Like Tree1Likes
  • 1 Post By ATFDFF

Thread: Burn tower firefighters

  1. #1
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,170

    Default Burn tower firefighters

    I am not sure if this should be here or in Tactics but here goes.

    Last weekend I was an instructor in Monroe Wisconsin at the Annual SWNIFRA fire school. The class I helped instruct consisted of a Friday classroom session with the 2 lead instructors, and all day Saturday live fire training in 2 mobile homes we had. We had good fires, large enough to test the skills of those involved, but not crazy out of control fires either. We had experienced instructors leading crews into do fire attack, most with over 5 years experience in busy companies, and some like me with over 30 years experience.

    The phenomenon that was repeated over and over was what I call "burn tower fire attack ops". See the fire, give it a little burst of water and shut the nozzle off. When the instructor would call for more water the same thing would occur, some times multiple times during an attack. Now let me say this we noticed this occurring last year and the lead instructors made a point of stating, in their classrom session, when we are making an attack on fire in the "real world" the nozzle stays on and in motion until the fire is knocked down. They were reminded of that by the lead instructors during the pre-burn briefing, and again by the instructors leading in the attack crews. Yet it still happened multiple times.

    Why do I call this "Burn tower fire attack ops"? Simple, think about what the instructors say, or the guy lighting the fires. Just give it a little knock, don'tkill it it will be a bitch to relight, don't drown the room. What are we doing? Developing muscle memory, like the cop in a gun fight so engrained with picking up his spent brass from his revolver he does it while the bad guy is shooting at him, or when his gun jams stands up puts his hands up and calls for the range officer. The results can be strikingly similar, dead cops or dead firefighters, from engraining training ONLY muscle memory that can be deadly in the real world.

    Okay, now I have recognized the problem, seen the cause of the probem, now comes the hard part,coming upwith a viable solution. The obvious one seems to be have every crew come in, do the updown all around attack and kill the fire. The answer becomes less obvious when you have 4 hours and need to get 20 or more burns done. The time frame for rebuilding and restarting fires is just too great to allow that many burns.

    Possible solutions: 1) Do half the class one day of burns, and the other half another day. This way there would be time to rebuild the fires after they were attacked properly. There are enough activities that need to be done to keep those not burning busy. 2) Continue as iswith how we burn but do additional non-fire hose movement and fire attack ops with updown and all around being demonstrated. 3) Your better idea...

    Is this happening by you? What have you done to fix it?
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  2. #2
    Let's talk fire trucks!
    BoxAlarm187's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,324

    Default

    I've noticed the same thing during my time instructing. This muscle memory is a real world problem, as noted during many of Rich Gasaway's lectures on fire service training and leadership. In fact, a company officer in a nearby department experienced this when his rookie went to the rookie's first fire and applied only a couple of gallons onto the seat of a fire that really needed a couple of hundred gallons. His lack of proper action allowed the fire to quickly grow, a flashover occurred, and both members received burns as a result. I routinely use this story when I instruct.

    What really IS the right way to combat this? I think that there are a lot of options:

    1. Class B burn buildings. No one will argue that Class B buildings are are far different animal than a true Class A fire (no matter if in a burn building or acquired structure), but they give you an unlimited amount of fire, no re-building the fire, quicker turn around time, time for the students to perfect their skills, and instant off for the fire and instant ventilation in the event of an emergency. What are the cons. There are clearly downsides to this: the lack of realism that an acquired structure provides, the lack of Class A style smoke, and perhaps the biggest one: the cost of the building.

    2. Have twice the amount of Class A material available. Even if the room is soaked, bringing fresh, dry material in will help to get the fires re-lit more quickly. Downside? There will be larger pile of unburned debris throughout the day, which possibly means time will have to be taken to empty the room(s) out to make room for the new material.

