Author Topic: Surviving a May Day  (Read 2966 times)

Offline nfd2004

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Surviving a May Day
« on: March 11, 2018, 11:14:19 PM »
 A Providence, RI Firefighter tells his story of surviving a mayday.

 

Nycfire.net

Surviving a May Day
« on: March 11, 2018, 11:14:19 PM »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Surviving a May Day
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2018, 09:17:47 AM »
 Let me begin by welcoming Providence Firefighter Dan Rinaldi here as one of our newest members with the user name of "Dan R" on this site.

 Dan has returned to the job he loves doing best. That of being a firefighter assigned to the City of Providence heavy rescue company called: "Special Hazards 1" running out of fire headquarters.

 I recently met up with Dan and hearing his survival story is nothing short of a miracle. In fact Dan relates to it as what he considers to be similar to "The Miracle on the Hudson", when everyone survived a crash of a large airliner which landed on the Hudson River.

 When I met up with Dan, I was able to hear the actual fire ground radio transmission during Dan's entrapment (which can NOT be released at this time). I also saw photos taken after of the fire, the building, the amount of debris from the collapse etc. Photos of just what Dan, and that GREAT GROUP of firefighters faced trying to get him out from under the entire weight of that wood frame peaked roof.

 The amount of debris, the fact that the fire was burning below them (Dan was trapped on the second floor), above them, and in the walls on the sides of them, with zero visibility, as the clock kept ticking created much concern. Plus the fact that at this point, the building is unstable. 

 As a buff, and once a firefighter, this survival story is one that goes at the top of the list. At one point Dan was all alone with his leg pinned under the weight of this entire roof and debris. His radio that he had used earlier had been destroyed in the collapse and he had no way of calling for help. The fire was increasing in intensity and his left leg was being burned through his bunker pants. He was also running out of air. There was zero visibility from the smoke and high heat build up as the building was burning.

 During the 30 plus minutes, from the time the roof collapsed on him to the time he was rescued, if just one small link in the chain of events went wrong, Dan would not be here today.

 As I try to put my facts together to this Amazing Survival Story, I'll try add to this story from what Dan told me.

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Surviving a May Day
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2018, 08:56:44 AM »
 Providence, RI Firefighter Dan Rinaldi has taken the time to pass onto us "his story in his own words" which he wrote two days after this incident. He has given me permission to pass it onto the members of this site.

 Because of it's length, I will post it in separate parts. But I'm sure there is something here for EVERY Firefighter to learn from. To quote Dan, "EVERYTHING THAT COULD HAVE WENT WRONG - DID. BUT EVERYTHING THAT HAD TO GO RIGHT - DID AS WELL".

 Here is the first part of that email as told by Dan:

 QUOTE - On January 6, 2018 companies were dispatched to 106 Bowdin Street for a building fire with a report of someone trapped on the second floor. Upon arrival Firefighter Jay LaSalle and myself, headed to the fire in the building above referenced. When we evaluated the situation, it was fully involved. We determined that nobody could have survived.

 At that point, we decided we would search exposure 2 which was also heavily involved in fire. We forced the front door leading to the second floor and upon arrival , there was almost zero visibility, along with moderate heat conditions. We forced the apartment door open and felt a tremendous burst of heat. Due to the extreme heat and imminent danger of flashover I searched into the room approximately 5 feet to see if anyone had been attempting to make their way out.

 The search was negative so I then retreated to the hallway, shutting the apartment door behind me. I heard Engine 14 calling for water in the rear hallway and I asked for a hose line to be stretched to our location. I knew the one line in the rear was not going to be sufficient. While in the hallway, I asked LaSalle to see if there was a second door on the landing, thinking that may lead to a bedroom and we would be able to force that door and make a possible rescue.

 Firefighter LaSalle searched and determined that there was no second door. A few times while we were on the landing I periodically checked the apartment to see if Engine 14 was making any progress in the rear of the building. This would allow us to resume our search.

 At that point, I heard Engine 14 had to back out so we decided that we were going to withdraw from our position as well. As we were ready to leave, I told LaSalle that I had never checked the back side of the apartment door and had only swung it halfway open through my first search. I was concerned that a person may have fallen behind the door. I asked LaSalle to keep close to the staircase and extend out so as not to loose contact with me. If we had to retreat in a hurry we could not waste any time trying to find the stairs. LaSalle latched his hook to the top stair keeping his foot at the end of the handle which extended his body out to keep in constant contact with me. I put my halligan outside of the apartment door so I'd be able to search with one hand and swing with my Providence hook with the other once I got behind the door.

 As I finished my search of the entire area, there was a tremendous build up of heat. LaSalle and I went down the stairs. I left my halligan behind because it was so hot that there was no time to grab it.

