- Do not wear extra crap on your mask. The strap I had on it that held the hood open was just for convenience, it wasn't needed and it was extra while the mask was being used as it was intended.
- Control the door. I opened the door inside and it was like someone pushed it open. The pressure had built up inside and I just let it swing wide. I should have kept control and used it as a shield for our hose line. Or closed it again until we had the garage open and a ventilation fan in place.
- Know how you came in, so you can get out. Don came in able to see. He didn't pay a lot of attention to the fact that we looped around at first trying to find the fire. When he needed to get out fast, he had to follow the hose that was in loops. He wasn't fully aware that the exit was to our left and rear. Even if you can see as you enter, count your turns and treat it like a blind search in a dark building. Know how to get out!
- Stay together! If you come in as a team, go out as a team. When Don ran low on air, all three of us should have left together. Had Don been lost and not just turned around, we might not have known it since he was alone. What if he had gone down the hallway instead of looping around back to where we were?
- Watch the smoke. We were fooled when we entered the house. The smoke was light inside, so the fire had to be small right? WRONG! We saw heavy smoke outside. Light smoke could mean a small fire, or it could mean that the smoke is contained and you are not seeing it all. But heavy smoke will never mean there is a small fire! We should have known that with the heavy smoke we saw on arrival, there was a heavy fire somewhere. We should have been ready.
- Sometimes it's OK to be lucky instead of being good. Don ran low on air soon enough so that even though he got turned around and had to be led out by the Lt., they made it through the living room before the collapse. I almost moved the hose line when I was inside alone. I considered backing into the living room, the future collapse zone. I was lucky I didn't. If my low air alarm had gone of just a few seconds sooner, I would have been on my way out and in the living room when the roof collapsed. Lucky. Since I couldn't see, I noticed as the Captain climbed over me he was moving to my right to get out. I followed to the right and found the window just a few seconds behind them. Lucky again.
- Chicks may did scars, but my wife doesn't. At least she didn't think my little burns were cool. And it's hard to convince them that it was no big deal when they sent you home.
- Hearing your officer, the veteran firefighter, the guy who has been there and done that screaming into the radio "We're burning up! Get us some help in here!" should be a sign that maybe this isn't the place to be right now. Just perhaps you should reposition a bit until that help arrives.
That's really the thing about life too. Learn as you go. It's alright to make mistakes, if your doing the best that you can. Just try not to make the same mistakes again.