Victim Survivability Profiling Takes A Hit

Seattle Ladder 8 Capt. Dana Caldart, Firefighter Josh Materi and others recount rescue of seven from roof of a well-involved dwelling.





Several Seattle firefighters returned to the scene of an earlier house fire with multiple rescues. In an informal critique, if you will, Captain Dana Caldart, Firefighter Josh Materi and others got a look at the structure in the daylight as they mentally walked through their actions.

“I was right in that rig (fire truck) and when I got out of the rig, the heat hit me really hard and fast,” said Capt. Dana Caldart. “And I saw the flames were lickin’.” The fire broke out at the home in Ballard just after 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Eight people were in the two-story house at the time and several of them were trapped on the roof. Firefighter Josh Materi was on the first fire truck to arrive.

“I always grab a ladder and a hook and a bar and go to the back, just in case, you know?” Materi said.

His instincts were right on.

Click onto image for video.

Reaching the rear firefighters found four occupants awaiting rescue of the burning home. After throwing his ladder and removing the occupants, Materi and others were told of two more believed to be still inside. Entering the burning home Materi began his search. As it turns out, those two were also on the roof, but on the other side. They jumped to a firefighters and police officer below.

“I’m very proud of my crew; they did an excellent job,” Caldart said. “I’m very proud to work with these firefighters.”

In all, seven were rescued from the home, while an eighth occupant had jumped earlier.

“”The guys did some exceptionally difficult search and rescues on that upper floor, and my hat goes off to them,” said Seattle Fire Chief Mike Walsh.”

While the home was reported as a total loss, there were no reported firefighter injuries.

Click onto image for slideshow.

“[Seattle] Firefighters Return To Home Where Family Was Rescued”, KIRO
“8 make rooftop escape from burning Ballard house”, Seattle Times
“Seattle Firefighters Rescue Seven People From Roof Of House Fire”, FirefighterNation

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9 Comments

  • Amir Sadolla says:

    How does it take a hit? Captain Marsar himself will say its trends….there is no absolute in firefighting but there are trends that lead us to make educated guesses as to the survivability of our victims.

    While I think that the firefighters at this fire did a GREAT job…..I think pulling viable victims out of this fire was more luck than anything else.

  • Luck? Seriously Amir? These guys performed in an appropriately aggressive way and made rescues. “…there are trends that lead us to make educated guesses as to the survivability of our victims.” We don’t make educated guesses. We search if there is a reasonable chance of a viable victim being inside. IF the compartment you are going to search has not yet flashed it might contain a viable victim. If it has flashed it doesn’t. That’s the only absolute.

  • Amir Sadolla says:

    All we do is guess….as I already said there are no absolutes….you are leaving out one valuable size up factor its called the building….that coupled with the fire conditions determine if we search or not.

    It is not rocket science that the human body can not survive in an enviroment even slightly oxygen deficient….much less the insult the recive from the by products of smoke long before they are actually reached by fire it self….

    Again these guys did a great job but the citizens were aware of what to do and kept a cool head, and the story doesnt say but Im assuming some smoke detectors played a role as well. Then some well trained firefighters showed up and did there job…It was the perfect storm something you hardly see like in this fire here http://www.vafirenews.com/2011/01/video-911-calls-released-in-deadly-richmond-fire-on-guthrie-avenue/

    In that fire the citizens did not know what to do, and the well trained firefighters showed up and still could only save one of the three still trapped, so yes LUCK has alot to do with it.

  • Jeff Clayton says:

    I ‘guess’ not everyone got the same brochure I did, “Save lives and protect property”.

    There are ‘no absolutes’ that every firefighter is willing to risk their lives for that of a stranger.

    It’s not ‘rocket science’ that if we don’t attempt to find and remove these people than they will die.

    Lastly, I’m in ‘luck’, most of the firemen I know and associate with are willing to go the extra mile for the victims, despite the danger.

  • amir sadolla says:

    No problems saving lives…..or property let’s just not use either as excuses to serve our own ego….and the same emphasis should not be placed on property as possession are replaceable….life is not.

