Riding the Right-Front Seat — Part 5

  A well-trained truck company can make the incident commander's job easier by identifying problems inside the fire building that might be unknown to command personnel. They are like combat engineers in the military who go in ahead of the main force...


  A well-trained truck company can make the incident commander's job easier by identifying problems inside the fire building that might be unknown to command personnel. They are like combat engineers in the military who go in ahead of the main force and lead the way, removing obstacles for...


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A well-trained truck company can make the incident commander's job easier by identifying problems inside the fire building that might be unknown to command personnel. They are like combat engineers in the military who go in ahead of the main force and lead the way, removing obstacles for the commander and the force. This is called reconnaissance.

In a similar way, truck company members must report to the incident commander on each step they take to open up, search and ventilate. Members should search for hot spots and fire extension as they move through the building. Anything that seems out of order should be communicated to the incident commander. This is called company reconnaissance.

A truck company is also required to perform forcible entry as needed at the scene of an emergency. Whether it is through a door, window or other opening, it is the truck company's job to see that it is done. Entire firefighting operations have been stymied because there were no people to force entry. Something as simple as opening the right door at the right time can save a life or prevent the destruction of a building.

If you give your fellow firefighters a way in, it is always good practice to open a secondary way out. This is done in case you lose the original way in, for whatever reason. Let us look at the various entry points you may be called upon to breach:

Doors — There are four general types that must be considered. They are revolving, overhead, sliding and swinging. Each has its special characteristics and a fire department must practice with each.

Windows — The same holds true for windows. There are a number of different types, each with their own particular nuances — check rail, double hung, louver, jalousie and factory. Know them. And believe me when I say that practice in this area does make a difference.

Remember the simple statement found in the IFSTA Forcible Entry manual that tells us to always, "try before you pry." You do not necessarily have to break things. Be inventive and be non-invasive. However, if time is of the essence, "in is in," regardless of how you accomplish the task.

Ventilation

Ventilation operations are extremely critical elements of a truck company's bag of tricks. When performed correctly, ventilation can save lives, reduce the extension of fire and make the attack easier. In order to see that the job of ventilation at a fire is performed correctly, you should adhere to the following guidelines:

• Be sure that fire attack personnel are ready to deliver water

• Ventilate from the top down

• Ventilate from leeward to windward

• Crew of two to the roof position

• Officer and one or two firefighters to the interior

• Use existing openings on the roof as needed, such as doors, scuttles, skylights and vents, or create your own with a saw or use a pike pole to push the ceiling down

• Open the windows on leeward side first

I want you to vent high, vent low, vent often. One of the major problems encountered during firefighting operations involves smoke and heated fire gases. If not properly handled, they can be fatal. At the very least, they can slow an otherwise effective firefighting attack.

Vent high involves creating openings in the roof. This is not the simple task it once was. Newer lightweight truss construction has created roofs that will not stand up to the weight of a firefighter equipped with a full array of personal protective equipment (PPE). The best way to know what types of construction exist in your area is to visit and pre-plan buildings in your response area.

The manner in which one would vent an old three-story frame tenement in an urban area might be quite different from a modern townhouse or condominium. The same comparison could be made between a new lightweight steel warehouse and an old fire-resistive concrete monster. Many of these older buildings are simply too tough to fall down.

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