Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week 2011, Day Seven; Fire Fighter, Fire Officer and Command Training and Preparedness

Preparing for the Mayday Event; Not a matter of IF, But a Question of When… Are you ready? Are you Prepared?

As the official Fire/EMS Safety Week 2011 begins to wind down, in many stations around the country this weekend is dedicated to training, drills and evolutions dedicated toward the many facets and functional elements that focus upon Surviving the Fire Ground – Fire Fighter, Fire Officer and Command Preparedness.

The Safety Planning and Resource Aid and Guide published by the IAFC and IAFF (HERE) and the direct link here 2011 Planning and Resource Aid for Training Deliveries provided resources and planning templates and suggested training and activities to support the focus and emphasis on fire ground survival, increased focus on firefighter operations and mayday elements crucial to company integrity, firefighter safety and operational excellence.

Being ready for a mayday (mentally and physically), self-rescue and self-survival training and methodologies are mission critical when engaging in structural firefighting operations. Proficiencies, capabilities, rigor, demeanor and performance must be orchestrated in a manner that requires optimum execution of required actions and engagements to enable a successful outcome to a reported single or multiple mayday calls.

On a crisp fall day in October, 2009 two fires, both in residential occupancies but over 350 miles apart had similar operational needs, deployment and fire suppression and rescue engagement consistent with modern firefighting practices, methodologies and expectations.

In one, three firefighters become trapped, resulting in a mayday, bailout and resulting LODD of a 16 year fire service veteran. City of Yonkers (NY) Firefighter Patrick Joyce died during the operations at a 3-Alarm fire in a three story residential occupancy while conducting search and rescue operations for reported trapped civilians. Incident overviews; HERE and HERE .

The other structure fire in a residential occupancy in Syracuse, NY, results in a fire fighter mayday and successful RIT extraction that is captured on video. Two structure fires with common elements, each with projected predictable outcomes based upon past fire department operational experiences at similar structures, occupancies and fire conditions and reports; however with two different outcomes.

The program information from The IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program (FGS)which forms a major component of thsis year’s Safety Weeks activities with the focus on comprehensive survival-skills and mayday-prevention programming incorporating incident-management best practices and survival techniques from leaders in the field, and real case studies from experienced fire fighters, with the FGS program objectives aimed to educate all fire fighters to be prepared if the unfortunate happens.

  • For links to the IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program, HERE and HERE

Here’s a recap of the Self-Survial Procedure insights from the FGS Chapter 3 Section;

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.

The following video clip depicting FDNY Rescue Co. 1 operations at a Mayday, and provides some insightful and subtle commentary that should put some things in proper perspective about the job its hazards and the unexpected that can occur in the blink of an eye.

Another exceptional training piece that we are providing again here on are the two part video clips provided by that covers the mayday distress cakk an subsequent RIT extraction of HFD Captain Joel Eric Abbt at a four alarm fire with civilian fatalities in a six story high rise office building on March 28, 2007.

This video along with the information obtained from the FGS program can provide substantial opportunites for training, discussions and dialog. Take the time to watch the HFD vdeo and the elapsed time, communications and actions deployed. This mayday event had a successful outcome due to a variety of factors.

The question is how prepared are you, your firefighters, the officers and commanders? Surviving the fire ground requires a wide variety of skills, knowledge , training and experience.

Training is the foundation from which proficiencies are developed. If your organization has invested in supporting this weeks activities, don’t stop here. There are additional day ahead to take teh momentum gathered from this week and use it to chart a new course of actions and committments for the weeks and months ahead. If you didn’t have the opportunity to engage or involve, its not a missed opportuity- just find the right time and place to have your own safety day of week.

Houston FD Mayday Part 1

Houston FD Mayday Part 2

Other Training and Drill Opportunties

Suggested Considerations include the follow, as well as encouraging Departments to identify and integrate local issues, needs and identified gaps or enhancements that can contribute towards operational excellence and safety integration

