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Update to must see video: Dearborn, Michigan firefighters talk about their extemely close call on the roof of burning Fordson Cleaners.

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Previous coverage of this story

More pictures of the fire

The three Dearborn firefighters on the roof of the Fordson Cleaners Thursday evening who had an extrememly close call captured on video and seen around the world are Lt. Steven Bucholz (in the red helmet), Firefighter Mark Farrell (who was pulled to safety by the others) and Firefighter Joe Murray. They told reporters today they didn’t realize how close it was until they saw the video on the news. Watch the interview above and here are some quotes from the story by Julie Banovic at WXYZ-TV:

“As soon as I felt it going I just reached for that wall,” said Mark Farrell.  Mark Farrell is the Dearborn firefighter sliding toward a hole of fire who narrowly escaped being burned alive.

“Thank God for both of these guys,“ said Farrell.

“I didn’t really know how bad it really was.  We all came off the roof and went back to work,” said Farrell.

“Oh man, I was closer to the hole than I thought it was.  And it wasn’t until I saw the video that I realized that,” said Farrell.

“It really opened our eyes how lucky we got,” said Joe Murray.

WDIV-TV:

Firefighter Mark Farrell did not tell his wife what happened until she saw him on the news.

“I didn’t really realize the helicopter was up there. (My wife) saw it later on in the night. I caught some flack for it later,” the year firefighter said laughing. 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Chief 62

    While it is heart warming and were all very thankful to the Man above for sparing the 3 brothers yesterday, we seriously need to look at why they were there in the first place?. For what an unoccupied commercial building, and for this we risk 3 lives doing a vent hole? Its 2012 and were still conducting some operations without proper Risk Management Procedures taken into account. And the point is 200 years of tradition unimpeded by progress, we have always done it that way. Big fire, little hoses in place?.

    I am all for doing what were here for, I just will no longer place any firefighters in needless danger, for Stuff!! Commercial, flat roof, the IC needs to ask himself what is supporting that roof?? the fire load within, thats why we have 2.5 inch and monitors which allow us to operate without losing anyone. One needs to ask themselves, what the value of their, lives is? Its so very easy to issue the command, go to roof, cut hole, leave. Its the process and time and space in between the order and task being completed that all bets are off.

    What if that “Wall” wasn’t there———–we’d be discussing 3 more LODD’s. I hope this will be a wakeup call for Dearborn FD to perhaps take a good look at why they still do what happened yesterday. We get one chance per career to have that outcome happen. From one who has been there, learn from it you won’t be gracious enough to get a second free pass.

    The mark of a good department is what they will do from this point forward, business as usual or make changes. Ask oneself are your members more important or is the mortar and bricks?.
    Stay Safe & Alive Everyone, its a dangerous business were in.

  • Sharppointy1

    Wow, Chief62, you have given me food for thought.
    I can imagine what FF Farrell’s wife said to him – just before she grabbed him and held onto him as tightly as she could.

  • Bill

    Wow, Chief 62, I sure wish I could make all of these judgements from watching a few seconds of video shot by a news helicopter. What’d you see when the brothers from Dearborn pulled up? While I don’t want to see anyone die in the line of duty needlessly, our job is to protect lives AND property. Unless you can offer something else besides this video, to show that they made tactical errors, get off the soap box. Its so easy to say “they never should have been on the roof” when you watch a video of it caving in.

    If only all these kick butt firefighters from the internet would get on a fire truck. There’d be no more fires.

  • John

    I heard comments from a Dearborn FF I know that were similar to Chief62s. He was very upset with how the fire was handled. Some things to consider-80+ year old unoccupied commercial building with heavy fire load, full of chemicals, and a heavy fire condition on arrival. Acceptable risk in that situation should be very low.

  • JJ189

    Chief62, what were they doing on the roof? Their job, no second guessing, no questions, doing what they are trained to do. They were on the roof 1 minute after they arrived on scene, assisting the interior attack of 2 separate crews that were trying to save a 60 year old business.

    Their aggressive interior attack isolated the damage to the area of collapse and will result in the business re-opening much faster.

    Firefighting is inherently dangerous and their is no requirement to foretell the future, just to have the ability to sack up and get the job done.

    Great Job to the DFD, proof that not all of the fire service has been emasculated by the likes of Chief62.

