Alameda County Working: Rescue Company Helmet Cam Captures Rescues and More

Video answers critics about delay in getting water on the fire and shows that chasing kinks is everyone's job.

Earlier this week FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation and various bloggers ran that rescue story of the Alameda County apartment fire with rescues on video. Among the comments were some readers that quickly found fault with the engine company over a perceived delay in getting water on the fire. Not realizing that such critiques come easily from the calm of a desk and failing to take into account the whole environment, the entire helmet camera footage offers more to think about.


Staffing on Alameda County apparatus is three; Company Officer, Engineer and Firefighter. We can easily see that the first engine has laid out at the alleyway and the street; no hydrant is nearby. Expect the second arriving engine to complete the primary water supply. The Rescue Company has arrived, after returning from an earlier fire. Staffing on the scene at this time is six.


The supply line hasn't been broken yet and we can see that the first engine company officer and firefighter are faced with an obvious rescue and a progressing first floor fire.




Verbal transfer of command, followed by a sizeup and assignments via handie-talkie,  the Rescue Officer is now out of the active attack equation.




The obvious rescue completed, the adult victim is no longer a priority to the first engine company. In the communication we hear that the second engine company is tasked with securing the water supply and stretching a second hoseline.



Vent, enter, search begins as the first hoseline is charged. For a relationship to time, almost three minutes has elapsed since start of filming.




As the firsts line goes, so goes the fire. Rescue Officer steps in and begins fixing this problem. It is easy to criticize the engine company engineer, but we don't know why this wasn't taken care of earlier. Regardless, chasing kinks is EVERYONE'S job. As you pass a hoseline, remove kinks and free the line from obstructions.



Water on the fire. Staffing on the scene is still a total of six. The second engine company has just arrived. In almost four minutes two obvious rescues are dealt with, incident command is established and assignments are given. VES is begun.



Keep in mind, when you critique videos, that you are really only seeing a small part of what transpires and you are doing this without being under stress. In my opinion, The first engine company and the rescue company accomplished quite a bit, successfully, in the first minutes.

Read more about obvious rescues and engine company sizeups below. Use the Alameda County video and have your shift consider what actions they would have taken.

"To Stretch or Not To Stretch"

"The First Line Determines The Result"

"Were Just Trying To Do The Best We Can"

"Pine Bluff, Arkansas Video Highlights Quick Work by Minimum Staffed Crews"


"Running The Line: Estimating The Stretch"




Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

We encourage and support constructive dialogue and debate. View our comment policy.

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  • Glass Guy says:

    Bill, thanks for including me in on this … Rescue vs Fire Attack, can be the most trying call you will ever be on. I want to praise the camera man/IC/hosemanagementguy/safety/rescue dude … nice job brother. You were busy, and given the hysterical locals running loose on the scene you did well keeping your composure.
    In the first 2 minutes of filming – IC established
    2'17" – water supply called for, and 2nd line assigned
    2'39" – ambulances called for
    2'54" –  VES
    3'14" – water in attack line
    3'45" – water on the fire
    4'45" – fire knocked down
    5'19" – in Rescue mode
    6; 24" – makes grab and exits building
    Thats a lot of living in under 10 minutes! You managed this scene well … and I am sure you will agree, every call presents us with room for improvement, the formal PIA will reveal things that can be improved on. That being said, so much was accomplished with limited initial resources in such little time … the out come is not a fluke, it is the result of training. The stress level can not be reproduced (or can it?) and the heart rate is one thing, but combine it with the hormonal dump incurred and this is why training is impairative, so WE don't lose it. So when someone throws themselves down on the ground rolling around screaming the effect is minimized because you know your task so well you can do it in your sleep … thats training.
    Again, it's aways a great day when you can put a fire out, make a grab that lives, and no one gets hurt, and still make it back to the barn for dinner. FTM-PTB 
    Stay low and stay strong,
    Ric Jorge

    • Bill Carey says:

      Thanks Ric, excellent points that reinforce our need to have antagonistic training incorporated into our education as soon as the basics are mastered. Imagine, and it is easy to do, how this would play out (and I’ve seen it in other stories) in the opposite; the line remains in a bundle, two, three companies gravitate toward the rescues and the fire gains more of an advantage in extension. Now, the fourth and fifth companies have to instantly transition from their expected assignments to what the initial companies should have begun.

      Bill Carey

  • Josh Giles says:

    Great training video. One of the best helmet cam videos I've seen. Yes, there was a delay with getting water in the line/the pile of spaghetti. But they did a great job of getting the line flaked out. Establishing and maintaining command. Staying calm on the radio. Quick knockdown of the fire. VES of the 2nd floor. Good primary search of the 2nd floor. 3 successful rescues. Very through secondary searches.
    I’d like to commend the Alameda County Fire Department for having the courage to put themselves out there by sharing this video. It's a shame people can only point out the small mistakes in the video. This will make departments less likely to put themselves out there and share fire videos when all people can do is criticize them.
    Josh Giles
    Deerfield Township Fire Department
    (Suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio)

  • John Walsh says:

    Good job on the story line.  The only part I want to correct you on is the staffing issue.  The rescue has 4.  The 4th person got detailed to getting the police to unblock the road, our next due crews were blocked out.  VES…..  Rescue has 4 members, the outside guys started their VES while the officer was expecting his 4th member to merry up with him so they could go in the front.  Didnt happen in a timely manner.  Although the first search crew inside was the VES crew, the front door appeared to be comprimised by fire, but on a second look it was a more appropriate option.  Hose…..we run low pressue smoothbores, flaking hose is mucle memory.  I would guess the scene distractors impacted us a bit.  Engine pump also did not engage correctly, not a big delay, but it is another broken link.  Pulling an attack line like this is so routine, but it got messed up when we really need it now! Sometimes it all falls apart on you   Stay Safe.

    John Walsh  Alameda County Fire Department  Battalion 2,

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