All posts tagged fire

Well…it’s Carbon Monoxide (CO), so there isn’t a smell. But there is something interesting going on with the hose lines in this Supplied Air Breathing Apparatus system.

Air Line CO

115 PPM of CO !


While scouring the internet for all things pertinent to Rescue work, our newest member, Jimbo H, found an interesting after action report from LA County. Apparently, two firefighters entered a tank using SCBA to make a rescue of a downed worker. After about 15 minutes the firefighters switched from SCBA to Supplied Air; 3 minutes after the switch is when things started going downhill for them. An attentive  person working the communications kit noticed the firefighters breathing funny and started the process to get them out.


I’m not sure how they switched from SCBA to SABA. It’s possible they switched out their entire system while in the space, which seems like a bad idea. Or, they could have been using their SCBA and then just hooked up to their EBSS or URC from a remote source. If that were the case, the air from the remote source would seem to be the problem.


I’m not sure that the level of CO present in our hoses and in that small of a volume would cause the same problem as experienced in LA County, but it’s interesting to note that bad air can exist in the hoses.

LA County Blue Sheet





We repost this every year on the anniversary of Mark Falkenhan’s death because we feel very strongly that we don’t want to lose the lesson about closing the door while searching. Mark’s death is a very graphic example of how much more tenable rooms can be by simply closing the door.



If you’ve not read about this LODD, please take a minute to read some of our thoughts on it as well as the NIOSH report. There are also several fire models done by the ATF that show how the fire progressed. One interesting note: A sharp eyed reader of this website noticed a PPV fan in one of the pictures while the fire was still going on. He had asked if that had any bearing on the rapid fire spread. After reaching out to the ATF agent who did the modeling, he replied that the fan was never turned on and thus had no bearing on the fire spread.

We want to thank you, the readers, for picking up on stuff like this as well as the ATF for responding so quickly and candidly.

A link to our original article:

Close the Door Please, I’m Busy in Here

NIOSH report:

Check out this video sent to us by Francisco Palacios, owner of Ascendere SAS in Cali, Columbia. There seems to be a slight disagreement between the firemen and police on the scene of this training. What they are arguing over brings itself to light around the 00:46 mark.

There seems to be much debate about how to properly load the pulley on the track line. Ultimately the law does win, but they certainly are not right.



Thank you to everybody for all of the interest! After filling up all of the spots in our first class in record time, we opened up a second class right after the first one. That class has now filled, too! Keep an eye out on the website for our upcoming classes. We will most likely have the next one in March. You can sign up for our mailing list in the column on the righthand side of the web page.



After many months and many requests, we are once again offering open enrollment for our popular Modern Technologies in Rope Rescue class. Come join us in Lancaster, PA on Oct 17 and 18 to learn how much more efficient your rescues can be with a few pieces of modern gear and a whole lot of practical applications learned from real world experiences. Here is your chance to keep up on the latest equipment and trends in the rope rescue world.


After filling up the Oct 17, 18 class in record 5 days (!!!) we have decided to run a second class the following 2 days. The registration is currently open for the Oct 19, 20 class. The link at the bottom of this page will register you for the second class.


Topics this time around include:

Use of the AZTEK kit to pass knots, perform a pickoff, basket attending, and a whole lot more.

In depth discussion and use of the Two Tension Rope System utilizing the MPD.

Use of  the Arizona Vortex  high directional in the urban environment.

The Rescue 2 Training original: The Appalachian Doortex! For urban anchoring and elevator rescue. High Directional? Anchor? Both!?… Come find out!

3 dimensional anchoring with the UFO.

The Skyhook capstan winch.

…And much more.

The cost of this two day, 16 hour class is $295 per person. Just bring a harness, helmet, and any ideas or equipment you would like to see used.

Please contact Kelly Byrne at 240-462-6610 or with any questions.



IMG_0903IMG_0631IMG_1011IMG_0437IMG_1243azorp gin pole



The title of a “The Greatest Highline Ever” is being given to a group of people who probably knew very little about rope rescue as we know it and also probably wish they never had to set up this highline.


On May 11, 1945 an aircraft carrier called the USS Bunker Hill was near Okinawa, Japan supporting the invasion of Okinawa when it was struck by two kamikaze planes in quick succession. The ship was heavily damaged and the crew suffered massive casualties. 346 sailors and airmen were killed, 43 were lost at sea and never found, and 264 were wounded.


A light cruiser named the USS Wilkes Barre was one of several ships that came to the rescue. The Wilkes Barre was brought alongside Bunker Hill, with the Wilkes-Barre‍ ’​s bow placed hard against the Bunker Hill’s starboard quarter. The cruiser played 10 streams of water on the persistent fires, while 40 men, trapped astern in Bunker Hill scrambled to safety. Additionally, the injured were ferried to safety from one ship to another utilizing a highline. The title of “Greatest Highline Ever” goes to the “Greatest Generation”. Take a look at the pictures below and see if you agree.  Additionally, take 3 minutes to watch the Youtube video below. There is some really compelling footage of the actual attack as well as some pretty gruesome pictures of the aftermath. Let’s not forget the sacrifice these guys made.

bunker hill highline


Bunker Hill 2


Wounded Yorktown Crewman Transferred Via Breeches Buoy


It seems that despite the lack of American popularity, the technique of the “Kickoff Pickoff” is pretty widely used throughout the rest of the world. Take the video below, sent to us by Will Paces from NIPSTA, as an example. It’s the latest in a line of this “unique” style of rescue that we have presented here. Looks like a fun drill to practice at work! I don’t think I’d want to be the victim though.


Judging by the results of the technique, it would appear that speed and power are a vital part of making the “Kickoff Pickoff” technique work properly. Witness what happens when you pussyfoot around with the technique (I’m not sure why I can’t get the video to embed, but it is definitely worth watching):


Not quite as high speed, but certainly just as interesting is this awesome pickoff grab of a guy who was caught midair and wrestled back over the railing. Quick acting by all parties involved!





Learning from others’ mistakes is something we can and should do, particularly when it pertains to rescue work. The situations below are prime examples of this. Take a minute to laugh a little at their misfortune (I’m pretty sure nobody died), but then try and absorb what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

The first example of things going bad could have been solved by a couple of easy solutions like: knowing how to tie a knot, having somebody who knows how to tie a knot look over your system, use a backup line that is tied with an appropriate knot, etc… There’s a trend there somewhere.

Knowing how your system is going to react when acted upon is a REALLY good skill to have when performing rope rescue operations. See if you can figure out what is going to happen in the video below when the helicopter pulls up to lift the rescue package:


Here at Rescue 2 Training we are pretty big fans of getting our rope systems up off of the ground for the edge transition. Combine a low rope over the edge with not knowing what your rope system is going to do when you load it (as mentioned above) and you have recipe for a bad time. Here is what the finished, face smashing product (and Bad Edge Transition Hall of Fame member) looks like when you pull it out of the oven:


I originally posted this over two years ago (HERE). Today is the fourth anniversary of FF Mark Falkenhan losing his life while searching above the fire. As a guy who searches above the fire pretty often while at work, the lessons to be learned from this tragedy cross my mind pretty frequently. There’s always lessons to be learned from a LODD, but this one hit close to home for me, both geographically and operationally.



Original Post:

While the title of this post might sound like a joke, it is a deadly serious fact that leaving a door open while searching a structure in fire conditions can lead a very bad ending, as we will see.

While at a fire recently in a two story single family dwelling,with  fire on the second floor and searching the room across the hallway from the room on fire, I decided to shut the door behind me to search the bedroom. It’s not something I normally do, as we’re fortunate enough to have aggressive companies who get water on the fire quickly and trucks who aren’t afraid to open up; so the need does not usually arise. However, beating the first due engine in and with a report of people trapped, we made our way to the second floor.

After getting into the bedroom, my partner and I shut the door behind us. That’s a pretty nerve wracking thing to do: shut a door in a house you’ve never been in and can’t see a thing in. It’s easy to miss a doorknob on the wide expanse of wall when trying to make your way  back out of that door. Anyhow, even though there was zero visibility and we were conducting our search on feel, it was a great comfort to feel the heat subside A LOT. It bought quite a bit of time on my mental search clock that lets me know when it is time to go. Thankfully, the engine was there quickly and we could hear them getting a knock on the fire.