    Look say what ever you want but those people were lucky….the stats show not every one is…they also show that we get hurt or killed at fires when no rescues are made or need to be made.

    No firefighter should or I think would hesitate to put themselves in harms way to save a Life….but there is a point when its a no go….recognizing that using good size up and some tools like survivability profiling help us make that decision.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    “It is not rocket science that the human body can not survive in an enviroment even slightly oxygen deficient….much less the insult the recive from the by products of smoke long before they are actually reached by fire it self….”

    There are a lot of things going through my head during my size up, but trying to determine the oxygen level in a given part of the structure is really not one of them. In Seattle’s case they went in and searched the room where smoke was “heavy and black and pushing from the windows.”

    If a room looks bad as far as conditions go, then I will alter how I search….defensively style versus committing to the room, but searching for victims is what we do. And victims have survived conditions just as you described.

    Seems like we can find hundreds of reasons not to go in, maybe if we spent more time learning and practicing our jobs, we wouldn’t need so many excuses.

  • Jeff Clayton says:

    I don’t think it’s the aggressive firefighters that are the ones serving their own egos. I think they’re the ones doing their job at the level they swore to do. Most of the guys I’ve met that have numerous grabs are usually very humble about it. In my personal experience it’s the guys learning the latest greatest fire service jargon that walk around the firehouse with an ego.

    “the stats show not every one is…they also show that we get hurt or killed at fires when no rescues are made or need to be made” – The problem with this is that we don’t know if rescues need to be made…homeless people don’t check in and out of their squats. There isn’t an attendance list at the side window they forced for shelter and warmth.

    I agree 100% that there is a ‘no-go’ point. I’ve been there, I didn’t like to leave but it was the right choice. Knowing your area, building construction, and some basic fire behaviour coupled with experience (the most important factor) and a crew you can trust, will allow you to plece that ‘point’ a little closer to ‘go’ as opposed to ‘no’.

    Survivability profiling seems to be this years new catch phrase. However, the concept is not new to us…is there a chance someone is alive in there? Yes, then let’s go get them in an organized but aggressive fashion.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    “It is not rocket science that the human body can not survive in an enviroment even slightly oxygen deficient….much less the insult the recive from the by products of smoke long before they are actually reached by fire it self….”

    There are a lot of things going through my head during my size up, but trying to determine the oxygen level in a given part of the structure is really not one of them. In Seattle’s case they went in and searched the room where smoke was “heavy and black and pushing from the windows.”

    If a room looks bad as far as conditions go, then I will alter how I search….defensively style versus committing to the room, but searching for victims is what we do. And victims have survived conditions just as you described.

    Seems like we can find hundreds of reasons not to go in, maybe if we spent more time learning and practicing our jobs, we wouldn’t need so many excuses.

  • Juan Ton Tomato says:

    To decide to go in is profiling. Everyone does it. You make a decision (do I think I can get in and out with a viable patient) That’s profiling! To add some statistics as to why people are more or less likely to survive shouldn’t be a threat to how we do business. It will either reinforce your deciscion that it’s a GO or it will reinforce why it’s a NO GO! Because it is given a name “survivability profiling” is a petty hang up and losing focus of what’s important taking care of our community which includes not suffering from a) “Firefighter Duty to Die Syndrome (FDTDS).”
    And discuss…..

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Comments
Ron Ayotte
Tactical Safety for Firefighters: Risk a Lot, Save a Lot
Another excellent article by Lt. McCormack!
2014-09-18 21:59:17
Bill Carey
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Thank you Shawn.
2014-09-09 10:58:45
Bill Carey
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Thank you Trey. It would be valuable for all of us to do a follow-up later or a look at one of your trainings and how departments are applying the new research and testing the new tactics for themselves. Bill
2014-09-09 10:58:32
Shawn Royall
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Bill, Thanks for saying exactly what many of us want to but don't have an outlet for.
2014-09-09 03:30:10
Trey Smith
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Bill, thank you for your feedback. I would invite you to contact me to learn more about FPM.
2014-09-08 22:20:52
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