Rapid Intervention team helped save firefighters after roof collapse

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A group of Dallas firefighters who rescued other firefighters during the devastating condo fire earlier this week are now sharing their incredible story of what happened.

Everyone survived the 4-alarm fire in northeast Dallas Tuesday morning. That includes the three firefighters who got trapped when a ceiling collapsed on them. 

“We are very fortunate to still have three firefighters with us and not talking about funeral arrangements,” said Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans.

The trapped firefighters put out a mayday call and members of a Dallas Fire-Rescue rapid intervention team went in and rescued them. 

Members of the team said they had been on the scene for about two minutes and hadn’t even fully walked around the building when they heard the mayday call.

Team members respond to every two-alarm fire in Dallas, but mayday calls from firefighters are very rare.

Capt. Keith Massingill said he’s been on the department for 20 years and this was the first time he performed a mayday rescue. He said his daily training just kicked in.

“As soon as we heard the mayday go out, we activated what we call our rapid intervention team. This is a team of 10 people. They were set up and staged and so as soon as we heard it, myself and Lt. Hooker came back to their location and basically just made sure everyone had heard it, knew we had three firemen missing and basically said, ‘Let’s go,” Capt. Massingill said. “That’s where you fall back on your training. Let’s go. Everybody knows what to do.”

The rapid intervention team climbed a ladder to the second floor. The third floor had collapsed on one side, and the fire was burning directly above them.

“There was fire coming down the top of the hallway so we went below it,” recalled Massingill. “We did take a charged hose line so Jon was able to keep the fire pushed back.”

“You have a lot of heat and smoke where you can't see anything,” said firefighter Jon Keller. “You put your hand right here and you can't see it.” 

The rescue took less than 10 minutes.

“They were so hot that they were forced to the ground. Face masks were blacked out from the heat, singed,” said firefighter Josh Mihalyi. “They had no orientation to where they were whatsoever.”

“Being in that situation is very hard emotionally. So going through thinking that last couple of minutes your alive is really hard,” Keeler said. “So you have the physical aspect and the mental aspect. They were pretty spent when we were able to get them out.”

Capt. Massingill is a third generation Dallas firefighter.

“I'm super proud. All I can say is everything went right,” he said. “That's because we train hard and what God wanted to happen that day.”

The firefighters attributed their success to cooperation and an air supply that allowed them to continue breathing after they went into the building.

Although every firefighter is equipped to help, what separates this team from the others is the fact that they have the availability, training and resource to perform these rescues. More and more departments across the country are beginning to establish such teams. 

It took about 100 firefighters to put out this fire at the Cambridge Park Condominiums on Audelia Road in Dallas. About 60 families were displaced and the building was destroyed. 

DFR is crediting the work of the rapid intervention team for the fact that no one died in what could've been much worse.

The dictionary defines a hero as "one who shows great courage.” But the firefighters don't think the term applies to them.

“I just say I'm doing my job,” Keeler said.

All three firefighters were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and minor injuries. They have all three been released are doing well.