2 Firefighters Killed When Legacy Floor Collapse

Originally published by: ABC6 - TV (Wilmington, DE)September 24, 2016

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Editor's Note: SBCA hopes the tragic fire in Wilmington, Delaware is a wakeup call for all in attendance at the ICC Code Hearings. The loss of life underscores the serious nature of this issue, and SBCA urges the congregation of building officials to OVERTURN THE IRC COMMITTEE and vote in favor of SBCA’s proposal to improve firefighter safety at the upcoming ICC code hearings in Kansas CIty, MO.

Firefighters in Wilmington, Delaware have honored two comrades who were killed in the line of duty Saturday when the first floor collapsed into the basement.


According to the Fire Department, one or more firefighters became trapped at 3:14 a.m. and radioed for help. Dozens of firefighters responded and searched, officials said. They also used ladders to access the upper story of the rowhouse, where the fire shot through the roof and sent flames and thick smoke into the night sky.

Crews arrived to heavy flames and smoke with several people, including small children, trapped inside the house. As firefighters entered the home, the floor collapsed, where Fire Department Battalion Chief James Jobes said firefighters were working on the first floor when it collapsed, trapping them in the basement.

Two firefighters were rescued, but one died at the hospital, and one never made it out of the rubble. That firefighter was brought out of the home, draped in an American flag, and carried by other firefighters. The two injured were placed in an ambulance and taken to a waiting helicopter which transported them to Christiana Hospital. Four children and one adult were taken to St. Francis Hospital for smoke inhalation. Additional firefighters from throughout the city were brought in to battle the blaze.

New Castle County property records show the structure was built in 1944. The 1,075-square-foot property had three bedrooms.


Our condolences to all those impacted by this tragedy.

Editor’s Note: For more information on the fire performance of floor systems, click here. SBCA continues to believe that all floor systems should be protected with ½” gypsum wallboard membrane. If no protection is deemed required for a particular floor system by the code, that floor system should be tested to ensure it is in accordance with ASTM E119 at 100% design load to generate a 26-minute performance as defined in UL’s report,  Improving Fire Safety by Understanding the Fire Performance of Engineered Floor Systems and Providing the Fire Service with Information for Tactical Decision Making. Beyond this approach, to achieve greater fire safety in single-family homes, SBCA advocates for the use of sprinkler systems that are becoming increasingly more affordable.

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