I recently have had a lot of suggestions and requests to post on some volunteer, rural, combination issues that the fire service faces. I started and am still a member of a mostly rural volunteer, now combination, department. My earliest exposure to the fire service was at this mostly rural department.
We had a large majority of our fires outside of our public water area and our staffing was limited, just like it is today. Most of our trucks were single cab trucks that would seat two or three, depending on if the seats were buckets or benches. This was the fire service I was raised in. As time went on this department has become a functioning combination department.
But, it still has the same demographics of a large rural response area with the challenge of staffing after the first arriving unit gets on scene. In some cases those first firefighters will have to wait for over 20 minutes for the nearest mutual aid company. This, of course, causes issues with water supply, interior attack and other critical firefighting functions.
These are issues that the American fire service is facing all over this country. Along with the posts that I will be posting in the coming weeks, there is another great resource for rural to suburban tactics at County Fire Tactics. Be sure to check them out on their web site and on Facebook. This post will highlight some first due engine ops for water supply in the rural setting.
Some of you may not agree with all of these suggestions, but these have worked and have been tested. But, if you have a better way, feel free to share.
One of the biggest challenges for the first due engine, besides staffing, is securing a water supply. There are no hydrants and we don't always know when the first tanker will arrive. (In the Midwest we use the term tanker as a ground apparatus that carries at least 1000 gallons of water.) When operating in a response area that has public water, it is not uncommon for the second arriving unit to lay into the first apparatus from the hydrant. Our additional units are usually quicker to arrive and the fire has not progressed as far because our response times are faster. In the rural setting our response times are longer due to proximity and road miles allowing the fire to grow longer, thus consuming more of the structure.
So, we will need big water sooner than what might be required in a hydranted area. We have to prepare for this situation before the call comes in. How we carry and load our supply lines is critical. So many times our hose and the loads we use are set up for our hydranted areas; because its easy and there is a lot of information out there on how to lay into and from a hydrant. Additionally, we usually don't have to got too far to get to a hydrant. This is not usually the case when we get into the rural setting. I'm not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do, your department has specific needs. But, I will offer some examples that have worked. When setting up your hose bed, you need to know what appliances will be used to distribute water to multiple apparatus. Have those appliances readily available and ready for deployment. Don't hide them away in the twilight zone that requires a heavy mover to get to. Make them accessible. This will speed your hose deployment and get you water faster. You need to have a good familiarity with your rural response area. Laying 900 feet of hose and still having 400 feet to the fire can cause a delay in getting water. Ideally, we want to be able to get to the fire building as the first due engine. So, you may have to be deliberate in where you lay your line. In doing that, laying away from an intersection or half way up a road or drive, leave a cone at the coupling for visibility. Have enough hose! As the first due engine dropping line can be a very smart move, if done right. When laying your line the first issue is to not take up the road or drive. Get to one side of the road or drive and lay it out on that side to allow other apparatus access. It might be worth having a firefighter follow the truck to guide the hose to one side of the road. This will pay dividends later. Doing this also gives you a guide to how much hose your laying and can relay that to the next in unit or your water supply tanker. You need to communicate to your next arriving unit what side of the road your laying, how much hose and if you reached the fire building or not. This will determine if the second unit will be your relay or if it needs to finish the lay. Depending on your department's capabilities, you may choose to lay a 3" supply line, dual 3" lines or large diameter hose. We typically will lay dual 3" lines. This takes preparation for you hose loads and can shorten your lay.
Additionally, if using LDH, a good rule of thumb to remember is that every foot of LDH holds one gallon of water. So, you see how this might be a problem in filling the line initially depending on how much water your supply truck carries. Finally, the first arriving engine needs to try to place their apparatus in a position that is conducive for additional units, access to the fire and possibly room for tankers to maneuver in and out of.
This post is very basic and only outlines an option for the first arriving engine or apparatus. We will cover more rural topics in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let us know what you want to read about. Also, share if you have tactics that you have found to be beneficial. Thanks and train hard.
