As a business owner or proprietor of a public building, it is your legal duty to ensure there are an adequate number of fire marshals responsible for evacuating the building during a fire drill or emergency. On the afternoon of February 18, 2010, firefighters in Chicago responded to a residential fire at 4855 S.
Based on news accounts, the company assigned to fire attack was in the stairwell and another firefighter was performing horizontal ventilation of the floors above the fire on Side C when a backdraft or smoke explosion occurred. Recognizing subtle fire behavior indicators during incident operations can be difficult and important indicators are often only visible from one location (other than where you are). One of the great assets of using video as a learning tool is the ability to stop the action and go back to review key information.
You may want to watch this video clip several times and give some thought to what factors were influencing the B-SAHF indicators (particularly smoke, air track, and heat).
The next post in this series will take a closer look at the video and key fire behavior indicators. As discussed in the previous posts in this series, military battle drills are an immediate response to enemy contact that requires fire and maneuver in order to succeed. Once a hoseline has been deployed for fire attack it is good practice to stretch a backup line. The first priority in fire attack operations is to get a hoseline in position to apply water effectively to the fire. As discussed in Battle Drill Part 2, the thermal insult experienced in an extreme fire behavior event is dependent on temperature (of gases and compartment linings) and flow of hot gases. Crews engaged in fire attack or search are often first to encounter rapidly deteriorating fire conditions. Fire conditions that are beyond the capability of a single hoseline may be controlled by the higher flow rate from multiple lines. While the attack or search crew is likely to be first to encounter worsening fire conditions, this is not always the case. Regardless of how deteriorating conditions develop, safe and effective tactical withdrawal requires a coordinated effort between interior crews and as soon as possible, report of conditions to Command and if necessary transmit a Mayday message. Drill 9-Extreme Fire Behavior Battle Drill-The Backup Line: Key hose handling and nozzle techniques when faced with extreme fire behavior are the ability to apply long pulses of water fog or maintaining a continuous flow rate while maneuvering backwards.
As discussed in the last post in this series, military battle drills are an immediate response to enemy contact that requires fire and maneuver in order to succeed.
This post discusses application of the battle drill concept in training firefighters to react appropriately on contact with our enemy (the fire) which requires fire (application of water) and maneuver (movement to a safer location) in order to succeed.
In the United States, it is common for some companies working on the fireground to operate inside burning buildings without a hoseline (particularly when performing search). If your department’s operational doctrine includes companies working on the interior without a hoseline (or without being directly supported by a hoseline), it is essential that firefighters are trained to 1) recognize early indicators of potential for extreme fire behavior and 2) maintain a high level of awareness regarding locations which may provide an area of refuge.
In situations where you were unable to recognize potential for extreme fire behavior or you have been unable to control the fire environment, immediate action is required! As stated in the first paragraph of this adaptation of the United States Marine Corps Riflemans’ Creed, Without my nozzle I am useless. The extent of thermal insult experienced in an extreme fire behavior event is dependent on both radiant and convective heat flux. Drill 8-Extreme Fire Behavior Battle Drill: Key hose handling and nozzle techniques when faced with extreme fire behavior are the ability to apply long pulses of water fog or maintaining a continuous flow rate while maneuvering backwards. While this drill focuses on single company operations, it is important to extend this training to include crews operating backup lines.
When training to operate in a hazardous environment, avoid the mindset that it’s only a drill. When developing skill in nozzle technique and hose handline, and in particular the critical skills required to effectively perform this extreme fire behavior battle drill, it is essential to maintain critical elements of context such as appropriate use of personal protective equipment, position, and technique. At a formal dinner on 23 January 2010, Chief Ed Hartin was recognized as an honorary member of Company 1 ?Germania? of the Valdivia, Chile Fire Department. Left to Right: Teniente Juan Esteban Kunstmann, Chief Ed Hartin, Capit?n Francisco Silva V. On 24-27 January 2007, the Company 1 ?Germania? of the Valdivia, Chile Fire Department hosted the first international fire service congress to be held in South America. CFBT practical skills sessions were held at the Valdivia Fire Department?s training center and focused on developing basic skill in nozzle technique and understanding fire development in a compartment.
