Last Friday we told you the San Francisco Fire Department released its official report into the deaths of Lt. Vincent Perez and Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Valerio. At the time, only a summary was available online. Now you can read the entire report:
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San Francisco Fire Department releases report into deaths of Lt. Vincent Perez and FF/PM Anthony Valerio. Flashover caused when glass in sliding door shattered.9 comments
An internal safety investigation on the June 2, 2011, fire at 133 Berkeley Way indicates that firefighters Lt. Vincent A. Perez and Firefighter Paramedic Anthony M. Valerio were killed by extremely high temperatures of up to 700 degrees caused by a sudden flare up, known as a flashover.
The intense fire event, which lasted several minutes, was caused when a window shattered in the room where the fire started, sending a rush of oxygen to the flames, according to the report. The heat was drawn up a stairwell from a below ground-level floor, where the fire began, to the ground-level floor where Valerio and Perez were standing.
"They were caught in a chimney," said Assistant Chief David Franklin, who worked on the team that prepared the report.
"We were well on our way to developing some of the new policies that, in some ways, could have made a difference," Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. "But basically, you'll find that the key factor was something that was a variable that we really had no control over. It was the failure of the window on the back end of the floor where Tony and Vince were."
The report describes a number of errors and communication problems at the scene and makes recommendations for how the handling of future incidents can be improved. But fire officials said the flashover was not something that could have easily been prevented or predicted.
"What Vincent and Tony did is exactly what all of us would have done," said Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, noting that it is standard practice in the department to make an aggressive attack and try to get water on a fire as quickly as possible. "The key factor was something that we really had no control over."
Hayes-White said the department is developing a risk assessment policy to help determine how to approach fires, particularly in difficult situations such as that presented by the multi-level home.
Official release from the San Francisco Fire Department:
(San Francisco, CA – February 10, 2012) The San Francisco Fire Department held a press briefing today, reviewing the results of their Internal Safety Investigation related to the Line of Duty Deaths of Lt. Vincent Perez and Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Valerio at a fire at 133 Berkeley Way on June 2, 2011.
Fire Investigators determined that the fire was accidental. The ignition source was “a nonspecific electrical sequence”, likely caused by either a failure in a ground outlet or in the appliance connected to the outlet.
The results of the Safety Investigation determined that the two Firefighters, who died as a result of internal and external thermal injuries, were conducting fire operations in a stairwell of the home above the fire room. The stairwell acted as a chimney when a large window failed in an oxygen deprived room that was below them, “causing them exposure to a rapid high heat event at temperatures that no Firefighter would have been able to survive”, said Assistant Deputy Chief Jose Velo, a member of the Safety Investigation Team.
Inspection of the Firefighters’ Personal Protective Clothing indicated that they performed according to their specifications. “We do have some concerns related to the handheld radios that all of our Firefighters carry”, said Chief Velo. “Both radio microphones appear to have failed from exposure to extreme heat conditions.”
Upon receiving the findings related to the radios, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White requested that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) research and develop a standard for Firefighter handheld radios.
The Safety Investigation Team identified three factors that contributed to the tragic outcome of this event. These factors include an excessive live fuel load which contributed to the growth of the fire, the layout of the building with the origin of the fire being in a room below grade and, extreme heat conditions accelerated by the failure of a window on the fire floor.
Chief Hayes-White indicated that this Safety Investigation was internal and initiated immediately following the rescue of the two Firefighters. Additionally, she stated that an independent Safety Investigation had also been conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH Report is pending.
“Twenty-five recommendations have been made as a result of information gathered from the Safety Investigation”, said Chief Hayes-White. “We take to heart all of the findings and recommendations in this report and will vow to do everything within our power to ensure a similar tragedy does not occur again in our Department.” The Department is in the process of implementing all recommendations and has initiated research and development where required.
President of San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798, Tom O’Connor said, “While there is nothing that we can do to change the outcome of that fateful day, we can learn lessons from this tragedy and make every effort to ensure that this does not happen again.”
“The two brave firefighters who died tragically in the line of duty in June last year – Lieutenant Vincent Perez and Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Valerio are heroes,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “As a city, we will follow up on every recommendation and finding from the report issued today by the San Francisco Fire Department to ensure our first responders are as safe as possible as they serve the residents of San Francisco.”
The Fire Department has forwarded their report to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Cal-OSHA, the State Fire Marshal, and the CA Professional Firefighters Association for their review.
