Danger to life at an apartment fire

Category: International Firefighting Team of the Year

Fire department: Municipal HQ State Fire Service in Zielona Góra, Poland

Polska PL Polska

On Monday, 25 July 2016 at 9:45 p.m. a fire broke out in one of the apartments in Zielona Góra, at Ogrodowa road. The information about the fire was forwarded by an operator of the Emergency Communications Centre to the Municipal Control Centre of the State Fire Service in Zielona Góra. An inhabitant of the neighbouring building reported that he noticed smoke and fire getting out of an apartment on the second floor. Furthermore he reported that one person was standing on the balcony, calling for help, directly exposed to the flames.  

The first fire protection unit arrived at 9:50 p.m. It was quite difficult to reach the accident site. The fire fighters reached the place from Fabryczna road, using an internal road leading to the back of the building. At first, three companies arrived at the place: GBA 2,7/16/4,7; GCBA 8/42; SD-30 from JRG no. 1. 

When they had reached the site, the Coordinator of Rescue Operation investigated the scene of accident and noticed that there was an increasing fire in an apartment on the second floor of a multi-family building.

On the balcony there was a woman trapped by the flames. Due to the extremely high temperature of the fire, her clothes caught fire. During the operation, the Commander received the information about two other people in the burning apartment. The main mission was to evacuate these three people immediately. An immediate evacuation of the woman was carried out by using a mechanical ladder (SD-30). The State Fire Service rescuers gave qualified First Aid. 

Due to this situation and due to the necessity to take an immediate action to save the life oft he woman, safety rules which were usually applied in such situations, were not adhered. So the company rescued the woman without respiration protection and without an extinguishing line.

The Incident Commander decided that additional time required to build an extinguishing line and to put on respiratory protection could lead to the woman’s death. Due to personal efforts and experience of individual rescuers, the evacuation of the woman was quick and successful.

At the same time, a second company was introduced into the action. They had respiratory protection and an extinguishing line, so they could cross the staircase to evacuate the building. After preparing the extinguishing line on the mechanical ladder, the rescuers attacked the fire by opening a second jet of water. 

They found the two other people in the neighbouring rooms and evacuated them. Then they returned to the apartment and continued to fight the fire. The Commander ordered also to evacuate the inhabitants of the whole building. All injured persons got medical care. 

Furthermore he ordered the implementation of overpressure ventilation for the purpose of de-smoking the staircase and the apartment. After the operation was finished, the whole building was checked using a thermal imaging camera and a multi-gas detector.

In the meantime, additional forces and resources arrived at the incident site. Companies no. JRG2 from Zielona Góra (GBA 2,5/16/5 and GCBA 9/60) as well as the Volunteer Fire Service companies from Zielona Góra and units of the Volunteer Fire Service took part in the operation. The operational zones were not divided into sections.

The tasks were assigned in the following way:

Binomial team 1: Evacuation of the women on the balcony, using SD-30, later checking the extinguishing line using the mechanical ladder for offensive fire fighting attack.

Binomial team 2: Locating the fire, setting up an extinguishing line on the staircase and into the burning apartment, evacuation of victims from the apartment.

Binomial team 3: Evacuation of victims from the building.

Binomial team 4: Preparing first aid stations and providing first aid.