Archives for command-leadership
I recently have had a lot of suggestions and requests to post on some volunteer, rural, combination issues that the fire service faces. I started and am still a member of a mostly rural volunteer, now combination, department. My earliest exposure to the fire service was at this mostly rural department.
One of the most challenging aspects of being an officer, leader or instructor is providing honest feedback to our crews. It sounds simplistic and most will say in response to reading that, “I am.” Well, as easy as it sounds, skimming over the “bad” stuff is easier to do because we are Brothers and Sisters and we hang out off duty or whatever.
We’re going to address this problem specifically as it relates to the training ground.
We try to involve our company officers in most all drills. The idea is that the company officer will be directing their crews on the emergency scene, making critical, real-time decisions and we want them to use drills and exercises to practice and refine those skills.
Recently we drilled on a new operational guideline that included some new equipment. We provided a video showing and explaining the new guideline and discussed the new operational guideline. The company officers were supposed to sit with their crews to watch the video, discuss the guideline then go out and get familiar with the equipment that would be used during the training evolution.
Some officers are more driven than others and some think they already know everything, and as you might guess, change is not embraced by everyone.
Ours has not always been an environment where honest, constructive feedback was accepted. Like many departments, we got by and used tactics that were taught 20-30 years old, they worked back then so why change them now?
This new guideline addressed a low frequency/high risk event and is something we haven’t historically trained on in the past. The simple fact that we were making this drill as realistic as possible was already causing some grumbling and not everyone was in favor of the new equipment and tactics associated with the new guideline.
I knew we were going to have deficiencies, after all, we want to find them during drills and training as compared to when the real thing happens.
The first two days we had to make some corrections, as was expected, and in one case the attack line had to be redeployed to make sure it was done correctly. There was constructive advise and recommendations made and good questions as to “why” we were making some of the changes. It was a positive learning experience and each person understood the correct way to operate under that guideline with the new equipment at the end of the day.
The third day was not as positive. It became apparent that one company officer spent no time with the video or his crew in preparing of the drill. This particular day I was involved in the drill and a chief officer was running the exercise.
During the drill many deficiencies were noted by assistant instructors and the guideline was not adhered to. When the drill ended, one small deficiency was noted, but everyone was told they had done a good job. Not good. I only found out about the larger, very significant problem later that day as input from the assistant instructors started debriefing me on the events.
We had to pull the deficient company officer in and explain what he did wrong and why. Since there was not an honest evaluation of the drill, he was under the impression that he did okay. This creates huge problems with credibility and trust between the trainer, officer and/or leader and crews or students.
It all worked out in the end. If we are not honest about performance and allow our firefighters and officers to believe that deficient behaviors and performances are acceptable, we are training them to fail. We must provide honest feedback, even when it’s not the popular thing to do or there is push back.
In all aspects of training, I see this regularly in the classroom and on the drill ground. When a task or skill is performed wrong or not to an optimum level, it must be addressed with respect to why and the importance of doing it right the way. However, when addressing these issues, it should be done in a constructive way as not to degrade or minimize that firefighter or officer.
Whether your in the engine house, on the fire ground or on the drilling ground, we have to be honest about our performance. Even though this can cause friction with some, it builds trust among your team because they know that your intentions are to make the team better. Don’t fail your people by letting things go, make them do it right before they leave the training ground and go back to the engine house on a positive note.
Thanks for reading and train hard. I appreciate everything that each one of you do for our fire service.
Here is a great "memory jogger" for Command Functions and Size Up from one of our instructors, Scott Hulsey.
Click the link for each and feel free to use how you wish. If you have additions and suggestions, please share.
Thanks for reading and keep training.
I always loved sports. I played just about every sport I could and eventually settled in with basketball and baseball. The coaches I had were always preaching the fundamentals and basics explaining that as players, we had to master the basics to the point that things like dribbling and passing were second nature. When those basics were mastered we were able to ascend our skill sets to seeing an open player before he is open and making moves on the fly, avoiding the defender with moves that were more challenging because we had a “feel” for the game.
