It is another cold and windy night at 2am when the tone alert sounds. There is a report of a fire on the 12th floor of a high rise senior housing project in your district. As you pull up to the address you can see fire swirling around in one window on the upper floor of the building. The fire doesn?t appear to be pushing out the window and there is very little visible smoke condition. You realize that the wind is pushing everything back into the building.
There are numerous reports of people trapped in their apartments from the 11th floor up. You assume that the apartment door must have been left open by the fleeing occupants, allowing the heat and smoke to fill the public hall and stairways of the building. As the first due engine officer you know that this will be a tough fight. So before jumping off the rig you transmit the 2nd alarm and inform all other incoming units that you may have a wind blown fire situation.
Fires in fireproof high rise multiple dwellings can be very punishing to the firefighting forces. The key to a successful operation lies mainly in the engine companies ability to place the initial attack line into operation quickly and efficiently. There are many variables that will effect the outcome of fires in fireproof buildings. The first due engine officer must make decisions based on these conditions found on arrival.
The engine officer should assure that all the members of his company are trained in standpipe operations for Fireproof buildings. They should pre-plan these buildings and have prior knowledge of any hazardous conditions that exist. The time to find out about a bad building in your district is before a fire occurs in it. They should also be aware of the different stairway layouts that can be found in this type building. scissor, return, isolated, wing or even Convenience stairs all can be found in these buildings and will effect the operation differently.
In most cases you will only have to deal with the scissor or return stairs in this type building. We must remember, that the location of the fire apartment in relation to the stairway, will drastically effect the outcome of fires in these buildings. For this reason, in buildings with 2 stairways and both equipped with a standpipe, the stairway closest to the location of the fire apartment should be your first choice. All members should also know the location of the buildings Siamese and the nearest hydrant. The post indicator valve and the location of any isolation valves found within that system should also be known.
While responding to reported fires in these buildings, the Officer and firefighters should be sizing up the building based on their prior knowledge and any information given to you by the dispatcher. One of the key pieces of information used in your size-up is the apartment number. Knowing the apartment number and apartment line, in relation to the stairs, will aid in the proper placement of the attack line. Just as important is what floor the reported fire is on.
A fire on a lower floor is less likely to be effected by the wind as one on an upper floor. Also, are there numerous reports of people trapped in their apartments on the fire floor? This could be an indication of an open door to the fire apartment, which means heat and smoke has severely affected conditions in the public hall. Are there reports of smoke on numerous floors? This may indicate that smoke has entered the stairways or elevator shafts and is affecting conditions on the upper floors. Making rescue and removal of trapped occupants from above the fire much more difficult. Quick water on the fire is a must in any of these situations.
When you reach the address of the reported fire, you must transmit any vital information to other incoming units. Is there fire or smoke showing from the outside of the building? Are there people trapped and where? Are the elevators working? These are all things that should be relayed to units responding. Once on the scene the officer should direct his chauffeur to hydrant closest to the standpipe Siamese connection. Do not rely on the buildings systems, you must supply the standpipe with a fire department pumper.