Congratulations to the members of Company 1 ?Germania? for their success with the first Congreso Internacional Fuego y Rescate! Two recent events in Baltimore, Maryland and Gary, Indiana point to the criticality of recognizing key fire behavior indicators and understanding practical fire dynamics.
Early on the morning of Friday, January 15, 2010, the Baltimore City Fire Department was dispatched to a residential fire Southeast Baltimore.
According to a department spokesperson, the first engine took a line through the front door to the rear kitchen area where crew had some trouble finding the basement stairs. Five firefighters injured as a result of this explosive fire behavior phenomenon were transported to area hospitals. As always when a video of an incident involving extreme fire behavior is posted to the web, there is ongoing debate about what happened. Given adequate fuel and ventilation, a compartment fire may reach flashover as it develops from the growth to fully developed stage.
For many years firefighters have been taught that ventilation reduces the potential for flashover. If a fire is sufficiently ventilation controlled and a high concentration of excess pyrolizate and unburned flammable products of combustion accumulate in a compartment, the outcome of increased ventilation may be different. Use of this approach may aid in making sense of what may have occurred in the Baltimore incident.
Keep in mind that while being right is great, it is more important to work through the process of figuring things out to improve your understanding.
Monday morning January 18, 2010 firefighters in Gary, Indiana were operating at a residential fire at 24th and Massachusetts when they experienced a near miss involving rapid fire progression. I have been extremely busy working on a project for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and preparing for the International Fire & Rescue Congress in Valdivia, Chile.
After returning from Chile, I will be back on task with examination of the concept of battle drills to develop effective reaction to worsening fire conditions while operating in an offensive mode. As we start the New Year it is a good time to reaffirm our commitment to mastering our craft. Early on the morning of December 23, 2009, the Cheektowaga Police department was dispatched to 305 Highland Drive in Cheektowaga to investigate a 911 call for an unknown type problem. The Hy-View Volunteer Fire Company responded with a first alarm assignment and observed flames showing on Side C. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)? Hy-View Volunteer Fire Company personnel recovered two female civilian victims from the residents. The previous posts in this series, examined the importance of proficiency in use of the firefighters? primary weapon in offensive firefighting operations, and outlined several drills that can be used to develop proficiency in basic nozzle operation and hose handling. This post extends this examination of how to develop proficiency in nozzle operation and hose handling, presenting method or developing skill in working under conditions with poor visibility and application of indirect attack as an offensive firefighting tactic.
Drills to this point have been under conditions of good visibility where firefighters can observe nozzle pattern and fire stream effects.
In Nozzle Technique and Hose Handling: Part 3, door entry was illustrated at an exterior door.
This simple demonstration illustrates the hazards presented by smoke overhead, the importance of gas cooling, and good door entry technique. When working under conditions of limited visibility, other sensory feedback becomes even more important to the nozzle operator. Drill 6-Operating Without Visual Reference: This drill integrates door entry, hose handling, and nozzle techniques (pulsing and painting) under conditions with limited visibility. Indirect attack involves banking water off the ceiling to reach burning fuel that is inaccessible to direct application of water (see Figure 4). Several years ago I had a company officer that I worked with tell me that he had learned about a ?new? fire control technique called the indirect attack at strategies and tactics class.
The concept of the indirect attack was an outgrowth of extensive study of fuel oil fires within confined spaces conducted by the instructor staff of the US Coast Guard Firefighting School at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during World War II (Layman, 1955). In 1947, Lloyd Layman completed his service with the US Coast Guard and returned to duty as Fire Chief with the Parkersburg West Virginia Fire Department.
As presented by Layman, the indirect attack was generally performed from the exterior of the building. Layman?s Error: Chief Layman made a number of extremely important and astute observations, particularly with regards to the tremendous cooling capacity of water when it is not only heated to its boiling point, but also converted to steam. Drill 7-Indirect Attack from the Door: When faced with a fully developed fire in an enclosed area or a severely ventilation controlled fire (decay phase) that presents potential for a ventilation induced flashover or backdraft.
