1. #26
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    McMansion + Lightweight Construction + HVAC in Attic + report of fire == pucker.

    Not disagreeing with the tactics above, if you're sure what you have. My concern would be with many of the McMansions that are lightweight construction and built with very large attic areas. A potentially huge fire load that quickly becomes untennible even with little showing from the exterior..

    Primary task will be to get someone in there to assess the conditions. Fight it from the inside if you can but be prepared to pull out if it looks like the trusses are compromised. Truck crew with a TIC to assess while the Engine crew gets a line ready.

    A lot of the new homes require detectors in the attic spaces but that's not universal. The first indication of an attic fire may be when it self-ventilates. We're going to be behind the 8-ball in those cases and may have slap it back with a master stream before we can go in and get it.
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  2. #27
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    As an old guy, I can absolutely state that it "Depends". And since I have intimate experience with "Depends" I can state with absolute conviction that when you arrive at that moment when everything turns to "Shise" it is a great thing to be able to rely on "Depends".
    We have been working with dwellings that were constructed at the end of the 1800's and on through about 1920, when the construction practices moved from "Balloon" frame construction into the era of "Platform" construction. Subsequently we have passed through "Light Weight" construction into "Engineered Trusses". Now we are progressing into the "Green Era" where the insulating value and the degree of isolation of the living space from the outside is the paramount goal. To aid this high efficiency energy construction, we are continually inventing new techniques with little regard to how firefighting in these structures will be performed.
    I would like to point out some changes in construction methods that have a significant effect on the question posed by the O.P. Recently, I became aware of a light weight truss aptly named a scissors truss. These are primarily used where high vaulted celings are the feature of the clear story portion of McMansion entry and living areas. In the case of this type of truss, it is not readily apparent to the observer upon entry to the structure. Scissors trusses are typically less than 3 feet from top chord to bottom chord. Passing through the front entry obscures the perspective from outside to inside, and since the ceiling may be 25 or more feet to the peak in the living space the firefighter is seldom aware of the thickness of the roof assembly. Frequently these systems are insulated with blow-in insulation, but might also be foamed in place units. This is the old light weight construction using gusset plates, but with the added problem of heavy insulation and a small void space. The second area of change is in the construction of basements, where "Eco-Block" or similar systems are using styrofoam forms both inside and out used to support the concrete when the walls are poured. The styrofoam remains in place after the pour, and may or may not be covered with drywall depending upon the local codes. The latest "Green" technique is is to install "Structural Insulated Panels" (SIP's) for both walls and roof panels. Most of these are constructed by sandwiching styrofoam (up to 8 inches) between oriented strand board shells. The ends of the panels are fitted in a tongue and groove pattern that helps to seal the entire system from air leakage.
    At a recent MA job, our aerial was set-up about 40 feet from the structure. The original fire started in a vehicle in the attached garage. When we first arrived, there was very little smoke or apparent involvement in the main structure. The crew had already supressed the car fire, but due to the smoke issuing from the roof, there was an indication of fire in the roof area of the main building. Shortly, the smoke began rolling heavily into the main house, and before we could address the roof ventilation with the aerial, a large flame front issued from the cornice on the side toward the aerial. This flame was forcefully blowing more than 15 feet out of the cornice area. We had to abandon our position with the aerial as hand lines were ineffective at supressing the flame front coming from the cornice and the radiation was endangering the aerial and pump operator. It was apparent that there was a liquid component to the flame as there were ribbons of flame dripping fromthe cornice area. This was our first exposure to SIP's and our crews don't care if they never see another fire like this.

  3. #28
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    We had a rash of SIPs in the 80s - the ones I saw had the trusses 48" OC - with the sandwich spanning the distance. Composition shingles on it - looks no different from the outside.
    ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    1 Tower,1 Warthog, 2 minutes. You can look at anything in the attic you want,hehe T.C.
    If you intend on using this as your primary tactic for walk-up type attic fires remember 2 things.

    1.Get used to making alot of parking lots.
    2.Be prepared to spend an excessive amount of time on the fireground

  5. #30
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    Comment was in making a access way on Gable ends with small vents or no access. No more parking lots HERE than anyplace else. Different constructions requires different tactics but attic fires not easily accessed from INSIDE seem to calm down with a 1500 GPM short blast. Your experiences may vary. Excess time? Yup,if you can't get to it,you DEFINITELY will spend excessive time. Fast knock down,not so much. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Guidry View Post
    uhhhhh from the unburned side????
    How old are you?
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    Vent the roof then attack from below.
    Open up the ceiling, throw up a collapsible ladder through the hole and attack from the floor below.

    NEVER, EVER throw water from the roof into the attic when interior attack crews are trying to access the attic. You will only force heat and fire down on them.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by careyc1090 View Post
    Vent the roof then attack from below.
    Open up the ceiling, throw up a collapsible ladder through the hole and attack from the floor below.

    NEVER, EVER throw water from the roof into the attic when interior attack crews are trying to access the attic. You will only force heat and fire down on them.
    True dat! We HAVE had to back them down on rare occasions and operate as in Post 30. NOT often but why beat your crews up when there is a better way? T.C.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by careyc1090 View Post
    Vent the roof then attack from below.
    Open up the ceiling, throw up a collapsible ladder through the hole and attack from the floor below.