The “feel” for the game allowed us to improvise and do things on the court that weren’t necessarily practiced. A defender stepping in front of us quickly, obstructing our passing lane may force us to make a behind-the-back pass. This is improvising with an advanced skill based on our most basic of skills: passing. Does the player get punished for this advanced skill? Probably not, especially if the outcome is a positive one.
When we get to an advanced level of skill sets, it typically comes from past experiences and hours upon hours of training. With that training and experience also comes the ability to recognize situations that are not typical. These non-typical situations will require us, if trained appropriately, to make the best possible decision for the best possible outcome. The mantra of always use two hands to pass and catch the ball with thumbs turned down may not work or be appropriate in a certain situation because the desired outcome is not going to be achieved.
The same can be said in the fire service. In recent weeks a Philadelphia firefighter made a heroic save and was faced with a decision to give the fire victim his air. There has been a great debate over the actions. I was recently asked by Eric Rhoden on his and Ray McCormack’s radio show what I thought about the incident and the reaction that followed. What came to me was a baseball situation.
We teach our kids to get square to the ball, get our glove to the ground, field the ball in the middle of our body/stance and to turn toward our target and so on. You get the point. But that doesn’t always get the out. Sometimes the fielder has to dive for the ball, getting dirty and bruised and maybe tossing the ball behind his back to get the out. Is there less margin for error? Yes. Is it taught that way? Not usually. Is it effective in certain situations? Absolutely!
There is one important variable however. You must be highly skilled and practice daily to make plays like that. You can’t just walk out onto the field and expect to perform at that level. I don’t know the firefighter in Philly that made the save, but my guess is that he is very competent with his SCBA and has mastered the basic skills surrounding his air supply. I would also guess that he is one that takes his craft very seriously and wants to perform at a high level for incidents just like the one he performed so heroically for.
I always teach that in the fire service there are no “always” and no ” nevers” because right when you think you have every situation covered, a call comes along that you never thought about. Ask yourself every day when you walk onto that engine bay floor, “Am I ready for the worst call of my career?” The conclusion I always come to is “No.” But, I train, drill or engage myself into the fire service every chance I get, just in case that call or situation comes along that requires something a little extra of me. Hopefully I will be ready to dive for that ball to make the play.
Finally, thanks to Ray and Erich for having me on and thanks again to Fire Engineering and everyone on the site, you all keep me engaged and excited about the fire service. Take care and stay cool during this hot summer. Be ready to dive for that ball.
Here is a quick look at a building that offers more than one considering in regards to construction characteristics. The building in the photos is currently a resale shop. This building has been a tack shop, lawn equipment, sold boats and trailers. If you look hard at the front, it has been added onto.
The right side of the building was the original and the left was an addition. The front and side walls are wood frame with a brick veneer. As you can see, there is a parapet wall on three sides of the building. Both sides have been rearranged multiple times on the interior to accommodate the occupant of the moment. The original roof was flat.
This side view shows some exterior doors and the brick veneer. We can also see the electric service and a boarded up window. This two doors lead to different areas of the building and are not adjoining. You can also see that the parapet wall appears to be very tall and of combustible material.
This is the rear view and the most telling about this building. We can see that the back wall is different from the other three walls. The back wall is of block. We can also see that the roof is a lean to type of construction and knowing the history of this building, it is a “rain roof” or “roof over” that covered an old flat roof.
We can also see the parapet wall is brick on the two side walls with support ties. We know that those connections are very likely going to fail during a fire. There is a lot of void space that could be difficult to get to due to the “rain roof” and early collapse of the parapet wall should be expected.
In addition, the importance of the block wall in the back is important for orientation as well. If we get inside and get to a wall that is block, we have a pretty good idea of where we are. We only would know this by pre-planning and/or doing our 360.
These are just a few of the considerations you must think of when presented with this building or one like it. Discuss this with your crews and identify buildings that are similar in your response areas.
Train hard, stay safe, and remember those who have fallen for the lives of others. Please especially remember the families of Chief Kyle Ienn, Firefighter Doug Haase, Chief David Flint, Fire Lt. Kevin West who all left us this week.
