Do You Close The Door?

There has been much discussion about the issue of closing the door. I’m talking about whether firefighters entering an apartment from a public hallway or stairway, or even firefighters entering a single family home through the front door, should close the door behind them when they enter.

There are many fire departments that have firefighters enter ahead of the hoseline to search the building for victims and fire. When you get to the second floor and locate the fire in apartment 2F, there are decisions to be made. The question is, after getting through the door and entering the fire apartment, do you chock the door open, or close the door behind you?

This debate and discussion has been around for years and my good friend Marty Monaghan, who retired several years ago as the captain of FDNY Ladder 36, fought this fight  for years. He would ask just about every officer he met or worked with, “Do you close the door?”

Marty felt strongly that the door should be closed and I agree. I wrote an article years ago for the FDNY training magazine WNYF where I explained that forcing open the entrance door and then chocking it open had the same effect as crawling across the room and venting a living room window. Once you make a horizontal opening, you have created and escape or exit point for the built up pressure and heat to start moving to. 

Even without another opening opposite it, the fire will begin to vent out that opening and move in that direction. If a window in the fire room is vented or self vents, there could even be a rapid or violent movement of fire toward that entrance door that was chocked or left open. This is not only a tactical issue but a firefighter survival issue.

Recent wind-driven fire experiments have illustrated that a fire being pushed by a wind blowing into the window of the fire area, if the entrance door is left open, can in just seconds be pushed to and through the entrance door and raise temperatures there and down the hallway by hundreds of degrees in a matter of seconds.

There is a whole lot more info about this issue out there that we all should familiarize ourselves with, but for now I just want to know, “Do you close the door?” Let me know by commenting below.