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.
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.
This is a quick drill for you company officers and acting officers. So much of what we do is coach and mentor our younger firefighters. When we are out and about we need to take the time point out things that might be obvious to us, but maybe not so much to others on our crew.
Use these photos to explain the challenges, dangers, benefits and tactical oppportunities with this roof. Share what you see and pass it on. You might pick up on something that someone else does not. But, maybe we can reach a firefighter with this drill that we don’t have on our crew. Maybe we can reach a volunteer that doesn’t have that daily mentor.
Share and thanks for reading.
This photo shows a way to make an SCBA face piece for your RIT bag/kit glove friendly. You can use a garden hose or any kind of rubber tubing or hose that would be easy to grab with a gloved hand. We used a small bungee cord and ran it through the bonnet and attached both ends to the hose. This allows for easy feeling and grabbing the back of the mask with gloved hands.
We also attached large key rings to the pull tabs for the face piece bonnet to pull it tight. These rings can be any size you want, but make sure they are easily accessed and grabbed with glove hands.
These two methods have worked very well for us and during training evolutions has stood up to the pulling and tugging.
Let us know if you have other methods that work well for your department.
Thanks and keep training hard.
In our classes we spend a lot of time showing firefighters how to stay out of and how to get out of bad situations. Our fire service is seeing an increase in firefighters who are falling through floors into basements or sub-levels.
This is large part due to the engineered flooring systems that do not perform well in fire conditions. Fires are growing more intense much faster than in the past and the structural members of these buildings are under attack before we arrive in some cases. The importance of knowing our response areas, getting an accurate size-up, doing a 360 evaluation of the building and choosing an appropriate tactic are more critical than ever.
We teach different methods of removing ones self from a basement and removing a downed firefighter from basements. There are several techniques for removing a firefighter including using an attic ladder, using the hose, rope, or webbing to lift them out of the hole. We can also cut the floor away from the exterior making a window a door to remove someone. These are just a few examples.
For self rescue we teach using a hand tool as a step or as a recent post by Chris Huston discusses, using the drywall as a ladder to get yourself out. We also teach using webbing as a stepping device with the assistance of firefighters on the outside. All of these techniques are good and and should be practiced. However, we know that if we fall through a floor we may lose our tools and it is going to be very bad down there. Speed is of the essence.
When go over the teaching points of basement rescues, we always talk about things to do to avoid this from happening in the first place. Doing a good 360, sound the floors, descend stairs feet first, know your still area and building construction are good places to start. I also like to point out that the hazards we discuss in regards to basements, junk and clutter, can also be our friend.
If you find yourself in a situation in a basement or an area with a high window for egress, use the stuff in that space as steps. Pile it up under that window and climb out. Don’t forget to use the obvious. I have done training in acquired structures where we put firefighters in the basement and they are free to use whatever is available. You would be surprised how many limit their resources to only what is in their hands or pockets.
Train hard and sometimes thinking outside the box is as simple as looking around at the “stuff” that is right at your feet. Thanks for reading and expect fire! Jason
Options. On the fireground, the more the better. When talking Firefighter Survival, presenting viable options will lead to success. Over the last few years, many great methods of self-rescuing have been taught to the Fire Service. The most important, is staying out of situations that lead to needing them, which is quality performance of the basics. However, after you still did everything right, it can still go bad. Having several techniques to self-rescue is critical to ensure success.
One such technique is what I call the Drywall Ladder. This method is performed by kicking and punching holes into the drywall to create a ladder. You would perform this to escape out of high window.
The standard residential window is 18”- 44” off the floor, if it meets fire code for escape. Windows higher than 44” are not for egress and are used for lighting and ventilation. To use these windows for self-rescue you have an option or two. The first option if you just need a little “boost”, use your hand-tool to create a step. Halligans work great for this task. Once you are over and out, just make sure to reach back in and grab your tool. If the window is too high, this option may not be feasible.