Cal OSHA fines San Francisco FD for two in, two out & more in fire that killed two firefighters. Chief disputes findings.12 comments
California's Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued fines in connection with the fire that killed Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53 on June 2. Both the agency and Chief Joanne Hayes-White say that the violations were not a direct cause of the firefighters' deaths. Fire officials go further and are disputing some of Cal OSHA's findings.
Cal OSHA issued four citations — three of them categorized as serious — and said personnel located outside the house did not maintain communications with the two crewmembers of Engine 26.
The fire department says it will appeal all the citations.
"We have documentation to prove that these citations are not based on what we think happened up there," said Asst. Dept. Chief Jose Velo.
In recommending that the Fire Department be fined $21,000, the state investigators also said the department had violated state rules requiring that two firefighters be designated outside to assist any two firefighters who venture into a life-threatening environment.
The state also cited the Fire Department for an incident – evidently before the fatal flareup – in which an unidentified battalion chief ventured into the burning building alone, without keeping in contact with Perez and Valerio. That was also deemed a serious violation of safety rules.
"These are serious in that they had protocols in place, but they weren't following them," said Erika Monterroza, spokeswoman for the worker safety agency. "There's no question that a lack of communications was a big issue here. The investigator found there was a breakdown there.
Lt. Vincent Perez (l) and FF/PM Anthony Valerio.
A second firefighter injured Thursday while battling a blaze in San Francisco's Diamond Heights neighborhood died this morning, the mayor's office said.
Anthony Valerio, 53, died this morning, two days after a fire at a four-story home at 133 Berkeley Way claimed the life of his colleague Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, Mayor Ed Lee said.
Lee said in a statement he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths and called the loss a "terrible tragedy" for the city.
"These two men have dedicated their lives to protecting the people of San Francisco for decades," Lee said.
Dozens of grim-faced firefighters from across the city flocked to the hospital to pay tribute to Valerio, whose death was yet another blow to the city, its firefighters and Engine Company 26.
The Diamond Heights station crew had already lost Lt. Vincent Perez, who died Thursday after being rushed to the hospital with Valerio and a third firefighter, Tracy Courtney. Courtney was released after being treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation.
UPDATE: More details about San Francisco fire that killed Lt. Vincent Perez & critically burned FF Anthony Valerio. Union president says they were above main body of fire.1 comment
There are new details from Thursday's fire in San Francisco that took the life of Lt. Vincent Perez and critically injured Firefighter Anthony Valerio. The two were part of the crew from Engine 26 inside a four story hillside home at 133 Berkeley Way in Diamond Heights. In the video above, union President Tom O'Connor says the two men were above the main body of fire when they were burned and mentions wind as a possible contributing factor behind the intense fire conditions.
Lt. Vincent Perez (l) and FF/PM Anthony Valerio.
According to an article by Jaxon Van Derbeken at the San Francisco Chronicle, Engine 26 arrived on the scene at 10:47 and Lt. perez soon could be heard coughing as he provided a situation report.
"We have an active fire, zero visibility, third floor," Perez said. The home's third floor is actually the ground level from the street, with two floors below it built into a hillside.
A scene commander, identified by firefighters as Battalion Chief Thomas Abbott, ordered a crew from Engine Company 24 to back up Perez's crew inside the building. For several minutes, however, scene commanders repeatedly tried to find the Engine 26 firefighters, without success.
Finally, what appeared to be the last communication from the doomed crew came over the radio. "This is 26, this is 26. … Battalion 6, what's your location?" said a muffled voice.
"Twenty-six, this is command, I need to know your …" came in reply.
"This is Engine 26, we're on the third…" At that point, the voice over the radio trailed off.
The paper reports it isn't clear exactly when the firefighters were injured. They were found alone.
The paper also confirms what an anonymous person posting a comment to STATter911.com reported, that the emergency alarm that went off around the time it was determined the firefighters were in trouble was an accidental activation from Engine 20. Engine 20 was still responding to the scene.
UPDATED: San Francisco Lt. Vincent Perez killed in house fire. FF Anthony Valerio is ‘fighting for his life’. Reported flashover. Listen to fireground audio.18 comments
UPDATE: Hospital and fire officials have told reporters the firefighter killed is Lt. Vincent Perez. Perez was 48-years-old. The firefighter critically burned is 53-year-old Anthony Valerio.
