Dumpster Firefighting

While fires in dumpsters may not present a loss of property in terms of value, we should avoid being complacent. The content of a dumpster is unknown. Topic: Dumpster Firefighting Time Required: 2 Hours Materials: Appropriate visuals...


Attack Line Advancement

• Wear full personal protective clothing and SCBA

• Use a minimum of 1-1/2" attack line

• Approach from corners of container to avoid being struck by objects that may be blown out of side openings

• Position stream between exposures and container

• Protect exposures

• Utilize pike poles (one on each side) to open and close lid to control fire as required - should not be looking at inside from above

• Use pike pole or forcible entry bar to pull open side hatches (pushing will put personnel in the line of fire)

• Rear hinged doors can be opened for inspection and overhaul as necessary


• Dumpsters require special considerations - overhaul should be accomplished from outside the dumpster; personnel should not enter the dumpster as the surface is unstable

• Contents should be unloaded at a landfill - water applied to the fire will add weight to the dumpster

• In certain cases remove to vacant area and unload to conduct overhaul - may require fire department standby

• Notify carrier or owner to assist in clean-up activities

• If hazardous materials are suspected, authorities may need to be notified


Safety Precautions

• All personnel should be in full protective clothing and using SCBA

• It may be necessary to review hose handling techniques prior to the start of any evolutions

• There should be a continuous supply of water

• Only Class A non-contaminated fuels should be used

• At least one 1-1/2" or larger attack line should be used

• A safety officer must be appointed to oversee the training involving fire

Attack Methodologies

• Place attack line(s) in service with equal students on each and one instructor on each

• Rotate personnel as appropriate

• Prepare to advance, cool, and extinguish

• Charge and advance attack line(s)

• Narrow streams to cool exterior of dumpsters on approach

• As students approach hatches, maintain a position at the corners to the hatch using wall of dumpster as protective cover

• Widen streams when closer to dumpster to increase heat absorption

• Use pike pole or pry bar to open side doors

• Be cautious and alert for post extinguishment/flare-up

• Retreat from dumpster facing fire area

• Use pike pole to open dumpster top or lid to vent while approaching on attack - vent person uses side wall of dumpster as protection and stays clear of hatch openings

• Overhaul dumpster if appropriate

Dumpster Firefighting

• Types and Construction

• Safety Hazards

• Extinguishment

• Fire Attack Practical

Remotivation: While a dumpster fire may be considered a controlled burn, the contents in those containers is unknown and, in most costs, hazardous. The value of the contents of a dumpster is not worth an injury.

Copyright - 2002 Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. All rights reserved.