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Episode 25: A firefighter’s situational awareness lessons from a mayday call.

John DantuonoOn this episode, I interview Firefighter John Dantuono of the Lakeside (New York) Fire Department. Lakeside is located west of Syracuse. The all-volunteer fire department serves a population of about 15,000. Listen in as John discusses how he responded to a mutual aid residential dwelling fire and fell through a weakened floor. As he notes, the only thing that kept him from falling all the way through was his SCBA.

Length: 45 minutes
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Click the “Continue Reading” link below to access the show notes.

Situational Awareness Matters RadioThe house that was on fire was a vacant, dilapidated structure with a fire on the second floor. John was part of a crew that was looking for fire extension on the second floor of this large farm-style house. While on the second floor, John separated from his partner – by his estimates – approximately 20 feet or so, and entered a room where the floor was weakened – not from fire, but from rot. With no warning, John fell through the floor and was caught by his SCBA bottle. This resulted in a Mayday and John’s successful rescue. During this interview, John will share some valuable lessons learned, including:

  • The importance of not being complacent and letting your guard down. Simply because you are in an environment that does not contain a lot of smoke and fire, doesn’t mean you are not in danger.
  • John recalls hearing someone announce the structure was in poor condition and the floors had been compromised – yet he still fell through a weakened spot.
  • At the time, the department did not have a mayday policy and firefighters were not trained to a standardized mayday procedure.
  • Typically a Rapid Intervention Team is identified by the dispatcher at the start of the call. John does not recall a specific department or company being names RIT for this incident, even though there were over 40 firefighters on the scene.

The mission of Situational Awareness Matters is simple: Help first responders see the bad things coming… in time to prevent bad outcomes.

Safety begins with SA! 

Share your comments on this article in the “Leave a Reply” box below. If you want to send me incident pictures, videos or have an idea you’d like me to research and write about, contact me. I really enjoy getting feedback and supportive messages from fellow first responders. It gives me the energy to work harder for you.



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