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Chicago Sun Times

The Homewood Fire Department was taken to task in a report on how it handled a fire that cost the lives of a firefighter and an elderly resident.

The report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health looked into factors leading to the death of Homewood firefighter-paramedic Brian Carey, 28, during a house fire March 30.

The report concludes the commanding officer and crew that responded to the scene didn't follow some key guidelines for fighting fires. Among the report's findings:

- The commander on the scene, Homewood fire Lt. Scott Moran, did not do a complete assessment of the fire scene before crews were sent into the burning home.

- Poor tactical decisions were made on how to try to extinguish the fire, including sending Carey and fellow firefighters Karra Kopas and Chris Kieta into the building with a hose that was too big to maneuver within the house.

- Firefighters did not stay within visual, physical or vocal contact with each other at all times while fighting the fire. Firefighters inside lost contact with Carey during the fire, and while he was equipped with a handheld radio, it was found in the back pocket of his pants under his firefighting gear, making it inaccessible.

- Moran and crew members outside the home didn't recognize signs of the deteriorating situation and order firefighters out of the building. Thick, black and heavily pressurized smoke billowing from windows on one side of the Homewood house should have warned those outside that a flashover soon could occur.

- The department didn't have adequate staffing to fight the fire. Homewood Fire Chief Bob Grabowski declined comment on the report.

Copyright 2010 Sun-Times Media, LLC
All Rights Reserved
September 21, 2010

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I didn't see either your's nor Heather's posts as being negative. What the media does is one thing, what comments, questioned raised is another. The reports are out there to learn from, my comments were in regards to any incident where a PIA should take place and the reasonings as to why an outside crew/agency etc shouldn't be doing it.

With a LODD or injury, there is an outside source to go through everything. The reports highlight what happened, lessons learned etc. Questions can be asked, but the issue is the dept probably or most likely learned from the incident and shouldn't have to defend itself to every other FF. Instead the questions should be posed not as to what "they" should have done, but how "we" are going to learn so as not to repeat the results.
This has been a very personal and close tragedy. I work in the division that department is apart of. I grew up in Homewood started my career with one of the Auto aid departments that was at that fire. I knew almost every person on that crew and on that call that day. I was also the Mabas Dispatcher that handled the Mayday that evening. We are very active and aggressive division when it comes too fire fighting. We are very proud of it but our over aggressive behavior has finally caught up with us. Reading this report did open up some very deep wounds. But It needed to be done. We need to admit our mistakes, focus on our training to prevent it from happening again, and move forward. Fire behavior, smoke reading and fire science has always been a passion of mine. It's very easy to understand and theres a wealth of information out there for the firefighters to read and learn. We don't take the time to learn it. Instead we focus on specialized training like hazmat technical rescue and let the most important aspect are job if not the most dangerous fall too the way side. I'm made a promise to myself I would do whatever it is to make sure my entire crew comes home at the end of the call. The only way is too train train train!!! I won't express my feeling of the outcome that day for respect for my brothers. All I ask is read the report thoroughly, take the mistakes that were made back to your departments and learn from them. Train on it and do whatever you can to prevent another LODD. CAUSE IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!!. Study proper fire behavior and smoke reading. Learn Proper fire command and the knowledge to make proper tactical decisions. The training and education is out there go after it. I know I won't let Boo's death be in vain.
I am so sorry for your loss. I can not imagine how unbearably difficult being the dispatcher that night must have been upon you. I am sure they leaned heavily on you that night. I hope you are taking care of yourself.

It looked like with the compiling of factors it became the perfect storm. We appreciate your words of guidance. We are seriously discussing the impact of this situation. And I believe all of us are here to learn.

Please let us know if we can be supportive in any way.
I like the comments about training for other responses.

I made this point a couple years back when RIT\RIC was the in thing to train for, while totally ignoring fire behavior and smoke reading. I suggested that maybe if we understood these items we might not have to spend quite so much time on survival\firefighter rescue\RIT\RIC. Get back to the basics kind of thing. Even to the point of stretching lines off the truck, just basics like that.

