire. Whittemore said that the OFD AT-2 crew advanced further into the room before he ran out of air and had to go out. Whittemore said that by the time he made it out of the fire room into the living room they had called for PAR and then for evacuation. Whittemore said he brought his hose line with him when his crew evacuated the structure. Whittemore said since he did not have a full air bottle he could not go back into the building when someone reported a firefighter down. Whittemore said he ran out to his fire truck and retrieved medical equipment.
The seventh interview began at sometime after the end of Eng. Whitemore’s interview (16:37 hours), with OCFRD Firefighter Brad Shaffer who was on AT-1 crew with Lt. Long and Eng. Whittemore. FF Shaffer said that after SAR Team entered the structure Whittemore and Long began a right hand search from the front entrance doorway while he fed hose line into the structure at the doorway. Shaffer said by the time he got up to the entrance into the hallway that led into the fire room there was no room to get in because it was filled with firefighters. After a while Lt. Long came out into the living room. Shaffer wanted to get a chance on the nozzle so he and Long got back into the hallway before PAR was called. After his crew came back out into the living room the evacuation sounded and AT-1 crew went outside. Shaffer said he never saw fire.
The OCFRD Lieutenant John Simpson was the last interview that started at 17:37 hours. Lt. Simpson was the Training Officer in charge of the exercise and acted as the Incident Commander during the exercise. Simpson said that he followed the stipulations of the contract between the property owners and OCFRD to conduct the training exercises at FBC, that included making sure that the owners had removed all hazardous material from the property, notifying the Department of Environmental Protection and performing inspections of the property prior to beginning the training exercises. Simpson said that he had previously conducted several types of firefighter training exercises including live burn exercises on the FBC property since December 2001. Simpson said that all of the training exercises at FBC were planned and conducted using NFPA 1403 as a guide. Simpson said that on July 30, 2002, he was assisted by OCFRD firefighters Steve Carroll, Bryan Harris and James Collings along with OFD Engineers Hezedean Smith and Randy Dickson in setting up the exercise that included preparing the fire room. Simpson said that he gave one of these assistants approval to place a foam mattress on the fire load prior to the beginning of the exercise. Simpson also said that the scuttle opening into the attic in the fire room was covered so that fire would not extend into the attic space. Simpson said that he conducted a safety briefing with all of the participants to go over safety measures, goals and objectives of the exercise and a walk through the building for familiarization of the building configuration. The training goals and objectives were search and rescue, fire attack and ventilation, Simpson explained. Simpson said that a mannequin dressed in firefighter bunker gear was shown to the participants but he did not tell them where it would be placed. Everyone knew where the fire was going to be and the locations of all the exits. Simpson said that he was outside the structure the entire time of the exercise while he was Incident Command. Simpson said that the SAR Team entered the structure followed by AT-1. Simpson made radio notification of the ordered ventilation of the northeast bedroom window and requested notification if the roof needed to be ventilated. After the window was ventilated he ordered AT-2 to enter the structure. At this point the flashover had just occurred. Simpson continued to ask for reports from the SAR Team. Simpson said he saw OFD Eng. Wright pull a firefighter’s helmet out of the window and that is when he became very concerned about not hearing a report from the SAR Team. Eventually Simpson ordered the RIT into the structure to find the SAR Team and get a PAR. Simpson ordered evacuation and eventually the SAR Team was found down in the fire room.
Tape-recorded follow-up interviews with the photographer of the training exercise and another civilian witness who are both employees of OCFRD were conducted by me and Investigator Kunkle on Tuesday morning, August 13, 2002, at the SFM (BFAI) field office in Orlando, Florida.
The first interview began at 10:00 hours with Georgianne Cherry, who was the Public Information Officer who was taking photographs and video recordings of the training exercise. Ms. Cherry said that she was switching video camera and digital camera back and forth during the exercise. Cherry said she stopped taking pictures after the heat from the building caused her to go to her car and put on some bunker clothing when she heard the horns signals for evacuation from the fire engine. When she came back from her car she saw the victims being removed from the building. The video recording tape and digital photographs that Ms. Cherry photographed were obtained the day of the exercise. The tape recording of this interview with Ms. Cherry was inaudible and a transcript could not be made.
OCFRD Fire Inspector Cary Graham was the second witness that was interviewed on August 13, 2002. Insp. Graham was requested to pick up some video recording tapes for Georgianne Cherry and bring them to the training site. Graham said he stayed outside and observed the training exercise. Graham said he watched the different crews enter the structure at the beginning of the exercise with the SAR Team entering first. Graham said that AT-1 entered the structure approximately 60 seconds after the SAR Team entered. Graham watched Engineer Wright break out the northeast bedroom window and saw the flashover occur. Graham said he saw FF Steve Carroll come out of the building throwing his helmet down and noticed his ears and head were burned. Graham said he saw where Eng. Wright removed the firefighter’s helmet from the window. After Graham gave his initial written statement at OCFRD Station 21, he returned to the training site. Graham said that he overheard two OFD firefighters telling Captain Cialella that they placed the foam mattress into the fire room.
On Saturday, August 17, 2002, six OFD firefighters that participated in the FBC training exercise and Joseph Egan, Jr. who also represents the IAFF members of the OFD local bargaining unit, met me and Investigator Kunkle at the SFM (BFAI) Orlando field office. A tape-recorded follow-up interview was conducted on all six firefighters.
The first interview started at 10:06 hours, with OFD Engineer Walter Lewis. Eng. Lewis was assigned to the RIT along with OCFRD FF James Collings. Lewis stated that after the exercise began he continually monitored the outside of the structure and moved from one corner of the building to the opposite corner checking for any problems. Lewis said he never noticed anything unusual with this training fire. After Eng. Wright had removed the helmet from the window the RIT was ordered into the structure to locate the SAR Team. Lewis began searching all the areas of the interior until he heard the radio report of the firefighter down. He radioed for a location. Lewis got to the fire room and helped remove Lt. Mickel out of the building and began administering medical treatment. Lewis said that a helmet that was thrown out of the window by Eng. Randy Dickson got his attention. Dickson had located FF Begg and used his own helmet to get attention for assistance.
The second interview with OFD Engineer Hezedean Smith began at 11:14 hours. Eng. Smith was assigned as one of the four Interior Safety Officers along with OFD Eng. Randy Dickson, OCFRD FF Steve Carroll and OCFRD FF Bryan Harris. Smith and Dickson were to monitor the areas outside the fire room area. When the exercise began Smith said that he first met the SAR Team at the front door and Dickson picked them up and followed them around the living room with a right hand search up to the hallway leading into the fire room. Smith said he picked up AT-1 crew and they started a right hand search beginning in the living room. Smith followed AT-1 into the hallway and remembers someone asking if the SAR Team was out of the fire room. Smith does not recall when water was applied to the fire. Smith remembers asking for ventilation in Quadrant D, however there were poor radio signals that could not differentiate from Quadrant B, C or D. Smith said that AT-2 came in behind AT-1 crew. When AT-1 came out into the living room AT-2 advanced into the fire room. Smith said the last time he saw the SAR Team was at the front door and never noticed them leaving the fire room. After the evacuation was called he met Randy Dickson and two OCFRD firefighters in the kitchen during the search for the SAR Team. Smith had to evacuate because he ran out of air. When he got outside they were removing the second firefighter from the window.
OFD Engineer Randahl Dickson was the third firefighter that was interviewed beginning at 12:23 hours. Eng. Dickson was assigned as an Interior Safety Officer to monitor the areas outside the fire room area along with OFD Eng. Smith. Dickson said he picked up the SAR Team beginning their right hand search in the living room at the beginning of the exercise. Dickson said that Lt. Mickel was instructing FF Begg on search technique as they were proceeding to the hallway leading into the fire room. Dickson followed them into the hallway and heard them get picked up by OCFRD Interior Safety Officer Carroll and Harris who were monitoring the fire room areas. Dickson said he went back out to find AT-1 so they could get into the fire room. Dickson said AT-1 went into the hallway. Dickson asked if anyone seen the SAR Team get out of the fire room and someone said they were out. Dickson said he went back out to catch up with the SAR Team. Dickson went all through the rest of the house searching for the SAR Team. Dickson said he stepped out the front door and confronted the IC Lt. Simpson and asked if the SAR Team had come outside. Simpson said no. Dickson went back inside and started a left hand search hoping to meet up with the SAR Team. When he came out into the living room everyone was evacuating the structure. Dickson said he did not have good radio communication because his radio was inside his pocket and did not have a speaker mike. Dickson said he went into the kitchen area and met up with Eng. Smith and two OCFRD firefighters. Smith told Dickson he had to leave because he was running out of air. Dickson borrowed a flashlight from one of the OCFRD firefighter and they went into the fire room and found FF Begg by the window. Dickson took off his helmet and through it out the window to get attention for assistance to remove Begg.