This approach can be extremely useful when the door to the fire compartment can be controlled and the hose team is presented with multiple priorities (persons reported and the need to control the fire to maintain the safety of interior operations).
While there are other tactical approaches that could be taken in this situation, use of an indirect attack allows the hose team to address both life safety (firefighters and occupants) and fire control tactical priorities. As discussed in prior Reading the Fire posts and the ongoing series examining fire behavior indicators (FBI), using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme, developing proficiency requires practice. At 2235 hours on November 19th the Bethlehem, PA fire department dispatched Engines 6, 9, 7, Ladder 2 & Chief 205 for an apartment fire with persons reported at 1992 Gatewood Lane. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building (on floor 2 and in the attic)?
Crews use a combination of exterior attack (from the tower ladder and the roof) and interior attack from the second floor to control the fire. How did vertical ventilation influence the fire in the trussloft (think about positives and negatives)?
What alternatives to vertical ventilation of this lightweight roof system could be used to control the fire and prevent extension over uninvolved units? While this incident had a positive outcome, it is important to recognize the potential for collapse of lightweight, engineered structural systems such as truss roof assemblies. Line of duty deaths involving extreme fire behavior has a significant impact on the family of the firefighter or firefighters involved as well as their department. The previous posts in this series, examined the importance of proficiency in use of the firefighters’ primary weapon in offensive firefighting operations, and outlined several drills that can be used to develop proficiency in basic nozzle operation and hose handling. In the first three nozzle drills learners develop basic proficiency in basic nozzle use (fixed position), integrating nozzle use while moving a hoseline forward and back, and use of the nozzle while moving the hoseline through varied size compartments. As illustrated in Figure 1, firefighters often encounter rapidly changing conditions after making entry.
Note: Photos by Probationary Firefighter Tony George, Prince Georges County Fire Department.
Safe and effective firefighting operations depend on effectively reading the fire and recognizing potential stages of fire development and burning regime (see previous posts on Reading the Fire) and effective tactical operations to take control of the fire environment. As you review this door entry procedure, you may find that it makes sense to you exactly as presented.


Size-up begins as you exit the apparatus and approach the building, but continues at the door and after you make entry! At the door, pay close attention to air track and heat (door temperature) indicators as these can provide important clues to conditions immediately inside the building! Gas Cool Above the Door and Assess, and Control Interior Conditions: When you open the door to assess conditions inside, hot smoke will likely exit at the top of the door. Entry: If it is safe to make entry, the process of cooling above the door as it is opened is repeated and hot gases inside the compartment are cooled as the hose team makes entry.
Remember: The purpose of door entry procedures is to reduce risk of extreme fire behavior during and immediately after entry!
Drill 4-Door Entry-Inward Opening Doors: Many doors (particularly interior and exterior residential) open inward (away from the nozzle team), door entry requires that the hose team integrate forcible entry, door control, and nozzle operation.
Drill 5-Door Entry-Outward Opening Doors: Commercial doors (and some interior doors) will open outward (towards the hose team).
Alternately, a forcible entry prop could be used to integrate the forcible entry component of the door entry process. As discussed in Nozzle Techniques and Hose Handling: Part 2 [LINK], it is essential for firefighters to have the ability to react immediately to deteriorating conditions. As I have been packing and preparing for my move all weekend, I have not had time to develop an in-depth Monday morning post.
On March 27, 2009 the Emerson and Red Oak Fire Departments were dispatched for a residential fire at 901 Lowell Ave in Emerson, IA.
The following video clip appears to have been shot early in incident operations as positive pressure ventilation is being implemented. As you view the video clip, what do the fire behavior indicators (particularly smoke and air track) tell you about the stage of fire development, burning regime, and effectiveness of tactical operations?
It is also a legal requirement to undertake a fire risk assessment for any premises where people are at work or where it is open to the public. Three firefighters on the interior and the firefighter on the ladder on Side C were injured and were transported to local hospitals for burns and possible airway injuries.