Another option, create a ladder in the drywall. The first step is to determine where the window goes and if refuge can be made. Next, kick a hole into the drywall about 8 inches off the ground then another about knee high. Make sure you create these holes approximately the same width apart as your legs. After the first two holes are created, punch two more holes several inches above the first two with your gloved hand. Think about the distance between two rungs on a ladder. Please use caution when using your body as a tool, consider where the studs are. Can you see the pattern? This method is a distance relative of rock climbing. Be sure to keep your weight on your feet to decrease effort.
- Call the mayday first and get help coming.
- Where is the window relative to fire conditions?
- Will you and your partner physically fit through the window?
- What type of glass/construction is the window?
- Will taking the window draw fire towards you?
Next time you are performing self-rescue maneuvers in training consider trying this method. The more options you have and can quickly utilize one in a self-rescue the better.
This is a video of a drill we do. It starts as a VES drill with the firefighter ascending the ladder and then clearing a window. The space is smoked up and the fierfighter enters, starting his search for the door. While he’s searching we throw a rug or piece of plywood ontop of them to demonstrate conditions deteriorating and making them exit fast to the window.
The intent is to force quick recognition to exit and to perform the ladder bail fast. We do this drill after evolutions of just ladder bail practice. This let’s them put their practice into real life type situations and to do it at full speed.
We have a new YouTube channel and we hope to start posting new videos.
Take a look at the pictures and think about getting water on the fire to the upper floor and/or making rescues. This building is one that is old and not sprinklered. It sits off of the road and aerial access is extremely limited, almost ineffective.
When looking at this type of building we need to consider the construction type, occupancy, access and egress points and any special hazards. What are our initial resources and what should we have coming on the way? This building is four stories and is a dormartory at a college. The corridor length is 225 from stairwell to stairwell. As you look at the building in the picture, the stairwell on the right is more remote from a parking surface than the one on the left. The elevation that you see in the picture from this side is the same on the opposite side.
There is a basement under this building with tunnels that lead to other campus buildings with limited access and egress where kids sneak away to do what kids sneak away to do. There is a great deal of combustible storage in these basements and tunnels.
Type 3 construction is the type of building we are dealing with and the interior has been altered over the years. There is an automatic alarm system but no standpipes. Water supply is limited; the closest hydrant is approximately 300 feet from where you would likely place first in companies and that hydrant, if laid from, would severely hinder access by other units because of only one access to the campus.
So, here we go……..what are your tactics and why? Watch the video and let everyone know what you would do and why. Use this for discussion purposes and relate it to buildings that you might have in your jurisdiction. Share your thoughts and ideas.
Train hard and we hope to see most of you at FDIC 2012 next week.
Here are some more pictures from my A Shift buddies, Jim, Bob and Dave at Florissant Valley Fire Protection District. These photos show the challenges of just getting into some of our buildings. It's a lot easier to get a good look at the working mechanisms and traits of these obstacles during daylight and in non-emergent situations.
Take time to know what is behind these doors and grates. What are they protecting and how secure are they? Is just a matter of prying bolts out of the brick and concrete or are they really seated into the building? Now is the time to find out.
One note, the pic with the bars is actually a smoking lounge for an adjacent bar. Access is made from inside the building but it looks like a different occupancy. Don't wait until it's smokey and dark.
Read the doors and try to identify characteristics that can indicate foricible entry challenges. Do the doors swing out or in? Are the hinges exposed or protected? Is the jamb protected?
These are also important for RIT operations, to read the building and soften it up for interior crews if a company has not already done so.
Stay alert and get out and look around. You'll be surprised what you'll find.
Here is a short video that you can use for a drill or training night. Feel free to use however you like. This is from a recent basement fire and what was looked for and what was done. There are some considerations to think about. This is not everything for all basement fires. Just a simple tutorial. Feel free to add your experience and ideas to this video.
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.
