Mayday Monday: Are You Radio Ready?

This month we remember Lieutenant Nathan Flynn of Howard County (MD) Fire and Rescue. During the morning of July 18, 2018, the area was experiencing rain storms. A lightning strike caused a fire in a large, 7,500+ square foot house. Units arrived to find smoke coming from the house but no obvious location of the fire. As Nate and other firefighters began their operations, initial entry onto the main level of the house did not lead to the seat and they saw indications of the fire below them. Exiting the main level and preparing to enter the basement, the fire showed itself back upstairs.

Nate Flynn FF LODD

With Lieutenant Flynn on the pipe, the hoseline entered the first floor. Shortly after entry, Nate fell through the floor into a crawlspace with active fire. Within seconds, Nate issued a Mayday call, but on the wrong channel. At the same time, his officer transmitted a Mayday on the correct fireground channel. Rapid intervention crews went to work to locate and remove him but he would not survive.  he cause of death is listed as “prolong[ed] exposure to high temperature and thermal injuries.” Read more about this incident in these reports (NIOSH or Howard County internal) and listen to this month’s podcast below featuring retired Montgomery County Chief Chuck Ridgely.

This incident emphasizes the importance of our portable radios and communication on the fireground. The Internal Safety Review Board highlighted several key points in their report to include:

  • Units need to report their status and/or staffing.
  • Radio worn properly.
  • Emergency identifier needs to alert on a monitored channel.
  • Members on wrong channel/talkgroup.
Firefighter wearing radio

You will see that Nate had worn his radio under his turnout coat. How are you wearing yours? Do you use the radio pocket?  Are you using a radio strap but wearing it outside the coat? A report from Fairfax County (VA) Fire and Rescue shows the advantages of wearing the radio under the coat. You will find the report here (PDF, 3MB).

Mayday Monday: Entanglement on the Fireground

This month’s skill/drill is to practice donning your PPE to include your radio. Look at the Fairfax radio report for the proper steps and placement. Now go practice!

Tony Carroll is deputy chief of operations with the Louisa County (VA) Fire & EMS Department.  

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