What Building, Smoke, Heat, and Flame (B-SAHF) indicators would you anticipate seeing if potential backdraft conditions exist (or may develop as the incident progresses)? What indicators could be observed while the firefighter was forcing entry and ventilating the daylight basement on Side C?
What indicators can be observed at the door after forcing the outer door (prior to ventilation of the window on Floor 2)? What B-SHAF indicators do you observe at the window on Floor 2 prior to breaking the glass? What indicators are observed at the window on Floor 2 immediately after breaking the glass? What B-SAHF indicators were present after the ventilation of the window on Floor 2 Side C was completed and 04:08 in the video clip? As when a military unit is ambushed, the fire and maneuver of battle drill involves more than one weapon.
Klaene and Sanders (2008) observe that backup lines are needed to protect the crew on the initial attack line and to provide additional flow if needed (p. To this end, hoselines are deployed in series (attack line first, then backup line) not in parallel, where both lines are attempting to advance and maneuver in the same space.
Hose Handling and Nozzle Technique Drill 8 outlined the immediate actions that should be taken to support a tactical withdrawal under severe fire conditions. As noted by Klaene and Sanders (2008) one of the functions of backup lines is to provide additional flow if needed (p. If the hoseline is not withdrawn as the firefighter on the nozzle retreats, the hose may kink or become exposed to flames (either of which may result in loss of water supply to the nozzle).
Depending on fire location and building configuration, fire spread may cut off the attack or search line from behind. However, the backup line may initially need to advance to support fire attack, and then if necessary cover and support other crews as they withdraw. However, in the extreme fire behavior battle drill, coordinated operation of the attack and backup line is essential, making Hose Handling & Nozzle Technique Drill 9 an important step in skill development.
This requires the ability to operate and maintain control of the hoseline while moving backward. While common, this practice places firefighters at considerable risk when faced with extreme fire behavior.
When confronted by rapidly worsening conditions, action to escape must be immediate and without hesitation. However, as always, safe and effective operation in the fire environment is dependent on a solid size-up, dynamic risk assessment, maintenance of a high level of situational awareness, and proactively controlling the fire environment.
Total radiant heat flux is dependent on temperature (of gases and compartment linings) and flow of hot gases. This requires a coordinated effort on the part of the nozzle operator, backup firefighter, and potentially other firefighters working on the hoseline or at the point of entry. The importance, function, and operation of the backup line will be the focus of the next post in this series.
In addition, he was awarded a commendation for supporting the ongoing professional development of the members of Company 1 ?Germania? of the Valdivia, Chile Fire Department and encouraging them in their efforts to share their knowledge with Chile?s fire service. Participants included over 150 firefighters and officers from Chile, Peru, Argentina, and the United States. I look forward to working with these outstanding fire service professionals in their ongoing efforts to learn and share knowledge with the fire service throughout Chile, Latin America, and the World. First arriving companies observed a row house of ordinary construction with a large volume of smoke and flames issuing from the basement and extending to the first floor.
Another engine company went to the rear with a line to the outside stairwell leading to the basement and was just starting down the stairs.
This phenomenon involves a rapid transition to a state of total surface involvement of all combustible material within the compartment.
However, when fire development is limited by the ventilation profile of the compartment, changes in ventilation will directly influence fire behavior.
However, when a fire is ventilation controlled, heat release rate is limited by the available oxygen. This deflagration results in a rapid increase in pressure within the compartment and extension of flaming combustion through compartment openings. But, it is often difficult to classify extreme fire behavior phenomena into discrete, black and white categories.
Have a look at video of this incident and give some thought to what influenced fire behavior. Developing and maintaining proficiency in reading the Fire using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme for fire behavior indicators, requires practice.
