Before you blister me for being heartless, read the entire post...

I have spent the last 36 hours going over the fire
that took the lives of Captain Broxterman and
Firefighter Schira and as every hour passed I have
become more disturbed about not only what happened
leading to their deaths, but also why none of the
questions I have seem to be obvious to other
seasoned members here. (Art, Siren, Ed...excluded)

Nine years ago I lost a mentor, brother and friend
in a fire due to structural collapse. Brian was a
guy that I would have followed into anything
without any worry that he was leading me into an
untenable situation.
He and two others still died when the building they were in
collapsed. He knew the signs and sounds of an
imminent collapse, what he didn’t see was the blow
torch that was working on the rafters from a north
wind ripping thru vent holes in the attic. Due to
a combination of wind, dry conditions, and
building position, that roof fell in a fraction of
the time it should have taken to fail. And 3
firefighters lost their lives trying to save a
church.

I keep looking for the point where water was put
on the fire and as of yet have found disturbing
information that says the line crew were calling
for water only seconds before collapse. This was
at 0635. Twenty Five minutes after the first 911
call, and 11 minutes after arriving on scene.
This alone is enough to rise more than a few red
flags, but it is the 25 minutes from dispatch
until collapse that concerns me most. While it
seems fairly fast when you are on scene, 25
minutes is a long time to subject structural
supports to direct flame contact.
How many floor joists are rated to stand up under
heavy fire conditions for 25 minutes with an
unknown amount of dead load??? None that I am
aware of…
From photos the house appears to have been built
in the 1970’s or 80’s. How is that significant you
ask? Simple, instead of traditional nails to
attach the joists, many homes in this period were
built with gusset plates. Not exactly the same
thing as a nail. Long before a wooden floor joist
fails, the gusset plate would have lost its bite
on the wood and failed.
Now look at those 25 minutes of free burn again.
Would you put your crew in a house that has been
involved in fire for 25 minutes, how about 15
minutes, or even 10?
We are not talking room and contents here. This
was a house heavily involved, and a basement at
that. How much of the structural support had
eroded in those 25 minutes? Could you even see
what condition the house was in before making
entry?

Now, the $1 million question. What information led
an experienced line officer into a heavily
involved structure with no life hazard present?
Did IC know the occupants were out of the house?
If so why was a line crew headed into the basement
with no water supply?

We have all made bad calls and pushed the
envelope...I know I have and have scars to prove
it. But, I am, or at least have been lucky on more
than one occasion. The thing I took away from
those close calls was hard earned knowledge,
something Captain Broxterman and Firefighter
Schira will not have the opportunity to do, but we
should.

Again, with all this said, I do not pretend to know what happened any more than what reports have said about the fire. What I do know, is we lost
two promising young firefighters Friday that we can’t replace.

To Robin and Brian: May the LORD bless you, and
keep you; May the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; May the LORD turn his countenance to you and grant you peace.

Stay Safe,

Allen Wahlström
NASCCFD

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I've been watching this post since it began and I feel for those of you on both sides of the issue. I have finally decided that I'll go with what my "gut feeling" told me when I found the discussion - the timing just doesn't cut it...period.

You can talk all you want about saving future crews who might go fight a fire tonight, but really now; this was a single family dwelling tragedy much like others we have seen before. More likely than not, we will find several common components (notice I didn't say mistakes) of other such fires. Waiting for a little while longer would have been a good idea.

I have been here at "the Nation" for a while now, and have a lot of respect for those of you who might disagree with me; I just don't see this being so critical that we need to discuss it now.

The families, the community, and the firefighters should be allowed to bury their loved ones first...just my opinion.
Okay... I hesitated to even log on to a forum because in my experience, there are always the Allens ready to pontificate their extensive "knowledge" of events when they themselves don't even possess a portion of the truth. Particularly in the case of LODDs, these statements end up being hurtful, inflammatory and prove to be nothing more than an attempt to tarnish another's reputation so that theirs might appear brighter.

To put this in perspective, two weeks ago, Robin and I were sitting up in the day room of Station 102 about 3am after having escaped the earth shaking snoring of a co-worker. As always, we shot the breeze for a couple of hours before the infomercials finally knocked us out and we were awakened by the oncoming crew at 6.
Tonight, I am going to the funeral home to stand Honor Guard over her body from 3am to 6am. I'm really going to miss the conversation.

