Meet Captain Gene Dibble of the Sacramento Fire Department. Captain Dibble and his men responded to a fire in a vacant house on February 26, 2011.
A ladder was set up and a team of fire fighters were going up on the roof to begin cutting holes which allow hot gases and smoke to escape. This is a practice known as “venting the roof” which allows dangerous smoke and any toxic gases to escape, thus making it safer for fire personnel to enter the structure and fight the fire or save lives.
Captain Dibble explains in several news stories that “he was at the top of a ladder when it kicked out. He fell about 12 feet and landing on the air pack he wears on his back.”
What Captain Dibble means when saying the ladder “kicked out” is that essentially he was at the top of the ladder when the bottom of the ladder slid outward away from the structure, thus throwing Captain Dibble off of the top of the ladder and to the ground.
Captain Dibble went on to say “Things happen. Fire ground is chaotic. We try to bring order into chaos and make things happen so we get a successful outcome…it doesn’t always work out, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.”
The italicized sections of this article came from a news article that came out on February 27, 2011 and can be read here at Fox 40, Sacramento.
Amazingly enough, Captain Dibble seemed to have a different story one short day later, and the story was re-reported by CBS 13, Sacramento.
In the CBS News story that is nothing more than a hit piece, Captain Dibble now says that the reason he fell off of the ladder is because the Sacramento Fire Department is short of staff because of budget cuts.
Its pretty clear that Captain Dibble’s change of heart (and story) came after talking to his union and his fellow union lackey firemen.
But wait, there is more to this story.
Captain Dibble was interviewed on camera for the CBS story. The video can be seen here at CBS 13 Sacramento.
In the video, the first thing that I noticed was that during the video excerpts shot at the scene of the fire, virtually ALL of the ladders were set up improperly.
In fact in one shot you can see a fire fighter descending the ladder in the driveway and struggling to see the rungs of the ladder because the ladder is not steep enough.
Now I am no ladder expert, but I do know that the proper ratio for ladder set up is 1 to 4. This means that for every four feet of vertical wall, the ladder should be one foot away from the wall. So if the wall were twelve feet high, the base of the ladder would be three feet away from the wall.
In the video, the ladders are not even as steep as an average household staircase. This causes a teeter totter effect when the weight at the top of the ladder exceeds both the downward force on the ladder and the weight of the ladder itself.
The other thing I noticed about the video is that Captain Dibble is a rather large man. In fact, he appears to be teetering on the brink of being downright obese.
Now it doesn’t take Sir Isaac Newton to understand the physics involved here.
You have an incredibly fat man (Captain Dibble) wearing upwards of 100 pounds of fire fighting gear climbing a ladder that for all intents and purposes would be better suited as teeter totter.
Something has to give. Eventually gravity is going to win, and that’s exactly what happened to Captain Dibble.
Captain Dibble’s accident had absolutely nothing to do with lack of personnel. It had everything to do with complacency, stupidity and Captain Dibble being overweight. Nothing more.
OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should be sent a copy of the video to be used as a “Don’t let this happen to you” lesson for proper ladder use in the workplace.
As for Captain Dibble, he should be ashamed of himself for allowing his union to use him as a pawn in a sick game of chess with they are playing with the state of California and the tax payers.
If I had any advice for Captain Dibble, it would be to go on a diet, stay on the ground and let the younger, leaner fire personnel handle the ladder climbing. By the way Nice rack Captain Dibble. Your tits are bigger than my girlfriends. JD