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Video & fireground audio: Three Fairfax County, Virginia firefighters with minor injuries after flashover in Springfield.

 

The video above is by Paul Lof. Still pictures can be found on Paul’s Facebook page.

Click here for the fireground audio courtesy of AlertPage public feed 

AlertPage.net

A woman was critically hurt and 3 firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries following a two-alarm fire in Springfield, Virginia. The Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department reports the fire started in the kitchen of a townhouse located on the 6800 block of Clowser Court.

The fire was reported just before 8:00 Saturday morning. Three adults and a child who lived in the home had escaped, but one woman suffered smoke inhalation and possible burns. She was flown to the Washington Hospital Center.

At about the eight-minute mark command reports a flashover occurs. A spokesman says that’s when the firefighters received their injuries.

 Paul Lof photo.

Comments - Add Yours

  • HOOKMAN

    First off…Glad the fireman are ok….Now before anyone jumps the gun and gets all crazy on here, I realize this is a 4:29 video of this townhouse fire, but there’s gonna be alot of questions on this one or at least in my opinion there will be. My only question on here, is what in the world is that Truck doing sitting in the front, with its aerial in the bed. Since this doesn’t seem to be automatic to put the aerial to the roof, at least put a ground ladder to the roof.

    I’m going to guess since this is just a video, however, from the looks of the hose, windows busted out and firefighters coming out and going back in the townhouse on the fireground, things have been going on for a few minutes, before the tape started rolling. With that said, whether this was a flashover or not, why in the world isn’t someone from the Truck Co. opening that roof up?????
    Looks to me that the truck driver is on the driverside of the truck, before he get’s up on the turntable to put the stick up.

    Can someone who was there please tell me when the aerial finally went up in the air, did it go to the roof or the second floor (video doesn’t show, but the angle appears it goes to the second floor) and why wasn’t anyone cutting a hole in the roof….Throughout the entire 4 minute video, I didn’t hear a single saw running and though this was just a timeline of events, did the roof ever get opened up?

    If this was a flashover, it seems to me this would have easily been prevented if the truck company opened the roof up right away without hesitation. What good is that truck doing in the front, if its main piece of equipement isn’t being utilized or the people assigned to it aren’t performing all essential duties. I’m also taking into consideration the 4 man staffing on the trucks, but you also have the operator who’s capable of opening the roof up as well…..

    • stumper

      I see the truck operator setting his pads in the very beginning of the Video and I also see near the end at the 4:11 mark where the ladder is not going to the second floor so, it must be up on the roof. I also see that Command is right there and I am sure the truck operator and all the others are doing what they are instructed to do.
      JMO

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  • Seasoned Vet

    As a retired Chief with 38 years of experience in a large City, it infuriates me when I see time and time again in these videos Chief’s in helmet and coat but no boots or bunker pants. Anything can go wrong at the scene from tripping, burst hoseline, flying water, falling debris, etc. Not to mention alot of these fires are in cold climates. Besides the safety issues, it sets a bad example for younger members. I guess the only thing worse is a Chief in his buggy a block away trying to command a fire he can’t see.

  • ScienceOfFire

    Hookman. Glad to see you weighing in on a fire you weren’t at — it’s amazing what we can learn from watching a video. In fact, aside from being there in person, it’s the best way to critique a fire. In some ways, it’s better — ever watch an instant replay on TV?

    Anyhow, you seem very concerned about the ventilation tactics at this fire, which is good. Ventilation removes heat, fuel (unburned gases), and smoke. It reduces the temperatures in the fire room, decreasing the pyrolosis of the fuel load, and therefore, the likelihood of flashover. It allows the firefighters to see and more quickly complete the tasks of extinguishment and search.

    However, you assume that the roof is the best place to do this. At the beginning of the video, there is smoke and fire on the first floor. This house is new enough not to have baloon-frame construction. The first floor needs to be ventilated, not the attic space. The truckmen should rightly not focus on the roof — especially in a county situation where they probably don’t arrive as quickly and in the same numbers as they do in the city.

