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Pre-arrival video: Police take sledge hammer to door at garage & workshop fire in De Pere, WI.

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Somehow this video by hermy8 of a fire in De Pere, Wisconsin on August 31, 2012 slipped under the radar when it was posted. There is a lot of action going on even before the arrival of the fire department. It includes a small squad of police officers arriving. Two make their way to the second floor with a sledge hammer via an outside stairway on Side B apparently to check for victims. Their actions are out of view of the camera but by the sudden rush of smoke and their retreat down the stairs it appears they were successful in popping a door.  News reports indicate this structure in the 600 block of West James is a garage with a workshop on the second floor.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Blue

    Nice work, two Engine Co’s working together making s__t happen!


    First off, nice job by the PD pulling well past the fire building. Maybe there was a hydrant down the block they were ganging up on. LOL
    I wonder if those guys still thought it was a great idea to vent as they were scampering back down the steps.
    Nice seeing the first in engine driver charge attack lines BEFORE he got into securing a water supply. You know you’ve got another engine behind you to at least back up your tank water. We’ve seen a lot of going the other way lately. That is what tank water is for, boys & girls.
    Nice knock once the guys with the water showed up.

  • slackjawedyokel

    yeah but think how sweet a “bumper turret” would have been

    • Commenter

      It would have meant that instead of 3 guys stretching a 2.5″ line to side D to spray water from the outside at 4:19, 1 guy could have done it as the engine approached 90 seconds earlier.

      Then those 3 guys could have stretched a line up the stairs and make the interior push a minute after arrival, rather than more than three minutes after arrival.

    • Anonymous

      bumper turret… loser thats for crash trucks

  • Eric

    These police officers should be held accountable for their actions. They operated in a dangerous area with no PPE, and more importantly, caused the fire to spread and intensify dramatically. What would happen if a fire company showed up first on a crime scene and made the situation 10x worse? Well actually I don’t think fireman are dumb enough to do such a thing because we generally have something called DISCIPLINE.

    • Hayden

      Well said!

    • Lungs

      What would have happened if they found someone down just inside the door when they opened it? The whole top floor AT LEAST was going to be near total loss anyway. Don’t be a hater.. No one likes that guy.

  • Anonymous

    Why do people not lay in for an obvious working fire? The blind guy 3 blocks away could see this was a working fire. The deaf guy next door probably heard the updates from the police that the place was on fire. WHY NOT LAY A LINE? WHY?

    • Fire21

      I’ve always believed in the 1st due laying in when there’s smoke showing. I will allow for the 2nd due to do it if, and I stress IF, I can see them arriving behind us. If I can’t see them, then I don’t know if they’re going to get into an accident, or break down, or take a wrong turn, or whatever.

      In this case, the 2nd engine arrived 1:20 after the first, and they did get a quick supply established, so all was good. But, in my opinion, I’d have laid in with the first due.

      • Molly

        At the 2.57 mark you can see a split second glimpse of another engine down the road a little bit. I can’t tell what it is but I suspect it is the ‘second’ engine. They were probably doing some kind of supply function, so I would say the two engines arrived almost at exactly the same time, or in fact the engine that pulls past the address was second arriving. Just something to consider.

    • Wilson Says

      Uh maybe because the second due engine compamy was right behind the first engine. It was obvious the second engine brought the water, which allowed the first engine to start fire attack using ALL of their personnel utilizing tank water. Good call by the compnay officer to quickly get water onto the fire. This is a good example of how two engine crews working together can put out some fire. Unfortunate that the police ventilated the structure prior to FD arrival, however the video does not provide enough information to say if this move was justified or not. Strong Work by these two companies!

    • / Bob Frin WISC

      SOG that is why! Fist in goes to the fire. Second in secures the water supply. 3 member engines, 750 gallon tanks. No delay to get a hydrant wrapped, slow laying of the supply line, leave that for the second in crew. The video proves the process works. If the second in is delayed, then first in can elect to take the hydrant.

  • Fire21

    Ahhhhh, trees with leaves!!!

    Nice work, De Pere FD!

  • Kevin

    From time the PD vented the front door to flashover was 2:20. The Fire Department looked pretty good, although I wouldn’t have took the first line directly under the power lines.

