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Delaware News Journal reporter Esteban Parra has the early word about a report by the Delaware State Fire School into the March fire that left Minquas Fire Company Captain Dave Smiley Jr. with critical burns. According to Parra, the report says Smiley and other firefighters on the scene were not wearing proper protective gear. The report also cited two firefighters who were unfamiliar with the fire apparatus they were operating and firefighters who disobeyed the order to evacuate the home.
Smiley was injured when he fell through the floor on the second level. According to Parra, Smiley was wearing a 30-year-old helmet that didn’t meet standards, didn’t have proper gloves and failed to use his SCBA’s waist straps. The report indicates when other firefighters tried to grab Smiley’s SCBA to lift him up it began pulling the tank off his back.
A disregard of orders: Many firefighters chose to remain inside the structure long after it was broadcast over the operational channel that they were to evacuate. Some firefighters even disregarded face-to-face verbal orders to evacuate.
Fundamental errors made by the operators of the two main units responsible for providing water. A Mill Creek firefighter stated in his interview that he was unfamiliar with the apparatus he was operating. Several people interviewed about this fire relayed past experiences when the operator of a Hockessin firefighter had difficulties.
Confusion in designating the sides of a structure. The front of the building is usually designated as the Alpha side, with Bravo being the next side and so on going clockwise. In the Mill Creek fire, the incident commander declared the side of the structure facing Mill Creek Road as Alpha side, but other firefighters assumed another side of the burning house was Alpha. This created confusion when firefighters provided updates on sides they thought they were working.
Different uniforms. One firefighter riding Elsmere’s fire truck was wearing his gear from Christiana, while a part-time firefighter on Hockessin’s ambulance wore his volunteer gear from Delaware City. This could have caused confusion if they identified themselves on the radio as something other than the gear they were wearing.
The nearest fire hydrant, which was about 800 feet from the blaze, was not listed on internal maps – and may still not be listed.
House fire on Mill Creek Road
Posted by WDEL on Thursday, March 14, 2019