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
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
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
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
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
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.