FDNY Firefighter Fell from Roof in 'Routine Operation'

NY Daily News - April 21, 2017

by KERRY BURKE, LAURA DIMON, GRAHAM RAYMAN

Firefighter William Tolley fell five stories from a Queens building while performing an operation designed to clear rising heat and smoke to ease the potential search for trapped residents.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Tolley, 42, went to the roof of the Putnam Ave. building near Wyckoff Ave. in Ridgewood for the purpose of venting. Typically, that means opening the bulkhead on the roof to allow dangerous gases and black smoke to escape and to get a bird’s-eye view of the fire.

“That was his position as the outside ventilation rider operating in the area,” Nigro said. “It was a routine operation he was doing on the roof.”

One of the fastest ways fires spread is via the attic, where smoke and gases can build up to the point where they can explode.

So, firefighters also go to the roof to open up the attic, to allow heat and smoke to escape.

Venting also makes it easier for firefighters to conduct searches and attack the fire because it allows them to see better. Clearing the heat and smoke also increases the chance of survival for trapped people.

Firefighters also gain access to the roof to rescue people who might be hanging out windows to escape the fire.

In those operations, which are rare, they use rope to rappel down and grab the occupant and then lower them the rest of the way down.