Buildingsonfire-Lessons from the Fireground
Remembrance Firefighter Mark Falkenhan
30 Dowling Circle-Baltimore County, MDOn January 19, 2011, at approximately 1855 hours, a 43-year-old volunteer fire fighter died after being caught in a rapid fire progression. The victim and another fire fighter were conducting a search of a third-floor apartment above the fire, which had started on the first floor. Conditions at the time of entry for the search crew indicated that the fire was under control. The fire had already breached the second-floor apartment through a sliding glass door in the rear of the structure but was oxygen-limited.
Another crew was initiating a civilian rescue from the second-floor apartment above the fire when a rapid fire build-up occurred on the second floor. The fire and smoke traveled up the common stairwell, igniting the third-floor apartment and trapping the victim.
The victim radioed multiple Mayday calls, but crews were unable to reach him before his facepiece melted from the extensive heat produced by the rapid fire progression. The other fire fighter who was with the victim was searching a bedroom and his exit was cut off by the rapid fire progression. He was forced to bail out a bedroom window and was injured by the fall. Rescue efforts were initiated, the victim was located, and removed from the third-floor apartment. The victim died from exposure to the products of combustion.