This is another video I put together. I have been getting positive feedback on this format, so I will continue to do this.
We are addressing some concerns and challenges with apartment fires. This building is of the garden apartment style but this same type of building can be a stand alone as well.
As always, this is not the only considerations when looking at apartment fires. Follow your guidelines and get out to your response areas to become familiar with similar buildings.
Until next time, stay safe and ring those bells tomorrow and say a prayer for all of the fallen and their families.
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.
I have to admit that I am a proponent of safety. I believe in wearing seat belts. I believe in wearing all of your protective gear and equipment. I believe in being healthier. I believe in doing a 360 and situational awareness. These are just a few of the safety issues that I believe in.
What I will never understand is a statement that puts us, the firefighters, above the victim that could still be saved. This is not new but something that I just have to get off of my chest.
I recently wrote an article "Techniques for VES". The beginning of the article specifically states that two firefighters are always ideal for operating. With that being said, I understand that there will always be those that disagree with things that I write, and I'm fine with that. What I am not fine with is the recurring theme of "never" do this and "never" do that.
When I instruct I am very careful about not using "never" and "always." We know that in our business those two words can come back to haunt you. Although the article was about VES, I know that that is a hot button topic. What prompted the article was a training I attended and questions about the tactic.
The fact is that we train for ideal conditions and we want to always have a 2 in 2 out situation. But, we know the real world is not always so kind. Statements like, "Safety of your crew and yourself always come first, no matter what the situation" are troublesome to me. Where does this leave the people in the burning building or under the debris?
Text books are great and operating in this manner is great. But, what if you are the one checking the windows in the rear and you see a hand on the glass? Your by yourself and your equipped to make a quick grab from the window. Do you wait for three more people? Or, do you take a calculated risk and perform VES that you have trained for? I for one am going to do what I can to give that person every opportunity to live. This falls in the same category of an officer that told his guys to "never" search without a hose line. Is that really the case? We know that it's not.
Out of the norm tactics are dangerous, but not necessarily reckless. There is not nor should there be a "cookie cutter" way of doing things in a figurative sense. Our job and environments are dynamic. Should we have standards and guidelines based on best practices and methods that have worked for decades? Absolutely! But, we should not be so entrenched in our own ways as not to perform to what situation we are faced with at the time. The only way to be able to do that is to train for those situations and in order to train for them you must believe that those situations can happen.
All fire ground activities are best performed in teams. Is it possible that one firefighter may need to make a save utilizing VES? Yes. Is it dangerous? Yes. So, it lends itself that if is is possible, dangerous, and we could be placed in that situation, that we should train for it.
I just don't see our profession and our tactics in a "black and white" world. I see the need to adapt and overcome. But to do that we must expect these situations and train for them.
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.
I spend a lot of time looking at buildings and thinking about "how would I do this or that" and what kinds of challenges would exist should a fire happen. It drives my wife nuts! You know what I mean? You go to an establishment or an event and you are looking around for exits, sprinklers, fire alarms and just the general layout of the building.
It is good for us to identify these different characteristics on a frequent basis. Even if it isn't in your area, I believe it keeps you sharp. It's like practicing all of the things you have learned in your head. Granted, you aren't manipulating a tool or pulling a line, but you can do all of those things in your head. What would you do with this type of door? How about this wierd little addition and the ventilation problems that it poses? These are all considerations you can do any time and any where.
Here a few pictures from a recent trip to Nashivelle, TN. We were walking back from LP Field after the half-marathon and this building was right next to the pedestrian bridge we were on. I stopped and started taking pictures and thinking. Of course I got behind and my wife had to explain to everyone else in the group that I was a just a wierd firefighter who does this all of the time.
Take a look and share what you see and all of the different considerations and challenges that could be recognized during a fire in this buillding.
Take care and train hard.
With the recent storms that are hitting the majority of the country, I wanted to take a minute to ask everyone to take a little extra caution when confronting moving and flood water.