 We slid down the stairs head first, then exited the building. Even with a hood on and laying flat on the floor, LaSalle received minor burns to both ears.

 Once outside, Lasalle and I decided to check the other houses for damage. First we went to Exposure 2-1 (house to the left), and realized that was starting to burn. We moved from that location as the master streams were getting us wet. It was only 7 degrees outside. We then walked down to exposure 4-1. It was a 3 story wooden frame with a walk out basement in the front, for a total of 4 stories.

 We forced the basement door on "side one", thinking that if we were to go in, it may be faster through the basement. We could then walk up the stairs as opposed to walking up the hill on the side of the house. There was a lot of debris, about a foot of snow, and a fence on that side.

 Getting to the rear stairs on side 2 was not a consideration, as the original fire building had collapsed into the area. We could see that the eves on the left side of the house were burning. I said to LaSalle; "my airpack is half full, the air supply truck is right here, lets get fresh bottles, because we're going to end up making a stand in this house. When the engine companies get here their bottles will only be half full. When they run out of air, we'll grab the hose line because we'll still have air.

 To be continued.



 
« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 09:06:46 AM by nfd2004 »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Surviving a May Day
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 08:53:45 AM »
 Continuing with Dan's Surviving A Mayday Story in "his own words":

  We replaced our air bottles. I then went to the Special Hazards truck and grabbed another halligan. We decided to try walking up side 4 to the rear of the building and were surprisingly able to do so with little trouble. Once we got there, Engine 8's crew was getting ready to advance a hose line to the second floor. The chief said to go with them and report back the conditions. As I proceeded, I noticed that my mask was frozen with ice. I decided that I would get to a warmer area inside of the house and let it melt. I could then put it back on, which I did at the top of the stairs. Engine 8 went to the left into the kitchen and I went to the right because I wanted to walk up to the third floor and see what the fire conditions were.

 There was no other flight of stairs going to the third floor, so I turned around to go with Engine 8. However, I noticed a small crack in the plaster on the landing on side two. At this time Special Hazards members Mahoney and Captain Hannon had joined up with us. I said to Mahoney, we need to open these walls because we have to protect the stairway in case we have to get out in a hurry. We opened the wall and all the bays had fire in them. Once opened, I asked Engine 8 to come out and knock down the fire.

 We then went into the kitchen and we planned to pull all the walls on side 2, and knock down any fire that may be in the walls. Then we would hopefully find the stairs that lead to the third floor. The smoke condition up to this point was moderate, and the heat condition was light to moderate. As soon as I went to put my halligan into the wall I heard a loud noise. I could feel what I thought was just the ceiling pushing down on me. I also felt big heavy chunks hitting me, which I thought were chunks of plaster. It spun me around and slammed me to the floor. At that moment, I heard the call for companies to evacute the building immediately.

 Still thinking it was only the ceiling pushing down on me, I decided to push myself out and exit the building, but realized both legs were pinned. I recognized this as an immediate Mayday situation. As I tried to transmit a Mayday, I was having trouble locating the key on my microphone. I immediately yelled to LaSalle to have him transmit the Mayday. I said: "Jay, you have to transmit a mayday for me. Tell them that "I'm on the second floor". "I'm trapped in a collapse and I can't get out".

 At that point, LaSalle transmitted the Mayday. I then relayed that he had to find Engine 8's handline because I was on fire. Jay found the handline and extinguished the fire all around me. He then handed me the handline so I can extinguish the areas where I was pinned that he could not reach. I then started digging my right foot out and removed what felt like bricks, which made no sense to me at that time. In hindsight, I realized that it wasn't chucks of plaster hitting me earlier, it was bricks. And one of those bricks smashed the key to my microphone.

 I then continued trying to free my leg and felt roofing shingles. This is when I realized that the entire top of the house, as well as the chimney, was on top of me. I was able to extricate my right leg, but the left leg was still totally pinned. There were two options. I could continue to fight and free my trapped leg, or lay back and use the proper breathing technique to conserve as much air as possible until the FAST company could reach me. I decided that regulating my breathing was my best option, as I knew that I would be unable to remove the massive amount of weight on top of me. As I was lying there, I started thinking of my other options in case it was too dangerous for the FAST company to enter the building. I knew that there was heavy fire in the building and there was also just a major collapse. I was thinking that it could be too dangerous to send a FAST company in to get me.

 I planned that once my air ran out, I was going to try and crack the nozzle of the hoseline I had and breathe any air that was coming out of the nozzle. My second plan was to hope for a secondary collapse that would free my leg. If I survived the collapse, I was going to try to get to side 3 of the building.

