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Video: Evac tones & lots of airhorns but not everyone is coming out at Ambler Boro, PA house fire. Two firefighters hurt.

Pictures by J.D. Brooke from

Video from phillyfirenews of a house fire today on Reiffs Mill Road in Ambler Boro, Pennsylvania (Montgomery County). While the evacuation tones and airhorns are heard two separate times on the video, the audio appears to be the same evacuation from two different angles, even though the video shows some different action going on the second time your hear the evac tones (indicating the sound is dubbed pn one of them). J.D. Brooke reposted this video with the original audio at the 3:14 mark instead of the earlier evac order being dubbed in.  

As for the evacuation, it appears not everyone came out. The conversation from firefighters questioning the water still being put on the attic fire from inside indicates that it was being applied via the first floor. There are also firefighters being told to go in and help someone out who was still inside. It’s unclear if this was related to the injured firefighters reports about below:

The fire extended into numerous void spaces on the second floor. Several firefighters were caught in a flash over on the second floor. Command evacuated the dwelling due to heavy fire conditions. Exterior lines were placed in to operations. Two Firefighter were transported to the hospital. One with burns to his ears, second with a laceration.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Concerned FIREMAN

    Damn cowards, these guys are in there doing there job and the cry babies on the front lawn with zero balls to go inside are rediculous. If you dont want to put fires out and fight fire like your suppose to and be a lawn shepherd, stay home and let the real FIREMAN do their damn job.

    • Anonymous

      So you want 40 firemen being in the house at once?

  • cbj

    What a cluster! The front porch free for all alone is mind boggling.

    • Chief72

      I agree fully! except I would call it a real cluster fuck!

      • Anonymous

        Chief 72 meaning tylersport? If so, your class, or lack thereof, is no surprise. You don’t deserve the title or respect of a chief, take your vulgar language elsewhere. These men are risking there lives and as a chief and fellow fireman, you of all people should know how easily mistakes are made in the line of duty. Grow up and realize that every fire fighter makes decisions that are not the best, although at the time, under the extreme pressure, it seemed like the only option. The easiest place to critique (or in your case, verbally assult) is from behind a computer screen. I would sure love to be/have been there when you make your mistakes as the officer in charge, becuase I assure you, I would be more than willing to remind you of the choice words you had for these firemen.

  • RD

    Video removed by user..

    • dave statter

      It’s back up with the correct audio.

      • Chief72

        you call it a lack of command cluster fuck, or cluster intercourse, same thing.

  • GP Troy

    tried to see the video but was removed by user.

  • It happens

    Have we regressed to such a sad state of affairs that the mere presence of flames inside a structure is cause for panic and evacuation tones? Isn’t that why we buy all of that fancy firefighting stuff? Isn’t that why the fire department exists?

  • Mack Seagrave

    Firefighting requires frequent, real world training (classroom as well as hands on). For every video that shows a department performing ‘Bread and Butter Operations’ correctly, there are so many more that show little or no understanding of the basics. Firefighting should neither be looked upon as a part-time hobby (volunteers) nor as ‘just a job’ (career). It’s a calling that at any moment can mean the difference between life and death for victims and firefighters alike. To be done correctly, firefighters must maintain a high level of training, physical and mental readiness. They must be able to work through their anxieties and fears to save lives and property. Not everyone is cut out to be a firefighter. Simply donning PPE does not earn a person the coveted title ‘firefighter’.

    • slackjawedyokel

      well spoken mack

  • Fire21

    The blaring air horns is pretty much an American, if not universal, signal to evacuate the building. Whether the IC made a good or bad decision, it’s the duty of FFs to follow orders…Evacuate!!

  • Chief Dill

    OMG……With the right tools three firefighers could have put that attic fire out and went home. Just another example of the condition of today’s Fire Service. Question!!! Who was the RIT Team????? And did those firefighters who ignored the Alert loose their jobs?

    • Anonymous

      First off, many of these firefighters from the responding companies are volunteers. You may not like it, but firing a volunteer is frowned upon because guess what, no one will be there to fight the fire. Mistakes were made, but I’m sure as a chief, you have a nice résumé of fires you would have handled differently. Stop bashing, be mature, and have a bit of understanding.

    • Anonymous

      wasn’t an attic fire.

    • Anonymous

      wasn’t an attic fire Einstein.

  • I don’t know it all, but I try and learn

    The FD doesn’t exist to be killed and none of our equipment will protect you from a wind driven fire, which is what this looks like to me. The wind may not be that strong, but when you see freely venting smoke and flames suddenly turn back and go INTO the structure, that’s a clear indication that it’s being pushed by wind.

