Saturday, February 19, 2011

Death of a firefighter

Regardless of whatever political problems I have with the firefighters' union in Davis, I am fully cognizant of the fact that when they have to enter a burning building or they face a raging wildfire, theirs is a very dangerous job which takes a great amount of training and courage.

Today in Los Angeles, a firefighter who was 2 years from his scheduled retirement died in the line of duty:

A Los Angeles firefighter died Friday from injuries he sustained when a ceiling collapsed on him in a house fire late Wednesday night in the Hollywood Hills.

"I don't think any of us as firefighters would expect such a catastrophic failure of ceiling," city Fire Chief Millage Peaks said after announcing the death of Glenn Allen, 61, an L.A. firefighter for more than 36 years.

Allen, who was less than two years from retirement, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His first grandchild is expected to be born Saturday.

When Allen and dozens of other firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire was blazing across the attic of a house in the 1500 block of North Viewsite Drive.

Running through the attic were plastic pipes for fire sprinklers. The fire melted the pipes, flooding the attic and filling the insulation with water, Peaks said. The weight of the insulation appears to have led a large section of the ceiling to collapse, injuring Allen and five other firefighters.

One of the firefighters was still hospitalized Friday with a broken ankle, but the others had been treated and released, Peaks said.

When the ceiling collapsed, Allen was covered with debris. Rescuers used a chainsaw to reach him. When they found him, he was not breathing and his heart had stopped.

The newly built three-story house was 12,500 square feet, according to Peaks. The Fire Department was continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze on Friday. But officials said it seemed to have started around a fireplace, then raced up the walls to the attic and spread. A couple who had been sleeping upstairs escaped without injury.

My sincerest condolences go out to Mr. Allen's loved ones.

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