Recently, while commanding a basement fire incident in a four-story commercial building, I once again found myself teaching a young fire officer one of the many survival tricks I’ve learned during my firefighting career. I had assigned a lieutenant and his truck company to search and ventilate...
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The most important trick is when using an elevator to verify a report of smoke or of a fire in a building is to always have your breathing mask secured on your face and ready to use once the elevator doors open. This means having your self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) bottle opened, your facepiece strapped and sealed in position on your face, and your breathing tube ready to be screwed or connected to your pressure regulator. Being in this ready position before the doors open can save your life. In the event that the elevator doors open onto a smoke-filled corridor, you will be able to have your SCBA protecting you in mere seconds. This trick can allow you to either exit the elevator car and proceed with your attack instantly or give you time to escape this hazardous environment.
Imagine the elevator doors opening onto this same situation with more than four firefighters and their equipment jammed together in the elevator car. There would be no time or sufficient room in the car for the firefighters to don their SCBA. Several breaths of this superheated toxic smoke would be sure to incapacitate one or more of the firefighters.
Safety on the fireground takes foresight and caution. The safety of every individual firefighter must start with that individual.
Ron Baran is a battalion chief and 29-year veteran with the City of Montreal Fire Safety Service. He is a certified Fire Prevention Technician and has taught and lectured on various fire fighting subjects nationally and internationally. Baran has developed numerous fire and safety programs, public education videos and training courses. He is also a member of several national and international firefighting organizations and has served on the board of directors of an international fire training service. Baran is also a media specialist for his fire service.