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Charles “Chip” W. McCarthy Jr.


Buffalo Fire Department units were dispatched to a report of a structure fire in a convenience store. Firefighters found a working fire on their arrival and civilian reports of people trapped in the building. Both the exterior and the interior of the building were difficult to access due to numerous security measures. Firefighters searched the building and found no occupants. Access to the building's basement could not be achieved due to fire conditions and a reinforced door. An order to evacuate the building and a switch to defensive firefighting operations was declared by the IC. At approximately 0422 hours, Members of Rescue 1, including Lieutenant McCarthy, entered the retail area of the store to verify that all firefighters had evacuated. Less than 2 minutes after their entry, the floor collapsed and Lieutenant McCarthy fell into the basement. Lieutenant McCarthy immediately began to call for help over his portable radio. The other members of his crew were unaware of what had happened and exited the structure. Firefighter Croom was a member of the assigned Firefighter Assist and Search Team (FAST). Firefighter Croom entered the structure, it is thought that he directly heard the calls for help from Lieutenant McCarthy. Firefighter Croom also fell into the basement in close proximity to Lieutenant McCarthy. Fire conditions worsened and firefighters were not able to access the interior. Firefighter Croom's status was not known for some time due to errors in accountability procedures. Firefighters were able to enter the basement and located the deceased firefighters at 0918 hours. The cause of death for both firefighters was smoke inhalation. The blood carboxyhemoglobin level at autopsy for both firefighters was above 50 percent. For additional information regarding this incident, please refer to NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Report F2009-23 ( Incident Location: 1815 Genesee Street (USNG: 17T PH 78394 53384)
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Charles “Chip” W. McCarthy Jr. was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

Buffalo Fire Department
195 Court Street
USNG: 17T PH 7303 5044
Buffalo, New York 14202

Chief: Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo

View NIOSH Report

Age: 45
Rank: Lieutenant
Classification: Career
Incident date: August 24, 2009 03:49
Date of death: August 24, 2009
Cause of fatal injury: Collapse
Nature of fatal injury: Asphyxiation
Activity type: Search and Rescue
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Store/Office

Last updated: February 03, 2015