Why We Search: Despite Owner’s Claim, Vacant Ohio Rental Home Was Occupied

Tragic news unfolds in Ohio three days after fire engulfs a vacant rental home.


On Saturday 19 March, Portsmouth Ohio firefighters responded to 267 Edendale Road for the house fire. Local reports stated that the house was fully involved upon arrival. Three days later, contrary to the homeowner’s claim, a body was found by investigators when they returned to search for the fire’s cause.

It is quite obvious that the victim of this fire was no longer viable by the time firefighters arrived. It is also obvious, as we have shared in many of these reports, that we are not advocating reckless abandon of safe practices for the bravado of saving a victim, any victim.

What we want to stress to you is that when the fire conditions allow it, a search should be initiated if the adequate resources allow it. It is not a slight or critique of the Portsmouth firefighters either, as logic would lead us to expect that given lesser fire conditions, a search may have been at the very least attempted.

The only concrete fact from this story is that no one knows – until a search is done, when possible – if the structure is occupied or vacant.

No one. Not even the homeowner.

“The owner of the rental property told firefighters on Saturday that the home was not occupied and there was no reason to believe that anyone was inside the home.”

“Firefighters were told the house was unoccupied and firefighters did not report hearing any smoke alarms. No smoke alarms have been found in the fire debris as of this afternoon,” Cartmill said.”
“Body Found at Burned Home 3 Days After Fire”, WSYX

“The house was not thoroughly searched after the fire because there was no reason to believe anyone was inside, [Cartmill] said.”
“Portsmouth firefighters make delayed discovery of body”, The Columbus Dispatch

“They say the homeowner told crews on the scene Saturday that the home was not occupied and there was reason to believe anyone was inside the home. That is why the Portsmouth Fire Department decided to wait until Tuesday to search the home and finish the investigation.”
“Body Found in Burned Out Home”, WSAZ



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1 Comment

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    We must make every effort to insure that there is nobody trapped inside a burning structure. This does not mean that we as firefighters have to embark on a suicide mission, but if on arrival there appears to be a place of refuge , we must make an attempt to rescue those inside.

    “Survivability profiles” are a statistician’s wet dream.

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Comments
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
Brian
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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