Having said that, and since Wally has vomited his ignorance so freely upon the rest of the world, let me try to do some quick damage control here.

I can't really elaborate on a lot of the details since the results of the investigation have not yet been released. What I can tell you is that as the 911 call was being made, the woman stated she could hear the sirens coming. The call came in as smoke and CO alarms sounding.

Upon arrival, FF3 (I haven't asked him if I can use his name - so I'll just use that moniker) laid off and they dropped about 5 sections, stopping the engine about 1 1/2 times the height of the house from the door. As FF3 was kicking the 5" out of the way of the incoming ladder truck, he saw Brian pulling a crosslay and Robin checking the door. No one was outside the house and considering time of day, the darkness in the house and the cars in the driveway and garage - assumed people were home.

FF3 then began flaking the remains of the crosslay as Robin and Brian masked up and began to advance into the house. He stated that as they went through the door, The FAO kicked on the spotlights and he saw a large volume of smoke pushing out of the door. He was surprised that in the darkness, he hadn't noticed how much smoke there was and that the color of it indicated to him that there was structural involvement.

Per CTFD policy, the line was charged prior to their entering the structure and FF3 was there to ensure no kinks.

Now - FF3 followed the line into the house and down an interior stairwell where he found Robin and Brian at the bottom, in need of more hose. He stated "Wait here and I'll get you more line!" and turned, making a low scramble back up the steps.

He stated that at this time, they could see the glow, but couldn't make the bend to hit the fire. "It really wasn't bad" at that point per FF3.

As he was about half way or more toward the top, he felt a "huge whoosh" of superheated air blow over him from behind, blackening the underside of his helmet and singing his gear. He stated that all he could think was how hot it suddenly was and that the crew needed water - "like yesterday"

FF3 rounded the top of the stairs and made it the 15 feet back to the front door where he began feeding hose as quickly as he could. Once he felt the line stop, he followed it back down the hall to the top of the stairs, with intense heat driving him to his belly. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, he heard Robin and touched her foot as she was crouching and attempting to call a mayday. I am unclear on this, but from what I understand, he was hearing the error tone of the 800 Mhz radio as she was hitting the button and attempting to talk.

She began to yell at him and Brian to "Get out! GET OUT!" so FF3 turned and followed the line back out the way he had come. When he exited the structure, he realized neither Robin nor Brian were with him and he went back in - crawling military style in an effort to locate them. The heat was too much to go beyond the stairs and he realized in another minute he would be a casualty, so he exited and went straight to the RAT and then to Command to report his crew was missing.

Robin and Brian were found in the basement below a huge hole in the floor that opened up just a few feet from the top of the staircase.

This is a solidly built structure - real construction with real floor joists, etc. I saw it with my own eyes during the department wide walk through of the scene. The volume of fire was incredible and possibly fed by a broken gas line directly under the collapse and right next to the origin of the fire. The fire simply consumed the structural members. There is a lot I'm not including here, but this portion of the event, I feel, is the most important in relation to the ignorance foisted upon us here.

I hope that a report is released very soon and it is studied and saves a lot of lives. The fact is - I couldn't find a single thing that I would have done differently. I wasn't there and don't suppose I have all the answers. I just know I am grieving along with many, many of my brothers and sisters. Robin and Brian will be missed by everyone. The fire service is poorer for having lost a wonderful instructor and Captain in Robin.
Jason, thank you for providing these details.

I don't know if it helps any, but - at our department banquet last night, I was asked to give the invocation. I began by requesting a moment of silence for Robin and Brian.

On behalf of my department, I extend to you and your fellow members our deepest sympathy and support at this difficult time. May God be with you and the members of your department over the days, weeks months and years ahead.
Jason, Angela, and families,

I am not on here to feel important. I am on here to learn and open lines of communication amongst brothers and sisters. Period. I am here to pass knowledge and take from others when offered. I agonize over your loss too. This post was passed amongst several of the brightest points of view on this site and in the fire service. Not for a second did I critique your Captain and Firefighter, not for a second. I was not there, and I did not know either of them.

I did hours of searches on not only the fire at hand, but your department as a whole, and that left me with even more questions. Everything I read screamed Class A house, not one time did I find things that made me think your officer didnt know what she was doing...I didnt assume she made a mistake, but I wanted to know what led her in there.

