1. #1
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    Default Basement Fire Indicators

    Hi All,

    With all the new TGI beams being used in construction, and more and more FF's falling thru weak flooring do to them burning or being weakened to the extent that floor collapse is a possibility.

    What are some of the not so obvious indicators of a basement fire that you can observe from the exterior of the structure.

    I usually look at these indicators, but am always willing to learn others.
    1. Smoke filling 3/4 of the door
    2. Smoke or fire coming from basement windows (Obvious)
    3. Smoke pushing from a Chimney.
    4. Smoke pushing from the floor plate.

    Anyone have any others/

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    post deleted
    Last edited by L-Webb; 12-19-2011 at 06:52 PM.
    Bring enough hose.

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    i am going to the wise guys here.....


    fire showing from the basement.
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Interesting topic, but I don't understand why smoke pushing from a chimney is an indicator of a basement fire. Can you help me out?

    The rest I agree with though.
    Nothing is as unimpressive as someone who is unwilling to learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yjbrody View Post
    Welcome to the forum.

    Interesting topic, but I don't understand why smoke pushing from a chimney is an indicator of a basement fire. Can you help me out?

    The rest I agree with though.
    Not fire place chimneys, but exhaust chimneys for furnaces. If you're seeing heavy smoke pushing from those, it's an indicator of fire in the basement.

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    Smoke from the bilco doors or egress window well
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    As an aside...

    If you respond in an area where balloon frame construction exists and you have a fire in the attic/cockloft...the basement should be checked IMMEDIATELY.

    The opening from floor to floor in between exterior wall studs is often unstopped and runs from the basement to the attic. A basement fire can travel to the attic and show itself there without a hint of fire on the floors below.

    Committing the line and personnel above an unchecked basement fire can be disastrous.

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    we had a fire that we were 4th in on, the walk around was never completed until my crew arrive. the 1st floor crews could not find the fire and smoke was to the floor, warm but not hot.
    we found smoke from the chimneys. it was sloped in the charlie div. we found some access in the rear, and we forced those doors. as soon as we did we got moderate smoke and visible fire inside. we closed the doors and called for a line.
    i concurre on the chimney if it is for the furnace system but hose are usually closed up. this was an older building but with newer furnaces it is running only pvc pipe the openings are smaller and it may not be easy to see a large volume of smoke.

    rule to me: rule out fire a lower level fire and continually size it up. if you pass a door to the basement, open it and check for any smoke in there. on the 360 shine lights into the basement. any smoke in the basement warrants getting down there. (there can be smoke pushed by a hvac unit circulationg it, but rule out the basement fire)
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firetacoma1 View Post
    Not fire place chimneys, but exhaust chimneys for furnaces. If you're seeing heavy smoke pushing from those, it's an indicator of fire in the basement.
    Oh, makes sense then. Thanks for clearing that up.
    Nothing is as unimpressive as someone who is unwilling to learn.

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    Light, widespread smoke throughout the structure. Anytime there's a problem finding the fire start at the bottom and work up. Fire's gonna travel up faster than it will going down. (But you all knew that)

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    On an older home with no viewout/sliding back door a quick check of the smaller basement windows on your 360 with an ungloved hand could provide an indication of heat....thus requiring a check of the basement.

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    This is why, If at all possible, a walk around/360 MUST be performed!!! I've seen to many times, an engine company get fire happy, pull up to a ranch style home or even a multi-family structure, see smoke boiling out the windows and doors, run in to initiate interior attack and fall right through the floor beacuse the basement was fully invloved! Perform a walk around, note what you see, and make the appropriate decisions accordingly!

    As far as basement fire indicators.... im with ffmedcbk1, fire/ smoke showing from the basement!!!!
    "....train as if your life depends on it, because one day it could.."
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakesdad View Post
    As an aside...

    If you respond in an area where balloon frame construction exists and you have a fire in the attic/cockloft...the basement should be checked IMMEDIATELY.

    The opening from floor to floor in between exterior wall studs is often unstopped and runs from the basement to the attic. A basement fire can travel to the attic and show itself there without a hint of fire on the floors below.

    Committing the line and personnel above an unchecked basement fire can be disastrous.
    This is so very true!!! balloon construction is common in my area and something we always check for.

    Another clue is looking at the basement blocks between the ground and the house. If some of these are cracked, there might be smoke coming from from the cracks or I have seen them discolor just from the heat with no cracking. Glass block windows will crack pretty easy too, another hint of basement fire.
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    Last night we had a basement fire, scary situation. I arrived late and worked with the OV. Vented cleared all high windows while my inside crew found the fire in the basement. After a line was in place we vented the basement windows. that was honestly my first basement fire I rode the outside on and boy is it deceiving from the outside. At least in the inside you can get to a basement door and see if the smoke is pushing up out of the basement.
    Firefighter 1/ PA EMT-B

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    ALWAYS check the basement first/(sooner than later). Even if you think you have it, ALWAYS check the basement first.

    Advice given me from a retired Deputy Chief who has forgotten more about firefighting than I expect to ever learn.
    Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrpita View Post
    ALWAYS check the basement first/(sooner than later). Even if you think you have it, ALWAYS check the basement first.

    Advice given me from a retired Deputy Chief who has forgotten more about firefighting than I expect to ever learn.
    i whole heartedly agree
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    Is there anyway do to so without taking a window (Without visible flame/glow) From the outside? If I took a window in the fire earlier this week, that basement would have been in allot worse shape than it was when the truck got down there.
    Quote Originally Posted by mrpita View Post
    ALWAYS check the basement first/(sooner than later). Even if you think you have it, ALWAYS check the basement first.

    Advice given me from a retired Deputy Chief who has forgotten more about firefighting than I expect to ever learn.
    Firefighter 1/ PA EMT-B

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