Perez was a San Francisco firefighter for 25 years. He was born and raised in the Mission District and Bernal Heights, and was known for his courage and sense of humor, firefighters union president Tom O'Connor said.
"He was always the first guy in a fire and the last guy out," O'Connor said. "He lightened up the mood at the firehouse … He was a firefighter's firefighter."
Speaking at San Francisco General Hospital, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White told reporters (see raw video below) that one firefighter has died and another is fighting for his life following a fire reported at 10:44 AM at 133 Berkeley Way. A third injured firefighter is reported in fair condition.
The blaze started on the first floor of the home and spread to at least the second story, (Spokeswoman Mindy) Talmadge said.
Talmadge said firefighters saw a flash while inside the home. Around that time, a firefighter in the home activated an emergency alarm. Dispatch got the alert and notified the incident commander, who tried to reach the firefighter by radio but was unable to, Talmadge said.
Additional crew members were sent in, and they found two firefighters down and "pretty badly burned," Talmadge said.
The third injured firefighter was able to exit the home without help, she said.
The firefighters were hurt during a "flashover," when everything in a room ignites at once because of a sudden influx of oxygen, Talmadge said.
All three injured firefighters were found together. The two most badly hurt were unconscious, and the third was able to walk out on his own, Talmadge said.
The house appears to be two stories from the street, but has two additional stories built into the slope of a hill in the back.
Talmadge said such structures "historically have caused us problems." Firefighters rushing into such buildings often do not realize that they're on the ground floor and or grasp the layout, she said.
Intruder spends the night at San Francisco firehouse. Man found in female firefighter’s clothes inside Station 19.3 comments
Getting a picture of Station 19 off of Google Maps I found that the Street View car caught Engine 19 out front. Click the image & veer right to see the firehouse.
In San Francisco, 29-year-old Eric Miller was arrested after being found inside a fire station Monday, wearing a female firefighter’s clothes. He’s been charged with burglary and possession of stolen property. A firefighter coming on duty was the first to spot Miller and at first thought he was another firefighter. There are nine firefighters on each shift at Station 19. Firefighters detained him until police arrived. It is unclear what time Miller showed up the station. According to news reports the crew in the bunkroom heard someone working out in the gym at 2:00 AM but assumed it was another firefighter.
A firefighter arriving at Station 19 at 390 Buckingham Way in the Taraval District for a morning shift found 29-year-old Eric Miller at about 6 a.m. sitting on the couch watching TV, police said.
The firefighter then asked Miller, “Do you need a jump?” which is firefighter lingo for taking over a shift, according to Talmadge.
Miller didn’t understand the question, and the firefighter became suspicious, she said.
When asked what he was doing there, Miller replied that he “worked for the army and was waiting for an emergency call on the DNS phone,” police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.
Miller had apparently retrieved a female firefighter’s clothing from the dryer and then washed his shoes in the washing machine, Talmadge said.
He then donned the female firefighter’s T-shirt and shorts, and rolled her underwear up inside his own T-shirt, Talmadge said.
Two-alarm apartment fire in San Francisco: A suspicious fire around 8:30 Sunday morning at 550 Leavenworth in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Click here to read more.
What the public is thinking: Check out a very interesting video from DeKalb County, Georgia. Some unhappy citizens who may not have an understanding of what they are seeing. Click here.
Calling all chiefs: A South Carolina chief gets praise from the local press on his handling of a potentially serious reputation issue. Here’s the story that you should take the time to read.
The Fire Critic finds some must see video: Rhett Fleitz has had a collapse theme going in recent days. This latest video from Wisconsin focuses on lightweight construction and is a must see. The rear of a the burning home takes a quick nose dive. Watch it here. We have some other recent collapse videos from Rhode Island and Ohio and the dramatic audio from the rowhouse collapse in Pittsburgh that injured two firefighters.
First due truck closed for Baltimore fatal: Firegeezer takes a look at a fatal fire in Baltimore and the potential impact of rotating closures. Read the details.
While you are in Geezerland you must take a moment to look at the story FossilMedic Mike Ward has dug up. It is the video of a British helicopter pilot doing a medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan. The chopper comes under fire, the aircraft is heavily damaged and Lt. Ian Fortune, the pilot, is struck in the head. Talk about keeping cool under fire and getting the job done. Watch this.
