How to remove a fallen firefighter from a stairwell using various fire rescue techniques, pending on how many crewmates are available to assist.

This stairwell rescue training video demonstrates how to rescue a down firefighter in a stairwell with one-man, two-man and three-man rescue techniques.


Vinnie Fowler, 1999, 250 pounds died because they couldn’t get him up seven steps. He was a husband, and he was a father. What I’m upset about is that in 2000, we didn’t all know how to get people up and down the stairs. Then it didn’t happen again. Why couldn’t they get Vinnie Fowler up the stairs?

Student: Because they stripped him.

Instructor: Because they didn’t.


I’m not going to strip my firefighter. He is still on air and maybe he’s just passed out, we don’t know. Try to pull him up the stairs. Lift him up. Look behind his butt, underneath his buttons. The bottle catches on the hose and the stairs. He cannot pull hard enough to tear this off and get up the stairs.

What am I going to do first? Look at him. Tell me what I need to do. He’s down. He’s not moving. I’m not going to be like, dude, are you out of air? Just get him out of here. Let’s package it.

I need you to get them up two stairs. Ugly or pretty, I don’t really care, I just need him up two stairs.

You can come in and grab his legs. You just get them up two stairs without catching his bottle.

My top guy, all he’s doing is lifting. That’s all he’s going to do. My bottom guy on the legs is going to do kind of this. You’re my bottom guy. You will not be lifting because he’s lifting. I talked about this. Some people like one foot down on the step and one foot on the step above.

For me, I like both feet on the step above. I’m not going to micromanage you and tell you how it works for you, because you’re built different than I am. He’s built different than both of us. He’s built different than all three of us. Our goal is to lift vertically, maintain your balance.

That’s the upper position. We’re going to grab his straps and vertical lift. Bottom guy, it is similar to a pregnant lady, but deep. I don’t have my gear on so this is cheating.

“My job on the bottom is to come out and then set him back. What I am doing is bringing that valve stem away from the stairs and then setting him back on the stair above.”


I’m in here. I’m trying to match my spine with his. Does that make sense? We go ready lift commands. I can’t give the commands because I am out of air, and it’s hard to hear me. My face is buried in his crotch. I can’t see what is going on, so I don’t know if my upper guy is ready for not.

My job on the bottom is to come out and then set him back. What I am doing is bringing that valve stem away from the stairs and then setting him back on the stair above.

If I stay too far back, I formed him into a V and when I push, it forces his butt into the stair. That is why we’re getting deep.


We’re going to do a three man lift now. I’ve got two people on the stairs and you’re going to be facing upstairs, outside hand left. We’re going to sit her up at the base of the stairs. You’re going to grab strap and strap. The bottom guy is not going to have to get deep. We don’t have to get enough going to be like the break dance bucks.

I like teaching you guys this stuff early in the day because later I am going to be like “remember that one? We are doing that here too”. You’re going to get underneath the knees like that and stand up. We’re going to go ‘ready?’ That’s a question so I expect you to answer it.


I am going to show you a one man lift now, just me and him. My legs aren’t a whole lot longer than my boots. Sit him up nice and straight. Tunnel through his coat and clip in. This is why we do squats.

We are on the landing here. You can go into the other room from right here. Loosen all the way but do not unbuckle. Are you tracking with me? I’m going to bear crawl into the other room.

Bringing them down, while lifting up.


Victim…in the stokes basket. I already have a bridle on and diamond lashings.

I have a rope with a big fatty carabiner on it. I’m going to wrap it three times coming down. Here’s my friction device, I just made it. If I have a big victim, I can wrap it again or hook up a body belay.

What we’re going to do is wind this out the side through here. Do you see how I wrapped it? I started at the top and wrapped down. If I started at the bottom and wrap up, it binds on itself because it comes over.

Start at the top and wrap down. It is up to you guys how many times you think you need to wrap it. We’re going to come down and flip it over. As they’re picking it up, you’re going to be pulling slack.

“Start at the top and wrap down. If I start at the bottom and wrap up, (the rope) binds on itself because it comes over.”


Watch your grooves and safety commands.

Start coming down the stairs for me,

Now your braking is down. Now you should be able to let go of them right now. You see how this is going to go. Go feet first, or a little bit lower. You’re going to splay out a line to them and they’re essentially just going to walk them off.

What if my victim was on the top floor, like above our anchor point?

Take them down a floor. Problem-solved. When we first set this up yet, we did him from the top to the bottom. He didn’t yell and scream. I didn’t have a black eye, so it didn’t hurt him. He was harnessed in his pack straps all the way down. Same three wraps all the way down. If you need more tension, use your body. My victim’s a little more stout than I thought. I can either preload it with another wrap or I just body belay.

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