It is important to remember that just because it doesn't look fast doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. Any moving water, no matter how slow it looks is dangerous and should be treated as such.
Some fundamental reminders; Don't drive into flood or moving water. You have no idea what the conditions of the driving surface are underneath the water. It may be shallow but the power of water can alter and significantly damage the road surface below the water line. In some instances that portion of the road could be washed away completely.
Just like a firefighter or responder would not enter the HOT zone in a hazmat and perform technician level tasks, the same should be true with moving water. There are skills associated with tech level training that others don't have. The last thing we need is a responder not reading water conditions correctly and getting caught up in a strainer situation or worse.
Wear your appropriate PPE. If anyone is within 10-15 feet of the water, personal floatation devices should be worn. And they should be worn without bunker gear. This all comes back to training and skills. Be diligent and take the appropriate precautions.
If you are operating in moving water and units are in boats and in the water, have a back up plan. In the pictures you will see that we were operating in flood water that is moving with the river. We sent crews up stream in boats to retrieve a strander boater. Although we had to wait on the bank, we didn't just sit around.
Put out some throw bags at interval spacing with a few personnel to deploy them. If a boat capsizes or a person falls into the water we will be prepared to deploy the throw bags. Make sure your people on the bank and in the boats are wearing floatation devices.
Think ahead of time and have a back up plan. Use safety equipment and don't operate outside the scope of your training.
Stay safe and like REO says, "Keep riding the storm out!"
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.
Here is a great video of some basement removal techniques. This is another video from Dale Pekel, who looks like he may have gotten a promotion? Dale? Anyway, these props are able to be used for multiple drills and Dale is very generous with how to build them.
These two techniques are great and you can see that one must be comfortable and well trained in the use of the SCBA. Confidence comes from continued use and training. You must master the basics and know your tools like the back of your hand. This allows you to perform the more advanced tasks without worrying about the simple things because they become second nature.
Train hard and stay safe. Thanks Dale for another great video.
With the recent posts about the anniversary of the Colerain-Township LODD from 2008, I thought I would provide some thoughts about basements and some of the things we can do to better prepare.
It recent years it seems we hear a lot about firefighters being killed and injured in residential fires where the basement was involved. There are a few reasons for this including changing building construction as in the use of engineered i-joists and the heavy fire loads that we have in basements. In addition, most houses with basements don't just use them for storage anymore. Basements are used as active living spaces increasing activity, heating and electrical demands that were not always present in the past.
One thing that we can do to help prevent some of these issues is to know what we are dealing with. Probably one of the most important tasks a fire officer can do when arriving on the scene of a residential fire is to complete a 360 walk around of that building. This gives us information we cannot obtain by darting for the front door.
By seeing all four sides of the fire building we can see if the seat of the fire is in the basement and may allow us a more direct attack from the same level as the fire reducing the chances of floor failure. We are also able to see hazards that impede our egress if a quick escape is necessary. It gives us an idea of our options for ventilation and fire control.
The pictures show some of the hazards that we can find and keep mind of during our 360. Exterior stair wells are altered and secured causing us difficulty making an egress. This is a perfect time for the first due officer to relay these findings to the next due or the RIT crew. These other units should cut locks, open bulk heads and make sure the egress points of the basement are accessible.
Additionally, we need to know the characteristics of the buildings in our still area. This is a picture of a house that is approximately 50 years old and the stairs to the basement are in the garage. Not knowing this could put our initial attack team at risk by searching the main level while fire is burning under them increasing the chances of a failure. Some of these homes have no outside exit and we must protect the stairs for the basement crew just like we would for a crew that ascend to a floor above us.
Take some time to look around your area and discuss these issues with your crew. Prepare your newer members for that thermal layer as you descend the stairs into a basement. We all know what that first experience is like. Train hard and don't forget to do that 360, it may just save your life.
Train hard and stay safe,