Lessons Learned from Virginia Near Miss

Lessons Learned from Virginia Near Miss

On May 25, 2008, seven Loudon County (VA) Fire and Rescue Department personnel were injured – four firefighters nearly died in the line-of-duty and three others suffered injuries while battling a 2-alarm house fire on Meadowood Court in Leesburg. Following the fire, two extensive examinations of fire operations in Loudon County occurred, to include a DOLI review and citation.

As a result, many improvements in the county’s system have been adopted, including minimum training standards and implementing numerous procedural policies and practices to address safety and effectiveness during operations.

Additionally, the department worked with the Board of Supervisors, County Administration and Budget staff this year to approve a four-person engine for the first time. “This is the number one recommendation from our Meadowood report and, along with moving us toward adoption of NFPA 1710, remains my highest operational priority for FY 2019 and beyond,” said Chief Keith Brower.

As Chief Brower recalled that day nine years ago, he encouraged all firefighters to review the Meadowood report, drill on Mayday practices and visit some target hazards in your first due.

“I would ask that you say a prayer of thanks for the successful evacuation of Micah, Brandy, Jackson and John, as well as all those who responded, commanded, investigated and were affected by this significant incident,” he said. “Please remember also that we have had six LODDs in the US just this week, to include a brother in Virginia.”

Chief Brower also encouraged others to pause for a personal reflection on the dangers they frequently encounter. He also remarked that practicing situational awareness and becoming personal advocates for safety must be priorities for all fire and rescue personnel.

“We are reminded of the many dangers we face every day- thermal assault, physical assault, roadway accidents and even now exposure to Fentanyl while treating patients. We are also at risk from the development industry groups at the state level who seem to want fewer and fewer regulations which place dollars above our safety and the safety of our public,” he said.

Chief Brower’s appreciation for all first responders runs deep and his message about safety, training and effectiveness is heartfelt. “As always thanks to each and every one for the tremendous job you do. Please be safe and remember: everyone goes home.”