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Must see video: Close call during roof operations in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. regular reader Clark de Bear alerted us to this video. It was shot yesterday afternoon at a two-alarm house fire on Furnace Road in Washington Township, Pennsylvania (Lehigh County). Shortly after the 2:00 mark it appears part of the roof gives way almost taking a firefighter with it. No further information.

There is some dispatch audio and a little from the fire ground starting around the 15:00 mark at this link.

Part 2 of the audio is here.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Dickey

    Holy balls that's too close for comfort. I am just happy that no one was hurt. That could have been really bad, I mean really  bad. I didn't see a lot of sounding the roof and it looked like a pre-fab home. Another hard lesson learned.

  • Kriss garcia

    Holy crap,,,,have you never heard of a fan,,,this is sophomoric fire attack at it’s best,,,,did you have no hose lines in your department?

  • Yardo

    1. Why even bother opening the roof of a one-story SFD?
    2. If you are going to open in, where is the roof ladder?

  • Larry

    From the first look it looks like a modular and that means light weight construction. Why get on the roof?

  • Anonymous

    Why wernt they sprayin any water at all?

    • A. Walters


  • Just My 2 Cents

    Lets see….
    Verticle ventilation of the roof on a small lightweight (prefab) structure…Was it really needed or was this just another case of "we have to open the roof in all cases?".  Im betting the second. I'd find it hard to believe that a crew cant make a hit on a prefab without a hole in the roof. Try venting the building in conjunction with advancing the hose line. 
    The "hookman" exits the structure by him/herself, indicating another crew of 1… If the hookman has actually opened the ceiling, then why do you need to cut the roof? Come on guys…
    The initial "roof group" consisted of a crew of 1… Was that saw really that dull that it took so many minutes to cut a small vent whole in thin plywood? 
    The second "roof group" consisted of another crew of 1… Clearly these two guys were not working together. Perhaps next time that little round thing seen flopping around will actually be connected to his face piece. And why was the Haligan bar the only ventilation tool taken to the roof?
    No visible hoselines. Dont we still use water?
    No horizontal ventilation used. Horizontal venting in conjunction with hoseline advancement is the plan, remember?
    No RIT (RIC) team deployed.
    Just a few observations from what appears to have been a very manageable fire.  Back to the basics guys….Back to the basics… Remember, SAFETY, ACCOUNTABILITY, PROFICIENCY…. Thats what gets everyone home safety… 

  • E1LT

    Maybe some hooks pulling the ceiling and hitting it with some water?

  • Wil

    Two people on a roof working…and not one of them working off a ladder. Where is safety? 

  • Tower5Ladder

    These guys need to take there white helmets to a building construction class.  (Basics)  Oh yeah, pick up a real saw on your way there.  That little 20cc saw has no business in the fire service. 

    • Anonymous

      absolutly agree alot of things look like they was wrong from thw word go

  • Andrew

    And that kids, is why I kick anyone who is not wearing SCBA and PPE off my roof operations crew. Just not worth it. Wear the pack, it can save your life.

  • Tim

    Manufactured home combined with what the smoke is telling you equals no one gets on that roof whatsoever. Having no hoselines in place just adds insult to injury. These guys are extremely lucky.

  • Chauncy

    Looks like he got the POO POO scared outta him. These departments got  fortunate on this one. These department need to use this as an opportunity to make SOG's to prevent a future tradgedy. Use it as a learning experience and it can be a positive thing. Don't use it as such and your next video on youtube could be a LODD funeral.
    Glad all are well.

  • ByGolli

    Guys, seriously?  Have we not seen hundreds of similar  videos already?  Have we not read Firefighters Close Calls emails hundreds of times?  You didn't even cover the basics.  Thank the good Lord the outcome was good….. this time!

    Chief, you need to start over with your program if this is how you operate.

    • 950fire

      I agree, this group of individuals in turnouts needs turn them back in to the supply closet, head back to the class room and start over.  I wonder how long the house burns before someone, at least,  deploys a garden hose.  I hope for there sake this was a training fire and they meant to let it go.

  • Anonymous

    They should had water on that fire before the roof even caved in. Horrible fire attack from the inside of the house. 

  • Fyreman244

    I see a lot of FF's standing around doing nothing as the house burns. I see no hoselines going into the structure. There seemed to be no dicipline, no accountability and no coordinated attack plan…a lot of freelancing. And why are we venting vertically on a one family anyway with a kids saw?  I hope that FF on the roof got the crap scared out of him. Maybe it will prevent a real tragedy in the future.