You do have my prayers, and hopefully we will all learn from it.
I wonder if Illinois will modify thier training to put more focus on Fire Behavior and Firefighter Protection while working inside, and if we need to rethink smooth bore nozzles for fire suppression- would a fog nozzle have offered better protection in the event of rollover and should 2 1.75 lines be deployed (one with a fog nozzle for firefighter protection)? This event really has me pondering...
Mark and Heather:
I was making general statements and did not direct my comments towards either of you.
Discussing LODDs and the reports from NIOSH can get very emotional and especially for someone close to the incident. NIOSH reports appear to be criticizing the aggrieved fire department at a time when the healing process is still going on.
In my mind, I read the NIOSH report for one reason and one reason only: to learn what went wrong so I can help my department to hopefully avoid it.
I also believe that we honor the fallen by learning from them, even in death. We should not only remember them for their contributions to our society, but we should never forget how they died and what they died for.
I just want people to respect the victims and those wishing to discuss it.
I meant nothing personal.
The same thing could be said about any state. With the fire service today, there is much to do and many times the "basics" do get pushed back for the latest and greatest stuff. However, it doesn't mean the latest and greatest is not important, because one never knows what they will be responding to and in many cases that means fires are not the most common response.

Another issue is the best way to learn is by doing....unfortunately environmental codes, local ordinances and so forth have made structure burns difficult to do. In cases of a burn tower, there really is only so much which can be learned (IE fire always in the same place, difficult to recreate fire conditions etc)

The issue of such training isn't the focus of the state, but that of the dept. It is up to individual depts to look at such NIOSH reports and how they can learn from the issues presented. As for the debate about nozzles, that one is really old and it truly depends upon the dept in what they want to use. It is better to train to recognize the dangers to not be in them, than to worry about finding tools to defend that event.
We're good Art, didn't take it that way. And agree completely with the rest of your statement.
we're good too. didn't take it that way either.

that is the problem with this type of forum - people can not see my facial expressions, body language, and hear my tone - and they read negativity where there is none
I used to work with Scott when I was on Homewood, and have alot of respect for his love for the Fire Department.
However, I warned them something like this was bound to happen and was one major reason I left in 1999 to become a Fire Inspector in TN.
Scott Moran, Jodi Applegate, Larry Lipinski , Bill Wright, and the "old crew" on Homewood, including Kevin Welsh (the now Chief of the Glenwood Fire Department) ALL had complacency issues.
I remember we had to take the Ladder over to Flossmoor for a possible structure fire report and when we got there, I was the ONLY one on my truck in FULL gear, ready to go in, and I was a part timer.
I had to wait for the "career crew" to get off their asses and get their head in the game and that bothered me ever since. Luckily, Kevin Welsh was a man who understood and had a high regard for safety, so he learned a lesson but I doubt the other guys did.
When I was on Glenwood, I asked Tony Mascaloni, a wanna be career firefighter how many uses for O2 he could come up with, as part of a training drill. His answer was 6, and I could come up with at least 9, NON standard uses. The bottom line is they think they are "too good" at their jobs, and have a hard time accepting new methods or training. Francis Brannigan came to our Station once, and preached "Back to the Basics"....
I think we as firefighters, need TO start gettting our heads out of our rear ends and learn to pay attention on EACH and EVERY alarm, no matter what it IS.
I feel very bad Brian got killed, but it could have been ME. It sickens me to think the Homewood and Glenwood Fire Departments took (at least for me in 1998) a "I'm better then anyone else" attitude, and seems to be a suffering problem for the Suburban IL Departments who try to "be as good as Chicago"...
I hope this death is a wake up call for ALL of us in the Fire Service to start doing our jobs BETTER, not only for those we claim to serve and protect, but also to keep us FOCUSED so we CAN do our jobs SAFELY.
Being a firefighter is NOT a right, it's a PRIVILEGE... We need to remember that.
Scott Moran is a good firefighter, but with all the attitude I've seen on Homewood I'm not surprised for the official report, it just reinforces that me getting out of there when I did was probably the best decision I ever made, granted I miss the IL Fire Departments very much. I had many friends there.
California is the place to be ! ;)

"We are very proud of it but our over aggressive behavior has finally caught up with us."

Truly profound.

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