2011 Focus: Surviving the Fire Ground – Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness

Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week

June 19-25, 2011

Theme: Surviving the Fire Ground – Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness

Fire Fighter Survival

2011 Focus: Surviving the Fire Ground –

Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness

Planning and Resource Aide for Training Deliveries to support Safety Week 2011 from the IAFC

2011 Planning and Resource Aid for Training Deliveries (pdf, 1.8 mb)

IAFC Safety Week , Direct Link, HERE

Preventing the Mayday

FGS Online Program Chapter 1
Between 1997 and 2008 NIOSH investigations reported that 25 fire fighters died in unprotected light-weight truss collapse events related to roof or basement truss system failures. A total of 11 injuries also occurred in these fatalities. Additionally, between 2005 and 2006, the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System reported 20 near-misses related to unprotected light-weight truss systems. Considering the Near-Miss Reporting System is relatively new, and it is a self-reporting system, it is likely there are far more near-miss incidents occurring than presently indicated.

Construction-Related Considerations

The NIOSH Alert: Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters due to Truss System Failures provides information on roof collapses in structures containing truss systems and includes case studies where fire fighters have become trapped and were injured or killed.

UL Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber in Fire Conditions

Reading Smoke

Fire fighters must be able to recognize the dangers associated with the smoke conditions when en route, upon arrival, and during fire fighting operations. Missing signs indicative of flash over, smoke explosions, backdraft, or rapid fire development has proven deadly to fire fighters in the past. The ability to read smoke correctly will prevent a Mayday situation from occurring.

Being Ready for the Mayday

FGS Online Program Chapter 2
Understanding what safety equipment is required and what fire fighter tools are necessary for readiness, accountability system functionality and dispatch responsibilities.

Radio Communications Training

Having a radio assigned to each person is not enough. Fire fighters must be trained in using the radio to request resources and, most importantly, to call a Mayday.
In 2003, NIOSH issued a firefighter radio report detailing the challenges surrounding fire ground communications. Although the report is several years old, many of these same issues are still challenging the North American fire service. Under the topic of “Inadequate Training” it states: “Though firefighters receive hundreds of hours of training on emergency response, radio communications do not typically receive the same amount of attention. As such, firefighters may not be aware of proper radio usage. Examples include how to use the radio in general, how to use the radio while wearing SCBA, and how radio communications are affected by a Mayday event” (pages 17-18).USFA Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service

Self-Survival Procedures

FGS Online Program Chapter 3
To improve survivability in a Mayday situation, a fire fighter must know how to alert rescuers to his or her location and perform self-survival techniques. Through the study of fire fighter fatalities, NIOSH has identified specific actions fire fighters can take to help save themselves. Variations of this same NIOSH recommendation have appeared in numerous fire fighter fatality reports. These recommendations were used to create a self survival procedure that is easy to remember using a mnemonic (GRAB LIVES). Following these steps increases the likelihood of the rescuers finding and assisting the fire fighter to safety.
When a fire captain died when trapped by partial roof collapse in a vacant house fire in Texas, NIOSH recommended in report number F2005-09 that trapped fire fighters should:

  • First, transmit a distress signal while they still have the capability and sufficient air.
  • Next, manually activate their PASS device. To conserve air while waiting to be rescued, try to stay calm and avoid unnecessary physical activity.
  • If not in immediate danger, remain in one place to help rescuers locate them.
  • Survey their surroundings to get their bearings and determine potential escape routes.
  • Stay in radio contact with the IC and other rescuers.
  • Attract attention by maximizing the sound of their PASS device (e.g., by pointing it in an open direction); pointing their flashlight toward the ceiling or moving it around; and using a tool to make tapping noises on the floor or wall.

Self-Survival Skills

FGS Online Program Chapter 4

Disentanglement Maneuvers

Fires inside an enclosed structure create a mess for fire fighters operating on the floor. Fire fighters often encounter debris that has fallen off shelves, and ceiling and wall fixtures that have burned and are left hanging to the floor. These hazards, coupled with the mess a fire fighter creates when searching for victims in smoky environments, can create egress problems for a fire fighter.