  • Review and Select a Near Miss Event Report from the National Fire Fighter Near Miss Reporting System or the Report of the Week (ROTW) series related to functional area topics or mayday actions and discuss the event in a small group or company setting to identify similarities or difference from your our organization. Is your company or department susceptible to a similar event? What should be addressed?
  • Review and Select a NIOSH LODD Report from the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Program related to functional area topics or mayday actions and discuss the event in a small group or company setting to identify similarities or difference from your our organization. Is your company or department susceptible to a similar event? What should be addressed?
  • Take out your Rapid Intervention Equipment and review the purpose and function of each piece of equipment. Identify and discuss alternative uses or tools that can be obtained or used in the event of unavailability, malfunction or additional resource needs. Discuss protocols, procedures, safety awareness and operational hazards, expectations and precautions. Inspection the equipment for operability and integrity.
  • Identify and select a recent departmental or local/regional incident event that was either a near-miss/close-call or transitioned into a mayday event. Discuss and facilitate dialog on lessons learned, gaps, enhancements or operational successes, achievements and positive elements. Identify any factors or elements that were presented in the FGS training series that are applicable to the event, strategies, tactics or operations: can anything be improved or enhanced?
  • Lead a discussion on how to call and initiate a Mayday. Discuss the factors and insights from FGS Program Chapter 3 Self-Survival Procedures and Chapter 4 Self-Survival Skills.
  • Select and lead a discussion on a pertinent incident case study from either the list provided or your own selection and discuss the relevancy of the event in terms of mayday operations, fire ground survival, incident outcome and relationship to your Department or agency. What is the relevancy, similarities or differences? Can this event or circumstances occur in your jurisdiction? What can be done to prevent a history repeating event (HRE)?
  • Review and discuss Roles and Responsibilities for mayday events and operations. How do they match up with your operating procedures, policies and expectations?
  • Develop and facilitate a table top exercise (TTE) on a mayday event scenario utilizing a building in your first-due or response jurisdiction. Take photographs and integrate into your program. Refer to example of a simple TTE attached or go to Fire for an example here;
  • Visit a residential or commercial construction site (with pre-arrival authorization and approvals) and tour the stage of construction, looking critically at the type of construction and structural systems being implemented, materials used, workmanship and signs of deficient or adverse conditions that may affect operational integrity, safety or collapse and compromise once the building is occupied. Discuss issues such as structural integrity, collapse risk, occupancy risk versus occupancy type considerations, avenues for fire travel, effects on fire load package and rate of heat release and projected fire intensity. How would you fire a fire in the occupancy? What will define the strategy and tactics that would be or should be selected and used?
  • In a controlled setting with or without PPE, Practice calling a mayday with the identified communication attributes defined in the FGS training program. Critique and practice the evolution until the group feels that it is acceptable.

Here are some additional Resource Links to Support your training and drill needs;

Selected References

  • IAFC: The Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Survival and The Incident Commanders Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Safety, HERE and HERE
  • NIOSH Publication No. 2010-153:NIOSH Alert: Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters using Risk Management Principles at Structure Fires, HERE
  • What’s on your Radar Screen;
  • Reflecting upon these days of June;
  • · NIST References HERE and HERE
  • · Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions Report, HERE
  • · Reference Data HERE
  • · NIST Firefighter Safety and Deployment Study; Report on Residential Fireground Field Experiments download at the NIST, HERE or Synopsis HERE
  • Report: Trends in Firefighter Fatalities Due to Structural Collapse1979-2002
  • Report: Early Warning Capabilities for Firefighters:Testing of Collapse Prediction Technologies
  • · UL University on-line Program HERE
  • NIOSH LODD Reports
    • Each year an average of 105 fire fighters die in the line of duty. To address this continuing national occupational fatality problem, NIOSH conducts independent investigations of fire fighter line of duty deaths. The dedicated web page provides access to NIOSH investigation reports and other fire fighter safety resources.
    • NIOSH Web Page HERE
    • Through the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, NIOSH conducts investigations of fire fighter line-of-duty deaths to formulate recommendations for preventing future deaths and injuries. The program does not seek to determine fault or place blame on fire departments or individual fire fighters, but to learn from these tragic events and prevent future similar events.
    • Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports, HERE
    • NIOSH Alert: Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters using Risk Management Principles at Structure Fires
      • Fire fighters are often killed or injured when fighting fires in abandoned, vacant, and unoccupied structures.
      • These structures pose additional and sometimes unique risks due to the potential for fire fighters to encounter unexpected and unsafe building conditions such as dilapidation, decay, damage from previous fires and vandals, and other factors such as uncertain occupancy status. Risk management principles must be applied at all structure fires to ensure the appropriate strategy and tactics are used based on the fireground conditions encountered.
      • Report HERE
      • NIOSH Report; Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters Working Above Fire Damaged Floors
        • Fire fighters are at risk of falling through fire-damaged floors. Fire burning underneath floors can significantly degrade the floor system with little indication to fire fighters working above.
        • Floors can fail within minutes of fire exposure, and new construction technology such as engineered wood floor joists may fail sooner than traditional construction methods.
        • NIOSH recommends that fire fighters use extreme caution when entering any structure that may have fire burning beneath the floor.
        • Report HERE
        • NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters due to Truss System Failures
          • Fire fighters may be injured and killed when fire-damaged roof and floor truss systems collapse, sometimes without warning.
          • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of fire fighters due to roof and floor truss collapse during fire-fighting operations. Roof and floor truss system collapses in buildings that are on fire cannot be predicted and may occur without warning.
          • NIOSH recommends that fire departments review their occupational safety programs and standard operating procedures to ensure they include safe work practices in and around structures that contain trusses. Building owners should follow proper building codes and consider posting building construction information outside a building to advise fire fighters of the conditions they may encounter.
          • ALERT Report HERE
          • National Near Miss Reporting System (NNMRS) Operating Experience
            • The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System is a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive and secure reporting system with the goal of improving fire fighter safety.
            • Submitted reports will be reviewed by fire service professionals. Identifying descriptions are removed to protect your identity. The report is then posted on this web site for other fire fighters to use as a learning tool.
            • National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System Web Site, HERE
            • Search Reports, HERE
            • Resources, HERE
            • Prince William County (VA) Fire Rescue Kyle Wilson LODD Report-Remembrance and Learning’s HERE
              • Resources and Report
              • LODD Report Fact Sheet (23.9kb)
              • LODD Investigative Report (9.16 mb)
              • LODD Report Presentation (6.65 mb)
              • LODD Report Basic House Model (Section 1) (1.87 mb)
              • LODD Report Fire Model (Section 3) (5.16 mb)
              • LODD Flashover Chart (60 kb)
              • Prince William County (VA) Fire and Rescue Web Site, HERE
              • NIOSH LODD REPORT: Career fire fighter dies in wind driven residential structure fire – Virginia, HERE
              • NIST Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions: Laboratory Experiments
                • A series of experiments was conducted in our Large Fire Laboratory to examine the impact of wind control curtains and externally applied hose streams on a wind driven fire. The results from these experiments will allow us to better understand the fire dynamics within a structure and provide guidance as to the important measurements needed in the future experiments in a high-rise on Governor’s Island in New York City.
                • Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions Report, HERE
                • Reference Data HERE
                • Colerain Township Eleven Minutes to Mayday; What You Need to Know HERE
                  • Colerain Township Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Web Site HERE
                  • Investigation Analysis of the Squirrels nest Lane Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths April, 2010 Full Report HERE
                  • NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report F2008-09| CDC/NIOSH July, 2009, Report HERE
                  • news report Summary HERE
                  • Charleston Sofa Super Store Fire; Final NIST Report
                  • Analytical Study Reveals Patterns in U.S Firefighter Fatalities Report
                    • The entire report is available at a nominal fee, HERE;
                    • Journal Reference:
  1. Kumar Kunadharaju, Todd D. Smith, David M. DeJoy. Line-of-duty deaths among U.S. firefighters: An analysis of fatality investigations. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 2011; 43 (3): 1171 DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2010.12.030

