Fallen firefighter's report: What went wrong in Madisonville fire

Fallen firefighter's report: What went wrong in Madisonville fire

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A year-long investigation culminated into a 353-page report detailing what led to the death of Cincinnati Firefighter Daryl Gordon.

Part of the "Daryl Gordon Line of Duty Death" report went in-depth on what went wrong before Gordon fell down an elevator shaft while battling an apartment fire in Madisonville.

In the findings based on numerous statements from those responding, initial companies thought the fire was going to be a routine 911 call to the six-story apartment building.

"If you have to run to a building fire alarm, and you go there two, three, four, five times a day, after you do that for months and months, it's like ho hum," Chief Richard Braun said.

But this fire, that the report shows started on the stove of an apartment on the second floor, led to multiple reports of smoke in the building and people jumping off balconies.

The findings show when Truck 31 arrived to the scene, the crew broke the glass to the patio door of the apartment before the hose line was in place, most likely causing the fire to grow.

A second alarm was sounded, sending Gordon with the rest of Rescue 14 to the scene.

Gordon and three other firefighters were ordered to the fifth floor for reports of a woman and child who were reportedly trapped on a balcony, according to the report.

Gordon allegedly became separated from the group as the team headed to the fifth floor.

"The three guys already had their bottles on. They put their face pieces on as Daryl was putting on his face piece, but Daryl had one more step to do, put his bottle on," said District Chief Greg Potter. "Even though that only took him a few seconds, that was just a few seconds enough to get behind those guys as they went on."

The report indicates that the three other men found an elevator door that was supposed to stay locked when the elevator was on another floor, but the lock system was not working.

The door opened four times on the fifth floor when the elevator was actually on the second floor, according to Potter.

Rescue 14 told this to a district chief on the fifth floor and the team wrote, "Do Not Enter...Open Shaft," on the door, the report states.

The report finds multiple issues with this procedure:

  • Gordon was not with the group.
  • The danger was never communicated to command. Therefore, an emergency broadcast never went out, which Gordon could have heard.
  • The door was never secured.
  • It was hard to see the warning written on the door due to the smoke.

At 6:12 a.m., Gordon opened the door and fell.

The frantic call was made 10 minutes later.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday! We have a firefighter down!" The initial call said.

"Many great things were done that day," Braun said. "21 civilians were saved at that fire, but along with that we look at everything we could've done to do things better."

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