Update your widget: The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has redesigned its widget. If you have a website or blog carrying the widget or want to carry the widget, click here to get the new code.
Remember this one? Pride parade verdict upheld: From SignOnSanDiego.com- “An appellate court panel of three justices has unanimously upheld last year’s jury verdict awarding damages to four San Diego firefighters who sued the city because they had been required to participate in the 2007 gay pride parade in Hillcrest.”
Have jaws will travel: A great story about a traveling rescue tools salesman who knows how to use what he is selling. Read about his extrication efforts on I-10 in Louisiana.
A double whammy to start the DC fire chief’s weekend: As you can imagine there is a lot of discussion about the federal discrimination lawsuit filed Friday against DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Dennis Rubin and two of his assistant fire chiefs. That story is here. Earlier on Friday Chief Rubin’s staff contacted WTOP Radio to say the chief had it wrong about enforced leave for the firefighter/nude chef at Engine 11. Here are the details.
Burned Modesto firefighter back on the job today: This morning Engineer James Adams returns to the Modesto Fire Department on light-duty as a battalion chief’s aide ten months after being critically burned over almost half his body. Adams and Jason Clevenger fell through the roof of a burning home on New Years Day. Here’s the update.
One burned in San Francisco apartment fire: A neighbor’s roof top video of a fire during the noon hour in Haight Ashbury on Monday that injured an occupant of a second-floor apartment.
The STATter911.com family heads to Chicago: I guess it is appropriate that the video above is from San Francisco because that is where our journey began on August 6. Currently Sam, Hillary and Dave are in Dubuque, Iowa, heading out today for four days at Fire Rescue International in Chicago. Along the way we saw some spectacular sights and had many wonderful moments. In the coming weeks I plan to share some fire related photos and videos that I gathered during our journey, like the one on the left when San Francisco Fire Engine Tours & Adventures took us on a tour of the city in a 1955 Mack pumper. Because of the travel, as we warned, the blog postings have been reduced. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I don’t expect to get back into my usual unreliable pattern of posting until next week.
One you should attend in Chicago: If you manage a behavioral health program for a fire department or are a chief officer, peer program manager or EAP professional make sure you get to “Focus Group on New Protocol for Firefighter Behavioral Health – Initiative 13″. Its on Friday from 12:30 to 2:30 in room N230a at McCormick Place. If you need more information contact Dr. JoEllen Kelly at email@example.com.
New fire chief in Houston: The Houston Chronicle and other new outlets are reporting Terry Garrison will be the new chief of the Houston Fire Department. Retired after a 30-year-career in Phoenix, Chief Garrison more recently has been doing the chief thing in Oceanside, California and the Daisy Mountain Fire District in New River, Arizona. Read more.
Triple fatal fire in the Charleston, SC area: Around 9:00 last night a mother and her young twin boys died in a fire in West Ashley, a Charleston suburb. The St. Andrews Fire Department and Charleston Fire Department responded. SConFire.com is on top of the story.
Honors for Tom Carr: As many of you already know from other sources while Dave was distracted by his intimate relationship with the GPS lady, our friend Tom Carr, chief of the Charleston Fire Department (mentioned above), has been named by Fire Chief as the 2010 Career Fire Chief of the Year. A much deserved honor for a man I first met when he was a lieutenant in Montgomery County, Maryland. While we are at it, congratulations to Timothy S. Wall of the North Farms Volunteer Fire Department in North Wallingford, Connecticut who is the 2010 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year.
Iron and Steel doesn’t make it to Washington but will come close: This weekend steel from the World Trade Center will be escorted to the Pentagon. You may recall the dispute that surfaced in June after the organizers and the DC Fire & EMS Department did not come to terms for this event (click here). The Arlington County Fire Department, under the leadership of Chief Jim Schwartz, stepped in and will host the event. Click here for the weekend schedule.
A much better view of the CNG bus burning in Maryland: We have now posted almost seven minutes of continuous raw video from Friday’s Metrobus fire in Anne Arundel County. It begins just before the first engine pulls up. Despite offering a better representation of what was there when firefighters arrived, I am not sure it is going to change too many minds in our comments section. What could have been an interesting discussion over the use of master streams in this type of situation has turned into the type of Internet free-for-all that can cause brain damage ( if taken too seriously). I just want to apologize ahead of time in case you stumble upon it. Much more interesting is the updated video.
