Colerain and Eleven Minutes to Mayday: Lessons from 2008 Resonate Today

Remembering the Sacrafice: Capt. Broxterman and FF Schira

On Friday, April 4, 2008 at 06:13:02 hours, what began as a routine response for Colerain Township Fire and EMS Engine 102 to investigate a fire alarm activation at 5708 Squirrels nest Lane, Colerain Township, Ohio resulted in the deaths of Colerain Township Captain Robin Broxterman and Firefighter Brian Schira.

Upon their arrival at the scene of the two-story wood framed, residential building working fire conditions existed in the basement. The initial attack team consisted of Broxterman, Schira, and one other firefighter. The team advanced a 1¾-inch attack hose line through the interior of the building for fire control.

Even though, they were provided with some of the most technologically advanced protective clothing for structural firefighting and self-contained breathing apparatus, it appeared that Broxterman and Schira were overwhelmed by severe fire conditions in the basement. 

During their attempt to evacuate the building, the main-level family room flooring system in which the two were traveling on collapsed into the basement trapping the firefighters. Eleven minutes elapsed from time of arrival to the catastrophic chain of events.

This is one of those distinctive reports that has influential and critical operational, training and preparedness elements embedded throughout the report. 

It’s apparent there continues to be common threads shared by this event from 2008 and other events and incidents in the past five years where a single of multiple firefighters have lost their lives due to similarities in the apparent and common cause deficiencies and short comings identified.

All company and command officers should read and comprehend the lessons learned. Then, take these new found insights and see what the gaps are at the personal level (yours or those you supervise) as well as the shift, group, station, battalion, division or department as a whole.

If there are gaps, then identify a way to implement timely changes as necessary so there are No History Repeating (HRE) events.

The importance of Reading the Building, taking the time to complete the three sixty and being combat ready and “expecting fire”.

Remember their sacrifice, so we can learn.


  • Past Post on with Report Narrative and Incident Details HERE


The following factors were believed to have directly contributed to the deaths of Captain Broxterman and Firefighter Schira:

  • A delayed arrival at the incident scene that allowed the fire to progress significantly;
  • A failure to adhere to fundamental firefighting practices; and
  • A failure to abide by fundamental firefighter self-rescue and survival concepts

 Although the aforementioned factors were believed to have directly contributed to their deaths, they might have been prevented if:

  • Some personnel had not been complacent or apathetic in their initial approach to this incident;
  • Some personnel were in a proper state of mind that made them more observant of their surroundings and indicators;
  • The initial responding units were provided with all pertinent information in a
  • timely manner relative to the incident;
  • Personnel assigned to Engine 102 possessed a comprehensive knowledge of their first-due response area;
  • A 360-degree size-up of the building accompanied by a risk – benefit analysis
  • was conducted by the company officer prior to initiating interior fire suppression operations;
  • Comprehensive standard operating guidelines specifically related to structural
  • firefighting existed within the department;
  • The communications system users (on-scene firefighters and those monitoring the incident) weren’t all vying for limited radio air time;
  • The communications equipment and accessories utilized were more appropriate for the firefighting environment;
  • Certain tactical-level decisions and actions were based on the specific conditions;
  • Personnel had initiated fundamental measures to engage in if they were to become disoriented or trapped inside a burning building; and
  • Issued personal protective equipment was utilized in the correct manner.



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