  • Bar-n-Hook

    Does that saw have a Fisher Price logo on it? Or maybe it's a Bob the Builder type…
    Lot's of "white hats" leading & supervising themselves too. All those ICS/IMS,SOP/SOG, Rehab/ Resources, and Advanced Strategy&Tactics classes are working out brilliantly. Now, if only a advanced multi-cultural diversity class by the Rodney King School of Theology would come out we just might learn how to put out a fire  w/ waterlines in what essentially is a mobile home w/ a attic.  Maybe that's wishin' for too much…    

  • brandon s

    completely unacceptable is about all i can say.. absolutley rediculous.. not sure what the color code is for that department helmet wise but if its the same as here those are officers that made those mistakes.. completely unacceptable…

  • pete mitchell

    what is the point of have PAT tags if they are on your helmet smacking you in the back of the neck?

  • Jason

    How many red and white hats does it take to be clueless?

    • Anonymous

      I counted 11 at one point. But I believe they achieved clueless before that many were on scene.

  • Volleyman

    What the hell kind of saw is that? And why is it even on a fire truck? Nice white helmet showing the art of sounding a roof…geniuses…

  • John Drucker – Instructor

    Guys, Please consider a Building Construction and Safety Program for your department. If that firefighter had not had hold of the ridge he most likely would have fallen through and become a casualty.

  • Fyrecapt

    It doesnt matter whether this is a paid or vollie dept. There are certain steps that must be accomplished when doing vertical ventilation.
    I have a few questions for the FF's on this roof…..First even though this is a single story residence,
    1.) WHY is there only ONE firefighter on the roof? How about his partner to watch his back…
    2.) Why arent there more ladders being placed in case of an emergency escape? Eveb though its one story, with all the smoke, face mask being fogged, you are not likely able to see the first ladder
    3.)  Have you not heard of "sounding" the roof before you step off the ladder? This is one main reason FF's fall through roofs and become injured!
    4.) Why are you "cross" countrying across the roof? There several incidents on video that shows what happens why you traverse a roof that you havent sounded. In case your not familar, you fall through to the fire BELOW YOU!
    5.)  Do you know how to operate a chainsaw properly? Let the saw do the work, its not a kitchen that you move back and forth!
    6.) Why not have a roof laddder in place in case the light weight roof fails??which by the look of this structure, it was light weight construction!!
    Whether you believe in vertical vent or not, across the country, most of ladder officers agree that there are certain precautions you take prior to going aloft…..ITS BASIC VERTICAL VENT 101!!

  • Shar.

    I'm not a fire fighter. I am a 56 year old woman and even I know better. They need training… lots of training.

  • Blue

    Ya'd think that the FEMA grant capitol of the world would had enuff money to buy a saw bigger than a yard master delux!

  • Just another fireman

    I love all the Monday morning quarterbacking…..can't we all be the smartest of all and realize that his was an accident, and sure enough lessons are learned.  Let's take off our rocket scientist's hats and be thankful this isn;t another lodd.  I'm sure this department has lost face with this video and all of the "helpful" moronic comments, does it really help to rub it in and state the obvious?  If you feel so strong about it call them or man the F*CK up and do a face to face.

    • Anonymous

       Well said….BROTHER

    • 35 year FF

      Well said Brother…..and I don't mean or include sister.

  • Ed

    These guys are just lucky and I agree with Fyrecapt. Too many common sense rules were broken. No hose on the roof. No roof ladder; and unsafe ladder dismounts are a few and what happened to the Golden rule ? Always have a buddy with you. While this guy is trying to ventilate and the smoke was increasing; how do noone figure out if smoke was ventiong through other parts of the roof and not there they had to be venting in the wrong area and change plans. No further need to a vent hole once the the roof gets hot enough to burst into flames and the Fire Vents itself.


    The only thing that amazes me with this blog entry is that no one has yet to say "You weren't there. You can only see one view of the fire. So, you have no right to comment."

  • Anonymous

    Why are all those windows still intact?
    Where are the lines?

  • We’re Screwed

    lovely another attempt to extinguish a building fire with a chain saw. too many videos. too few real fires. 

  • pipeman779

    Thank God I'm in a union fire house

    • CBEMT

      Yup.  BEcause no uion man has ever gotten killed or burned a building down by doing something stupid.  Ever.  True story. 

  • DCFD

    Thank God that all of you experienced and educated fire dogs are here to school everyone.

  • Bryan

    you know if you weren't  there you should not comment  i mean you dont know what was going on come on guys its real easy to sit at your computer and say they should not have done that or my dept would not do that next time it might be you or your department on here 

    • 102LT

      I may not have been there, but I have been on enough poorly ran fire scenes over my 22+ year career to know one when I see it.


    What this video showed was lack of control of an Incident and poor training. There's no way that FF should have been operating on the roof by himself. I saw a lot of FF standing around. How about venting opposite the attack line?! Where was the back up line?!!  I can go on and on……..but , I want to talk about THE lack of COMMAND. i didn't see ONE….. If anyone at this fire can help me, and point out the IC, PLEASE DO. Folks, this dept. from what i saw , needs help with SOPS, Incident Command, and training!
    Train like you work, Work like you train!
    STAY SAFE!!!!!