Chief fired over disposal of stillborn babies: We have reported on fire chiefs being fired for many, many reasons, but this is one we have never heard before. WBRC-TV is reporting that in Odenville, Alabama Chief David Davis claimed he was just following protocol when he flushed twin stillborn babies down the toilet. Mayor Buck Christian fired Davis and the Odenville City Council unanimously approved that decision.
But it’s the news media’s fault in Detroit: Thank goodness for the Geezerman. At least Firegeezer Bill doesn’t leave his readers high and dry while he goes gallivanting across the country. Clearly a man with a much better work ethic than I have, Bill Schumm has been posting some great stories at Firegeezer.com. The most disturbing one comes from Detroit. On August 9 I shared the story about Mayor Dave Bing’s administration’s issues with media ride-alongs and attempts to create a new policy. You may recall in the same posting I also disagreed with a documentary producer’s opinion that the news media is the problem in Detroit (at the same time supporting the producer’s efforts to show us the firefighters of Detroit). Well, the nasty news media is at it again. This time they have the nerve to tell people that 31 of 45 ambulances are broken. A TV station shows some people, like the recently injured Detroit firefighters, who didn’t get to the hospital by ambulance. Here’s Bill’s well written look at this tragedy.
Steering the rig: It is drill day at STATter911.com. Do your know your apparatus? See how these steering and driving tips from the Los Angeles Fire Department apply today. Click here for Part 2.
Firefighter handcuffed & put in cell, but it is the sheriff’s deputy who is facing charges: An interesting turn of events in that dispute in Colorado between the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue. The prosecutor has decided not to file charges against Battalion Captain Dan Dailey in connection with that March 27 EMS run at the Lake County Jail. Instead, Deputy Steve James has been charged for interfering with the work of Captain Dailey. Read the details.
Raw video from Maryland house fire: WUSA9.com’s Greg Guise and Bruce Leshan were on the scene of yesterday’s house fire in Glen Echo. Here’s the video.
Read report into Los Angeles Fire Department disciplinary problems: “Despite repeated vows to reform the way it handles costly discrimination and misconduct complaints, the Los Angeles Fire Department relies on a disciplinary system plagued by poor documentation, uneven punishment and a lack of clear guidelines, according to a new city audit.” That’s the summary by the Los Angeles Times of the new 220-page audit and report. Click here to read the entire report and here for the article.
Street racing firefighters said to be behind deaths in North Carolina: Our friends at FireNews.net have the follow-up story in the deaths of two Blowing Rock firefighters last month. Indications now are the pair were racing with firefighters from out of town.
Questions about another DeKalb County fire: Too early to tell which way this one will go, but the damage was done long ago on the PR front and DeKalb just can’t catch a break. Neighbors claim they had trouble getting through to 911 to report a house fire this week. They also insist firefighters couldn’t find the hydrant behind bushes across the street, delaying a water supply. The fire department says there are indications the times by the neighbors are wrong and that there was no delay with the water. Of course this comes in the wake of the fiasco that shook up the department after firefighters couldn’t find a burning home until it was way too late. Here’s the latest.
Retired firefighter volunteers to ride browned-out unit: A 53-year-old former Chicago area firefighter/paramedic makes a pitch to San Diego’s mayor to help staff units closed each day to save money. It will likely take more than this one guy to run as many as eight engines shut down each day. Check it out.
Firefighters picket taxpayers: Specifically Atlanta firefighters have been in the face of the Fulton County Taxpayer Association which is taking a strong stand over the pension benefits enjoyed by the firefighters. Here’s the story.
In Clark County, Nevada it never ends: The battle over overtime and overall compensation continues. The latest article has emails that the Las Vegas Sun reports shows the union resisting efforts to allow a promotional exam to fill vacant positions for engineers. Here’s the story.
Fire damages antique fire apparatus restorer’s shop: Firegeezer tells the story of this setback for Ken Soderbeck, whose Jackson, Michigan business has a world-wide reputation.
New fire chief in Cedar Rapids: Congratulations to our friend Stephen Reid, retired DC Fire & EMS Department deputy chief, who takes over as Cedar Rapids, Iowa chief on May 10. Here’s the story.
50-foot ladder raise: The second phase of our West Coast drill today is this demo by the San Francisco Fire Department recently posted to YouTube.