Lessons Learned: Fatal, Illegal Renovation in the Bronx, August 2006

A repost in memory of Probationary Firefighter Mike Reilly and Lieutenant Howie Carpluk.


On 24 August 2006 a FDNY lieutenant and probationary firefighter were trapped in the floor collapse of a burning dollar store in the Bronx. Immediately after, Engine 75 lieutenant Howie Carpluk transmitted a mayday message and began trying to help the FAST truck and others locate him and probationary firefighter Mike Reilly.

“”You see where the line went in? There’s a hole for me to get air – we need a mask toward the back,”

“Mask. Get it back here. I’m out of air . . Keep coming straight back here, we only need a mask. There’s a void for me, come here, you’ll see it. All I need is air, bro.”

Pinned by a rooftop air conditioning unit and other structural debris, Reilly lay underneath his officer, suffering chest-crushing injuries. Subsequent investigations would later reveal that engineers had illegally removed supports from the basement, while repairing damage from a 2000 fire.

Originally assigned to Engine Company 42, Carpluk was working overtime that day in Engine Company 75. Ironically, Engine Company 42 was the first due engine at the box. During the collapse and rescue some of Carpluk’s transmission were missed but he continued to calmly guide his rescuers. Eight other members were missing as well.

“Come on, see the guy with the line. Forget the water, give me the mask first and turn around and hit it. You go down the left side, 75 mayday, go down the left side. You’ll see me sticking out my hand.”

Finally, by grabbing the leg of a passing firefighter Carpluk spoke his last,

“Save my probie,” he urged. “He’s underneath me.”

Dollar and 99-cent stores, even without illegal renovations, possess a huge fire load and difficulty traversing the store due to contents. Take the time to remember Lieutenant Carpluk and Firefighter Reilly by reviewing the NIOSH report and preplanning those occupancies in your first due area. If you need Photos and videos of current dollar store fires for an off-the cuff drill, you can find them online at Firegeezer: Dollar Stores.

References
“Floor Collapse at Commercial Structure Fire Claims the Lives of One Career Lieutenant and One Career Fire Fighter – New York”, NIOSH, November 2007
“Mayday! Mayday! Running Out Of Air”, New York Post, August 2006
“A Father of Two and a Mentor in the Neighborhood” New York Times, August 2006
“PROBIE DIES IN BRONX BLAZE. Vet lieutenant clinging to life after fiery plunge in 99-cent store”, Daily News, August 2006
“FAREWELL TO THE BRAVEST ROOKIE. Thousands turn out to honor firefighter killed in Bronx blaze”, Daily News, August 2006
“Heroes Remembered”, FDNY
“Before Firefighters, Engineer Pleads Not Guilty to Perjury”, New York Times, March 2008
“Engineer Faces Perjury Charge After Fatal Bronx Fire in 06″, New Times, March 2008
The Michael C. Reilly Scholarship
Howie Carpluk,
2007 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award
, Fire Engineering, 2007

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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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