  • johnm

    they dont seem to be in much of a hurry to put water on the fire!!!!!!!

  • anonymous – but pissed

    I have to say I love all the comments from the Interenet Firefighters, its great that you can all point out the obvious that some things went wrong and a firefighter went down in a very close call but how about someone pointing out the other obvious thing here…….WAY TO GO to the other Firefighter on the Roof that reacted quickly and pulled his buddy out of danger.  There you go someone here had to say something positive.

  • dustin stevens

    nice fire. he shouldve been on the roof ladder and shouldnt be alone. that was too close especially wiht the flames comming out the fast .

  • Observer

    You have to look close, but around the 1:15 mark, you can see the handline in the doorway.  Not that it makes a difference to the ops on the roof.  Also, if you look real close, you can see some really cool stickers on the white helmet!

  • ukfbbuff

     Hey Dave
     My 2 cents from calif.
    1st. Everyone either missed you from being off line or we're have a slow day in the firehouse's in order to get so many comments.
    2nd.  And everyone raised the points I would make, such as: No water being applied to the interior of the attic from below and why so many "White Hats" are working and not in  ICS/C&C Positions.
      One thing that was brought  up from some of my fellow  bloggers is about the Roof Ventilation. Good Question. My FD does this too, even on a double wide mobile home. Real Fire, practice what you've been taught, is the philosophy. Still a little  too much LA City in the Training Curriculum, which  of course includes PPV.
      And as was discussed in a NIOSH FF Fatility review session at FDIC, is that if done improperly Verticle Ventilation can cause problems with a "Chimney Effect" with the interior hose teams.

  • Fyrecapt

    First, yes I wasnt there….No question. However I do not have to be "there" to know that mistakes were made and that these FF's were lucky to escape injury. Second, while it may seem like monday morning quarterbacking, it is also a reminder to younger FF's what not to do. Yes, this may have been just an "accident", but thankfully it was not an LODD!! This "accident" could have been prevented-PERIOD!
    Every dept uses different strategy and tactic for their needs, thats not what is being criticized on this incident. Its the mere fact on what I pointed out earlier. We DO NOT need to be rocket sciencetist as early stated, but how about be smart about your situational awareness???
    Yes, our job is inherently dangerous and we always run the risk of being injured or killed. But that is not an excuse to be reckless, is it? We have lost way to many brothers & sisters to so called "accidents" that could have been prevented. We can still be aggressive and safe!
    Working on a ladder truck, I do prefer vertical ventilation. My crew is competent, aggressive, but safe. I also believe there are times when Vertical ventilation is NOT the right tactic and we move to something different. And yes, chainsaws do not put the fire out….But when operated properly, they can sure open large holes to assist the crews below.
    Listen guys/gals. The fires we are responding to are not the same as they used to be. We have light weight construction almost everywhere around us, OSB being used throughtout the structure and furniture that is petroleum based. These fires are burning hotter and faster then ever!! We need to keep up with the changes or risk killing ourselfs for a building….We have to be smart how we attack these fires. That my friends is a fact.
    And while I am glad that nobody was killed, this could have had a different outcome. It doesnt matter if your UNION OR VOLLIE…..BE SAFE. And for my union brothers, we make mistakes too, not just the vollies.
    I have attached a link for everyone to check out. It is a good reminder of what can go wrong.

  • Captain Daddy

    While a lot of good comments here some people should realize that some of the things mentioned here are not really SOP everywhere. 
    Really a hose on the roof?  Probably have only seen a hose on the roof when a trench was being done.  The FDNY hardly ever cuts the roof of a private dwelling and usually it's from the bucket. 
    Yeah these guys need help but lets get in reality here no one else ever went to the roof alone?

  • observer

    All I know is everyone in the fire service makes mistakes just watch YouTube great job on the white hat for saving the other white hat

  • mdl

    Where was the roof ladder that should alway's be on the roof when ventilating. I heard someone mention it in the audio but no one put in place on the roof.

  • capt.

    where is IC dont see one and why are there 2 white hats on roof. good job to the one that helped the other when he went through the roof. good thing for experience i guess

  • Aussie Firey

    This, and many hundreds of videos like it, tell me why Australian firies almost never get on the roof. Open some doors and windows, use a PPV fan, make a (2 man!) internal search/attack, job done. This job seemed like it was going to become bigger than Ben Hur when they could've knocked in on the head with 2 men and a single 1 1/2" hose line (what we call a 38 mm here in Aus). Surely the SCBA is there to allow them to breathe in hostile atmospheres, including a smoke logged house and the colour of the smoke and the fact that it's venting to freely should tell you that you don't have backdraft conditions, so get inside and knock it down. 
    Main criticism I'd have with regards to the ladder is that there's no one securing the foot of the ladder when the FFs are using it. Is this normal throughout the US? Or is it another mistake made by this particular group?
    Anyway, it's always enlightening to see how other countries operate. Cheers from a vol FF brother in the Great Southern Land. And remember: what's the point of saving someone's home if you kill one of your own in the process?
    Stay safe.

    • Molly

      Footing the ladder is done if needed. On grass/dirt the heel of the ladder can be dug into the groud to do the same job as a person.
      Roof construction is different in oz. Where you commonly have ceramic/terracotta tiles on rafters and purlins, in Pennsylvania they have plywood/tar/shingles on just rafters. The US roofs are "safer" to work on up to a point, but they don't ventilate as well and often need to be cut early on before the fire structurally weakens them. Tiles are not strong and stable enough to cope with the way US firies operate on plywood.

  • Kenny Keyboard

    I find it is much easier to extinguish a fire with a keyboard than getting all geared up and going to the scene. With my keyboard I am certified to Firefighter 27, Fire Officer 18 and am working on getting my Paramedic License upgraded to a Trauma Surgeon Level. (SHould only take another 2 weeks of intensive online training-30 minutes a day). WIth my keyboard I never make mistakes, but if I do, I just hit the back space key and it goes away. I love my keyboard almost as much as I love myself.

  • JustanutherFireDude

    Everyone is an armchair quarterback….I have never seen a perfect fire…I have seen some of the things you saw in this video done on videos of FDNY, Chicago, Boston.etc…and everyuone writes..AWESOME ,,, COOL…yes there are many things to learn from this video…But we go on a feeding frenzy and trash these guys when some of these things are occurring on your scene…. Right wrong or indifferent…I give the guy on the saw a tip o the helmet for being situationally aware and quick acting. he was there to help his brother in a flash…did a real quick assessment and then very calmly got them off the roof.   Not saying that any observations were wrong or anything is justified/unjustified…just tone down the bashing…the next video on here could be you or your department.

  • crazdmnd

    "We got a worker, 621 only has a half tank of water better get tankers" — ok was that before or after you left the station?!?!


    In my first or second year in the fire service, I would have said. "Look at them doing it. Wow, did you see him almost die. Man, he's a real firefighter." A couple of decades later, the video appeared to me as a trainwreck that was slowly happening in front of me. The construction type, amount of smoke coming from the box, color and speed at various points of the structure. I use videos like this to teach my subordinates what can happen and how to avoid it. And, not to make myself feel better by making others appear worse.
    To Kenny, Nice!!!! I'm happy to see that there are people who can make comments like the ones that you see. It means that they may know something about the firefighter trade. Such as the knowledge to see where the incident is going by certain cues (projection) not just what is going on in the present (reaction). It is the whole, proactive verse reactive thing. Maybe people should be a little less negative and drop the holier-than-thou attitude, take these videos and learn from them.
    To FireDude, Here is another video that showed a brother in a flash to be there for a Brother in a flash. . Sometimes avoiding the situation is by far better than reacting to the aftermath.

  • Anonymous

    I got no problem with them venting the roof but get a real vent saw! Alot of rural areas with manpower problems and no truck companies vent a single story dwelling roof with one man. The main thing I got from this video was you better have a trained RIT team ready that can do the job. If that guy had gone in they would have had maybe a minute to grab him before he was dead. Stay Safe Btothers!

  • Fyrecapt


  • Anonymous

    I think its funny how you all sit here and bust on people. how about you get up do it. they are just doing what they are asked to do.

  • Anonymous

    More chief s then firefighgters, how many white helmets? red, or yellow or no helmets at all. hotterville.

  • Anonymous

    Where are the hose lines? Looks like a job for a smooth bore 21/2.


    2 1/2 inch would be a little overkill. Look at what the smoke is coming from and where it is not coming from. Lots of smoke coming from the eaves and other roof members. Basically, nothing coming from the open doors and windows. This is a attic/truss-void fire in a manufactured home.  They are designed and costructed to get the most structure out of the least amount of building material. Not a good occupancy to utilize roof operations on. This job could  be handle with hooks and 1 3/4's in an organized fashion. Pull ceilings put wet-stuff on the red-stuff.

  • Anonymous

    If you're going touse a saw on the roof, a chain saw is the wrong tool. There are comercial roof vent saws with carbide tooth chains available that will cut the sheeting and shingles like butter. It took all of 10 seconds of watching this to realize that he's using a tree saw not a roof saw.

  • Anonymous

    Nice saw for tree trimming, firefighting, not so much…