I’ve done it and you’ve done it. It is going to happen again and it’s going to happen soon. With every line of duty death the Monday morning quarterbacks come out and tell us all what they should have or should not have done. We preach and teach to learn from these tragedies by understanding the circumstances surrounding the incident. But, what are we doing to make sure that this doesn’t happen?
Our job is dangerous. Worcester Fire Department is a highly trained department and according to some reports I have gotten, fight these types of fires every year. There are some additional factors like high winds and possibly illegal renovations that compromised the structural integrity of the building. Neither of these two factors can be anticipated or controlled. We have a job to do and when we are told that someone is in a building, we do what we can to get to them. As I write this I have not heard confirmation that there was or was not a victim found.
I have no doubt that we could dissect and scrutinize what happened and we would have done this or that differently. We will hear how simplistic it should have been and others pounding the table that we don’t enter buildings that are compromised. Guess what? As soon as that building catches fire it is compromised!
What frustrates me more is that in the fire service many are real good at solving problems after the fact and few try to identify and solve them before they are actualized. It’s not just judging the YouTube video or a line of duty death, no, it’s many things. “That guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.” “That guideline is outdated and inefficient.” “That small time volunteer fire department doesn’t know what they’re doing.” Of course, most of these “kitchen table experts” have no desire to be proactive or to put themselves out there to take the lead on a project to make a positive change.
Sometimes, and I’m not saying this is the case yet, things are not preventable. Sometimes we are going to lose. We hope not, but we are running into burning, compromised buildings to save lives and property. When someone comes to us and is telling us someone is in the building, if we can make a push, we will and we should. This is what we do and why we are here. There is no time to run down a check list to determine if a certain profile is met. We don’t have time to switch our size up decision making. We have to consider the situation presented to us at the time and use our training and experience to do our best to attempt a rescue.
But, if we do want to be Monday morning quarterbacks I suggest a different approach. Take your expertise and knowledge to some less fortunate departments in regards to resources for training and teach. Share your experience and knowledge with these departments and individuals to keep bad decisions being made on the fire ground. I believe that this is the best way to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for others. Whether there were mistakes or not, we can help to prevent those who don’t have resources to perform appropriately on the fire ground.
We recently did a class in a remote part of our state and had two firefighters arrive with some hand-me down gear and SCBA. Neither had worn the gear before and neither had ever had on an SCBA. They stated they had been fighting fire with self purchased boots, gloves and helmets. That’s it. Nothing more. This is still happening. We had to pull these two firefighters aside and walk them through some basics about gear and SCBA operations. We took extra time with them just to teach them basic firefighter skills. They were more than willing to learn and were eager.
The point is this: let’s put our efforts into training and teaching firefighters to operate safely instead of beating up departments, officers and firefighters after the fact. Can we learn from these tragic events? Absolutely! We should learn lessons in a constructive manner from not just tragic events, but from every call we run. There is always something to learn whether things went well or not so well.
Train, be tolerant and make a difference in a positive way. Stay safe and thanks for reading.
This is a very simple post but one that I am finding is ever more important. Take a look at the picture and what is the first thing that you think of? What do you see? We've all done this drill or scenario and we have all at one point or another felt the anxiety of being "stuck" in a box, tube or tight spot. Some may have had instructors that guided us through and others may have been screamed at they needed to get out or they were going to die in there.
The main purpose of this post is to find out what we are trying to accomplish. It is more than just getting through the prop. We want to emphasize calm and deliberate actions. I like to point out the small things. Calm breathing and think one step ahead. What is at the other end and how should I prepare my next action accordingly? Is there a drop off? Is there a tighter space? I also like to practice getting to my pockets. Whether I actually need to or not, if I get into a position that I would need them, I have practiced that. I will be confident that I can reach my wire cutters in a tight spot. The same with my flash light; can I turn it on? Do I have an extra one I can get to?
Can I reach my radio? Can I reach my PASS device? I like to feel the space I'm in with one hand and arm to determine what the shape of the space I am in. It may just help me with placing my tank. It's not always on the bottom corners. There could be debris or the opening may be wider at the top. Feel the shapes and contours.
