My engine company had to do this at a fire at a YMCA where the sprinkler system activated. The floors were some type of cheap tile. Therefore, water flowed over the top of them with ease. We were trying to keep the water from the different rooms that had no been affected by the fire. This improvised dike made using a tarp worked well enough to keep a majority of the water out of the unaffected rooms.
The last use of tarps that we will discuss is a water chute. In 13 years with my department, I have had to use this technique once. By performing this task with a relative amount of competence, we were able to save quite a bit of damage to a very nice wood floor. Water was coming out of a light fixture from the fire extinguishment efforts directly above the living room. The light fixture was located within 10 feet from a window.
We were able to take the screen off of the window and open the window. We took a tarp off of a truck company on scene along with two 12-foot pike poles. We laid the tarp out to where it was folded in half. We laid the pike poles on either side of the tarp and rolled each pike pole up five or six times each. This formed a chute that was about a foot and a half wide. We moved a tall piece of furniture close to the leaking light fixture. We were able to take the hooks of the pike poles and hook them onto the top edge of this piece of furniture. We then took the bottom part of the chute and placed it out the window. The water was now landing on the slide part of the chute and flowing out of the window. Not too bad for a bunch of water wagon weenies - that's what Lt. Mike Wilbur of FDNY likes to call us engine guys.
One last option for salvage operations is the use of clear plastic rolls. Visqueen seems to be a very popular brand. The advantage of using this type of material is that it is cheap and can be cut to fit your company's particular need for each individual fire scene. Another advantage is that once the plastic is in place whether to cover furniture or to cover a ventilation hole that has been cut in a roof; it can be left for the owner/occupant to use as long as they need. It is not necessary to retrieve the plastic due to the inexpensive nature of the plastic.
As boring as the subject of salvage is, there is not a more important task short of fire extinguishment and rescue, which can be performed. The skill in which you perform this mundane task will have a direct impact on the quality of life of our fire victims. Hope is given by being able to save just a few items from a residence. It could be all of the household furniture, the family Bible or family pictures that can never be replaced. Good salvage work will enhance the image of the fire service more that just about any other task. It should be taken seriously and trained on a few times during the year.
I want to thank the crew of Quint 24 "A" shift, in Fort Worth, for their help with the photo's for this article and also for the advice on salvage operations.
Please send any ideas for future training drills, or suggested improvements and variations on this drill, to my e-mail at email@example.com. You and your department will receive credit for any ideas used in future articles.
- Company Level Training - An Introduction & links to all Company Level Training articles
- Webcast:Company Level Training by Larry Manasco
Larry Manasco will present: Company Level Training: Designing a Training Program at your Station to Fit Your Specific Needs during Firehouse World, being held in San Diego Feb. 3-7, 2008.
Larry Manasco has been with the Fort Worth, TX, Fire Department for 13 years and has served as a lieutenant for the past four years. He holds the classification of Fire Officer I and Hazardous Materials Technician. He currently works in one of the busiest engine companies in Fort Worth. He has worked for Firehouse World in San Diego where he was an assistant instructor for FDNY Battalion Chief Salka's "Get Out Alive" H.O.T. class. Click here to view Larry's recent webcast, "Company Level Training." You can contact Larry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.