    • Fire21

      Where would you have gone with it? Maybe around the bravo, charlie sides to get to the delta? The line still would have been under the power lines that run across the alpha side. I saw no choice there other than to take the engine into the “alley” along the delta side of the fire building.

      • Kevin

        Ah, I was talking about the lines on the delta side that looked closest to the flames. Sure, take the hose to that side but I wouldn’t take them under the power lines.

        • Fire21

          I think I see what you’re saying…it looks like they flaked the line out under the power lines. Instead they should have flaked the hose along the street or along the alley. Is that what you saw?

          • Kevin

            Precisely. The video may have made it look like the fire was closer to the power lines than they were, but if the fire was as close as it looked like I wouldn’t be walking underneath them.

  • Northern Chief

    Again we have no idea why they did what they did. We are assuming that they just wanted to smash and crash. Maybe they were told that there was a victim that was near the door and they were trying to do a quick grab. had this been the case they would have been doing the correct thing.
    Yes I agree that they vented and the fire spread. Based on the fire behavior we observed; it would have spread anyway. No excuses though. If they just smashed for the hell of it then they deserve to be disciplined. Look at the positive side of their tactics; it prevented a flashover on the firefighters and they didn’t get hurt. Too much fire to enter.
    Now to the first responding units….KUDOS!! Aggressive and fast paced. Looks like the first line was a 2.5″ and they got a second line in play fast. Water supply established in minutes after arrival. Solid Work!!!!

  • FMCH

    @Eric, lol whut? It took until 4 minutes into the video for fire to show on the side the cops forced the door. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t qualify as 10x worse.

    Looks like the first engine pulled a 2 1/2 to the Delta side. Big fire, big water. Good hustle.

  • news hound

    stupid cops…. that accomplished nothing but ventialtion

  • Anonymous

    1)Glad the police parked their car’s not in front of the address.
    2)For being a small department in middle of wisconsin, they charged the attack line quickly, NICE WORK!
    3)Good job working with short man power, getting a quick outside knock down and then MAKING AN INTERIOR PUSH!

    *Well done for a small department in the midwest

  • Lungs

    I’m pretty surprised by the tone of the firefighter comments on this clip. Who knows what the LEOs were told. They appear to be checking inside the door to make sure someone wasn’t down just inside. If they HAD found someone they would have become “Heros”. The whole top floor at minimum was going to be a total loss from fire anyway. Add the water on top of that… Next week the top floor is going to be demolished just like all the other fires that are more than room an contents. What are you worried about?

    Great job by FD on quickly attacking the fire and not delaying by laying a supply line as some have suggested. That’s what your tank water is for. Leave the supply line to second due. Their results are obvious.

    Compare arrival to suppression time on this clip to others like it….

  • Fire Jake

    Stop bitchin abut the cops, half the time the firefighters we see on these videos don’t know what they are doing.

    • Gwoneg

      That’s true, but how often do you see firefighters pulling over speeders? Or responding to domestic calls? We generally leave the cop stuff to the cops, but how often do we see them leave the fire stuff to the firefighters? We get asked to stage and wait for law enforcement when the scene could be criminally dangerous, why arent they asked to stage when the scene is fire dangerous? Good for the Goose?

      • FOBS

        Oh, boo hoo.

        The officers did good better than most on this page.

  • Anonymous

    anybody catch the doll hanging from ben’s gear?

    • / Bob Frin WISC

      Not a doll, his nomex hood!

  • Scooter

    I like… cops pulled past (only should have closed the door after they popped it) Engine company 1 min 15 seconds to get water and go to work… same time 1 3/4 line being run to make the push in from up the steps. Like said above cops may have made a grab… just close the door next time to slow down the fire…. Strike da box ! K

  • on the job

    HI BEN !!!!
    first….,leave the cops alone if they scored a couple more points on the firefighter test they would of been FIREFIGHTERS.
    second…., the fire dept. did a nice job for the number of guys and only two engines that can be seen.

  • He

    Hydrant is just behind the 2nd due Engine,,,no problem hand jacking by the first due Apparatus Operator if needed,,,,thank you Google Earth.

  • Dom

    To be honest the LEO’s showed more hustle and will to act then most departments on this site show at a normal house fire. And I agree with an above commentator. If they hadn’t have vented that door, the engine company probably would have ended up getting flashed on when they tired to go in and get it.

