Firefighter's Fall Prompted New Firefighting Guidelines

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Chicago Fire Department says a number of regulations, released Wednesday in a federal government report, were implemented within days of a firefighter's death.

    Christopher Wheatley died in August 2010 after falling 52 feet from a fire escape as he was trying to reach the roof of a restaurant burning on the 600 block of West Randolph Street.

    Thousands of Firefighters Say Goodbye to Wheatley

    [CHI] Thousands of Firefighters Say Goodbye to Wheatley
    An estimated 2,000 Chicago firefighters turned out Friday morning to say goodbye to one of their own. (Published Friday, Aug 13, 2010)

    The report, issued by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said the Chicago Fire Department needs better roof and ladder training, adding that "fire escapes are not usually a viable option." Better, the report said, would have been for Wheatley to use an aerial ladder or inside stairwell.

    The fire department lacked a formal written policy on using fire escapes at the time of Wheatley’s death, though there was an "unwritten policy" to only use them as a last resort, the report said.

    New Boat Dedicated to Fallen Firefighter

    [CHI] New Boat Dedicated to Fallen Firefighter
    Christopher Wheatley died fighting a West Loop blaze last August. (Published Thursday, May 5, 2011)

    But that all changed within days of Wheatley's death, with new guidelines issued by the fire department which mirror those issued this week by the federal government.  The new guidelines allow firefighters to maintain two hands and a foot on ladders at all times.

    "We must learn all we can from this," Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff said after Wheatley's death.  "We owe our fallen member nothing less."