The female caller was screaming, but the dispatcher was unable to determine the nature of the emergency. If presented with persons reported (as the first arriving companies were) how would you assess potential for victim survival? However, on the fireground it is critical that these skills can be used effectively under conditions of low or no visibility. One way to begin the process of developing the ability to work effectively with limited visibility is to go back to Nozzle Technique and Hose Handling Drills 1 & 2 and repeat these exercises with the firefighter?s breathing apparatus facepieces covered (unlike working in the dark, this makes it much easier for the instructors to observe and provide feedback). However, this method should be used anytime that firefighters encounter a closed door that may have hot gases or fire behind it. It is essential that firefighters become familiar with audible indicators of stream performance. I loaned him a small blue book titled Attacking and Extinguishing Interior Fires (Layman, 1955) and observed that this was not exactly a ?new? idea. The term indirect, referred to application of water into a hot compartment, but not directly onto the burning fuel.
Over the next two years, Layman and the members of his department worked to implement the concept of indirect attack for structural firefighting. Figure 6 illustrates an example of how an indirect attack may be used when operating from the interior.
This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using three video segments shot during an apartment fire.
Department investigative reports and NIOSH Death in the Line of Duty reports point out lessons learned from these tragic events. Shortly after 2000hrs, Atlanta Fire-Rescue dispatched a full first-alarm assignment for a reported fire in an abandoned house. Understanding what end of the rifle the bullet comes out of and that the rifle is fired by pulling the trigger is the easy part, learning to consistently hit what you are aiming at over varied distances requires considerably more effort. If hot smoke is present, the nozzle operator should cool the gases inside the compartment from the doorway. Fully developed fire conditions inside the door or a pulsing air track (indicating potential for vent induced flashover or backdraft) may indicate a need to consider alternative tactics). Door entry procedures should be used any time that hot smoke or flames may be on the other side of the door. Practicing door entry procedures with a variety of inward opening door configurations (location of the door in relation to walls and with varied size compartments) is critical in developing proficiency. However, a free-standing door entry prop (see Figure 3) provides a simple and effective aid to developing door entry proficiency.
While battle drills will be discussed in depth in a subsequent post, consider how this concept might apply during door entry. Later this week I begin my new job as Fire Chief with Central Whidbey Island Fire & Rescue. However, I did run across an interesting video clip a few weeks ago that ties in well with our ongoing effort to develop skill in reading the fire. At Bristol Fire, we can ensure that both these requirements are met with fully qualified professionals on hand to provide training and undertake fire risk assessments.
How would this differ from the indicators that conditions may present risk of a smoke explosion?
It appears that the video may have been shot through a window by an occupant of the D2 exposure. Soldiers or marines execute preplanned, sequential actions in response to enemy contact (see Figure 1).
This post will address the role and reaction of backup lines in the extreme fire behavior battle drill. The crew of the backup line can often assist in pulling up additional hose for the attack line (particularly when crews are lightly staffed). Survival requires that crews on hoselines extinguish or block the flames, cool hot gases, and maneuver out of the flow path to a point of egress or area of safer refuge. In these circumstances, the crew staffing the backup line has a critical role in supporting withdrawing crews.
In this situation, the backup line becomes the primary means of defense for operating crews.


Without a hoseline your only defense against rapid fire progress is recognition of developing conditions and immediate reaction to escape to a safer location (see video below); which is not always possible. The best way to deal with extreme fire behavior is to avoid it or prevent it from occurring.
The congress provided an opportunity to participate in both classroom and hands-on workshops on a wide range of fire service topics including fire behavior, ventilation, search, rapid intervention, technical rescue, and extrication. Under these conditions; increasing air supply by creating opening results in increased heat release rate.
Occurrence of this phenomenon requires an atmosphere in which the fuel concentration is too high to deflagrate without introduction of additional oxygen. Also look at the similarities and differences between the extreme fire behavior that occurred in the Baltimore and Gary incidents. This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using a video segment shot during a residential fire. The first arriving police unit discovered a residential fire with persons trapped, and requested fire response.
While this seems like an extremely slow and incremental process, it is likely to build a higher level of skill and require less time to develop proficiency than simply fumbling about in the dark! Flames exiting from a compartment door can ignite this fuel, resulting in rapid fire progression through the upper layer and into adjacent compartments. Think about the sound of a straight stream hitting the ceiling or a wall versus the sound of a fog pattern applied into the hot gas layer (without significant contact with compartment linings). Learners should begin by using good door entry technique on an exterior door and then move through several compartments (preferably of different sizes), encountering several doors (some of which should be closed) along the way to the seat of the ?fire?.