    At this fire, an exterior attack seems like the right move. There’s enough research and testing today to support the fact that wind driven fires need alternate tactics or someone will get killed.

    • Rich

      After watching the video twice ,I agree, with respect to the size of the roof and the fact that there was a good amount of heat throughout it ,an exterior attack would have made more sense, and been more effective . At around 1:17 of the video a small backdraft appears ,indicating it was ,for a time, actually starving for air,thus the reversion of smoke at times.

      • Anonymous

        Well educated and nicely spoken.

    • Anonymous

      What are you smoking?

    • play4keeps

      What are you smoking?

      1. Fire in knee walls and balloon construction.
      2. Interior attact with roof team opening around the dormer and high point of the roof
      3. A line will only do so much without opening the void spaces. The line man was doing his job, but had no support either outside or probably inside.
      4. If the IC was worried about the smoke inside, he should have sent a company to the roof with saws
      5. Don’t know what the radio traffic was on the inside but the IC saw something on the outside that he didn’t like.
      6. I like the comment, “who is that inside?” They don’t even know which department has the line, I would bet.
      7. Montgomery and Delaware Co Pa are in serious need of consolidation of fire companies. So much variation in ability to put out a fire from company to company.

      • Anonymous

        Are you a chief? Didn’t think so, your comments reveal your naive uneducated mentality. I would hate to have you responding to my home.

  • distchief60b

    Wow… I wish I had half that many people on a house fire in my area! I would say that the command vests were certainly an added level of protection for those going inside the house. No need for an air truck as not many using air. Lot’s off folks carrying tools! Other than that, I would love to know why you still see water coming from the window after the evacuation is sounded.

  • KyleK

    Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume there was a valid reason for abandoning the structure. My question is: was there an assigned accountability officer and was a personnel accountability report (PAR) conducted to confirm that all assigned interior crews had made their way out? Additionally, was there a Rapid Intervention Crew (RIC) ready to go and activated when personnel were not accounted for?

  • Rich

    Point of origin appears to have been in attic and extended to dormer on the alpha side . Bldg. construction 101 !! If they assessed the location of where the fire was ( What part of the attic ) 8 guys could have put this fire out in twenty minutes! Making entry with the fire above you and opening up the right ceiling with two hand lines ,blows this candle right out! The key is the RIGHT ceiling . Seems as though they opened up one of the rooms the fire got bigger ,with a small backdraft visible at one point . These guys should have gone defensive from the start and they would have had less damage and less chaos ! Too many “spectators” out front with neat tools in their hands !

    • Anonymous

      Point of origin was the kitchen stove. This means the first floor was engulfed by the time it reached the attic. 20 minutes put out? Most certainly not. In order to be in the attic by the time responder arrived means the fire must have been cooking for a long time beforehand, meaning there was much of the house burning which you could not see from the outside POV.

  • Confused by conflagration

    Wind driven? Looks like the MEN inside were making a hit? No? A few hooks and a smooth bore job is done. Sheesh…A breed has died, a generation is gone. Put on your vests kids…The days of “gittin it” are over.

    • Fire21

      Go look at the video from Freemansberg, PA. Those guys were “gittin it”. And I’d venture a guess that most depts in this country still do. I know mine does.

  • Chris

    This video is the exact reason I stopped fighting fires. Working fires brought everyone out of the woodwork, and a hundred guys from 5 companies would be standing around with no real command. Everyone would always be doing their own thing. I almost got a pike pole through my stomach because a crew disregarded orders and started pulling ceiling under the attic I was crawling across.
    God bless all firefighters, and yes, vollies take the same risks as the pros, but the pros sure know how to follow orders better.

  • Blue


  • OH BOY

    Another typical Pa video…………..

  • http://att boots

    Was there any Personnel accountability at all at this job….The “Cluster remark” says it all.!!

    • Anonymous

      And your remark shows the lack of class you carry.

  • 8ERIC8

    I was at this fire. Our company gets called in often to this area and while I know they have a bunch of solid firefighters the command staff is a joke. There was absolutely ZERO command structure. Little to no accountability at this fire, lack of aggressive effort and management by officers. There were millions of other firefighters and officers inside while I was inside but there was no one ACTING like an officer. The fire did not start on the second floor; it started on the first floor. While a lot of good companies were there a lack of accountability and lack of quality officers doomed this from the start.

    • Anonymous

      no shit

    • Anonymous

      I can guarantee you are merely a rookie. I’m glad that I’m good friends with the commanding officer. I look forward to showing him your comment, which you so graciously tagged to your name!