    Positive Pressure Ventilation, and more specifically Positive Pressure Attack, where the fan is in place and ventilation is stabilized prior to the hose team entering, has been proven to be effective. It is effective at reducing temperatures throughout the fire building, as well as helping confine the fire to the room of origin. It has not been proven to push fire into other areas, or push fire into void spaces. If, on the odd chances, the effects of ventilation are unwanted, it’s a simple matter to turn the fan 90 degrees. It is a tactic that can be be completed by the first arriving engine company, and does not have to wait for a more distant truck to arrive, set up, get to the roof, cut a hole, pike pole the ceiling below, hope it’s in the right place….by then, the fire is out, and ventilation is merely a convenience.

    Of course, being the salty old fire blogger that you are, you no doubt know better than the scientists at NIST and the thousands of firefighters accross the country who use PPA or PPV.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheFrontSeat Dave LeBlanc

    At about 3:09 in the video the aerial went up and with and edit the tower went up n the video shortly after that.

  • Larry Jenkins

    Hookman, If the fire is in the attic then open it, but if not then it can wait until later.Opening the roof will not prevent a flashover unless the fire is in the attic. Looks like the place has plenty of ventilation and I would be surprised if it flashed unless one of the rooms not seen had not been opened yet. I might add another handline inside until they get this under control. But like you said it’s only a four minute video. Also, in day and age the truck driver should not go to the roof by himself, we work in pairs.

  • Pete Error

    First, glad to hear only minor injuries to firefighters. Second, Hookman you are right on target. There are two (2) truck companies in the video, and neither has been set up right away. Give credit though; there are ground ladders on the three accessible sides, and horizontal ventilation is apparent.
    Why are there no BIG lines operating again? I have seen numerous videos of large fire involvement that do not have anything more than multiple 1.75″ lines operating. The video clearly shows an LDH line on a hydrant less than 100′ from an engine company. It appears “stiff” which would indicate at least a decent water supply. There are alot of firefighters on the scene too. Add (3) 2.5″ lines, a blitzfire, one of the trucks master streams, and knock the fire out!
    The American fire service has forgot how to fight fires with large lines. If you hit this fire hard and early, there is no flashover. Maybe everybody should take off the 1.75″ preconnects, and just leave the 2.5″ lines. Yes, there will be water damage. After 3 hours of the small lines, and total destruction of the apartment anyway; who cares about the water damage? Let’s start using the right size line for the volume of fire.

  • driverfiresuv

    I’ll second those thoughts. We see way to many video’s on this site and many others were roof ops aren’t being completed.

  • ceilidancer

    As an old Truck Capt. here’s what I see in the brief video. Fire on the rear first floor next to a glass double door that is intact. No one seems interested in opening up these doors. I only see two 1.75 lines one one the first floor and one going to the second floor. I see at least 6 white hats, which seems like overkill. We have used PPV for several years and it works very well. I don’t see a need to open the roof as there appears to be pretty good ventilation through the windows. I don’t know how this fire got away, but all those chiefs should see where there can be improvement.

  • HOOKMAN

    First and foremost is everyones ok……Since I wasn’t there and yes, I won’t Monday morning quarterback this, I wanted to know from people that were there what went on.

    As it pertains to the Truck Co. and away from the timeline of the video, you do see at the beginning of the video,the truck in the front, ladders to the townhouse, hose on the ground, hose into the townhouse, people coming out of the townhouse and people going into the townhouse. With that said, it appears T422 has been there a few minutes and didn’t arrive seconds after the video started.

    Now I know Truck Companies operate differently in different jurisdictions and what seems routine to me, might not be to others. Regardless if I see smoke or fire, I was always taught to raise the aerial just as a lineman stretches a hoseline.

