Richmond firefighter recounts terrifying plunge in Church Hill house fire

Posted at 11:39 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 23:40:13-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- At Fire Station 13, they are thankful.

Several firefighters had to sound a mayday alarm Tuesday after one of their own fell through the floor of a burning Church Hill home.

That firefighter, Lt. Mike O'Prandy, was still recovering Wednesday night and told CBS 6 how grateful he is for his family and second family.

"I wanted to get back up and go do the job," he said, from his Chesterfield County home Wednesday afternoon, despite his potential injuries.

Lieutenant Mike Oprandy

Lieutenant Mike Oprandy

But after the adrenaline, common sense kicked in.

"There was still a lot of smoke upstairs," O’Prandy recalled.

O'Prandy says before going into the Church Hill home on North 33rd Street, they all knew it was a duplex under construction.

Once inside they quickly realized there were holes in the floor, and railings missing.


"We were doing things to be diligent about alerting members to the issues and traps, so to speak,” O’Prandy said. “You know, so you can be careful and do everything by the book. All it takes is a split second."

Sure enough, in a split second, O'Prandy realized he was in trouble and says he thought about family and did his best to brace himself for the worst.

"Kind of like that ‘Uh-oh’ feeling,” he said. “I remember throwing my arms out trying to reach for a rafter as I went through, I hit the floor going through a hole and it threw me back, so I knew I was on my way to the bottom."

Lieutenant Mike Oprandy

Lieutenant Mike Oprandy

Once on the bottom floor, O'Prandy says he self-assessed. The fall had knocked the wind out of him. He heard the firefighters call a ‘Mayday!’ and seconds later saw his brothers standing over him.

"I thought about my family, you know, this is why we train and stay in shape. Plus, I work with some of the best guys out there. If something happens they have my back and I have theirs."

O’prandy says he will take a little time off, but hopes to be back at work soon. He says the department has been diligent about checking in on him and making sure his family is taken care of.

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