Four firefighters were killed today while battling a five alarm blaze at a hotel/restaurant/nightclub in SW Houston TX today. An additional 13 firefighters were transported to the hospital according to the Houston Chronicle. A HFD spokesperson told news media that the four fallen firefighters were killed when a portion of the roof and a wall collapsed on them.
Capt. Matthew Renaud, 35 and FF Robert Bebee, 41 both from Sta. #51 were identified as two of the fallen as were FF Robert Garner, 29 and FF Anne Sullivan, 24 both from sta. #68.
Shit. I hate this shit. I hate it so much that I rarely write about it. I hated thinking about being lost/entrapped, I hated planning for it and I hated training for it. (Though I did all of the above) There was some part of me that knew, despite all of the training, planning and experience that the same fate could befall me. Or worse yet, to some of the people under my command. I hate reading about it, watching videos on it and writing about it.
Every once in a while, an event occurs which fills up my hate bank, forcing me to vent, creating space for me to continue bottling up my ire when the next tragedy occurs. This is one of those events.
I cannot imagine the trauma that has befallen the families of the four that were lost, their friends or their brothers and sisters on the HFD. I know how crappy I feel about it and I have no deep connection with the fallen, other than being of the same profession and of the same tribe of humanity.
A cloud of unimaginable sorrow has descended upon those involved, one that will get darker before people begin to heal. The event will be investigated, reports will be written causes, and contributing factors will be identified. Some remedial actions will be taken, to "keep this from ever happening again".
Though I know absolutely nothing, about what happened today in Houston, I can guess that the report will have a section on communications and how this happened and that happened, causing poor comms between this person and that person.
There will also probably be a section on situational awareness and one on policies and procedures not being adhered to. Effective command and control is a likely target as is pre-planning and knowledge of the building.
How do I know that these will be some of the issues addressed in the final report? Because they usually are.
And yet, sooner or later (sadly probably sooner) a similar tragedy will occur and the process will start all over again.
The scabs that have formed on the people left behind from today's horrendous events will be picked and the blood will flow again, adding to the carnage that the new event has caused.
My ire will surface anew.
To those who remain, my deepest sympathy. Any words that I can express are nothing compared to the pain that you must feel. Just know that my thoughts are with you, and I pray for your recovery.