As fire burns draperies, blinds, lighting fixtures, computer wiring, and HVAC ducting, the possibility of encountering an entanglement hazard increases. The overhead ducting of the HVAC system contains wires that give the ducting its stability.

If a fire breaches the ceiling and burns the ducting, the wires within the ducting fall to the floor. These wires can cause a dangerous entanglement hazard to fire fighters operating on the floor. Fire fighters must anticipate these hazards and have a plan to follow when egress is cut off.

NIOSH Alert: Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters

Fire Fighter Expectations of Command

FGS Online Program Chapter 5
A discussion of what command must communicate to the distressed fire fighter, dispatch, the RIT group supervisor and all others assigned to the incident to assure a successful rescue.


National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System
This program aims to turn near-miss experiences into lessons learned.

  • 2011 Safety Week Near-Miss Resources


Rules of Engagement for Structural Firefighting (pdf)

Risk Management

General Order: Two-In, Two-Out Compliance, Rapid Intervention Team, and Firefighter Survival

Emergency Evacuation
This policy identifies a standard system for the emergency evacuation of personnel at an emergency incident or training exercise.

Fire and Rescue Departments of Northern Virginia – Rapid Intervention Team Command and Operational Procedures
A collaborative RIT manual developed by fire and rescue departments in Northern Virginia. Promotes interoperability between multiple fire agencies.

Lost or Trapped Firefighters
This policy identifies the required actions for the search and rescue of lost or trapped firefighter(s).

Model Procedures for Responding to a Package with Suspicion of a Biological Threat
Local and world events have placed the nation’s emergency service at the forefront of homeland defense. The service must be aware that terrorists, both foreign and domestic, are continually testing the homeland defense system.

Safety – Initial Rapid Intervention Crew (IRIC)
This policy establishes procedures for ensuring the highest level of safety when conducting interior operations in an atmosphere that is Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH).

Safety – Rapid Intervention Team (RIT)
This policy establishes the department’s criteria and procedures for Rapid Intervention Teams.

Accident Reports

Firefighter Fatality Report – Southwest Supermarket, Phoenix, AZ
PFD full report on the LODD of Firefighter Brett Tarver. Report contains extensive analysis of fire ground operations, may-day and lessons learned.

NFPA Fire Investigation Report of 1995 Pittsburgh Fire
This report describes the investigation of a fire which killed three firefighters in 1995.

This report recounts a residential basement fire that claimed the life of a career lieutenant in Pennsylvania.

Training & Drill Topics

Technical Rescue resources

Analysis of Structural Firefighter Fatality Database (pdf)

Hazelton Firefighter caught in Flashover
PowerPoint presentation

Firefighter Survival Training

Rapid Intervention Crew Standard Operating Guidelines
Provided by the Town of Menasha Fire Department

Standardized Actions of a Lost/Disoriented Firefighter

Understanding Fireground LODDS
A fresh perspective on an old problem.

General Resources

Observing Firefighter Performance (pdf)

Emergency Radio Protocol

“Everybody Goes Home” Campaign: Sticker use memo

Several applicable resources to assist you in your Stand Down planning.

50 Ways to Save Your Brother (or Sister)
Provided by the South Milwaukee Fire Department.

Fire Chief Magazine article – “No more maydays”
Disorientation Prevention Article

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
This web page provides access to NIOSH investigation reports and other firefighter safety resources.

The Incident Commander’s Response to a “May-Day” Lost Firefighter Incident
A check list of items to consider when handling a may-day incident, provided by Chief Gary Morris, Scottsdale, AZ.

U.S. Firefighter Disorientation Study (1979-2001)
This study was conducted in an effort to stop firefighter fatalities caused by smoke inhalation, burns, and traumatic injuries attributable to disorientation. It focused on 17 incidents occurring between 1979 and 2001 in which disorientation played a major part in 23 firefighter fatalities.

USFA – Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study (1990-2000)
This report identifies trends in mortality and examines relationships among data elements on firefighter fatalites between 1990-2000.

Filed Under: Rules of EngagementSafety & Survival


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