I know this sounds simplistic and time consuming. It is! But, if we do it over and over again, we will be better and faster at it. With these drills it's not always about speed. Creating good habits that will be easy to recall in a crisis situation just may save your life.
Here is a quick video that uses a unique perspective to shine a light on leadership and followership. I really enjoyed the video and I think the message is perfect. A great picture of leadership in action; in a little different setting. I hope you enjoy and learn something from it. Thanks for humoring me.
As you may know, I am playing with a different format. It wont be all of the time for every blog, but something a little different. So, here is one based off an article that I did. Please be patient as I work with this. Hopefully, it will enrich your blog reading.
Thanks, and let me know what you think.
I understand that all buildings, for various reasons, will not get a 360 performed on it during a fire. But, for those that we do get to job around, we need to understand what we are looking for.
I recently spoke with an acting officer and asked him what he was looking for when performing a 360. His answer was "fire." I asked what else? The answer came, "ways in." We need to make sure we are taking advantage of the information being made available to us while we are circling the building.
This post is going to focus on some basement indicators. The pictures shown below are just examples of things you might see when making the round. Keep in mind that at night you need to take a hand light. For example, the wood behind the basement windows below may not be noticeable with shining a light in the windows on the way around.
We must pay attention to what we are looking for when conduction the 360. As you can see, we may be faced with some very challenging situations. Not only do we need to be aware during the initial arrival, but the RIT will need this information as well.
As always, follow you own operational guidelines and train hard.
Check the upcoming radio show tomorrow night on "Taking it to the Streets" with Chris Naum. It is sure to be a great show and a good time. Here is some more information:
Please call in with your questions and get involved in the online discussions that always are part of the shows.
Stay safe and keep training hard.
Looking at these pictures shows us a building of ordinary construction. These are usually older buildings and the building we see is typical of many downtown areas. This particular building has storefronts on the main level with multi-family units above.
What are the main characteristics of ordinary construction and how do they relate to fire operations?
What are some problems we face with this type of building in many downtown areas that will cause us concern?
What are the challenges with apparatus placment, not just with this buildling, but with many small, downtown buildings?
What are our challenges in regards to exposures and how do we address them?
These are just a few issues we face with this type of building. It is important to be prepared for a fire in this type of occupancy. It will be challenging, especially late at night when that upstairs is occupied and as you can see, access is not necessarily fast.
Share your thoughts and experiences and as always, train hard and thanks for reading.
This post is just a simple challenge of tactical considerations. The photos that are posted show a single-family house that had fire venting from the C/D corner when first units arrived. The first in crews could not make the entire hallway on the first push do to intense heat and smoke.
The smoke was banked almost to the floor even with the fire venting from that corner bedroom.
What are some considerations that must be looked at with this fire? What would be your next plan of action? Why ist there so much heat and smoke with the fire venting the exterior? What is your size up?
Share your thoughts and answers with everyone and use this as discussion with your crew.
As always, train hard and stay safe,
We know the importance of inspections and identifying hazards in the buildings that we serve and respond to. This is just a simple reminder of one hazard that depending on it's location in the building, can be missed.
Combustible storage under stairs or in the stairwell can cause some serious problems. Even in sprinklered buildings this is a hazard.
The pictures you seeshows a pile of combustible storage in the stairwell and under the stairs in a hotel. You can also see that this is in the means of egress area next to the exit door.
Smoke from a fire from these combustible materials can make the use of the stairwell almost impossible and access for firefighters difficult. Occupants are expected to use the stairs during a fire and a large mass of people filling a smoke filled stairwell is disastrous.
This building also is equipped with standpipes in the stairwells, so making that connection would be difficult for fire crews trying to make the connection.
Keep an eye on your buildings and explain this situations to your crews to impress the importance of inspections and mitigating these hazards before they become problems.
Train hard and stay safe.
We have discussed standpipes in the past, but I think it is worth mentioning again. Standpipes in large and high rise buildings are our water source. It is important to know the location of these devices and to ensure that they are not obstructed.
