There is a lot of speculation about the firefighters’ departure, so let’s take a minute-by-minute look at how the intervention took place. It’s 17:48. The first call announces a fire on the emergency line. It takes a minute for the operations center to pass the information to the fire station in Bohumín. Sixty seconds later, two fire brigades leave the base. He arrives at the block of flats at 5:54 p.m.
This is the whole apartment on the eleventh floor on fire. Over the next few minutes, more units are commuting. But people are probably dying in the apartment at that moment.
Were firefighters on site on time?
The nearest station is basically around the corner, just 250 meters as the crow flies from the block of flats. “In terms of coverage of the Czech Republic, as provided by law, there should have been two units within ten minutes and another unit within fifteen minutes. It is an absolute fact that there were two units within five minutes and intervened,” says the director of Moravian-Silesian firefighters Vladimir Vlcek .
In a single moment, firefighters must begin to determine the extent of the fire, evacuate other occupants, prepare equipment and, of course, extinguish. A fire in a high-rise building always means a demanding intervention, both from the point of view of firefighters and technology.
“The Bohumín station arrived at the scene first at 17:54 and the fire brigade immediately started the firefight. At the same time, a unit of volunteer firefighters Bohumín-Starý Bohumín followed. The third unit at the scene, Orlová station, arrived at 18:01, “describes the intervention of firefighter Lukáš Popp minute by minute.
“At 6:04 pm, the Bohumín-Šunychl volunteer fire brigade arrived at the scene and two minutes later the professional fire brigade from Karviná arrived. In the first ten minutes of the intervention, there were a total of six tank cars and two car ladders with a total of number of 28 intervening firefighters, “adds Popp.
The second car with a ladder had to come from Ostrava. It is about 20 kilometers and 17 minutes. If the scene is higher than 22.5 meters, firefighters usually choose to access the fire inside the building.
“There was a problem that the fire in the apartment was in full. This means that they could already see the flames whipping from the windows, so in such a fire the chances of saving people are minimal,” explains Zdeněk Hanuška from the General Directorate of HZS.
People chose between dying in flames and jumping from thirty meters. According to firefighters, only seconds were left to inflate the rescue mattress. This usually takes about four minutes. Five people jumped before she could inflate.
“The fire was so widespread at the time the first unit arrived, that despite the immediate preparation and inflation of the rescue jump mattress, five people tried to be rescued by jumping out of the window before the mattress could inflate,” says Popp.
But it probably wouldn’t help them anyway. The mattress that the firefighters had at their disposal saves them when jumping from a maximum of 25 meters. In addition, it can be dangerous for firefighters downstairs. “It is essential to reach the place of the fire – by internal intervention or if high-altitude technology can be used. The mattress is really a very, very emergency means,” says Hanuška.
Help from neighbors
As another option, it seems to pull people out of a burning apartment through a window below it, or even catch them while jumping. That would be a big risk, too. Falling firefighters could take them with them and there is also a risk of the floor falling from the burning apartment. “I can’t imagine that we could do something like that,” Hanukka shakes her head.
Firefighters located the fire of the apartment at 18:30, the extinguishing took place both inside the building and from the extended platform. At 19:43, the fire was extinguished and an investigation was launched into the causes of the fire and the rapid spread of the fire, “informs Popp.
The procedure of firefighters will be assessed by the commission of the General Director of Firefighters. She will have to take into account that the fire was started intentionally. The fire spread very fast due to the accelerator and was founded with the sole intention of killing.
In addition to 11 dead, the fire claimed 15 people. Among them were two firefighters. One of them inhaled the fumes during the intervention and ended up in the hospital in Karviná. The second of the firefighters suffered first and second degree burns to the neck.
Vladimír Vlček, the head of the fire brigade, commented on the whole situation: