Helmet cam shows rooftop fire strategy


Firefighters were pushed to their limits in Fresno on Memorial Day. Fresno’s fire department stopped responding to medical calls for more than four hours this afternoon because firefighters were tied up battling multiple fires. From apartment fires to brush fires Fresno firefighters were so busy and impacted by the heat they needed Clovis fire crews to help cover the city. We have helmet cam video from a firefighter as he arrived at one of those fires.

As Fresno firefighters rushed to a burning apartment building in west Fresno near Marks and Dakota people near the fire were scrambling to evacuate.

“We came right away over to this place to knock on everybody’s doors to get everyone out,” said Pablo Torres, who was working nearby. 

From the view of a firefighter’s helmet cam the crew makes the dangerous journey up a ladder and onto the roof of the burning apartment building.

“Truck 9 was the first truck to get there and was assigned to ventilate the roof,” said Fresno Fire Department Deputy Chief Todd Tuggle.

Using a tool to test the stability of the roof the firefighters make their way over the top of one of the burning apartments, then it’s time to cut open the roof.
“Their job is to ventilate that roof. Put a hole in the roof to help stop the spread of the fire as well as relieve the heat,” said Deputy Chief Tuggle.

As the roof is cut smoke and even fire appear. The rooftop crews must move back.

With the smoke and fuel for the fire now exiting the rooftop through ventilation provided by the “Truck 9” crew fire crews working from engines on the ground can now aggressively attack the fire.  

“This is a very dangerous profession. We’ve seen that particularly in the last year, or so and especially with truck operations where we are working above the fire. So it is essential that our folks maintain that mental acuity,” said Deputy Chief Tuggle.

Firefighters took on the pressure of this profession in 90 degree temperatures trying to stay hydrated and this is just a fraction of what they dealt with on Memorial Day.

Fresno continues to be one of the busiest cities in the Valley for fires. 19 fire academy graduates will soon join Fresno fire stations and fire officials hope to add another 12 firefighters by the end of the year.

33 people were displaced by that apartment fire near Marks and Dakota. The Red Cross is offering assistance to anyone who may need it.  

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