In addition we need to know and understand if they have pressure reducing devices and how that affects our operations. Study up on these systems and know how to adapt and trouble shoot the stand pipes in your area.
The picture shown is a stand pipe in a hotel. I went to ice in the hotel I was staying in and this was right next to the ice machine. I didn't measure it, but this standpipe would be very difficult to connect to. Additionally, if we did get connected with hose only, there would certainly be a kink at the coupling, further reducing our pressure.
This might be a time when we would try to put an elbow on the connection prior to connecting our hose. However, I think that with this particular standpipe connection, it would be a stretch just to get the elbow connected as well.
Know your buildings and their systems. Prepare for these types of problems and come up with solutions before you have a fire. Thanks for reading and train hard.
We have all been taught to control the door. I have watched countless firefighters try to kick in doors, bulldoze their way through them along with every other tactic that does not include a set of irons. Here is one reason why control in forcing doors is so important.
This door is in a city hall that my son was practicing in. The area that the door is in used to be a balcony that goes all the way around the gym with two doors that lead to the main floor of city hall. Over the years, as they ran out of space, they began to make office space on that balcony.
The door is almost always locked and access to this area is likely to be searched during a fire. The hazard here is obvious, but the lesson for any situations: control.
By using proper forcible entry techniques with a set of tools, you can control the door and be cautious about what is behind it. A fall from this door could be disasterous. We have to be ever diligent to master the basics. A lack of basic forcible entry skills could result in a Mayday and RIT situation which makes a hazardous situation even more so.
Be smart, know your area and train hard. Master those basic skills and require it of your crew if your the boss. Stay safe and thanks for reading.
Engine House Training, LLC is a new training group based in St. Louis, MO. We have been doing training together for a long time and finally decided to do something formal with it. As much as we like to train, we are great friends and have a blast with what ever we are doing.
The web site and blog site are not fully operational yet, but blogs should be coming in the next day or so. In the meantime, we have launched our Facebook page and would really like to have you check it out. We have already posted a great deal of material to the page and some of it you have seen before from this site. You can also follow us on Twitter.
The primary mission with Engine House Training, LLC is to give firefighters the tools they need to survive each and every call. Although our curriculum is based on self survival, Mayday, and RIT, we place a heavy emphasis on basic skills that will hopefully keep firefighters from needing to use the techniques that we teach.
Here is a quick list of our instructors and their backgrounds:
It's Sunday and I was just sitting at work and I started thinking about an anchor point that I was taught with webbing. Not having tied it in a while I went out and made sure I remembered how to get it done. Lucky for me my memory is still intact.
The other guys came over and we had a short lesson for it's uses and showed them how to tie it too. This led into a morning of going over some very simple, but effective, ways to use the webbing that we carry.
Everyone has their own ideas about why they carry a certain length of webbing or rope. But, don't limit yourself to the harnesses and escape systems that utilize webbing. The pieces I keep are for a multitude of "basic" practices that assist me, when needed, in actual firefighting.
We can use them for controlling doors, advancing a large line, searching off of a line and more. I would like you to all share your webbing stories. What lengths do you carry? Why? And are there any special tricks you have picked up from some experienced guy in the house?
Take care and remember our troops and their families this Memorial Day.
We all know that it is easy to fall into a rut when it comes to training and even operating at what is labeled the "routine" call. Especially for those that are in suburban, mostly bedroom communities.
If your like most of the country, you pull past the house to get three sides, stretch a pre-connected hand line and make entry into the front door. Does this sound familiar to anyone? And, more times than not, this works just fine.
However, sometimes the bigger issue becomes where to take the second line? What apparatus does it come from and what size should it be? What about the length?
For most single-family, single story homes, line placement becomes mundane and we get a bit complacent. The second line many times gets pulled from the same rig as the attack line and goes in the same door as the attack line.
Again, I prefer a seconday apparatus for the back up line, but in most house fires the front door is appropriate for the back up line too. Of course, it all depends on what is taking place and many other variables as well.
