A fire department in Texas had a “bad day” on the fireground, with two firefighters suffering burn injuries, but there is no question it could have been much worse. However, because the officers and members took a critical look at what happened at that house fire – what they did, how they...
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Command ordered an initial offensive attack from the A-side front door with a 1¾-inch line through the house to the fire room on the D side. The tactic employed by command was to stop the progression of the fire through the residence, which was being driven by a 25- to 30-mph wind from the north.
Three firefighters from Hutto Engine 1 forced entry through the A-side doorway. Two firefighters from Hutto Engine 2 brought additional tools and equipment to the A-side doorway. Visibility was good and the smoke was light as the three firefighters from Hutto Engine 1, the attack crew, proceeded into the kitchen and then into the utility room. A door from the utility room to the attached garage was opened slightly to observe the progression of the fire. Here, they found heavy smoke and moderate heat. The utility/garage door was closed as the hoseline was continued to be pulled up in order to make entry.
As the utility/garage door was opened to make entry into the fire room, visibility in the structure began deteriorating quickly. The attack crew proceeded into the garage through the utility/garage door. The first attack crew member sounded the floor with a halligan tool and maintained contact with the right-hand wall, the second member advanced with the nozzle and the third member pulled hose into the garage. All three firefighters advanced low, but not crawling, into the garage as they proceeded in search of the fire. One firefighter from Hutto Engine 2 remained at the A-side doorway, feeding hose into the structure, while the officer from Hutto Engine 2 proceeded to the kitchen/utility door.
Advancing the Line
The three firefighters of the attack crew continued advancing until they came in contact with the exterior garage door, the D side of the structure, continually getting lower to the floor due to the heat conditions. The heat was reported to be high, but not unbearable, and during this advance, the seat of the fire was not readily visible due to the heavy smoke. When the attack crew reached the exterior garage door, a significant amount of heat was felt coming from the opposite side of the garage (the C/D corner) from their location. Fire then became visible in the C/D corner of the garage and there was a brief rollover of flames across the ceiling.
The attack crew opened the nozzle in short bursts to try to reduce some of the heat, stop the rollover of flames across the ceiling and extinguish the fire. A relief valve from a cylinder located around the C/D corner began to vent and burn, which then progressed into a large amount of fire rolling across the ceiling and behind the attack crew. The amount of heat in the room increased considerably.
At approximately the same time, command was informed of an acetylene bottle in the garage and noticed a change in the fire and smoke conditions. The officer from Hutto Engine 2 advised command that heavy smoke conditions now existed in the structure. Command ordered the interior crews to exit the structure and return to the outside. The officer from Hutto Engine 2 yelled at the crew from Hutto Engine 1 to exit the structure about the same time the attack crew was already leaving the garage due to the high heat.
As the attack crew was exiting the garage, the heat quickly became untenable. Visibility throughout the structure at that time was bad due to the smoke pushing from the garage. The firefighters from Hutto Engine 2 provided voice contact for the three firefighters from Hutto Engine 1 to exit through the A-side doorway. The attack team followed the hoseline out of the garage and out of the building. Immediately, as the firefighters exited the structure, the officer of Hutto Engine 2 advised command that all personnel were out of the structure and a personnel accountability report (PAR) was obtained. The five firefighters then reported back to command, who initiated an exterior attack through the D-side garage door. It was not until the rehab stage that injuries were discovered by the two firefighters from Hutto Engine 1 who had made entry into the garage when the acetylene cylinder vented.