Today’s Chicago Tribune includes a report by Trib reporter William Lee who draws our attention to the NIOSH report summary released earlier this month on the August 9th death of Chicago firefighter/paramedic Christopher Wheatley.
You may recall that Chris fell 53 feet to his death while using a fire escape ladder in ascending to the roof of a four-story West Loop building. He was wearing full turnout gear and carrying a 63- pound hand pump.
In a nutshell, the report summary says that, although Chris was directed to ascend to the roof via an aerial ladder, he instead opted to use the building's fire escape system.
Second-guessing Chris’ actions and decisions in this case will not help us to understand why he chose this route to the roof. We’ll never know, so let’s put that aside for a moment.
Rather, I found myself contemplating this thought: Given the same circumstances, what would I have done?
What would you have done?
Is it important to follow each fireground order to the letter, or should we have the latitude to act upon our instincts and experience to get the job done?
Take a look at the NIOSH summary report, it’s not that long and well worth your time. Then ask yourself just how probable it would be that you may have done the same thing. Next, discuss it with your crew. How do they feel about this: