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"Proceed, Engine 1."
"Chief, we have knocked down all visible fire, we still have medium smoke and high heat conditions. The primary search is not completed."
Command could see heavy smoke pushing from the attic vents on the front of the building. The conditions he was observing were different from the progress report he was receiving from Engine 1.
"Command to Engine 1. Hey, Cap, we still have heavy smoke conditions coming from the building."
"That's affirmative, chief. The truck company is opening the walls and ceilings to check for hidden fire."
"Truck 3 to Command. Chief, we have heavy fire pushing from the rear attic vents, we are in the process of opening the roof."
Photo by Joe Hoffman
Firefighters assigned to overhaul duties check the walls of a classroom for signs of hidden fire. A close examination ensures that every location where hidden fire could still be burning is searched thoroughly.
The units operating on the interior exposed fire in the walls and ceilings and started to knock it down, Conditions started to improve. The heavy smoke started to lighten up, indicating that the hoselines were reaching the seat of the fire.
"Command to Staging. Have a truck company take their salvage covers to the interior and start salvage operations."
The fire had heavily damaged two bedrooms on the top floor of the two-story dwelling and water was starting to drip through a ceiling light fixture onto the first floor. The salvage company pushed the furniture aside and covered it. The firefighters checked the electric to make sure it had been shut off. They pulled the light fixture away from the ceiling and placed a debris can beneath it to collect the dripping water. Other members of the truck company had gone to the undamaged rooms on the second floor. There, picture frames were removed from the walls and placed on the beds, the furniture was pushed to one side and covered.
"Engine 1 to Command. Chief, we have opened the walls and ceilings and exposed the hidden fire. The primary search has proven negative. Conditions on the interior have greatly improved."
"Command to Truck 3. Give me a progress report."
"Chief, it is looking pretty good, we have opened the roof. All visible fire has been knocked down and only a few hot spots remain."
Overhaul in the fire service is "the checking of a fire scene to determine that no fire remains." A close examination ensures that every location where hidden fire could still be burning is searched thoroughly. Salvage is the preservation of the structure and its contents from additional damage from fires, smoke, water and firefighting activities.
"Overhaul" and "salvage" are distinctly different strategies that require planning for these operations to be successful. The specific needs at an emergency scene will dictate how these strategies will be implemented. An incident may be large enough to require the deployment of numerous units, including the assigning of a "salvage group" or "salvage sector," or small enough to have one or two units accomplish overhaul and salvage simultaneously.
Once a fire is under control, suspected areas must be examined for hidden fire. The fire officer must determine:
- Whether to open a specific area.
- Where to make the opening in a wall or ceiling.
- Whether a small opening or the entire wall or ceiling must be opened.
If an officer suspects fire in a hidden location, the order should be given to open the area. Hoselines should be stretched to locations that need to be opened. One hoseline can protect adjoining areas being investigated. Overhaul operations can occur in the fire building and exposed structures. Consideration must be given to the possibility of the spread of fire via horizontal and vertical openings. Signs of fire extending to these areas can be detected through indicators: