Fireground Operations: 15 Priorities in Protecting Exposures – Part 1

Keeping a fire confined to its room, floor, building or neighborhood of origin is a critical objective of every incident commander. Anticipating how a fire can spread from one area to another has always been a challenge for the members of the fire...


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8
Controlling flow paths and fire growth

Our education and experience over the years has repeatedly told us that any time we ventilate a fire building through any opening, it must be coordinated with the engine company’s movement. This concept is not new, but what is new is how modern furnishings in a super-heated environment can present overwhelming fire growth, most notably when an opening or removal of a window, door, or roof opening is not controlled or coordinated, and how that opening affects the fire’s “flow path.”
Flow path is defined as the movement of heat and smoke from the higher pressure in the fire area/fire building toward the lower pressure in the structure through such avenues as doors, hallways, stairs and any open or removed windows, skylights, scuttles or roof-cutting operations. More than ever before, fire departments are being reminded to take a more disciplined approach to where, when and how they vent. This awareness is being combined with a stronger emphasis on getting water on the fire and quickly cooling the environment, staying out of anticipated flow paths, controlling flow paths, the use of thermal imaging, assessing wind speed and direction and where possible giving consideration to room, hallway and floor layouts prior to venting. Taking all of this into consideration and communicating to interior members the where and when of the vent is a must. Much needs to be done and discussed as we move forward on this subject.
Next: Exterior exposures