One of the most influential Line of Duty Death reports that I have read is the Colerain double LODD. When I considered this, I wasn’t sure exactly why, but it was the first one that really came to me and kept creeping up in my mind when I was trying to pick one. Like all of them, it is tragic and certainly things could have gone differently had some circumstances been different.
The thing that strikes me most is that I have been on this fire and done what Captain Broxterman and Firefighter Schira had done. This is not an uncommon fire for most of us in this country and I would venture to say that most have made entry just as Broxterman and Schira did without thinking twice about it. Knowing this, I have spent a great deal of time reading this report and discussing it at length both at work and on some blog sites.
The house was a typical home that most of us have in our jurisdiction, a two-story, wood frame house with a walk-out basement. I live in one these houses for crying out loud. The dispatch was not that out of the ordinary, but we can look at this early stage of the incident where the dominos started to fall. The initial alarm was verified by the homeowner that there was a fire and a face to face interview with the homeowner determined there were no occupants in the home.
Without getting too into this report, there were many factors that were not normal for this response and the crew responding that contributed to the tragic outcome. There was trouble getting water from the apparatus, which was not typical and there were communication problems.
In addition, and we don’t know why, the crew took the line to the basement door on the main level before asking for water and there was no 360 done prior to making entry. These two contributing factors are the real meat and potatoes for this LODD. And, it is also why it is so influential to me. How many times have we done the same thing? How many 360s do we do on a regular basis? Would finding the seat of the fire in the basement as a result of the 360 change the entry point? We may never know.
What I do know is that this “cookie cutter” fire happens every day in this country, and hopefully we are learning from the sacrifices made by two brave Colerain firefighters. I know that I certainly am passing on some of the lessons learned and continually practicing the recommendations listed. I also understand that the stresses of the job can cause us to make poor decisions. The most important issue from all of these reports is to train like you work. Keep training.