On January 19th, 2011, Firefighter Mark Falkenhan was killed in the line of duty while fighting an apartment fire at 30 Dowling Circle in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland.  The fire was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the video below details the events leading to this fatality.

The apartment doors had a major impact on the spread of smoke and fire, and the blocking of egress routes.  According to the video, the doors were equipped with “auto-closers” (I was told by someone from the ATF that he thought the doors had spring hinges) but did not close because of the door sweep contacting the carpet.  The video includes alternate models of the fire spread with doors closed, as well as photos of the apartments with open vs. closed doors, and a bedroom with a closed hollow core door.  The ATF report can be downloaded here.

A fire door inspection and resolution of the carpet/sweep issue might have saved a life here.

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