Conversion of water to steam absorbed a tremendous amount of energy and the expansion of steam filled the compartment (and potentially adjacent compartments which may also have been involved in fire).
In 1950 Chief Layman delivered a presentation titled Little Drops of Water (Layman, 1950) which outlined the adaptation of indirect attack for structural firefighting. In the late 1940?s respiratory protection (when it was used) was often limited to All Service Masks, which used a filter mechanism to remove toxic products of combustion (to some extent), but could not be used in significantly oxygen deficient atmospheres.
Layman states: ?The injection of water into a highly heated atmosphere results in rapid generation of steam?[increasing] the atmospheric pressure within the space (p. Tower Ladder (TL) 2 made two vertical ventilation (exhaust( openings in the roof above the fire. However, as time passes, these events fade from the memory of those not intimately connected with the individuals involved. On arrival, companies encountered heavy smoke showing from a boarded-up single-story brick structure. Often overlooked is the fact that the entry point is a ventilation opening; sometimes an inlet, sometimes an outlet, and often both. The elements of the door entry process reinforce one another, adopt the elements that make sense to you, but consider the value of the procedure as an integrated process. Each member entering the building should perform a personal size-up and predict likely conditions.
Heat release requires oxygen, controlling the air supply to the fire controls heat release rate.
The hazard presented by the exiting smoke can be reduced by applying two short pulses above the door just as it is opened (the firefighter controlling the door should crack the door as the first pulse is applied).
This may involve a short pulse or two or it may involve a longer pulse, depending on the size of the compartment and conditions (again, this requires the nozzle operator to think!). These procedures are used at exterior doors when making entry and on closed doors encountered inside the building. Firefighters must develop skill in performing door entry with both inward and outward opening doors. What action should the hose team take if they encounter strong indicators of backdraft conditions at the doorway (e.g.
Unfortunately, many firefighters see the backup line as simply another attack line and miss the first and primary function of this hoseline to protect crews on primary hoselines. As illustrated in Figure 2, the backup line is positioned to protect the means of egress and if necessary support fire attack. The attack line and backup line operating in a coordinated manner may be able to control fire conditions and allow continuation of fire attack. In some cases, firefighters fail to recognize developing conditions or the speed with which conditions will change. These scientific concepts drive the key elements of the extreme fire behavior battle drill.
For example, a Swedish army officer suddenly stood up while his unit was under fire while engaged in peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia. While topical areas were diverse, the congress had a substantive emphasis on compartment fire behavior with lectures presented by CFBT-US Chief Instructor Ed Hartin and Geraldo Crespo of Contraincendio in Buenos Aires, Argentina and practical training sessions conducted by Ed Hartin and Juan Esteban Kunstmann of the Valdivia Company 1 ?Germania?.
As crews were attempting to access the fire, some type of transient extreme fire behavior resulted in flames blowing through the unit and out the front door, rear stairwell, second floor windows, and skylights.
An interesting debate, but the value is not so much in being ?right?, but in understanding how these phenomena occur, what might have happened in this incident, key indicators that may (or may not) be visible in the video, and most importantly how to prevent this from happening to us and the firefighters that we work with! One key difference may be the speed with which heat release rate increases, but where is the dividing line (see Figure 2)?
The police officers rescued a male victim from just inside the door, but fire and smoke conditions prevented them from assisting the other occupants. This phenomenon is demonstrated by CFBT-US Senior Instructor Trainer Matt Leech (LT Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue) in Figures 1 through 3.
Alternately, this drill can be used to practice hose handling and nozzle technique in the context of primary search with a hoseline (or in support of crews performing search). In 1952 he completed Attacking and Extinguishing Interior Fires (Layman, 1955), a textbook that provided a more comprehensive look at indirect attack including several case studies based on incidents in Parkersburg where this approach had been used successfully in dealing with both residential and commercial fires. Indirect attack can be initiated as part of the door entry procedure (exterior or interior doorway). Unpublished paper, presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), Memphis, TN. Chief 205 requested a second and then third alarm as the fire extended rapidly into the trussloft.