    I agree with Larry, who by the way I love and respect very much(as well as learned a great deal from)and that it probably didn’t flash due to the numerous windows busted out, therefore, the townhome was vented, at least horizontally. I’ve been to the roof plenty of times by myself, followed by the other technician/tillerman, but both worked together and agree the 2 need to operate together. I realize and correct me if I’m wrong, Fairfax still operates 4 man Truck Companies, so I can see the driver not being on the roof. However, this shouldn’t prevent him from putting the stick to the roof right away, so that its ready when you do need to go up, amongst his other duties (throwing ladders which I’m sure he was doing). But, this is a video and who’s to say this wasn’t done after he performed his duties.

    Seeing the 2nd due truck has arrived, I would think both drivers could be a team and do some roof work. Since the video doesn’t show everything, did they eventually do this and go to the roof to open it up? Though it doesn’t seem to be a priority from the front, it definately does from the rear….Either way, if you open the roof up, the engine guys can see what their doing….lol

    I don’t have a certificate in reading smoke, but from the video of the front, it doesn’t appear the house is going to light off again, but from the rear, it seems so…Anyways, glad everyone is ok…..

    @Seasoned Vet…..I’m sure the Chief has a few years on the job and the fireman on the ground aren’t dazed and confused that there Chief or Chiefs don’t have their bunker pants on…I’m sure there are many other things they do lead by example on, however, pants aren’t a big deal, unless they feel the need to ventilate and check for extension…

    Science/Malichy from Children of the Korn..AKA David Koresh, go back to your Branch Davidian ruins and preach to the people or the ashes, if their still there…Oh and take your evil fallacy’s about pryolosis and paralysis with you too….ON A SCALE OF 1-10…YOU ARE A ZEROOO!!!!!

  • Engdrvr

    Wow!!!!, as usual every one could have done it better in our business, if only they had been there…. First of all…Our trucks are staffed with min of 3 people. And when Paul’s video starts the incident is already past the point where the first floor flashed! I think the truck drivers primary job is to ladder the building in case our guys need an escape route, first, then worry with the roof… I wasn’t on scene but was listening to my brothers working when the shit hit the fan, and since the fire was right around the corner from E422 firehouse, all other resources were not even on scene when it happened.
    I think one of the most DISRESPECTFUL things that has evolved over the years in our fire service is to take a snapshot (because, that is what this this video is) and make assumptions about tactics and what was being done at the time of the incident. And assume that you who weren’t there could do sooo much better!!! This isprevalent in the fire service these days in it is SAD, and we call this a brotherhood!!! Most of you don’t even ask about the three ff’s who were caught in the flashover.

  • Kobersteen

    I know little about this incident except what has been posted here, and I’m not going to pretend I do from four and a half minutes of video from an unknown time in the incident.

    I just wanted to clarify a couple points:

    Hook: In the fire audio, it states that the flashover, rollover or whatever event happened, occurred on the first floor. I am quite familiar with this neighborhood and with how these townhouses are set up, and it is my belief that horizontal ventilation and exterior laddering as they did, given the presentation of a fire on the first floor, was priority and correct. I’ll admit I am still learning the craft, so I may be off base, but that’s what I see/hear from my foxhole.

    ScienceOfFire: I am assuming that you may not be familiar with Fairfax County with your posting of: “especially in a county situation where they probably don’t arrive as quickly and in the same numbers as they do in the city.” Fairfax County Fire & Rescue is a 24/7 career department situated just outside of Washington, D.C. – hardly what is stereotypically thought of as “a county department”. Also, if you listen to the audio, from beginning of dispatch to the arrival of the first engine, truck and firefighting equipped medic unit (Engine, Truck and Medic 422) was just under two and a half minutes. Where you are somewhat correct is the staffing – in Fairfax County, the Engine Companies are staffed with 4, the Truck and Tower Companies (there was one of each on this incident, Truck 422 and Tower 405) are only staffed with 3.