  • 26 years of wearing both badges

    The bigger question that needs to be answered is, what was being stored on the second floor to create that blowtorch fire condition. Use this incident as reminder of the unknown that exsists on every second floor garage.

  • Mike

    If your gonna force a door without an attack line at least be smart enough to close to assist with controlling the fire.

  • Mack Seagrave

    The practice of dispatching law enforcement personnel as initial responders to structural fires is tantamount to dispatching civilians to the scene with the intention of having them take firfighting and rescue actions prior to the arrival of trained and equipped firefighters; the result of either is dangerous to al involved. Unfortunately, in many parts of the U.S., the mention of a structural fire over a law enforcement radio frequency results in an uncontrolled, high speed (lights and siren) response of every law enforcement unit that’s even remotely near the scene. This also leads me to wonder who is left to provide the primary function of law enforcement (ie: patrol of assigned districts for the purpose of locating and or preventing crime)while a large number of officers have deployed to the fire scene in hopes of the chance to perform ‘heroics’???


      More silly talk.

      You are right… Police shouldn’t be dispatched to working fires. By the same token they shouldn’t be dispatched to any life threatening incident. That makes a ton of sense.

      “Uncontrolled, high speed (lights and siren) response of every law enforcement unit”. So other then the police, you are describing the majority of volunteer fire departments, minus the siren part. This is coming from a group that glorifies blue lights.

      I think that the fire service, including volunteers, do a great job and they do their job unselfishly. But there are quiet a few, like you, that want to be “heroes” and become upset when someone else does the job. Disgusting.

      • Mack Seagrave

        Listen Mr./Mrs./Ms/Miss ‘Idiot’, unlike you I don’t form my thoughts based upon assumptions, I make statements based upon experience and real knowledge. Firefighting (just like policing) is a very real, very dangerous, vital profession that requires extensive and continuous training along with specialized equipment to do the job correctly and as safely as possible. Interference by law enforcement personnel at the scene of fires is every bit as much of a problem as it would be to routinely have firefighters dispatched as the first responders to crimes in progress. Your rant about “heroes,blue lights and volunteers” has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me or the statement that I made. Obviously, my statement struck a nerve with you and only you know what that’s about.


          Yes, it’s true, you struck a nerve with me (insert eye roll). You know… I’m a crusader against stupidity. I’m a lean and mean weapon against idiotic ideology. And your ideology is idiotic.

          You have made it clear that it is your position that dispatching law enforcement to fire scenes is equal to sending untrained civilians, trash collectors, tow truck operators and the pizza delivery guy. Here is where your ideology is idiotic. People who are in need of help, don’t give a crap who helps them. And as professionals, we shouldn’t care who gets there first to help them. But that’s your “hero” mentality. It appears that it all you are concerned with. Keep everyone away that could intervene and do something good so I can do it. That’s what I’m hearing here.

          You don’t assume? Sure buddy. Keep telling yourself that. I guess you weren’t assuming when you make stupid remarks, such as, “Unfortunately, in many parts of the U.S., the mention of a structural fire over a law enforcement radio frequency results in an uncontrolled, high speed (lights and siren) response of every law enforcement unit that’s even remotely near the scene.” That’s fact? Where’s your source? Sounds to me that it’s a narrow minded assumption.

          Listen… Except for you, we are all in this together. Firefighting is a dangerous job. So is police work. Regardless if you have the proper PPE or body armor or a big fire house or a big gun, it’s still dangerous. But sometimes, even though it’s not the proper way to do things, we make calculated risk to help others. And that’s what occurred in this video.

          Brother and sisters, I appreciate the thought of communication between the lines. Making ridiculous decisions, such as my friend here, only hurts the people that we serve. Stay safe.


    Seems to me that the Fire Service has enough problems that need attention without criticizing the police. I understand the criticisms made about the police, but maybe we should instead focus on our own issues. When every FD is as good as the De Pere FD, then there will be time to criticize others.

    Kudos to the De Pere FD. Great job, guys.

