In late 2018, an FDNY firefighter was hospitalized with critical injuries suffered at a marijuana grow lab fire in the Bronx. Sadly, this wasn’t the first FDNY firefighter to fall victim to injury from a marijuana grow lab. In 2016, FDNY Battalion Chief Michael J. Fahy died when a piece of roof debris fatally struck him after an illegal grow house exploded. Fahy was standing across the street from the structure.
Firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, and marijuana grow labs bring additional, unique hazards, such as vast electrical systems, flammable gases, flammable liquids, oxygen-deficient atmospheres, toxic inhalation hazards, and homemade security systems that may include illicit booby traps. More illicit grow labs and hash oil extraction sites coming to fruition likely equates to more near misses for firefighters.
Responders should think of these buildings as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Things are not always what they seem from the initial size-up. It will take time on the job to gain some recognition-primed decision-making (RPDM) skills regarding these types of fires. (Note: RPDM is the ability to make quick, sound decisions when facing