Calling the MayDay


Thank you, Dr. Burton Clark, NFA, for your tireless efforts on behalf of firefighters and the important awareness of “May-Day” Training.

The “culture of the fire service” continues to be a barrier for  firefighters to call for help when they need it.  You’re in a fire.  The situation is getting worse.  You become lost, separated, low on air, you take a fall, the building or floor collapses; and we have firefighters debating, with themselves, on whether they are going to call for help or not.

Calling the MayDay:  MayDay Parameters –
  1.  Disoriented firefighter in the IDLH area for 30 seconds
  2.  Separated from the crew or the crew gets lost for 60 seconds or more
  3.  You run out of air or SCBA malfunction
  4.  Firefighter collapses in the IDLH for no apparent reason
  5.  Building or floor collapse
  6.  Backdraft, flashover, or other sudden fire development that has  made conditions untenable or blocked members escape route.
  7.  Serious fall down stairs, through a floor or roof
  8.  An injury has occurred that would prevent immediate escape
  9.  A member is entrapped or hung up on wires or other obstacles that cannot be cleared in 30 seconds or less.

(Based on NFA guidelines and John Norman’s Fire Officer’s Handbook of Tactics)

Upon Report of a MayDay Message (Suggested Actions):
  • Acknowledge the MayDay
  • Alert the Dispatch or Communications Unit of the same
  • Ascertain from the MayDay Caller:
    • Location
    • Unit
    • Name
    • Air Supply/Assignment
    • Resources needed for Rescue
  • Activate the Rapid Intervention Crew and Replace them
  • Transmit the Emergency Message to all units that a MayDay has been declared and to clear the radio frequency
  • Move Non-affected Units to another Radio Channel
  • Have Dispatch and the Accountability Officer conduct a PAR on the Secondary Radio Channel
  • Immediately request additional Alarm(s)
  • Request additional EMS, including a transport unit & an ALS unit
  • Assign a Chief Officer to Manage the Rescue Effort
  • Withdraw companies from affected areas as needed
  • Re-enforce firefighting positions that do not hamper the rescue efforts.
  • Open and unlock all doors
  • Ventilate and maintain tenability
  • Closely coordinate and control search efforts
  • Special Call a Heavy/Technical Rescue Team (If one is not on the original assignment)
  • Monitor the amount of water being put into the building vs how much is coming out
  • Monitor Structural Stability
  • Maintain strong supervision and control of crews
  • Assign additional officers to the area of the rescue (Safety, Accountability, Rehab, etc.)
  • Control the media
  • Request a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team

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