GRABS Podcast: Grant Schwalbe and Justin McWilliams bringing you the stories of the victim rescues being made all over the country.
Pearland FD, TX
Nov 17, 2007
Column Showing-2 story
Large victim, face down
Difficulty Dragging Victim-lifting over step
Using body to shield victim from fire
Handed off first victim and completed search (Falsely reported a second victim)
6-7 min arrival to victim out
Fort Myers, FL
No info via 911, on arrival told mom was inside
Engine Based Search
4 man engine-officer went ahead of the line
Well trained crew and dialed in with skills
Quick Grab <3 min
Head first drag
Fort Myers, FL
On way to medical and diverted. Dress on the way.
2 bedroom small house (under 1000SF)
Cops inside trying to help (they find one baby)
Lots of clothes and clutter (hiding victim)
Multiple Victims-Kid under the mom
Took kid first and came back for mom
Take out the easiest grab first (take the sure thing)
Pass the victim off if you can. Search team finishes search if possible
Search with your hands
<5 min until victim out
**To record a Grabs Podcast text Grant at 239-898-0843 or
January 28, 2021
BC Curt Isakson, LT Daniel Mills, FF Jeff Fangman (L12)
955 Disp, 1002 Vict Found, 1004 Victim out
1st 2 rigs out training
Quick Arrival, Fire Showing
L12 assigned VES
Tall Windows, Cluttered Room, Door blocked
*Come off mask up if you’re assigned search and go right to work.
*Send a line to VES points to protect FF’s if needed. Especially if you’re down wind from the fire.
56-Anonymous FD, IN
Jan 19, 2013
3 blocks from station
Nothing/Light smoke showing
Zero viz inside
Confirmed victim inside-son said one of 2 rooms.
She moaned when touched.
300 lb victim
Girth hitch with webbing
7 min to locate victim, 1 min to extricate
Richton Park FD, Illinois
Single Family Home with smoke showing
PD and bystanders report victim inside sub grade
Daughter (Walking) and Mother Bed ridden
Both Victims Large
Use of additional companies and stokes basket.
Sacramento Metro Fire
Dec 26, 2020
1 story single family home 1200’
Known Victim BC Bedroom
Hindered access alpha side
Brittle Glass-Room lit off after taking window-Knocked down quickly with hose line.
Lots of clutter
Victim could be heard
Tight path for victim removal
Inaction from first arriving companies
2 story townhouse
Christmas Tree Fire
Dad makes it to kids room-overcome by smoke falls out window
18 month old and 5 year old
August 15, 2020
12’ by 50’ Mobile Home
Victim Reported by Neighbor
Victim found on bed
Easy to loose awareness during victim removal
Looking for second victim (That wasn’t inside)
Chief Car set up for worst case scenario-to go in.
51-Sarasota County, FL
Confirmed victim in upstairs bedroom
Patio with doors to bedroom
110 lbs victim
Dual Ground Ladders-Removal
Guests: Lt. Brian Gregory, Driver Hank Tiller, and Firefighter Clint Carey
Date of rescue: 5.23.20
Dept: NE Georgia FD (metro Atlanta)...guys wish to keep the dept anonymous
Single family dwelling (split entry/bi-level)
December 9th, 2020
New Tazewell, TN (South Claiborne Vol FD)
Chris, Nicole and son Eli (7 years old)
Came in as AFA (Multiple Heat detectorsO
No additional calls, no reports of people inside
Screen door and deadbolt locked
Conditions/Heat/Visability got worse once after water was applied (exterior)
Leg drag (120lbs)
Passed off victim to complete search
Searching with hands, not a tool
New rig (with clean cab) If it happens practice it.
Multiple Ignition Points
Clothes ripped off
Victim was hanging (attempted suicide)
East Metro (CO) Fire Department
Apartment complex (center hallway)
Multiple rescues (one primarily discussed in this episode)
Fitness and skill levels were off the charts of the firefighters involved
Fit to Fight Fire website
Fit to Fight Fire Podcast Episode 64 - Your Finest Hour, a roundtable discussion with Tom Johnson, Dan DeJesus, Jack Thompson, and Hunter Hackbarth of this same rescue from multiple different perspectives
Keith Chapman, Escambia County, FL (Panhandle)
Post Hurricane Conditions-East Lake FD assisting as Strike Team Engine.
