Three fire fighters injured after wall collapse in Johannesburg
A fire broke out at a panel beater on Wednesday, 23 December 2020, in Jeppe, Johannesburg. The owner of the panel beater was reported to be severely burnt and there were two more men trapped in the building. Fire Ops SA and City of Johannesburg Emergency Services (CoJEMS) attended the incident, which unfortunately injured three Fire Ops SA fire fighters after a wall collapsed on them. We received the following report from Fire Ops SA CEO, Wynand Engelbrecht. “Fire Ops received the call at 21h50 and the first response crew was in attendance at 21h57. On arrival it was reported by the incident commander (IC) that the structure, measuring approximately 30 metres x 12 metres and seven metres at the apex, was well alight, self-venting. It was a steel structure, IBR covered over two-metre dwarf walls, one man door to café in the Alpha/Delta corner and a roller shutter door (in the open position) in the Alpha façade. Site assessment was limited to Alpha side and Delta side as Bravo and Charlie were compromised by adjacent properties; there was no rear exit door or fire escape apparent. The owner self-extricated, was seriously injured and attended to by a private EMS company. The owner confirmed two of his employees were still in the structure. It transpired the café was robbed by a number of men who, when they were not satisfied with the loot, dropped a petrol bomb in the café and sped off. These two elements, robbery and the arson attack, rendered the scene to qualify as a crime scene. The fact that the three fire fighters were seriously injured (with at least one teetering on the edge of serious further medical consequences, one would expect there would be senior police involvement but that was not to be”.
“The IC determined an internal attack was the best way of getting into the building with water support, while they would be conducting primary search. The second and third apparatus arrived almost at the moment of the collapse; these crews would have assisted in the primary search. The time-line between first arriving apparatus (UHP Pyro) and the second arrival was four minutes,” added Engelbrecht.
“Just as the crew approached the man door, sweeping the entrance with the approach line, the gable collapsed over them, trapping and injuring three members. The second and third arriving crews extricated the men; private EMS companies started trauma-medical treatment without any delay. The three men were transported from the scene within 30 minutes of the collapse taking place.”
“The Fire Ops IC duly handed over to CoJEMS regarding the strong suspicion there were still two men trapped in the building. Fire Ops withdrew from the scene when the three members were removed and transported to the various hospitals.”
“At the time of this compilation all three members have been dismissed from hospital; they should be back at work if all goes well, around end April to middle May 2020.”
“Fire Ops SA works to very precise SOPs. Our members were all fully protected using the best available PPE. Our operations- and fire-ground communication is of the highest standard. Fire Ops management is completely satisfied the incident was dealt with in accordance with its prescripts and policies. The incident was duly photographed and the dash-cam material showing the precise moment of the collapse was preserved for reference during any future investigations.”
“Had Fire Ops SA been on the scene for long enough, water provision may have become a challenge. The philosophy of transitional fire fighting allows for an initial internal attack using UHP ie 80 BAR to 200 BAR. Fire Ops SA is able to maintain an operation utilising UHP on two lines for approximately 45 minutes, utilising its own support units, without being dependent on outside assistance or municipal water supplies.”
Source: Wynand Engelbrecht, CEO, Fire Ops SA