The reason I mention this is that it really sunk in to me how much of the ongoing fire problem was eliminated for me just by shutting the door. So I started looking around at the importance of keeping doors shut while performing a search. Unfortunately I did not have to look far or in the distant past.  My looking about took me to my old department, Baltimore County, to a fire that killed FF Mark Falkenhan on Jan 19, 2011 who died from injuries sustained while searching on the top floor of a 3 story garden apartment.

The fire started as a first floor kitchen fire and rapidly spread to the two upper floors, ultimately entering the unit where FF Falkenhan was searching though an open door to the unit.

Two units, two very different results. The difference is that the unit on the left had the door closed during the fire. This was a powerful picture for me.

If you’re short on time, go to the 21:45 mark of the video  below. There are also two reports; one from the ATF and one from Baltimore County. Towards the end of the ATF report are the pictures of the conditions of different units from the fire.

The forward in the Balt. County internal report by the Fire Chief states that they essentially  could have done nothing different and that everything went pretty much according to plan. This despite the fact that they:

Have only 3 Battalion Chiefs for a 612 square mile area. It took the Batt. Chief 23 minutes to arrive on scene.

Had no good report from the rear about vertical fire extension.

No engine crew covering the search operation.

No back up hose line for initial attack crew.

Companies split laying on a working fire.


It’s easy to be an armchair fireground analyst, but these are systemic things that have not changed since I worked there for a short time in the late 90’s.

Falkenhan LODD ATF Report

Balt Co LODD internal report

Here is a video from the ATF from the modeling on this fire:

Things start going bad around the 21:45 mark of this video:



Towards the end of the video is are two alternate scenarios showing what might have happened with different doors being closed.

Let’s face it, the fire service is not really screaming for any new acronyms; particularly one that rehashes another acronym but with a slight twist. Yet, here I am proposing a new acronym that is a twist on an old one.

One of the more noted acronyms when calling a Mayday is LUNAR. Location, Unit, Name, Air, Resources needed. While it is adequate, I’ve always wondered why “Air” was on the list. It’s not as if we’ll say: “He’s got plenty of air, let’s let him wait a while” or “He’s got plenty of air, let’s leave this RIT bottle here. I’m sure we’ll be done before he runs out”. It doesn’t really strike me as all that important.

I’ve also wondered why it has “Resources” there. While it might be chic in fire service management to use a word like “resource”, if I were in a jam the last thing I would be thinking about would be using a word like “resource” for what I need. I need HELP, not a resource. I imagine Resource is there, along with Air quite frankly, to help make a neat sounding acronym.


I think LUNAR is adequate, but I am proposing a new one based on my past experience as a truckie:







Help needed


That’s right, LUNCH. Who doesn’t think about lunch… particularly at a firehouse. Whole days revolve around it sometime and most guys never miss it. It’s unlike LUNAR in that, while the moon is out every night to possibly remind you, if you don’t leave the firehouse at night (truckie), you never get to remind yourself of it.


The one concession toward having a clever acronym is that I have also thought that adding your name in there was a little pointless as well. “Oh, it’s FF Byrne… F#ck him. We’ll get there when we get there”.  Without it though, we wouldn’t have the mildly smartass LUNCH acronym.


So… Next time you sit down at lunch, give yourself a 3 second refresher in calling in a mayday for yourself. For example:

“MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY. Rescue Team B, FF Byrne on the Bravo side of the kitchen table, I am out of A1 sauce for my dry steak the engine overcooked. I need A1 sauce and a cookbook for the engine to read the future. ”


Simple as that! Seriously though, it doesn’t have to take long and it keeps your mind in the game. And if anybody can think of another word for Help or Resource that begins with the letter K, we can get rid of “Name” as well and just go with LUCK.

lunch picture




Being a fireman and a rope geek, the topic of emergency escape and belaying is a big one to me. So I’d like to share with you this video that was found, through rigorous searching of the internet, covering just those topics.

Should you be interested in the device (doubtful), the name of the company is shown later in the video.



These two videos were posted previously, but the links have gone bad. So here they are again for you to see how things can go REALLY wrong if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Both are from Peru. Just so it’s out there again: If you are visiting Peru and they ask if you want to ride a highline, it’s probably in your best interest to politely decline.