    Larry Jenkins: This is more to everyone else than to you directly, but Captain Jenkins is one of the best fire tacticians that I know of in Fairfax County and is familiar with the neighborhood and type of houses involved in this incident. If he says it looks properly ventilated for the construction and report, I tend to believe him.

    ceilidancer: The number of white helmets you see in the video is misleading. Not every white hat is a chief. In Fairfax County, every Lieutenant, Captain, EMS Supervisor and Chief Officer wears a white helmet. Battalion 404, Chief Harrington, who, like Larry Jenkins, is one of the best that Fairfax County has, was the incident commander. Around him at the incident was a Captain that was learning how to be a backup BC, an EMS Supervisor as a command aide and likely several unit officers awaiting assignment. No harm – no foul, just clarification.

    Thanks.

  • FFXCoFirefighter

    What is not explained here is that Fairfax County runs minimum staffing of 3 on Trucks. The driver of any Truck thus has his hands very full from the start, as the Officer and bucket firefighter leave to address laddering, outside vent work, forcible entry, and search….which is what happened here. So, Hook, if we had 5 or 6 members on a Truck, we could pull off what you talk about, but with a crew of three and a 1st floor fire on arrival, rooftop ventilation is neither needed nor physically possible by the 1st arriving Truck.

  • HOOKMAN

    I agree, with only 3 on the truck, you have to do what you have to do. Its just amazing that with a county as wealthy as Fairfax, they can’t budget for manpower on a ladder truck..I’m sure that’s another topic in itself.

    Kobersteen…I’d love to be in a foxhole with you..lol

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  • Greg Lange

    Our department will be doing a ‘Close Call Report’ on this incident. Comments from the first officers on the scene reported this presented as a routine kitchen fire and proceeded as such tactically. As the first line attacked the fire and the truck crew was on the same level the fire conditions changed rapidly forcing an immediate retreat. Thanks to the quality PPE our department provides no serious injuries occured.

    Our three person truck staffing limits our tasks that can be accomplished on arrival. In this case an interior search by the officer and firefighter and ground ladders by the driver. Other truck work is assigned as second truck and/or the rescue arrives. Roof/vertical ventilation is rarely accomplished due to the staffing limits and priorizing other needed jobs.

    The video Paul shot begins as the second extingishing efforts are underway. I am glad the members from E/T422 are safe and look forward to assisting in researching the conditions which caused the rapid fire growth. As in Baltimore County what begins as a kithen can have sad and tragic results.

    PS Well done to the members of the Baltimore County and assisting departments in a moving and fitting tribute today to a true hero and inspiration to the fire service.

    Greg

  • Anonymous

    1st, at times we make a big deal that we care so much for total strangers and it kinda warms my heart that a stranger cares so much for us.

    2nd, after viewing the video several times, I’m convinced that we’re seeing a backdraft and not a flashover. Why? The smoke is dark and pushing out under pressure, even moving at times back toward the structure. The fire is remote (charlie quad) and not getting hit by the attack crew. The fire eventually vents through the window, lights off and the sudden burst of oxygen is enough to light off the dark smoke (incomplete conbustion) throughout the structure.

    Tell me what you see and if you think you’re seeing a flashover or a backdraft. Either way, i’m so glad the crew survived with fairly minor injuries.

  • Can not Believe what I saw

    Glad to see all the comments… Read them all and all I can say is … How many more ways can we make excuses  for being able to go to a Circus and not buy a ticket . You can not extinguish a fire with more people standing in the Parking Lot than you have in the building. I spent over 30 years with this organization and we use to go in extinguish the fire and go home.. What this fire needed was 10 more White Hats and 14 more firefighter in the Parking Lot and maybe they could have blown it out.. 

  • mofiretech1

    Why all the white hats??
    First and most important – information on why there are so many white helmets in the District of Columbia and many neighboring agencies.
    When fire service for the District of Columbia was instituted the practice was for all officers to wear white helmets – furthur, in keeping with the military influence at that time, the DFFD officer ranks started with sergeants.
    Most higher ranking officers wear white coats – I believe at least Battalion chief and above – so that's why it looks like every other firefighter in the DC area is a chief!!.
    Maybe soneone from Box 4 or DCFD can psend more detail to Dave on this question.