This post is in honor of Firefighter Mark Falkenhan on the forth anniversary of this tragic incident.
The best way we can honor Mark is to review the lesson learned andÂ make sure we areÂ keeping doors closed on the fireground until fire is under controlÂ and weÂ also all need to make a greater effort at educating our general public on the importance of keeping doors closed!
On January 19, 2011, at approximately 1855 hours, a 43-year-old volunteer fire fighter died after being caught in a rapid fire progression. The victim and another fire fighter were conducting a search of a third-floor apartment above the fire, which had started on the first floor. Conditions at the time of entry for the search crew indicated that the fire was under control. The fire had already breached the second-floor apartment through a sliding glass door in the rear of the structure but was oxygen-limited. Another crew was initiating a civilian rescue from the second-floor apartment above the fire when a rapid fire build-up occurred on the second floor. The fire and smoke traveled up the common stairwell, igniting the third-floor apartment and trapping the victim. The victim radioed multiple Mayday calls, but crews were unable to reach him before his facepiece melted from the extensive heat produced by the rapid fire progression. The other fire fighter who was with the victim was searching a bedroom and his exit was cut off by the rapid fire progression. He was forced to bail out a bedroom window and was injured by the fall. Rescue efforts were initiated, the victim was located, and removed from the third-floor apartment. The victim died from exposure to the products of combustion.
NIOSH Report (LINK)
Excellent ATF presentation and report on this incident along with a word from Gladys Falkenhan!
ATF Report (LINK)
As many of you already know I have written before about how we need to also take the Closing Door message to the public as well. This incident is a sad reminder of how the public actions prior to our arrival can have a major impact on the fires growth.
Quote from ATF report ” Prior to exiting the apartment, the occupant opened both the rear sliding door and the apartment entrance door in an attempt to ventilate smoke from the apartment. These openings provided sufficient ventilation and supported rapid fire growth within the apartment.”
Another important stakeholder in Closing the Door for Life is code enforcement. Often times these folks are the unsung hero by preventing firefighter LODD by enforcing code compliance.
Now lets honor Mark the best we can by sharing this information with everyone weÂ know. Never know it could save a life.
Remember CLOSING THE DOOR IS EVERYONE’S JOB!
Captain John Shafer