 To be continued;

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Surviving a May Day
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2018, 10:23:27 PM »
 Continuing with "Surviving a May Day":

  While waiting to be rescued, I listened for the sounds of an imminent collapse. I could then try to protect myself as best I could during the fall. At that time my low air alarm went off. LaSalle crawled to the back door of the apartment in hopes of directing the FAST company to my location. His low air air alarm had been going off for some time at this point.

  My last plan was to remain very calm. I knew that if the FAST company were able to make it to my location, if I were frantic and panicking, it would make it very hard for them to focus and formulate a plan to extricate me.

  The chief running the interior portion of the rescue was at the top of the stairs. He told LaSalle that he had to exit the building because he was low on air. LaSalle pointed in the direction of the room I was in and told the FAST company to follow the hose line in, because I was at the nozzle. Knowing that my integrated pass device was buried under me and would be hard to hear. I was also trying to sound the floor with my halligan in hopes they could hone in on the banging sound.

  The FAST company along with Lt F. Ramos, Firefighter Neil Chionchio, and Firefighter Steve Cirelli finally made their way to me. Chionchio said; "I have the RIT pack mask and there is air to the mask, what do you want to do" ? I told him that I would do a full mask swap. Then he said; "Give me your hand. I'll put the mask in it" (which I did). The mask I was wearing suck to my face, as I was out of air. I did a quick mask swap and was back on air with no interruption.

 Firefighter Mahoney was at my leg trying to figure out how to unpin it. It was a roof rafter across my leg, with the end that sits on the ledger board on top of my foot and the rest was running up my leg above the knee. It continued to rise with the portion that is usually attached to the ridge board, lying on top of the stove approximately five feet away from my head. This stove was the only thing that prevented a full pancake collapse in my area.

 Captain Hannon called for the 20 ton bottle jack and a 2 foot 4 x 4. The plan was to put the 4 x 4 across 2 of the rafters in the area away from my leg and push up on it with the bottle jack. That did not work because the rafters were at such a steep angle. When he started to push up with the bottle jack, the 4 x 4 would roll over. Mahoney then asked for the Hurst Edraulic spreaders. The ram and two sawzalls failed. Mahoney wanted to cut away some of the material to get the spreaders in place but both sawzalls failed. They had gotten wet due to the water that was still flowing from two hand lines because of the heavy fire conditions that still existed in the area.

 Mahoney then found a spot to place the spreaders that he thought may give the rafter enough lift. As he slowly lifted, I placed the 20 ton bottle jack across the 4 x 4, changing the angle hoping that if the spreaders slipped out, I may be able to capture the load with the jack.

 Firefighter Cirelli was behind me telling me that he had the shoulder straps to my air pack and he would pull me free as soon as I let him know the load was lifted off my leg. I told him that I was not sure if I would know if the load was off my leg because I had lost feeling in it. At this point Mahoney started the lift. I chased up the load with the bottle jack and felt my leg had been freed. I told Mahoney to stop. I did not want to move the failed building any more than necessary causing a secondary collapse. . I told Firefighter Cirelli that I thought my leg may be free and to pull me out slowly, which he did. He then lifted me to my feet with him supporting my left side with me walking with the right. We then all exited the building via the side 3 staircase.

 END of story as told by:
 Firefighter Dan Rinaldi
 Providence (R.I.) Fire Dept.
 Special Hazards Co 1

 

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Surviving a May Day
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2018, 06:01:34 PM »
 Well friends, not only did Providence Firefighter Dan Rinaldi survive a serious May Day in which he returned back to the job he loves so much. BUT he's right back to his old self again, doing what he does best. Besides fighting fires of course in Rhode Islands Capital City.

 Here Dan is a finalist in his specialty firehouse meal called: "Blazin' Blue Crab Chili".

 Here is the link to check it out.

 www.firehousechili.hormel.com/finalists    (just go down the page and click on the "Blazin' Blue Crab Chili - Providence, R.I."
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 06:03:40 PM by nfd2004 »

Offline nfd2004

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Re: Surviving a May Day
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2018, 06:55:49 PM »
Well friends, not only did Providence Firefighter Dan Rinaldi survive a serious May Day in which he returned back to the job he loves so much. BUT he's right back to his old self again, doing what he does best. Besides fighting fires of course in Rhode Islands Capital City.

 Here Dan is a finalist in his specialty firehouse meal called: "Blazin' Blue Crab Chili".

 Here is the link to check it out.

 www.firehousechili.hormel.com/finalists    (just go down the page and click on the "Blazin' Blue Crab Chili - Providence, R.I."

 Sorry, what I failed to mention was that the finals for this Chili Contest, which is "Open to the Public", will be held at 12:00 noon on Tuesday September 25th at the FDNY Fire Museum.

 

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