Brooklyn Pirate Tale

On behalf of International Speak Like A Pirate Day, an account of the the Jolly Rogers of Rogers Avenue. Consider the items in bold; how do they measure up against your officer and company?

The members of Engine 255 were in the kitchen of their Flatbush firehouse participating in a late-evening drill conducted by “Captain Jack” Pritchard. Suddenly, the tone alarm shattered the air and the members scrambled to their rig. The Company was directed to respond first-due to a report of smoke in an apartment house. Known for their rapid turnout from quarters, the Jolly Rogers quickly arrived at a six-story, non-fireproof, multiple dwelling.

- “report of smoke” Expect fire.
- “rapid turnout” Preparedness.

Captain John J. Pritchard (FDNY photo)

No sooner had the apparatus stopped when Captain Pritchard was met by a woman who was screaming frantically that her baby was trapped in the fire. Captain Pritchard and the woman proceeded to the fourth floor of the building where he could see smoke pushing under pressure from the apartment door. He quickly radioed instructions to his members to stretch a hose-line to the fourth floor and transmitted the 10-75 signal for a working fire.

- “proceeded with the woman” Maintain control, do not lose your head; expect fire.
- “radioed instructions to his members” Training, competency.

After ascertaining from the hysterical mother exactly where in the flat her child was located, Captain Pritchard attempted to force the door open. Again, he transmitted instructions to the arriving Companies. He advised Ladder 157 that a child was trapped and the forcible entry team and outside vent man were urgently required.

- “exactly where in the flat” Maintain control; constant sizeup.
- “forcible entry team and outside vent man were urgently required.” Communication.

As luck would have it, through the heavy smoke, Captain Pritchard spied the keys to the apartment in the lock. After removing his right glove, he turned the key and opened the door. The sudden gust of air–produced by the open door–caused conditions in the fire apartment to deteriorate rapidly.

- “Captain Pritchard spied the keys to the apartment in the lock”. Maintain control; constant sizeup.

Immediately, Captain Pritchard dropped to his hands and knees and entered the high heat and heavy black smoke. As he crawled into the apartment, the Captain could see that the fire had complete possession of the child’s bedroom. He entered the room, staying as low as possible, to remain under the extreme heat and rolling flames. Although the intense fire conditions caused Captain Pritchard to suffer burns and started to drive him from the room, the cries of an infant spurred him forward.

- “He entered the room, staying as low as possible” Never forget the basics.

As he groped his way to the far end of the room, he reached a plastic playpen. Inside was a baby girl. With flames venting out two windows directly above the child, there was no way Captain Pritchard could lift the infant up and out of harm’s way. There was only one alternative–grab the playpen and pull it toward the apartment door.

The room was engulfed in fire, the playpen was melting in his bare hand and Captain Pritchard was exhausted. Still, he took hold and dragged the playpen–with the child still inside–more than 15 feet through the apartment to the safety of the public hall. Once there, both Captain Pritchard and 10-month-old Shadee Brophete were tended to by medical personnel and subsequently transported to the Burn Center, where they were admitted.

Acting alone and without the protection of a hose-line, Captain Pritchard subjected himself to extreme personal risk by entering a room engulfed in fire to perform a lifesaving rescue. His selfless and courageous act exemplifies the highest traditions of the FDNY. For these reasons, he is presented with the Dr. Harry M. Archer Medal. — BDG

Practice how you want to perform. Set a standard and beat it.
Expect fire; don’t lose your head – you are the fire department. There is a reason why they called you.
Practice communication. Listen to fireground audio tapes or online videos and look at what you would communicate and how you can improve.
Continue to sizeup the fire. You never stop once you enter the fire building.
Wear your gloves.

FDNY Medal Day 2003

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Backstep Firefighter

“To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format.”

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Ron Ayotte
“FEAR” by Ric Jorge
Ric, excellent article. Your FD is not the only one that suffers from TAS (Training Anxiety Syndrome). Same circus, different community. As far as seeking help from an EAP, I did take advantage of my community's EAP 8 years into my career. I was heading down the road to a separation/divorce after I got promoted…
2014-12-04 16:04:47
Mike McAdams
Who Looks After The Victims?
Captain LeBlanc, Great point in the blog debating the new and old techniques and how to blend them into that first minutes on the fire ground. One of the first points stated was “Unless they know your manpower, resources and abilities, and are standing in that front lawn at 2:00 a.m., all they can do…
2014-12-02 14:45:23
Ruel Douvillier
Who Looks After The Victims?
I suspect these new tactics are all related to the NFPA standard that came out a few years ago recommending higher manpower on apparatus than the authorities having jurisdiction were prepared to implement. For the 30+ years that I've been fighting fires, UL and NIST have been using the data that they gained by setting…
2014-12-02 11:48:44
Joseph carroll
Who Looks After The Victims?
I work in a dept with 2 man Engine cos, man powers is an issue with our first due assignment. (3 engs,2 Trks , Batt Chief). Usually 13 Firefighters on the assignment. At times the exterior attack has no option, heavy fire too include exposures etc. some new leaders feel that this exterior attack is…
2014-12-01 19:05:51
Who Looks After The Victims?
Am I missing the old SSLEEVES-OCD pneumonic??? seems that one. It addressed alot of the things we have to think of, and the new Slicers is something that I think in right circumstances and construction would make sense, but at other times might be completely useless. I have watched and read alot of the NIST…
2014-12-01 02:10:06
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