Federal agencies Injury prevention Fire/emergency medical services

Fighting row house fires: NIOSH video spotlights challenges and tactics


Photo: NIOSH

Washington — A new video from NIOSH is intended to help firefighters stay safe when responding to fires at row houses.

In the video, developed by the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, experts from the agency and various municipal fire departments outline tactics tailored to the specific features of row houses – dwellings connected by shared sidewalls that form a single building.

Daniel Troxell, a captain in the Washington D.C. Fire Department, says that not only are row house fires the most common fires his department encounters, they’re also the most dangerous. “Fire spreads quickly; it’s unpredictable. You have to deploy units to cover multiple areas in the building to ensure the fire doesn’t extend, the fire doesn’t overwhelm and trap other firefighters operating in the building.

“Because in any given situation, you have firefighters operating on multiple levels in the building all doing different jobs, and if you don’t deploy them correctly and everyone doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do, things can go bad really quickly.”

The video complements a poster and fact sheet NIOSH released in 2020.

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