After the Fire Podcast – Episode 4

After the Fire Podcast

November 15, 1984
Confined Space Rescue and Toluene Tank Explosion
Phoenix, Arizona

Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives 1, 3, 4, and 9

Ricky Pearce The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), in collaboration with, LLC, announces Episode 4, Part II of After the Fire Podcast: The 1984 Toluene Explosion and line-of-duty death of Phoenix Fire Department Engineer Ricky Pearce.

Surprise Fire-Medical Fire Chief Tom Abbott, and Retired Phoenix Fire Department Fire Chief Ron Jamison, recount modern “Toluene Tank” incidents such as the 2019 lithium-ion battery plant explosion and other unknowns like refrigerated carbon dioxide systems in restaurants, battery charging stations in residential garages, and clandestine grow houses and drug labs. How have the fire industry and fire code evolved to meet the technological advancements of today and beyond?

The Captain of Ricky’s crew that fateful day in 1984, Retired Phoenix Fire Department’s Fire Captain Tom Bates, discusses the positive changes implemented by the Phoenix Fire Department following Engineer Pearce’s 1984 LODD. Ricky’s son and current Phoenix Fire Department Captain Chris Pearce continues that discussion by outlining where Phoenix Fire Department is today because of his father’s ultimate sacrifice and the effort of past and present Phoenix Fire Department firefighters. This is an inspiring episode giving textbook examples of how tragedy can result in a cascade of industry-wide positive changes.

From the host, Jon Nelson: “In Episode 4, we discuss the 1984 toluene tank explosion that resulted in the line-of-duty death of Phoenix Fire Department’s HazMat Engineer Ricky Pearce. We honor his contribution to industry-wide change, and we explore how Phoenix and firefighting as a whole evolved from this unfortunate event.

Joining us is over 150 years of firefighting experience: Captain Tom Bates (Ricky’s Captain that day), Captain Chris Pearce (Ricky’s son and current Phoenix Fire Department Captain), Retired Phoenix Assistant Chief Ron Jamison, Surprise, Arizona Fire Chief Tom Abbott, and the NFFF’s own, Chief John Tippett. Probably our most intimate perspective of an incident to date. Not to be missed!”

The mission of the After the Fire Podcast ( is to reduce the number of preventable fireground fatalities by learning from the unintended outcomes of firefighter line-of-duty deaths and near misses, through intimate conversations with those connected to the incidents and subject matter experts. After the Fire Podcast is geared toward professional and aspiring firefighters and their families. The podcasts are suitable for all ages.

Episode 4 has reached thousands of listeners via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube to date.

» Download the Episode 4 Transcript «

Episode Bonus Materials: