Firefighters Face Tougher Challenges Battling Apartment Fires

The French Quarter fire was not something Wichita Falls firefighters have to face very often. Firefighter say there are more challenges they face when they're called to the scene of an apartment fire.

Eight units with 30 firefighters worked for hours Sunday night containing the quick spreading fire. One step at a time fire crews used all their resources, to save lives and homes.

"A lot of the same challenges that are at any fire are more so at an apartment than they are at a house," said Wichita Falls Firefighter Scotty Freeland.

He was not at Sunday's fire but he has battled flames from apartments before. He says it's a challenge on many levels

"The number of potential people there, a greater risk for exposure."

According to the National Fire Protection Association the agencies latest data shows in 2010 firefighters suffered 72 on-duty deaths. Of those 8 were killed after being caught or trapped when walls and roofs collapsed.

"Most apartment complexes have light weight building construction many of that contributes to fire spread which also contributes to early building collapse, which is one of the big killers of firemen," said Freeland.

Apartments are often multi-story so crews must use different types of equipment. During the blaze a firefighter could be seen walking up a ladder but if it were a house fire he probably wouldn't have to do that.    

"Some trucks have big guns on top, they don't have to get on the air as high so they can shoot it off the top of the truck," said Freeland.

Flames spread much quicker too since units are attached to one another. It results in more firemen on scene making a more difficult job for the battalion chief who is monitoring the situation.

"There's more crews so he has more firemen to worry about. He worries about every firemen that's inside so when you got three, four more crews there, he's got 12 more people to worry about."

The French Quarter fire is still under investigation.

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.