One of the biggest problems I see quite often is on two story house fires. The first line goes to the fire up stairs and the back up line is at the door. One of the primary concerns is the integrity of those stairs. That second line needs to go to the stairs to protect the egress for the crew operating on the second floor.
The same has to be done if you have an attack team on the first floor and a search team on the second; a line needs to be deployed to the stairs. We must protect that egress point. In addition, note changing conditions to the search team and the attack team. Maybe the fire has spread or can't be found by the attack team and your observations are important.
What are your operational guidelines for the back up line? Share you experiences and thoughts.
As always, stay safe and train hard.
This is a little off the beaten path for me and my blogs, but it is something that I have been paying more attention to lately. I have been laid up from a hernia repair and have been reading and doing a little research for other projects and it occurred to me that I utilize the same three books on a regular basis.
No matter what level you are at in the fire service, you should be building a decent sized library of fire/emergency related books. This is one more method to staying sharp and on top of your game. Having quality information to turn to for those forgotten tricks of the trade or to remember a characteristic of a certain type of construction is paramount and makes you a better firefighter.
Here are the three books that I use on a regular basis and why.
1. “Building Construction for the Fire Service,” 3rd Edition, by Francis L. Brannigan.
This book was one I got during the mid 90′s for a college course and I have it highlighted, marked and it is never too far from my grasp. The great thing about this book is that it has never gotten outdated. The information is still relevant and insightful. This is definitely one book that should be on your shelf.
Make sure you look at the “Tactical Considerations” in the chapters that give some ideas on how to apply the lessons to firefighting tactics.
2. ”Collapse of Burning Buildings: A Guide to Fireground Safety,” by Vincent Dunn
This book has a great deal of content that is covered in Brannigan’s book but more directly applied to the collapse of these buildings. Chief Dunn goes into great detail how these buildings collapse and the problems that different types of collapses cause.
The illustrations are great examples for those that need some visual help and you can apply this information immediately as a firefighter and fire officer. This book is a great tool to have company discussions with. Sit down with your crew and pick a chapter or topic and start playing out scenarios in your jurisdiction where these dangers exist.
3. “Safety and Survival on the Fireground,” by Vincent Dunn.
This book is everything firefighting. Just about anything that you want to know about firefighting is in here. The great thing is that the information is short, to the point and easy to apply to situations.
Keeping these books and others within reach is a good way to stay engaged. These resources gives you valuable information at your fingertips when you need it. It is also a good way to pass on information to others and to have meaningful conversation about “fire stuff.”
Stay safe and keep your mind on the task at hand, becoming a better firefighter.
Other places to get books for the fire service:
These are just a few, if you know of others, please let us know.
Lately we have been discussing different types of construction. So far we have covered the characterisitics of Type I and Type II construction. This is some really basic rookie school stuff, but it is so important to be able to identify these different building charaecteristics. We know that fire behavior is directly linked to the type of construction and the fuels invovled. It also plays a major role in determining our tactics as company officers and firefighters on the fireground.
So, a quick review of what we have covered so far:
Type I or Fire Resistive is protected, non-combustible construction. Typcially steel and concrete with it’s structural components protected with fire resistant materials to meet or exceed two hour fire ratings.
Type II or Non Combustible is just that, non combustible construction. It’s structural components are not protected by fire resistive materials, but can be sprinklered. These too are usually built with steel and concrete, similar to Type I construction but without the fire resistant protection.
On to Type III construction. Type III construction is also referred to as Ordinary construction and is very common in a great deal of our older downtown areas. It is not limited to those areas but this was the primary method of building during the early and middle part of the 20th century.
This type of construction is identified by masonry or brick exterior walls with wood joists and interior structural components. Type III construction is very rarely protected with sprinklers and they have concealed spaces. These buildings in many communities have been remodeled and altered due to the age and use of the building, so concealed spaces are a real concern.
During a fire the interior structural components are attacked and failure of these components can cause an exterior wall to fail at the same time. The joists, for example, will rest in the masonry or brick wall and may be used to support the exterior walls. When these joists fail or burn out, they can compromise the support of the exterior wall it is connected to.
Here are some pictures that show some Type III construction.
Take a look at your area and determine where your different types of construction are. Discuss and plan for fires at those buldings and how you would operate at each one. What are some different challenges each pose for you as a firefighter or company officer operationally?
Train hard and remember, master the basics.
Every winter for the last 29 years firefighters from all across the state of Missouri have gathered to attend classes by well know state instructors as well as highly regarded national figures in the fire service. This year, the 30th year, is no different.
The annual Winter Fire School opens with a large exposition and registration on Friday afternoon that lasts into the evening. This is a great time to network, get a look at apparatus, tools and other fire service equipment. This is usually one of the more popular parts of the weekend besides the drinks and story telling at the local establishments. (Tiger, you need to get down here sometime and collect a lot of story telling stuff.)
This year’s events begin February 4th and wind down on the 6th. They even allow me to instruct there, that’s how kind they are and their willingness to throw a guy a bone.
In the past Chief Billy Goldfeder, Chief Alan Brunacini and Dave Dodson have instructed at this conference. This year’s line up is just as good including Chief I. David Daniels, Chief Smokey Dyer, Lt. Mike Wilbur, Chief Alan Brunacini, Glenn Gaines, Tim Sendelbach, Chief Clyde Pfisterer and more.
With these lineups the Missouri University Fire Rescue Training Institute offers some of the best classes and instructors from all over the nation. If your close or looking for something to do, you need to get here to experience the networking and Brotherhood that this conference has to offer. Look me up, we can get a drink; or two.
Stay safe and we would love to see you in Missouri next month.
There is a lot of talk about the different kinds of size up in regards to survivability profiling. Although I respect those views, I just don’t think we are doing ourselves in the fire service justice by creating an additional “method” for performing your size up.
I still believe that a size up is a size up and the information you gather during it, along with experience, training and knowledge, will direct you into the right direction. If the building is tenable or not; if it has burned before; if it is in poor condition; it doesn’t change how you size up. What changes is how you use the information.
That is if you have trained properly. Let’s face it, not all company and chief officers are adequately trained in giving a thorough size up and applying that information into your strategy and tactics.
So, here is a little drill that is simple but yet effective. I am going to give you four sides of a single-family dwelling and you need to size it up.
In addition, what can you tell about the layout of the house just by looking from the outside? What are the indicators or clues that you are using to make these educated guesses?
Share your experience and techniques, new officers and firefighters need this stuff, so be generous.
Train often and stay safe.
This is just a reminder to get the whole picture when doing inspections and pre-plans. Just don’t get lazy when doing these prevention functions. Especially on larger buildings that require some effort to get around.
Recently I did an inspection at a local nursing home. It had been awhile since I had been there because we have the crews do most of these inspections. There were some things I had forgotten about and had I not taken some extra time, would have missed.
As I walked out the back of the building this is what I saw. Unremarkable, really. However, to the right is the drive that leads from the front of the building.
Apparatus coming to the rear would get a view similar to this if they were assigned to the rear.
This second picture is the view from the other corner. What do you notice? It is kind of tough to see and unless you are aware and really looking for it, you might miss it. Especially at night or in rain or snow and with smoke conditions.
If you look real hard you will see one end of an 1000 gallon LP tank jutting out from behind the shed.
If you were to walk over there and actually take a look, this is what you would see.
These are two 1ooo gallon LP tanks that are near the rear property lines. These feed the appliances in the building with the exception of the generator, which has it’s own smaller tank.
But, there are separate shut offs for each line going into the building, but it is not typical.
The lines and shut offs could easily be missed entirely if prior experience with this building is not known.
This is one of the numerous shut offs for the gas lines going into the building. They are all up high on the building and some are actually on the roof.
It just points out the importance of knowing your buildings, in particular your high life hazard buildings.
Take some extra time to ask the maintenance person a lot of questions, they usually like to show all of the little intricacies of the building.
Be safe and be familiar with your response area.
Stay safe and be careful.