1200 Sq ft house
Heavy Smoke and Fire Showing, Door Open, Occupant still on phone with 911
Quick out the door time-Pulse point as the cheat
Fire on the Stove, Semi Hoarding Conditions
Being able to search ahead of the attack line (2 engines arrived together).
Officer leads the way out but cut off from fire-window removal.
3 Story Apartment Building Fire
Searching ahead of the hose for visibility.
Searching with a can
Listen for victim coughing
Dragging without being able to duckwalk (heat-stay low)
Passing off a victim
Knowing the layouts of your buildings. Undress it from the outside.
September 13, 2020
Post removal care-consider Hydrogen Cyanide Poisoning,
LODD-Richard Sheltra (April 30, 2016). Edwin Watts Golf Store Fire
www.firesmoke.org (Fire Smoke Coalition)
Mike Gerin 980-333-3446
January 1, 2018
5 Story Senior Apartment Complex
Came in as Automatic Alarm
Nothing Showing Upon Arrival…don’t be complacent
2 minute response time
Be familiar with all riding assignments
Be good with the basics (like making up). It will allow you to buy back time for mistakes or hiccups.
Get low don’t stand
Shut up and listen….Gary heard coughing
Assisting a victim out.
Time from arrival to victim out was 2 minutes
Belleville, IL 8/23/2020
This story highlights the importance of knowing your first due, coordination between the triangle offense (search, attack, and vent), and closed doors buying time for victims.
Porter Fire Department, Texas 6/28/2018
JD Fisher (Lt)
Apartment Fire 2 story (first floor garage)
800 SF Apartment
2 different departments (Auto Aid) Communication problems on radio and inside.
2 on FA, 2 on Search Split apartment
Zero Visabiity, No heat
Walked into Victim in main area of apartment after searching bedrooms (line stretched over victim)
350 lbs victim
Slick-Hard to Grip, Minimal Clothing
Head first drag
4 minutes to find her and 4 minutes from finding her to removal
Savanna, Ga 12/15/2019
Acting Officer and Acting Engineer
Heavy Fire on Alpha Side
Victims Reported on Dispatch and Bystanders
Head First Removal
6 minute Removal
Delayed backup-Functioning on scene by themselves for a while.
Dispatched as trapped victims, on scene reports were vacant
Hasty Engine based search
Searching behind doors
Get low-Life Fire and Layout
Initial reports of victim trapped on Floor 2, confirmed by bystanders.
Searching with hands not tools
Handing off the victim and finishing the search.
Victim removal 3:20 after arrival.
Single unit response to automatic fire alarm.
Engine company grab considerations,
Different entry points-doors open to different parts of the house.
Girth hitch with webbing for removal.
Time from arrival to en route to hospital 7 min.
2 in 2 out discussion
What to do while you wait-counting doors getting a look.
Finishing the search if the grab is easy or you can pass off the victim.
Grant Schwalbe 239-898-0843
Justin McWilliams 503-729-2734
Justin speaks with Dustin Sinclair about a grab made in the rural department of Erin, Tennessee.
Grant speaks with Josh Scott of Sault Ste. Marie Canada about a Grab they has in June of 2019.
Nick Ledin talks with Dave Werner about a grab made in Duluth, MN on February 14, 2017.
Grant speaks with Rodney Hewitt Jr from Snohomish County WA about a grab made on April 19, 2020
Grabs 10 Alex Smith Hickory Fire Department (North Carolina) joins Grant to talk about a grab made on July 16, 2017.
Justin talks with Dan Dubbs with Baltimore County Fire.
Grant speaks with Paul Capo about a grab he had in Clearwater, FL in 2010.
Justin talks with Clay McGee from Birmingham, AL.
Justin McWilliams talks with Hale Fitzgerald from South Portland about a grab on October 31, 2018.
Grant is joined by David Mellen to talk about a victim grab in 2014 in the small town of Tonganoxie, KS.
Grant talks with Paul George about an interesting grab in Hillsborough County, FL.
Grant talks with Nate Carn from Deland, FL about a grab made in June 2019.
Grant gets the rundown from Captain DJ Stone on a VES rescue in Fort Walton Beach, FL..
Grant and Justin discuss a grab of a young man by Justin’s rescue company in Clackamas, OR.