Merry Christmas from the jumpseat! As the big day rapidly approaches the excitement in the children’s eyes grows brighter and brighter, but we need to remember a few things about this time of year. In today’s world the amount of BTU’s (not big heat unit’s, Tim the tool man) that we face have grown exponentially higher than even five years ago. With that in mind add in the amount of decorations such as Christmas trees, wooden figurines, and garland everywhere and the amount of fuel available in the homes can been even greater.
It impresses me every year when they publish the videos with the Christmas tree fires. Every time I watch these types of demonstrations it always amazes me that the room is furnished and finished with what I would call a “normal” fire load, not the type of fire load that is most common for us in the modern fire environment. We all know that homes packed with belongings are the standard today, but we also need to keep in mind the added fuel from holiday decorations.
These types of added fuels can make for an even hotter environment that reaches flashover faster. Our size-up should be our number one sense used during this season. Where is the tree, how many decorations are in the front yard, has “Clark Griswald” installed an extra power meter base for the Christmas lights? These are all great clues on the possibilities of an added fuel load. While crawling through the massive amounts of entanglement hazards, such as strands of lights, we need to be ever mindful of the possibilities of flashover. High heat, zero visibility, and dark, dense forceful smoke can be a sign of doom.
So during the most wonderful time of the year lets celebrate with our families the season by coming home to them after every run. Let’s give them the present of having us around for another 50-plus years. I would hate to think that my family would be missing the holiday cheer next year because I didn't factor in the added fuel load on my next fire!
Merry Christmas Firehouse.com readers and a Happy New Year!