Never Trust a Truss


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Bad Week For Our Safety Stand Down

Unfortunately my first firefighting related post has to be about tragedy, however the dangers of our job are there everyday. As the nation mourns the death of 10 firefighters in one week, the fire industry can only look at it in shock. With an average of 100 firefighters honorably being laid to rest each year, it was pretty hard to take in such a large number of deaths in such a short period of time. Not only so many firefighters died in one week, but it was “Safety Stand-Down Week”! A week that is supposed to be dedicated to practicing safety (17th-23rd) and to reflect on the dangers of the job so that incidents such as the one in Charlestown and FDNY never happen again.

As I read the article by Bobby Halton in Fire Engineering Magazine the month prior regarding the need to practice safety stand-down week, I can only imagine his reaction when news came out of the deaths of our nine brothers in South Carolina and brother in the FDNY. Although every death of one of our brothers is a very tragic event, these ten deaths are especially tragic. The FDNY firefighter, Daniel F. Pujdak, a member of Truck 146 of Brooklyn died when he fell four stories when preliminary reports state that he lost his footing when going over a parapet (large structure at the edge of the roof line, usually found on commercial structures for decoration). While the nine members of the Charlestown, SC Fire Department died of what preliminary reports are stating was a failure of the light weight construction of the building.

Every day it is getting more and more dangerous with fires burning hotter due to the use of synthetic materials that put off more BTUs coupled with the combination of cheaper building using light weight construction, mainly the truss.The Davis Firefighting Family Charlston, SC firefighters battled their commercial fire in a light-weight truss constructed commercial structure that failed in just 30 minutes! I know many brothers can remember back in the 1970s battling fires for hours in structures due to their solid heavy construction, however those days are over. I can only see our industry going towards fighting fires from the outside as long as there is no life hazard. It is just too dangers anymore, so as safety stand down week passes hopefully we have gotten a real good idea of the dangers of our job and just how dangerous it is fighting fires in light weight construction as well as what we interpret as just easily getting off a ladder. Hopefully these very tragic incidents will show us just how important is is to look at safety.

I can not say all was tragic this week, seeing my cousin graduating probie school! My cousin will join myself on Engine 33-12 and continue our family tradition of firefighting. As the lead instructor said at the ceremony, “Welcome to the greatest profession on earth” and this is by far still true. I just hope my brothers have a safe stand-down week and continue to stay safe. Remember: “Never Trust a Truss!”

My condolences go out to our ten brothers who have so tragically passed this past week:

Bill HutchensonCapt. William “Billy” Hutcheson, Age 48 (Charleston, SC) Mike BenekeCapt. Mike Benke, Age 49 (Charleston, SC) Louis MulkeyCapt. Louis Mulkey, Age 34 (Charleston, SC)
Mike FrenchAssistant Engineer Michael French, Age 27 (Charleston, SC) Melvin ChampaignFirefighter Melvin Champaign, Age 46 (Charleston, SC) Mark KelseyEngineer Mark Kelsey, Age 40 (Charleston, SC)
Brandon ThompsonFirefighter Brandon Thompson, Age 27 (Charleston, SC) James DryatonFirefighter James Earl Drayton, Age 56 (Charleston, SC) Brad BaitlyEngineer Bradford “Brad” Baity (Charleston, SC)

Daniel Pujdak

Daniel Pujdak, Age 23 (FDNY/ NYC, NY)

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