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Video: ATF modeling with radio traffic from MD apartment fire that killed Firefighter Mark Falkenhan.

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Read Baltimore County Fire Department report on Firefighter Falkenhan’s death

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This is the video (in three parts) the ATF produced to accompany its engineering analysis utilizing Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) of the fire that killed Lutherville VFC Firefighter Mark Falkenhan last year. There are links above to the ATF report by Adam St. John P.E., Fire Protection Engineer ATF Fire Research Laboratory and the internal report the Baltimore County Fire Department released in March. The modeling is matched with the fireground and dispatch radio traffic.

Description with video:

This video summarizes the ATF Fire Research Laboratory’s Engineering Analysis of the fire that occurred at 30 Dowling Circle on January 19th, 2011.  ATF Fire Protection Engineers were asked to utilize engineering analysis methods, including computer fire modeling, to assist with determining the route of fire spread and the events that led to the firefighter MAYDAY and subsequent Line of Duty Death of Firefighter Mark Falkenhan. 

Comments - Add Yours

  • Anonymous

    The ATF Fire Research Lab does some amazing work. Take the time to watch the whole video (all 3) and read the report.

  • Anonymous

    If you don’t watch this video and take away something you need to get out of the fire service.Share it with every firefighter you know and make it a company drill. We all owe it to Mark to learn from this event. RIP brother.

  • Crowbar

    The lessons that can be learned from this research are many. Hopefully the importance of just closing a door will be taught to all firefighters.

    Thanks for posting this Dave.

  • Mack Seagrave

    Back to basics. GPM’s kill fire, flow more H2O than the fire can withstand. Stretch lines to the floors above (rather than operating them from the exterior of side ‘C’ as was done at this incident). Personnel on the exterior need to constantly monitor conditions and report changes immediately. Ventilate the structure properly. We lost a Brother at this incident to a horrible death. At the very least, please open your minds and learn from this tragedy. Rest in peace Brother …

    • Captain Daddy

      GPMs can only extinguish fire if they reach the seat of the fire. In this case there was a well ventilated fire with a clear flow path from rear to front. The initial lines through the front door didn’t have a chance. The convective flow path in the public hall exiting the fire apartment did not allow the nozzle team to advance. Their streams were unable to reach the seat of the fire so they would be unable to advance. The exterior line probably put out the fire in the kitchen. Our friends at NIST, UL, and now ATF have shown us in the last few years that some of our long held beliefs don’t hold up. Applying water from the exterior is not always bad and probably doesn’t push fire. Fire is pressure driven and understanding flow paths is critical. Part 3 of this video series shows us how critical control of these flow paths by controling ventilation including doors is to our survival.

  • mdff

    A chilling and painful reminder of a colleague, teacher and friend who lost his life. This will hurt all who had the pleasure to know Mark and hopefully teach everyone a powerful and lasting lesson of a tragic chain of events.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent presentation from the ATF! Thank you for the hard work in preparing this Video.
    With the Info from the BCoFD LODD Report and this video, many things have come to light. The final part to this puzzle will be the NIOSH LODD report. Keep an open mind and don’t obsess on one issue … it was several individual things that aligned resulting in a LODD and many other LODDs.
    RIP Mark and may your family have peace knowing you will all be together again.

  • VK

    Very sad that we lost our brother Mark almost 16 months ago. Unfortunately, basic firefighting tactics may have prevented this tragedy.
    -if you are the first due engine on a box PUT HOSE IN THE STREET
    -get a backup line to the floor above the fire in case of extension
    -control the ventilation to and from the common stairwell to limit fire/smoke spread

  • Dallas

    Thanks for posting this, and thanks to the Baltimore County FD and ATF for creating and sharing this excellent resource; I plan on ensuring that my shift views the simulation and discusses the implications when we work again Sunday. A lot to learn and to think about…

    Thanks again.

  • The Deuce Wagon

    Eexcellent video! Its too bad that a firefighter had to die bc of simple mistakes. But we ALL can learn from this and i know i did. RIP Brother

    • Captain Daddy

      I’m not sure I agree with simple mistakes. First there was a real legitimate life hazard. Not standard search. An occupied MD with victims in windows and the interior stairs cut off by fire. The conditions called for agressive searches which the brothers did and located more victims that would have certinaly died if not for their heroic efforts. They adapted and overcame by using VES to get above right away. I think the members did the currently accepted tactics to deal with the situation they were confronted with. My whole point of my previous post is that studies like this is teaching us to change our ways. We need to more carefullly evaluate ventilation and close doors. FF Falkenhan died a hero doing what most of us would have done when confronted with the tough conditions they were. Even in death he is teaching us. So many lessons to take away; fires like this never go perfect, fire behavior is more extreme in the modern environment, think about ventilation and flow paths, critical radio transmissions are missed at every fire(there must be a better way).

  • Anonymous

    If someone out there can explain what a “limited command” is please do so. Early in the audio, E11′s OIC reported rescues and going to a limited command. Sounded to me he was involved in the rescue effort. Either you have command or your don’t. If E11′s OIC was actively making rescues…how can you have any type of command? I have never heard the term “limited command”. Is this just a Balt County thing?

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  • bcofd

    Limited command allows the first in officer to move up with his crew to take care of critical functions. i.e. rescues. the next in officer is to take command upon arrivial we are very limited with chief officers in the county. company officers perforn 90% of command functions.

  • Volley4fun

    I’m a volunteer in Baltimore County and a professional FF in a neighboring jurisdiction. The fact is, even after this very disastrous event, the BCoFD still and will undoubtedly continue to have to few Command Officers in its 640 square mile area with over a million people residing in its borders. This particular County will only have 3 chief officers on duty at one time covering that 640 square mile area. It’s apparent that someone doesn’t feel it’s very important to have that area split up into smaller more manageable portions. The response times are incredible for command officers. If you do the math each chief is covering over 200 miles, that’s absolute absurd. The Department has been flying on a wing and a prayer, until know. It’s been nothing short of luck this has not happened sooner, since implementing this insane manpower downsizing some 10 years ago. The luck ran out in January of 2011 and the most unfortunate thing about life is history will always repeat itself. I can’t believe someone in government or the Fire Department management does not feel it’s important to have more command officers. Even after this young FF dies a very tragic death. Here the Fire Department civilians get pay rises; upgrades and bonuses while the volunteers and paid Firefighters pay with the life. A complete and total unnecessary tragedy, please watch and learn from this