John Henry Martinson, Lieutenant

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Lieutenant Martinson and the members of his engine company were dispatched as a part of a full assignment to a report of a fire in a 25-story high rise residential occupancy. Upon their arrival on the scene, Lieutenant Martin and his crew used the firefighter's feature to ride an elevator to the floor below the reported fire. He and his crew used the stairs to ascend to the 14th floor. When they opened the door from the stairwell to the fire floor, firefighters discovered heavy smoke. Lieutenant Martin donned his SCBA and entered the hallway to look for the location of the apartment that was on fire. The floor layout for the building was confusing and the apartment numbering system was not clear so finding the apartment that was experiencing the fire was difficult. Once the apartment was discovered, firefighters advanced a hoseline and began to apply water to the fire. The fire was intensified by a strong wind. Firefighters working in the fire apartment discovered Lieutenant Martinson on the floor of the apartment, approximately 3 feet from the doorway. He was unconscious and his facepiece and helmet had been removed. Firefighters rushed Lieutenant Martinson to the stairwell and to a lower floor. Emergency medical procedures were initiated and Lieutenant Martinson was transported to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital due to smoke inhalation and thermal burns. A report prepared by the fire department concluded that Lieutenant Martinson ran out of air less than 20 minutes after donning his facepiece and was unable to exit the apartment before being overcome. The indirect causes of his death were cited as fire play by a child, the failure of the apartment occupants to close the apartment door when they evacuated, failure to team up with another member while operating in an IDLH atmosphere, and failure to leave the IDLH atmosphere when the SCBA low air indicators activated.

Department information

Fire Department City of New York
9 Metro Tech Center
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Chief: Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta

John Henry Martinson 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.
Age: 40
Rank: Lieutenant
Classification: Career
Incident date: January 3, 2008 19:54
Date of death: January 3, 2008
Cause of death: Out of Air
Nature of death: Asphyxiation
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential