Firefighter Woehlke and the members of his fire department responded to a report of smoke coming from the roof of a strip mall that contained a pool hall and a restaurant. Firefighter Woehlke responded on an ambulance and was assigned to enter the structure with a company officer and another firefighter.
Firefighters had difficulty finding the seat of the fire and interior conditions worsened. The crew, in verbal communication, decided to exit the structure. Firefighter Woehlke became separated from the other members of his crew as they exited. The Incident Commander (IC) noted that Firefighter Woehlke did not exit the structure with his crew and made contact with Firefighter Woehlke by radio. Firefighter Woehlke reported that he was fighting the fire with another crew.
At 0846hrs, Firefighter Woehlke called by radio to say that he was out of air. This transmission was not heard by anyone on the scene or in the dispatch center. When his absence was noted, a crew was sent into the structure to locate Firefighter Woehlke. Conditions did not allow a full search and firefighters did not report hearing a PASS device alarm or low air alarm while searching.
All firefighters were withdrawn from the building. Part of the structure was removed to allow a safe search of the building once the fire was controlled. Firefighter Woehlke was discovered at approximately 1200hrs under debris. He was found with his helmet, hood, and facepiece off but nearby. At autopsy, the level of carboxyhemoglobin is his blood was 35 percent. The cause of death was listed as thermal injuries and smoke and soot inhalation.
Incident Location: 6581 N Wayne RD, Westland, MI 48185 (USNG: 17T LG 0327 8955)