It is important that we remember the lessons of the past as we continue our study of fire behavior and work to improve firefighter safety and effectiveness on the fireground. When the fire is ventilation controlled, opening the door and increasing air flow to the fire will result in increased heat release rate. The process outlined is not followed in a lock-step manner, it is important for the hose team to take action based on observed conditions. When making entry, size-up becomes more closely focused on conditions observed at or near the door and includes an assessment of potential forcible entry requirements as well as B-SAHF (Building-Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) indicators. If you force the door in preparation for making entry, make sure you maintain control of it. After watching the video and answering the questions posed in this post, do you think that this was a backdraft or smoke explosion? If this is the case, these lines should be reinforced by deployment of one or more additional backup lines.
In other cases, firefighters are unable to escape or take refuge outside the flow path of hot gases and flames quickly enough.
Extinguish or block the flames, cool hot gases, and maneuver out of the flow path to a point of egress or area of safer refuge.
When asked about this response, he explained that in training, he often stood up while leading exercises (Wallenius, Johansson, & Larsson, 2002). The firefighter from the first arriving truck assigned to the roof described the sound of a freight train coming through.
While this demonstration involves use of a single compartment doll?s house and ?porch roof?, the same phenomena can occur on a larger scale in any type of structure. If dynamic risk assessment indicates that entry is not viable due to fire conditions, the nozzle operator can use long pulses from the doorway (while the other member of the hose team controls the door) to apply water to hot surfaces, producing steam to gain control of conditions within the compartment prior to entry.
The crew makes entry from Side A, cools the hot gases overhead as they proceed to the fire compartment. Depending on the stage of fire development and conditions within the compartment or structure, this may result in extreme fire behavior such as a ventilation induced flashover or backdraft (see Fuel & Ventilation). If available, a thermal imaging camera (TIC) can be useful, but remember that temperature conditions may be masked by the thermal characteristics of the building.
How should the hose team react if, despite following good practice, conditions worsen immediately after entry? If you think that this was a smoke explosion, what indications lead you to this conclusion? Remember that the video provides a view from a single perspective (and one that is considerably different than the crews working at this incident). This fire control method should be integrated with effective tactical ventilation (think planned, systematic, and coordinated). As it is necessary to control the fire before proceeding past the involved compartment, they control the door, implement an indirect attack, and then extend an oriented search to locate the occupant while the nozzle operator protects the means of egress and maintains orientation for the firefighter performing the search in the adjacent compartments.
If a thermal imaging camera is not available, application of a small amount of water to the door may indicate temperature and the level of the hot gas layer (water will vaporize on contact with a hot door). However, it is important to remember that perceived temperature is also influenced by moisture.
On the other hand, water that is vaporized in contact with hot surfaces (that did not significantly cool the gases as it passed through the hot gas layer) adds to total volume as expanding steam is added to the volume of hot gases within the compartment. Within seconds after they entered, the battalion chief arrived, assumed command, and ordered the companies to operate in a defensive strategy. Excess steam production (from water hitting hot compartment linings) may make it seem like the temperature is rising, when this is due to increased moisture content in the smoke and air.
The difference between indirect attack and gas cooling will be explored in detail in my next post on Fire Stream Effectiveness and Efficiency.
Before the line could be backed out, the interior became enveloped in flames and the 3 firefighters from Engine 16 lost track of each other. If it seems like it is getting hotter, it is important to recognize if this is due to worsening fire conditions, or inappropriate water application. Firefighters who were outside saw the silhouette of a firefighter, enveloped in flames, running past the front door and moving toward the rear of the house.
The fire was quickly knocked down and crews made entry from both the front and rear to conduct a search. Firefighter Solomon was located almost immediately by a member who was using a thermal imaging camera and several firefighters quickly removed him from the dwelling.




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