Amazing Video: Helmet Cam Videos House Fire in Cedar Rapids, Iowa From Response to Extinguishment

Cedar Rapids firefighters battle a house fire on December 8, 2010. This video recorded by helmet camera shows everything from response, to roof vent, to search, to extinguishment.

Apparently, the Cedar Rapids Fire Department has loaded this on youtube and will be using this as a training video.

I would like to offer a partial critique…below the video.

Visit the Cedar Rapids Fire Department here

The press release has been added to the bottom. Once again, thanks to Dave Statter for the hookup on the press release. has now posted the video with a little more information from the PIO.

I understand that my department and my way might be different than the Cedar Rapids FD way of doing things. Potentially, some of my comments might be wrongly identified and maybe even debunked by Cedar Rapids guys. I welcome that!

As for the overall ability of the firefighter we follow from his POV (point of view) I will say that he does a pretty decent job. He communicates well and gets the roof vented. He comes off the ladder, does a 360 degree walk around and radios what he finds. He then cuts off the gas. Next he ladders the roof, and gets tools and a roof ladder. Another firefighter joins him to do a quick vertical vent. Great job.

One question…who did the search? The news reported that a neighbor rescued one occupant. Maybe they already confirmed it was unoccupied when they got there. Do we still do a search?

The fire was started by the car in the garage/carport. Firefighters probably did not know that going into this. It might have helped to knockdown the fire from the outside first. After all, it took 5 minutes after the ladder arrived to get the hose in the door. At the 12 minute mark, most of the fire was still rolling. Maybe the bulk of the fire was outside of the living space of the house.

In comparison to my FD, I really think that the bulk of the fire would have been out by the time these guys got the hose inside (armchair quarterbacking). What gives you might ask? That is easy…Fire Department culture, experience, knowledge, manpower, SOP’s, and a lot of other variables. Translated…these guys might have done a perfect job under the operational culture of their fire department.

Either way, this is a very impressive look at firefighting from the first person POV!

In the end, I don’t think any firefighters got hurt. Hopefully, firefighters will be able to identify areas to improve on. We should do that after all the calls we run.

Here is news coverage:

Neighbor Helps Resident from Fire at 430 20th Street NW
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – December 8, 2010 – Roberta Ackman, age 80, arrived home from the grocery store and pulled her 1998 Buick Regal into the attached one-stall garage of her single-story residence. As she was unloading groceries, smoke started coming from the engine compartment of the vehicle. The smoke soon turned to flames and started to involve the entire garage with fire.

A neighbor, Paul Michelson, age 47, witnessed smoke pouring from the nearby garage and assisted Ackman out of the garage to safety. The fire was reported at 4:34 p.m. to 911.

As firefighters arrived on scene, the entire attached garage was involved with fire and the fire had spread into the adjacent living room and kitchen area of the house. Fire crews made entry through the front door of the residence and pushed fire back to the north side of the structure that was already involved with fire. Firefighters were able to create an effective ventilation hole in the roof that contained fire damage to one half of the structure. There was major fire, heat and

smoke damage to the one half of the house, but the other side of the house, which includes three bedrooms and a bathroom, sustained only light smoke damage.

An investigation by the Fire Department verified that the fire originated in the vehicle in the garage. The exact cause will likely not be determined due to the fact that the vehicle is totally destroyed.

The house is owned by Roberta Ackman and Diane Ackman, age 51. Diane Ackman was not home at the time of the fire. The occupants are being assisted by the American Red Cross. Both occupants are displaced due to the extensive damage.

No further information available at this time.