  • Chief 62

    Well Bill, while I don’t usually have to comment on any postings allow this. I have re-read my post and in it made no claim regarding tactical errors, I may have proffered commentary based on Fact. At the end of the day no one should have been on the roof!! I am well aware we also protect PROPERTY but losing 3 lives over a hole gains what. The intent is work smarter. Great work by the Officer and Brother to make the grab, gratifying to see it worked out.

    Had I been there, by the way there was additional coverage of the fire other than on here, I would have sized it up as a single storey flat roof commercial, no occupancy risk concerns
    and immediately wondered how, and what the roof material was and what supports it!!. Then we add 900 pounds static roof load, 3 members with total gear, would that weight be conducive to being placed over the fire, does the UL vidoes of collapsing floors come to mind to you?. Since we know in the Fire Service flat roof ashpalt topped construction is highly prone to collapsing made a risk versus benefit call. That was the point, we no longer do this on the north side, perhaps that is why we do not lose members each year, I never want to present another flag to a widow. Google NIOSH, they have several dozen well written reports covering similiar incidents. Memory serves me correct wasn’t that long ago one such incident in Illinois.

    This scenario repeats itself periodically from time to time in the US. I have spent many a year and hours on firetrucks, hardly can be accused as a leader, to be on a soap box. In the end as stated before hopefully the close call is a wakeup to foster change, I know I learn from others.

    I am far from the most perfect IC and have made mistakes mentally on past firegrounds I wish I could have back, taken many, silly now, chances in the past as a line Officer, none of it makes it any more right does it, been lucky as the MI crew twice so know where they were yesterday. But now when hundreds of lives are in “your” hands ultimately the building will burn down before I go to another funeral. I am a student of the Fire Service, believe in Bruno & Blue Card Command, certified Safety junky and am in my 39th year of service.

    For every action there is a reaction, its how we deal with it makes the difference. Stay Well. Best Wishes to Dearborn.

  • Former Chief

    Interesting comment at the end, a Charter that mandates a certain number of Firefighters for every 1000 people in population. Talk about progressive thinking. And when was the Charter enacted? Seems a lot of other juridictions could learn a lesson from that one, regardless of how long ago it happened.

  • RJ(in florida)

    this is why dave calls anyone who posts a “KIC”-keyboard incident commander.

    everyone makes a good point but none of us know what the actual IC was thinking. my guess as a KIC is that there were people operating inside and a vent hole does help them do their job but not being there….its just my opinion

  • John

    Former Chief,

    Several cities in Michigan did that in the last ten years, including Dearborn. Unfortunately, our Republican Governor and his legislature are attempting to pass a law prohibiting minimum staffing ordinances or agreements of any kind for public safety. Anyone who has them will see them ended at the end of their current labor contract. See House Bills 4760-4765.

  • mid west chief

    Any one notice how deep the saw blade was into the roof system? Wood truss? If the fire caused the system to fail, why minimal increase in venting pressure? Just a thought………….

  • Tim

    Monday Quarterbacking is going to go on for as long as there is fires. The ones that like to write pages of comments are usually the ones that pat themselves on the back and brag about their acomplishments. I didnt read the chiefs comments all the way through because its the typical bull s*it that trys to prove that one person who wasn’t there knows best. These people who publish comments like these on every fire site nationwide need to realize that not every situation is the same. Every department has different equipment, training, manpower etc. Never once will you here these people start out their posts with “I applaud the efforts of these members and their dedication”. The posts always start out with “wow what were they thinking”. All the classes, training or stripes on your class A uniform will never give you the rite to disrespect the people who do this job. People who “monday morning quarterback” and put down great people need to realize that we are human and every situation is different.

    • mark

      Tim, is it OK to QB any other time than Monday AM? Just curious, because if so, I’ll just wait.

      Bad tactics are bad tactics, whether made with good intentions or not. Whether someone was on the scene or not.

      I asked the exact same question in Dave’s first posting of this. I was wondering about the amount of fire at the first part (of the video) compared to when they were venting. Because if the 2 timelines are anywhere close to each other, there was no reason for anyone to be sent to that roof. The fire was within minutes of venting itself. With no close call.

      But again, heaven forbid we learn from mistakes and critique one another’s fires, even if they are MMQB and KIC. Be silly of us to grow in knowledge and experience.