  • Sharppointy1

    I’m very curious (as always) – what do the FF’s here think would help prevent the LEO encouraged flashover?
    Should the Chief, or the highest ranking officer on site talk with the individual officer and explain why s/he shouldn’t do that?
    Or should there br some kind of brief class by maybe the FD training officer for the LEOs on what to and not to do at a fire? The training officer could show videos visually explaining why the FD doesn’t want freelancing LEOs.
    Of course, if there was a suspicion that there was a living person to rescue then whoever gets the victim out is a hero.
    As always, I’m genuinely curious what woud be the best course of action to prevent ventilation of the fire.

  • OnSceneFirst

    The police arrived more than 3 minutes before the FD. You dont want the police dispatched to fires? You dont want the police to attempt rescues? You gotta be kidding or trolling.


      He is not kidding nor trolling. This is the way this guy thinks. It’s wild that there are people like this on the same scenes as you and I…..

    • Mack Seagrave

      With that mindset, trash collectors, tow truck operators and pizza delivery personnel should also be dispatched. The only difference between law enforcement personnel and the members of the other occupations that I listed is that the law enforcement folks wear a uniform with a badge and have emergency lights and a sirenon their vehicle. Other than that, when it comes to firefighting knowledge they are all on equal.


        I told you that he wasn’t trolling….

  • Wilson Says

    Without knowing what was reported to the police officers it is hard to bust their balls and say they were wrong. Reagardless, how about taking a different approach and use this as a TRAINING TOOL. Educate your police officers about would bad things can happen when they choose to “open up” the buidling prior to FD arrival. I bet you a dozen doughnuts most police officers have no idea, and most would be receptive and appreciate the knowledge. All can be done in a professional constructive way. Enough bitchin already, both professions are here to do the same thing, save lives and property! Get a gripe and start working together.

    • dave statter

      And that’s a key point Wilson Says. Police are going to arrive first on many types of incidents including fires. A little education, using a video like this, could go a long way helping them make good or better decisions. At least have them go in armed with information about fire behavior and what is likely to happen when they take certain actions. You could also give them some parking lessons while you are at it.

  • pipeman

    Dispatch we have heavy smoke and flame on approach but we are not going to tag a hyrdrant. Ok lets be serious here for a second guys. We are firefighters we do work hand in hand with the cops. I have had my ass saved by cops from meth heads idk how many times. I think it is balls of the cops to run into that home but stupid. A comment above said we run in without an scba to do your job. Well when i get on location my job is to grab the nozzle and put water on the fire. Do you realize how fast fire moves when it grabs that oxygen? Do you realize when the CO fromthe smoke hits you it makes you dissoriented? Heres my point, my job is to put the fire out not to come in running after you because you wanted to be front page news but instead got lost. Love a concerned brother.

  • Lori

    I think they did what they thought was best for the situation. Every one is unique in its own way and like LUNGS had posted, many fire victims are found just feet away from an egress door. Too bad that it did give the flames and heat fresh oxygen to work with which eventually spread the fire a direction which could have possibly been stopped, but if it were me inside that home, as a victim, I would have been glad to see them helping me out the door! Sizing up every incident is important and although many do not have training in fire behavior, don’t discount them for attempting to save a life and putting their own in jeopardy. I am sure they will remember this incident.

  • Anonymous

    Does this town not run truck companies? just wondering

    • / Bob From WISC

      The truck is not on the scene, it had no staff so first in truck was responding from the MA department. Knock down was completed ad the video ends before the truck arrives.

  • Chris Stabile

    They have 2 engines and one ladder. Looks to me like all 9 guys on duty came on the 2 engines, and probably relied on mutual/automatic aid for a truck. As someone else already noted, the 2 engines arrived within seconds of each other. Engine 121 was the attack pumper, and Engine 111 brought the supply. For a second, Engine 111 can be seen stopped down the block, most probably catching the hydrant. We would all be better served to do a little research on an FD before we start questioning/criticizing the whats and whys of their actions. On the topic of the law enforcement involvement, LEO’s are generally dispatched to assist with traffic/crowd control. While I agree that their actions do sometimes contribute to fire spread, a little education can go a long way to reduce these instances.

  • Scott

    I think it was a good video of an excellent attack. Using tank water and let the 2nd due set up water supply. White smoke coming out quick intoi the attack. Give the cops a break, they were doing what they thought they needed to do for the situation. At least they know where to park!

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