Thread: How to tell North, East, South, West?

1. How to tell North, East, South, West?

This may seem like a silly question. I read a thread earlier about determing which side of a house is north, east, south, west.

The thread wasn't really helpful in helping me understand how to tell which side is N, E, S, or W.

How do you tell which was is N, E, S, or W when working a house fire? There was a fire in a training complex...and there where no street signs anywhere and one of the officers just said "we got smoke on the south side of the house."

How do people determine that?

What if your out in an area with no street signs?

Thanks.

2. Sense of direction....... If its that big of a problem for you, Get a compass.

3. Know which way the main roads and highways run. Then just use them as a guide.

If it's daylight, look for the sun.

Carry a map...

compass..

4. There's a 200 alarm fire in the sky. It starts every morning in the East, and ends every evening in the West.

If you look at it when its starting, you are looking to the East.
If you look at it when its starting, then turn left, you are looking North.
If you look at it when its starting, then turn right, you are looking South.
And if you turn around when its starting, you are looking West.

This is brought to you courtesy of the nice Purple Dinosaur who is breaking it down for you Barney Style!!

5. Originally Posted by BridgeportFireExplorer
This may seem like a silly question. I read a thread earlier about determing which side of a house is north, east, south, west.

The thread wasn't really helpful in helping me understand how to tell which side is N, E, S, or W.

How do you tell which was is N, E, S, or W when working a house fire? There was a fire in a training complex...and there where no street signs anywhere and one of the officers just said "we got smoke on the south side of the house."

How do people determine that?

What if your out in an area with no street signs?

Thanks.
This is the reason that directions are not used when describing the sides of a building on fire.

Going clockwise, the alpha side is the front of the building. left side is bravo, rear is charlie, right is delta.

Using a, b, c and d to describe the sides can be confusing , as b, c and d sound a lot alike.. add adrenalin and fireground noise, it becomes unintelligible gibberish.

6. Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
This is the reason that directions are not used when describing the sides of a building on fire.

Going clockwise, the alpha side is the front of the building. left side is bravo, rear is charlie, right is delta.

Using a, b, c and d to describe the sides can be confusing , as b, c and d sound a lot alike.. add adrenalin and fireground noise, it becomes unintelligible gibberish.
This is the official correct answer.

7. Huh??..........

Whiskey - Tango - Foxtrot, Over................

8. Sun rise in east....Sun set in west, Kemosabie.

9. Thanks, Captain Gonzo!

But...that would work great on a small house.

How about a big commercial fire in a building that's "uneven"...you know...multiple ( >4) sides.

I think it would be easier to just use the Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta system....they seem to use both N,E,S,W and A,B,C,D here.

Eh.

10. Originally Posted by BridgeportFireExplorer
Thanks, Captain Gonzo!

But...that would work great on a small house.

How about a big commercial fire in a building that's "uneven"...you know...multiple ( >4) sides.
That's why there are more than 4 letters in the alphabet.

The Wildland world uses divisions on fires that are larger than small towns, so in this case, size really doesn't matter.

But only in this case......

11. Originally Posted by BridgeportFireExplorer
Thanks, Captain Gonzo!

But...that would work great on a small house.

How about a big commercial fire in a building that's "uneven"...you know...multiple ( >4) sides.

I think it would be easier to just use the Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta system....they seem to use both N,E,S,W and A,B,C,D here.

Eh.
Like the Pentagon?

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie Delta, Echo...

12. Originally Posted by JTFIRE80
There's a 200 alarm fire in the sky. It starts every morning in the East, and ends every evening in the West.

HOLY CRAP! Does this mean I should be wearing my SCBA 24/7?

13. Originally Posted by VinnieB
HOLY CRAP! Does this mean I should be wearing my SCBA 24/7?
Well according to NFPA/all the geniuses of the world that know everything....Do I really need to Finish?

14. Originally Posted by JTFIRE80
There's a 200 alarm fire in the sky. It starts every morning in the East, and ends every evening in the West.
Ha! that's nothing compared to the 10,000 alarm great tumbleweed conflagration!*

*another blast from the past!!!

15. Originally Posted by ChiefKN
Know which way the main roads and highways run. Then just use them as a guide.

If it's daylight, look for the sun.

Carry a map...

compass..
Ever been on a north south highway where the sun is right in your eyes?

16. Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
This is the reason that directions are not used when describing the sides of a building on fire.

Going clockwise, the alpha side is the front of the building. left side is bravo, rear is charlie, right is delta.

Using a, b, c and d to describe the sides can be confusing , as b, c and d sound a lot alike.. add adrenalin and fireground noise, it becomes unintelligible gibberish.
Exactly, we once had an A/C who was convinced if you were too stupid to not know East from West anytime of the day you should be fired. Well no one got fired, but he's long gone and we still use the number system. Sides 1,2,3,4 floors are first, second, third, fourth, etc. and A,b,c,d are used to delineate exposures, 2, 2-A, 2-B, etc.(side 2, exposure buildings first, second and third to the left)
BTW, the number vs. alphabetic side labeling is always good for a white shirt argument. Thankfully the numbers win whenever someone pulls out an SCBA mask and asks for a demonstration of the A,B,C, D. Of course using Alpha, Brave, etc... is the answer to that, but why change a good thing? Don't f*ing say NIMS either!

Another question. Does anyone actually use more letters of numbers for the sides o fthe building than 1,2,3,4 or A,B,C,D? Givent he four sides everyone immeidatley knows where everything is in relation to where they are, but adding just more more side confuses things a little, and I can't see how this would work in practical application at a large building with more than 5 sides.

17. We always used Front, left, back, rear. Front is always street side of structure. If more sides, use left front, left side, left rear. No discenible reason I know of other than its the way we've always done things.

18. Originally Posted by RFDACM02
... Sides 1,2,3,4 floors are first, second, third, fourth, etc. and A,b,c,d are used to delineate exposures, 2, 2-A, 2-B, etc.(side 2, exposure buildings first, second and third to the left)...
Just curious, but if I am on the 3rd floor, rear of the building, do I report as being 3-3? or would it be "third floor 3"?

19. posted by RFDACM02
Exactly, we once had an A/C who was convinced if you were too stupid to not know East from West anytime of the day you should be fired. Well no one got fired, but he's long gone and we still use the number system
It was easy for your personnel... can you see Penobscot Bay? That's east!

On foggy days and at night, the smell of the ocean, especially at at low tide was a good indicator of direction.

20. Originally Posted by JTFIRE80
There's a 200 alarm fire in the sky. It starts every morning in the East, and ends every evening in the West.

If you look at it when its starting, you are looking to the East.
If you look at it when its starting, then turn left, you are looking North.
If you look at it when its starting, then turn right, you are looking South.
And if you turn around when its starting, you are looking West.

This is brought to you courtesy of the nice Purple Dinosaur who is breaking it down for you Barney Style!!
Oh, good one, I needed a good chuckle this morning, Thanks

21. Originally Posted by ScareCrow57
Ever been on a north south highway where the sun is right in your eyes?
Yes, and I then know that it's an east and west highway.

This really isn't this hard.

22. Originally Posted by Bones42
Just curious, but if I am on the 3rd floor, rear of the building, do I report as being 3-3? or would it be "third floor 3"?
"Third floor side three". Generally we try to make location descriptions as easy as possible. No shortening to the "3-3" as most often if you're telling someone your location it's for a good damn reason. This is why we stick to the number system, it's what we all know and have used for years. Just because some bureaucrat made NIMS a priority doesn't mean we should sacrifice our safety to implement some of this BS.

Unlike the mid-west, a we have streets that change direction, do not follow straight lines and are gridded in a fashion not consistent with any compass. BTW, do you use "magnetic North"?

Chief Gonzo: Hard to use the smell thing here as the dump on the inland side of town produces a low-tide quality aroma that permeates the landscape during humid no wind days.

23. Originally Posted by ChiefKN
Yes, and I then know that it's an east and west highway.

This really isn't this hard.
NO... We have North South Highways here that turn and go east west but are still considered north south. Their general direction is North/south, but there are areas of it you are going east and west.

24. This is easy, as everyone along the front range of Colorado knows, the mountains are to the west!

25. As others have said, this is why we use sides A,B,C and D or 1, 2, 3 and 4 depending on your preference.

The only time I use compass directions is when I'm giving a helo instructions for a LZ. Usually there is no building to reference and I don't think they would know what I meant if I told them to land on side D of the accident scene.

For us, it's fairly easy. The bay in on the East, the River is to the West and Rt 4 runs north and south through the county.

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