      • 50CENT

        Coming from the Anonymous guy….

        Maybe he will put you on his response card after you show him….Tool.

        • Anonymous

          Little do you know, in the company they are from, anyone who posts on the Internet regarding the tactics in a recently fought fire is suspended for a month. Response card? It’s volunteer.

          • 50CENT

            They were suspended with your help? Nice! You should be proud of yourself. Yes, response card, box card, whatever you like to call it. I’m sure the volly chief dictates who responds to incidents in his local. You make absolutely no sense….

  • Mike

    To all those who are complaining about them not “gittin it”, I dont think what is happening here is a lack of aggression but rather a lack of proper command. Man powering staging should not be in the front yard that is 5 feet deep from the house, let alone spread across the yard, sidewalk and front porch like I saw. Second, I have to agree with what others are saying in that either the IC saw something that he didnt like, or the simple fact that it was like a herd of cattle roaming around and he was losing track. An evac doesnt always have to mean that its the end and we’re just gonna let it burn. This seemed like more of a “lets get out, re group, PAR check, and do this correctly”

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. IC was looking out for the best of his firemen, to the best interest of the house. Safety first. Evan should not be questioned unless you were there.

  • IslaFire

    @Chris, don’t think the career guys are always better. I’ve seen plenty of free-lancing on a pro scene. Whether the hose team ignored the evac tones or they didn’t hear it, I don’t know. This is a cry-wolf scenario though. When the hose team sees the video, they’ll surely say “WTF, we were gittin’ it.” Next time they hear the tones they’ll always wonder if it is justified or not.

  • Cappy

    Some of you guys could benifit from reading and embracing the “learn to burn” article in this months fire chief magazine. It’s the opening shot to a new battle that will be fought soon.. in what has until recently only been a push and shove match.. the new report that comes out of this will have a lot of firefighters scratching their “monkey see.. monkey do” mentality rear ends. The old attack from the unburned side interior only mantra is about to get a real assault.The heart of the article casts an overview of a soon to be released, comprehensive study on fire attack methods that will really stir the average firefighter and could possibly be one of the more thought provoking studies conducted to date. Check it out… Learn to burn.. much more to come from the report that will impact nearly every conversation on a fire like the one featured here.

  • David S.

    When I fought fires Irecieved some of the best training in the world at Univ of md which I never have forgotton. I feel sorry for a lot of these ff’s today a lot of these videos are proof that they are learning nothing.

    • Anonymous

      Oh wondrous firefighter so highly trained, should we bow down to you? Get off your high horse.

  • Truck167

    What a bunch of “OUT-STANDING” firefighters

    • Anonymous

      I love immature puns, it subtracts from the credibility of the of the commenter and adds to the reassurance that comments like this should not be paid any attention.

  • Joe8

    Looks like the RIT team went to work, was a 2nd RIT team added??? And to top it all of one part you see a guy come out of the 1st floor with no Mask on and another a guy is standing 2 feet from the building with no helmet on!!! What a joke safety 1st !!!

  • yuppp

    Gotta love all the monday morning quarterbacks after watching a 5 min clip.

  • Average Joe

    The problem with this fire was that there was not enough ventilation being done of the roof, especially around the dormers. With better ventilation and opening of the walls on the second floor, this fire would not have gotten to the point of evac. Additionally, the water seen from the front window after the evac order was a crew on the first floor holding the stairs. The only reason this should have been done is if they believed someone was still on the second floor, if not, they should have evacuated just like everyone else. This was not a well run fire scene.

  • mark

    Pennsyltucky once again.

    Whether I agree with it or not, the evac tones mean evac. I would have walked in and dragged their butts out.

    • Anonymous

      I’m sure walking in and dragging their butts out would have been very practical. Comments like that just subtract from any accountability or credibility you have.

  • tom

    i guess these heroes can watch this and hopefully learn…typical montco mess. i guess bridgeport and conshocken did not teach them much…

  • Anonymous

    tom must be from delco or bucks hah

    • Anonymous

      I am from buck but I have common sense something obviously that was overlooked here on this video

  • Big Mose

    Ignoring an evacuation order? Doesn’t make sense. There could be any number of life threatening things happening beyond the scope of operations of the crew that stayed in. Bad move, dudes. Could be your time to get bit in the butt really bad.

  • Lt117

    WOW…….just WOW……Now I see where all the transplants from Penn get their training…….and why we have to retrain them when they migrate……..CLUSTER……….But I bet this will show up on their christmas DVD and everyone will be like…..”I am so cool…..I didn’t EVAC when the order was given”