Remembering April 4,2008: Colerain Ohio Residence, 2 Firefighter Fatalities from Fall Through Unprotected Floor Joists


On Friday, April 4, 2008, almost four years ago today, Captain Robin Broxterman, 37-years-old, a 17-year veteran career firefighter and paramedic, and Firefighter Brian Schira, 29-years-old, a six-month probationary, part-time firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician with Colerain Fire & EMS died after the floor they were operating on (figure 5) collapsed at a residential structure fire. To view the full report, click on the pdf link below.

House Conventionally Framed

The structure at 5708 Squirrelsnest Lane was an approximate 2,046-square-foot (main two floors), two-story, single-family home located in the Squirrelsnest Subdivision in the Dunlap area of the township. The structure was constructed in 1991, in a conventional style; it was of traditional wood frame and brick veneer construction, a gable roof with composition shingles, and a poured foundation with a finished walkout basement. The main level (first-floor) flooring system was comprised of 2-inch by 10-inch wood joist constructed 16-inches on center with ¾-inch oriented strand board as the sub-floor. The structure was heated and cooled by means of natural gas and electricity. According to the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office, the origin and cause of the incident was classified as accidental, with the official cause listed as an electrical short in a fan that originated in the basement near a converted cedar wood lined closet used to cultivate orchids.

Official Record of the Incident

At 06:27:21, Car 2508 arrived on scene and reported to Command for assignment. Car 2508 was assigned as the rear sector officer and proceeded to the rear side of the structure. At 06:31:58, the rear sector officer reported fire showing out the rear windows…… At approximately 07:05:00, E26’s crew communicated with the rear sector officer and reported an area on the Beta/Charlie side of the structure’s interior first-floor had collapsed into the basement. At 07:06:41, Command had called for defensive operations while E26’s crew received permission from the rear sector officer to quickly check under the debris on side Charlie. At 07:08:42, the rear sector officer informed Command that E26 had found a downed firefighter.

At 06:26:29, Capt. Broxterman, Firefighter (Ffr.) Schira and E102’s Ffr. 2 deployed a 1¾-inch pre-connected hose line through the front main entrance toward the rear of the structure. The fire was determined to be located in the basement of the structure. At 06:27:35, Capt. Broxterman reported, “E102 making entry into the basement, heavy smoke”. At 06:34:20, Engine 25 (E25), the designated Rapid Assistance Team (RAT), having just completed their 360-degree size-up around the structure encountered E102’s Ffr. 2 in the front yard of the structure, whom reported that he had lost contact with his crew.

At 06:35:10, the Incident Commander identified a potential Mayday operation, which indicates a life threatening situation to a firefighter. RAT25 was deployed at 06:36:30. An official Mayday operation was declared at 06:37:23, and an immediate request was made at 06:37:30 to the HCCC for a second alarm complement of firefighting resources.

Both firefighters were located in the basement. Capt. Broxterman was located at 07:08:05, and Ffr. Schira was located at 07:29:28. Both firefighters were buried under collapsed structural components and contents. Capt. Broxterman and Ffr. Schira were declared deceased at the scene as a result of their injuries.

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