Jason, your account of what happened answered many questions that would have been asked and I appreciate your candor more then you know. I have grown to respect Captain Broxterman as a wonderful teacher as well as accomplished firefighter and line officer. It is because of that respect that I asked what information she had...it was not an indictment, it shows that she was a dedicated public servant who put her life on the line to save others.
what you shared tonight might well save another today tomorrow or in ten years.
I appreciate your response and I do want to clarify something. I did not accuse you of saying they personally made mistakes. If my post is read carefully again, hopefully the meaning behind what I said will be more clear. As you know, thoughts, feelings and inflections of tone cannot be fully and accurately expressed in a written forum sometimes.
What I was trying to say, in part, was that I do agree that there is much to learn from this trajedy and I understand discussions like this are necessary. I understand that great lessons can come from this and help ensure the safety of fellow brothers and sisters. I just am of the opinion, which I and everyone else are entitled to, that it's just a bit too early to delve into the details especially when the details haven't even been released officially as of yet. There is an ongoing police investigation involving this case as well and due to that, those that are close to the situation are not at liberty to really provide information that can help in these lessons yet...at least not to an extent.
See, I found this forum in the first place because I was looking at links regarding the whole situation, much like you were searching for answers to your own questions. When I found this thread right away, I thought... what if that FF3 that my husband mentioned found it the way I did? How would he feel? He's already got mass survivors guilt. How would Robin or Brian's family feel? That's why I felt appalled. That's why I thought it was a little insensitive and premature in a sense. However, like I said, I do understand that this needs to be used as a learning tool in the future and I fully support that. It'd just be a lot more respectful (again, in my opinion) to wait at least until after their services.
In my post, I also said I understood the misinformation was due to such incomplete details and the media's rush to "get the story out" despite not having all the facts or even accurate facts at times. The word ignorant isn't always a derogatory term. I still stand behind my post but that's easy because I know the sentiment behind it wasn't mean or confrontational but yeah, admittedly defensive of Robin and Brian and all of Colerain Township. I'll admit I shouldn't have used the word critique. However, it's not entirely inaccurate in a sense. "A careful examination of the percipitating events, actions and results" just seemed a little too wordy, albeit more accurate. So for that, yes, I was out of line, I'll own that. I should have been more careful in my wording. Like I said, it's tough to communicate fully in a forum.
I hope that helps make my post more clear. I do acknowledge that I'm maybe too close to the situation to be as eager to learn from it like some of you are. Not a slam in any way. I understand the eagerness to learn from it, it's your lives on the line. I do feel defensive of Robin and Brian's decisions that day and of their memory and sorry, but hopefully given the circumstances everyone will give me a little leeway on that. I can't and won't apologize for being proud enough of Robin and Brian and all of CTFD to feel defensive of them. There is a lot that has happened the media has no clue of yet and a few of these guys on shift that day went through more trauma afterward than people know yet.
Hopefully, after the Sherrifs Dept. is finished with their own investigation, my husband and others from Colerain will be able to reveal more details that will give everyone information they can use to stay safe in similar situations, to get out alive and intact.
Hope that helps, for what it's worth.
YES IT IS! 1st, let them bury them 2nd, get the facts. Then and only then can you ask intelligent questions. The facts will allow you to ask the right questions and get useful answers. until then everything is just ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACKING. And hurtful to the people who know and love the people involved. Hearing your bloviating comes across as doubting the compitency of some of the best firefighters and officers I have ever known. So if you all could take a little break from doing that. Then I won't ARMCHAIR assume you are just a bunch of wanna be's ( who are usually the first to point fingers). And I don't care if you are an exchief or a brand new firefighter.
Thanks Edward. It's tough to try to stay brief in a forum post and still convey your deeply pained and intensely proud feelings while not coming across confrontational and mean.
It is hard to be so close to it, see the out-pouring of care and support of the community and the nation in one moment, and then have to switch to an unbiased educational view of the events in another. For instance, just this morning a seamstress in the community stepped forward and is donating her time and expertise to alter ALL of Colerain Twnship's Class A's for free and have them finished by the time services begin. She's just a regular old civilian, with no ties to the fire department other than a sense of community.
I keep thinking of the NY firefighters who went through such deep horror. They (and the nation as a whole) needed time to grieve before they could view it somewhat unbiasedly and begin to learn from it. That's perfectly understandable in my book. After going through a fraction of what they experienced, I am more aware, albeit to a lesser extent, how they personally must have felt. It makes their sacrifice and dedication all the more impressive and touching.
Anyway, thanks for your reply.
Angela
I'm glad that people are willing and eager to learn from this trajedy. I'm glad that these lessons will help all of you in your training and experience so that you can all go home to your families after every shift.
I don't care if your the chief of FDNY. Your opinion does'nt count. Not when the freinds and family have made it clear you (In Ther opinion are being disrespectful. But I guess you wishes are more important.
Okay my friend, We will have to agree to disagree. Stay safe.
and THAT is what a discussion forum is all about....sometimes it gets heated, sometimes we don't agree....but that's ok too.
To all involved in this discussion...

Please, everyone remember that all are entitled to their opinions, and that we are ALL family here and should be here for each other no matter what...including in our deaths. Its very simple, and I want you all to hear this and remember it...If I am to die in the line of duty ever in my career, No matter what the circumstances are, I want ALL of you to discuss it and learn from it knowing that it will NOT offend me or my memory in any way. If there is a lesson to be learned from my passing, I will be more offended if it is in vain, and none of my brothers/sisters learn anything from it.

Jason Edwards...Thank you brother, for having the courage to stand up and speak of the events that unfolded that tragic day and shedding some light on those events for the rest of us. Without anyone actually knowledgeable of the events, we could not learn from them. What I took from this tragedy is a hightened sense of size-up, checking the exterior for fire location, size, intensity, any utilities located at the house, etc etc.

My heart goes out to you and ALL of the brothers/sisters from your dept suffering in their loss, may you all take comfort and strength from the rest of us...Your Family.
Okay, I have taken some time to really think about things and re-read this thread... First of all, on behalf of Colerain, thanks to everyone for your thoughts, prayers and supportive comments. It's really been pretty overwhelming and healing to feel all the sincere expressions of love and support from others.

Allen, I'm sorry I unloaded on you. I'm pretty raw and feel that it isn't yet time to critique the fire. To do so, we need the facts. The department hasn't even done a true post incident analysis yet. We're still busy with the CISD. As it turns out, we really weren't prepared for a LODD.

Like Angela mentioned, this is one of the first threads that came up when she was surfing for any information regarding the tragedy and her first thought was for Robin's two bright and beautiful daughters (8 and 10 yrs) for FF3, AND for her fiancee (another local firefighter), who might be looking for some healing only to find your thread which, upon re-reading still feels like a slam against their mom and their friend Brian.

I appreciate and totally agree that lessons need to be gleaned from this incident and I know that they will be; however timing is paramount. Your post jumps in there with an incredulous tone and you state that it was a "bad call" which insinuates that Robin messed up and got another guy killed. Then you state that they went in with no water... (wrong) as well as stating that based on photos, this house was built in the 70's or 80's and insinuate that any fool would have known that gusset plates were responsible; after all - there were all those "red flags" you would have seen. (wrong again)

I would think that having lost your friend and mentor that you could see the parallels here and know that surely there must be some unknown factor that contributed to this situation. Every fire has that element of the unknown and we will never enter a burning structure with all the details laid out for us. Knowing this, wisdom would dictate reserving judgment until the facts are investigated and a reasonably accurate conclusion has been reached. Zeal and passion are wonderful things and I hope you maintain those qualities, but they MUST be carefully applied.

Robin put it on the line because she thought someone was inside the building (or at least there was an excellent chance that someone was inside). Period. As I mentioned, I would have done exactly the same thing they did because we "risk a lot to save a lot, risk a little to save a little and will risk nothing to save that which is already lost." It's going to turn out bad sometimes because this is the most dangerous job in the world.

Your timeline is all fouled up and your conclusions are based entirely on that erroneous information. Then, you throw the scriptural band-aid on the wound your wreckless summation has opened. That is a personal peeve of mine having been in church since I was born and having been devastated by careless comments of well intentioned, but ignorant people.

Again, I'm not trying to be harsh, but you were putting the cart way ahead of the horse when you attempted to diagnose the whole situation without the benefit of the facts. Also, I would like to reiterate that I appreciate your heart in wanting to learn all that there is to be learned and I want to wish you a long and fulfilling career in the greatest job known to man!

Hopefully, the finer points of the investigation will be forthcoming very soon and we can maintain this dialogue as we sift through the details to learn all the lessons we possibly can. Be safe and give your kids an extra hug tonight... I know I will.

Jason

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