Training Drill Template

This Training Schedule Template utilizes a Three Hour, Thirty minute (3.5) Hour Format integrating Suggested basic Functional Area Topics as a lead-in introduction that can be interchanged based on local needs and incorporates two (2) primary modules of the IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program (FGS). Please note you can select any modules determined to be of local need or interests. An optional Weekend Session is attached for FGS Chapter 3 and 4 Module Deliveries and a Hands-on Field Exercise Component.

Go HERE for the Color PDF Format

Safety Week 2011: Surviving the Fire Ground-Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness

Functional Area 3.5 Hour Schedule with FGS Modules


Hour Functional Area Key Issues and Considerations

Reference and Links

00:30 1 Fire Fighter Life Safety Initiatives Procedures, Policies and Guides
  • Discuss and facilitate discussion on organizational
  • Review key SOPs & SOGs related to Fire Ground Operations culture and safety
  • How does Safety Week 2001 fit into your operational environment?
  • Agency Mission Statement
  • Overview & Explanation: View | Download
  • Initiative 1: CultureView | Download
  • Initiatives 1 – 4View | Download
  • Initiatives 5 – 8View | Download
  • Initiatives 9 – 12View | Download
  • Initiatives 13 – 16View | Download
  • Agency SOPs, SOGs, Policies
  • Agency Expectations
  • Company Expectations or Gaps
  • What defines your level of preparedness?
00:30 Building Construction
  • Discuss pertinent issues relate to Building Construction that is present in your area


Review FGS Chapter 1; Preventing the Mayday Modules 1-1 thru 1-4
  • Mayday Prevention
  • Pre-Planning
  • Building Construction
  • UL Structural Stability
  • LT Wt. Truss Systems
  • Overhead Hazards
00:30 Review FGS Chapter 1; Preventing the Mayday Modules 1-5 thru 1-8Continued
  • Mayday Prevention
  • Pre-Planning
  • Building Construction
  • UL Structural Stability
  • LODD Reports
  • Interior Size up
  • Reading Smoke
  • Air Management
  • Defensive Operations
  • Situational
  • Awareness
  • Rapid Heat Release
  • Fire Suppression OPS
  • NIST Fire Modeling
00:30 3 Review FGS Chapter 2;Mayday Ready Modules 2-1 thru 2-3
  • Preparing for the Mayday
  • Are You Ready?
  • Mayday Training
  • Personal safety Equipment
  • Tools & Equipment
  • Mission Critical Resources
00:30 Review FGS Chapter 2;Mayday Ready Modules 2-4 thru 2-5Continued
  • Three Point Communications
  • Role of Dispatch
  • Personal Radio Position
  • Communications Training
  • Radio Discipline
  • Comm Order Model
  • Portable Radios
  • Why “Mayday?”
  • Accountability
00:30 4 Wrap-up and Closing Discussions
  • Facilitate discussion on the presentations
  • Are there any identified gaps or identified areas for improvement?
  • How will the information presented be implemented during future shifts or operations?
  • What level of individual and/or company level accountability can be implemented?
  • How can the organization become safer and effective to minimize and reduce risk to mayday events to improve fire ground survivability?
  • Agency Specific and/or developed or;
  • Utilize resources from the Functional Matrix

    Filed Under: Safety & Survival


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