Approximately 24 hours before a powerful tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma, firefighters in Dallas were battling what would become a six-alarm condominium fire. At 3 a.m. on Monday, FF Stanley Wilson was awakened with the rest of his crew, dispatched to what would become his last fire. FF Wilson was a 28-year veteran of Dallas Fire/Rescue. I do not know whether Stanley was assigned to an engine, truck or heavy rescue, but whatever the case, he and his crew responded with common goals in mind, to save lives and extinguish this fire.
We will not know what happened in that building for weeks or maybe even months. What I can say is that firefighters entered a burning building where heavy smoke and fire was ripping through the complex. Reports have it that civilians were rescued while engine companies were conducting an offensive attack, which means that companies were operating on the inside of the building, attempting to extinguish the fire, or prevent the fire from getting to those that were being rescued. The fire progressed to the point that the operation went defensive.
News articles stated that about 5 a.m., FF Stanley Wilson radioed that he needed help and did not know where he was in the building. I am not sure whether he stated that he was trapped, but something had gone drastically wrong. Somehow, he had gotten separated from his crew, and conditions prevented him being able to self-rescue. Firefighters are taught things to do when they become trapped or disoriented. I am certain that this 28-year veteran followed department standard operating procedures. A difficult firefight now escalated to a missing firefighter.
Once a firefighter mayday is declared, awaiting resources and personnel are deployed, based upon orders from the incident commander, or an officer assigned charge over the rescue operation. I can tell you that in my career, I served on Rapid Intervention Teams, and nearly had to be deployed on a house fire on Ecoff Avenue. My only experience with firefighter rescues was in Save Your Own training. The Rapid Intervention Team or Crew is a crew or crews that are on standby at the scene, ready to be deployed in the event of a firefighter mayday.
My heart aches for FF Wilson’s family and Dallas Fire/Rescue. FF Stanley Wilson made the ultimate sacrifice doing what firefighters do 24/7. FF Wilson would not have considered himself a hero, but he was, he and every firefighter on this globe. I salute my brother, FF Stanley Wilson. I did not know him personally, but I shared his heart. Every firefighter knows that the job is dangerous, but they are trained and dedicated to the job that I believe is a true calling. To FF Wilson’s family and crew, we are praying for you!