After the Raynham Fire Department spent most of Easter morning battling a stubborn residential blaze in Raynham, Fire Chief James Januse exhaled deeply as he sank into his desk chair back at the station at 11 a.m.
It wasn’t the seven hours on scene that brought about Januse’s sigh, but the thought of yet another firefighter being injured — and how his depleted department will have to continue to overcome a staff shortage.
A stairway collapsed under Lt. Barrett Johnson on Sunday as the veteran firefighter searched for occupants at 650 Orchard Street, a home that was gutted by the blaze but ultimately found empty of inhabitants. Johnson — who suffered a hairline humerus fracture and a dislocated shoulder — is the fifth Raynham firefighter is now out with injuries and will miss significant time.
“We’re hurting,” said Januse. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Never.”
Johnson’s injuries on Sunday marked the second time in as many fire responses that a firefighter suffered an injury. On March 17, Capt. Bryan LaCivita slipped in mulch while fighting a fire on Locust Street and injured his heel, according to Januse.
LaCivita and Johnson are each expected to be out for two months, the chief said. Johnson’s fall and LaCivita’s slip while fighting fires are the most common types of moderate-to-severe injury-causing incidents on-scene at fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A 2013 report from the group estimated that one-third of injuries of that severity resulted from falling, slipping or tripping, which was the leading cause.