At 13:24 hours, OFD Engineer Tim Wright was the fourth firefighter that was interviewed. Eng. Wright was assigned to perform exterior ventilation. Wright said after the exercise began and crews entered the structure, he asked IC Lt. Simpson if they were ready to vent. Simpson ordered him to vent the northeast window and he got heavy black smoke and then fire while he was breaking out the window with his pike pole. Wright said at that point he remembered Simpson ordering AT-2 to go ahead and enter the structure. Wright said he went around to the side and pulled out the gable vent. Wright said he came back around and looked inside the window and saw a helmet within arms reach. He reached in and pulled it out. Someone called for a vent in Quadrant B so he went around and took out the window on the southwest corner of the structure. When he started back out to the front of the structure is when he heard the horn blasts for evacuation. After he got back to the front they located the first down firefighter.
The fifth firefighter that I interviewed was OFD Firefighter Thad Heath, Jr., who was the nozzle man on AT-2 along with OFD Lt. Pelletier. FF Heath’s interview began at 14:09 hours. Heath said that after the SAR Team and AT-1 crew entered the structure, Eng. Wright vented the northeast window and smoke and fire came out. IC Lt. Simpson ordered AT-2 crew into the structure. Heath said when they got to the hallway the opening was blocked by other firefighters. Heath said about five firefighters came out of the hallway while he and his Lieutenant waited at the side of the hall doorway. After the hall cleared they went in and applied water from their hose line. Heath said his lieutenant pulled ceiling and they advanced into the fire room. Heath said he could see fire to his right but his lieutenant told him the fire was to the left. Heath hit the fire to the right and brought his hose stream around to the left. Heath said Lt. Pelletier radioed that the fire was knocked down and he began pulling ceiling when they called for evacuation. They found a form on the floor that they thought was the rescue mannequin only to discover it was Lt. Mickel. Heath said they removed Mickel out the window. Heath said he thought the form next to the window was the real mannequin later to find out that it was actually FF Begg.
The last firefighter that was interviewed was OFD Lieutenant Michael Pelletier that began at 15:08 hours. Lt. Pelletier was assigned to AT-2 along with FF Heath. Pelletier said that he was giving FF Heath some instructions because it was his first day on the job with him. Pelletier said they had flaked out their hose line up to the front doorway where he and Heath staged after the SAR Team and AT-1 entered the structure. Pelletier said he watched Eng. Wright vent the window to the fire room and black smoke and fire issued from the window when they were ordered to enter the structure. Pelletier said he called for his line to be charged, bled the air out of the line and entered the structure. Pelletier said when he and his nozzle man got to the hallway they could not enter because it was blocked by other firefighters. Pelletier heard someone say they are coming out and everyone came out. Pelletier said that he and Heath moved to the side to allow the others to come out and they advanced into the hallway when it was clear. Pelletier said he had Heath apply a straight stream into the fire room deflecting off the ceiling for approximately a minute before shutting down to check for extension in the ceiling above them in the hallway outside the fire room. They advanced into the fire room and attacked the fire in the closet getting a knock down which he reported. Pelletier said that they found what they thought to be the mannequin on the floor and when they heard the evacuation called they discovered that it was actually Lt. Mickel. Pelletier said they removed Mickel through the front window and also found another figure next to the window that he thought was the rescue mannequin but turned out to be FF Begg.
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