    NEVER, EVER throw water from the roof into the attic when interior attack crews are trying to access the attic. You will only force heat and fire down on them.

    Depending on the extent of the fire, I may disagree with venting initially

    If the fire is blowing out of the end of the attic or through roof vents there I can see venting before initiating fire attack. If the fire is contained in the attic space and not taking control of most of, or all of, that space then I believe that venting is the wrong tactic. In that instance I believe that exploratory holes should be punched in the ceiling below to find the seat of the fire and a fog pattern should be injected up into the attic space. The closed, super heated environment will convert the fog to steam and either hold the fire from growing or completely extinguish it. At this point the roof can be opened to allow the steam and by-products to vent, or the gable end vents can be removed to allow venting. I have used this tactic a few times and it has been successful without doing either excess water damage or structural damage to the roof.

    Understand I am not opposed to venting the roof if it is truly needed, but I believe that many smaller attic fires don't need that and in fact it may actually be detrimental.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 02-28-2011 at 02:57 PM. Reason: to correct a sentence that was severely messed up
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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  10. #35
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    Double post. Nothing to see here.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 02-27-2011 at 06:21 PM.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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  11. #36
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    Like Fryedup said - in my neck of the woods , most are just attics. The "soupier" the better initally.
    ?

  12. #37
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    Balloon construction? Check the basement. You may have a fire there, too...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  13. #38
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    L-Webb, this job is dependent on how far it has progressed.

    Simple fire in the attic, push inside open the shuttle hole place a 1-3/4 fog nozzle in the opening with probably a narrow to wide fog pattern, wave it around and shut it down. Have the truck open the gables or vents on each end and then advance up to overhaul.

    We have a lot of older frames called row houses. No attic, but corklofts, I misspelled it so it show up.

    This has to be fought differently by opening the ceiling near the fire and basically shove the nob in there and apply a good fog pattern as you did for the attic. The truck may need to open up the roof on this one and possibly on the one with a regular attic.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Default simple

    Truck company pulls ceiling, engine company flows water.
    PGFD

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    Anyone ever break out the ol' distributor nozzle for these things, or just when ISO comes?
    Career Firefighter
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    -Professional in Either Role-

    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Anyone ever break out the ol' distributor nozzle for these things, or just when ISO comes?
    Distributors and or cellar nozzles have been long gone..
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    If you have the right tools, Take your digital thermometer and quickly locate the hotest area, then shove a 150 GPM piercing nozzle through the ceiling. If it hasn't vented, the steam will snuff it out. (If it has vented it will take a little longer.)
    Then you open up the roof. A lot of people poo pah piercing nozzles, and it is because most have never used one in the right application.
    It is like having a 150+ GPM sprinkler head with foam. You are also eliminating the possibility of a backdraft since you are not introducing air into a smoldering attic (if that is the case).
    We have used them for years. Some like them and some don't. The ones that don't, refuse to give 'em a shot, and the ones that do like them use them at every opportunity.

    Please don't try and tell me that you can't get 150 gpm out of a p.nozzle. We have tested them with flow meters and you absolutely can.

  18. #43
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    I have been rethinking this topic since I saw it brought back to life today.

    First of all, fireslayer123...DUDE, if the piercing nozzle works for you I say FANTASTIC. Why so confrontational right off the bat about using it?

    Secondly, considering that so many roofs today are lightweight construction perhaps the tactic of getting underneath it and opening up isn't so smart anymore. If we are talking about a fire actually IN the attic space and attacking the structural members time is of the essence. Regular trusses with gusset plates don't survive active fire very long, and now with the glued trusses there is even less time, before we have failure and potential collapse.

    I am thinking that we need to look at smoke and fire conditions before we commit to interior ops. If we have active fire blowing out of the roof or gable vents, or if we have dark brown or black smoke pushing out of the roof vents or gable end vents entry may not be the smart tactic. Perhaps hitting the fire from the gable end to try and knock it down makes more sense, at least initially.

    OF COURSE, if we have victims inside we should make an attempt to get them out. The danger of attic fires is often hidden by the fact there is little or no smoke or heat in the living area of the home and this can lull us into a false sense of security.

    This is counter to how I feel about being an aggressive interior firefighter. But perhaps we need to take a second look sometimes.

    I am prepared to be flamed and called a safety sally...
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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  19. #44
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    Sally,
    I don't think you can be flamed for advocating tactics based on the fire conditions you see. There's a time to be aggressive and a time to be cautious. A well established attic fire in residential lightweight construction is definitely a time to be cautious.

    In general if the fire has already vented through the roof then we're probably going to start off defensive and hit it hard with master streams. It had time to burn through the sheathing/plywood so the state of those gusset plates is a real concern. If it looks like the fire has a good hold in the attic and is pushing, but hasn't vented yet then we will try a quick hit from the gable vent before possibly sending guys in. If it's not clear how much of a hold the fire has, then sending a team in to check is probably warranted.
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
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