Denver Drill Description and History
The scenario has a firefighter down in a closet-sized space below a window. This victim is wearing full turnout gear, and his head is positioned against the wall below the window. Two firefighters must enter the area to rescue the victim. Firefighter One checks for solid flooring from outside the window with a Halligan tool. Discarding the tool outside, the firefighter moves through the window head first and crawls over the victim to the victim’s feet. Firefighter One then turns to face the victim, takes hold of the victim’s SCBA shoulder straps, and pulls the victim up into a seated position. Firefighter Two also enters the window head first and sits under the window with his back to the wall after adjusting his air tank to one side. Firefighter Two bends his knees to create a ramp. Firefighter One lifts the victim onto the knees of Firefighter Two, and then lifts the victim’s legs as Firefighter Two pushes upward so that rescuers outside the window can grasp the victim and assist in sliding him up and out on the ‘ramp’ of the Firefighter Two’s legs. The catapult method differs slightly, in that the victim is passed through the window face-down, while Firefighter Two lies on his back with his feet on the victim’s chest and ‘walks’ the victim out the window to waiting rescuers.
The Denver Drill is based on the 1992 death of Engineer Mark Langvardt of the Denver Fire Department in Colorado. While working a commercial structure fire, Langvardt reportedly became separated from his crew when a floor collapsed, trapping him in a small storage room on the second floor. The room measured approximately six by eleven feet, but cabinets and equipment along the walls reduced the room to an aisle only twenty-eight inches wide. At the end of the aisle was an exterior window with a drop of 42 inches from sill to floor. Firefighters entering through the window had to crawl over Langvardt, who lay face down with his head against the wall below the window. There was only room for one rescuer to attempt lifting the victim to the windowsill and this, after multiple efforts, proved impossible. Firefighters recovered Langvardt nearly an hour later after breaching a wall to remove him, but the rescue came too late to save Langvardt’s life. The Denver Drill was designed in response to this tragedy and is taught in fire schools throughout the United States.