    3. Your idea of two days in lieu of one is also commendable. One of the classes I instruct is IFGO (Initial Fire Ground Operations), which is 16 hours of live fire training, conducted over two days. It's a mixture of day and night burns, which not only gives the the students and instructors a break, but refines night skills and allows the building to cool as well. This is exclusively done in burn buildings, not acquired structures, so if there isn't enough Class A material to burn, it doesn't really solve the problems that you identified.

    Because of the relatively low cost of pallets and straw (which can often be donated with just a little work), I'm a strong proponent of bringing far more than you've ever used in the past, along with using NPFA 1403 staffing to ensure that your ignition personnel can safely add material at the right time to create a realistic, yet tenable environment for the students.
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,170

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    I've noticed the same thing during my time instructing. This muscle memory is a real world problem, as noted during many of Rich Gasaway's lectures on fire service training and leadership. In fact, a company officer in a nearby department experienced this when his rookie went to the rookie's first fire and applied only a couple of gallons onto the seat of a fire that really needed a couple of hundred gallons. His lack of proper action allowed the fire to quickly grow, a flashover occurred, and both members received burns as a result. I routinely use this story when I instruct.

    We had one fire during our training that became a real pucker factor. The nozzleman did the short burst shut off and did not apply enough water to knock down the fire. Then his regulator fell off from his face piece, it was a draeger,- and I believe he did NOT push it in far enough to lock it and then failed to tug on it to make sure it was seated. I checked it when he came out and was unable to duplicate his failure. He then abandoned the line and he and the crew bailed out the door. The back up crew had entered and they did the same short burst thing. By now the safety line, a 2 inch line with a 1 1/8 inch smoothbore opened up and pushed the fire back, the back upline went into operation and an instructor took the abandoned line and started hitting the fire. Okay, the first thing that went wrong was not continuously applying water from the attack line, then the regulator popped out, then the back up line did not continuously flow water. Potential for a disaster. That is why we have a crew dedicated in the interior with that 2 inch line.

    What really IS the right way to combat this? I think that there are a lot of options:

    1. Class B burn buildings. No one will argue that Class B buildings are are far different animal than a true Class A fire (no matter if in a burn building or acquired structure), but they give you an unlimited amount of fire, no re-building the fire, quicker turn around time, time for the students to perfect their skills, and instant off for the fire and instant ventilation in the event of an emergency. What are the cons. There are clearly downsides to this: the lack of realism that an acquired structure provides, the lack of Class A style smoke, and perhaps the biggest one: the cost of the building.

    Not in the cards. Even the new facility being built, as far as I knowat this point, will be all class A burn buildings.

    2. Have twice the amount of Class A material available. Even if the room is soaked, bringing fresh, dry material in will help to get the fires re-lit more quickly. Downside? There will be larger pile of unburned debris throughout the day, which possibly means time will have to be taken to empty the room(s) out to make room for the new material.

    We generally have a great supply of pallets, hay on the other hand is a different story. It is almost always in short supply.

    The labor to clean the burn room after fires becomes an issue. We are not allowed to put any hot material in the dumpster.


    3. Your idea of two days in lieu of one is also commendable. One of the classes I instruct is IFGO (Initial Fire Ground Operations), which is 16 hours of live fire training, conducted over two days. It's a mixture of day and night burns, which not only gives the the students and instructors a break, but refines night skills and allows the building to cool as well. This is exclusively done in burn buildings, not acquired structures, so if there isn't enough Class A material to burn, it doesn't really solve the problems that you identified.

    I think this will be my suggestion to the lead instructor.

    Because of the relatively low cost of pallets and straw (which can often be donated with just a little work), I'm a strong proponent of bringing far more than you've ever used in the past, along with using NPFA 1403 staffing to ensure that your ignition personnel can safely add material at the right time to create a realistic, yet tenable environment for the students.

    I will have to see if procuring more straw is a viable option. That is the main factor, in my mind in rapidly restarting fires.
    Thanks for a very well thought out response. I apreciate your insight.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    635

    Default

    Here's how it's done at our local tower, and it works well. Unfortunately this only works for burn buildings...not sure how/if you could incorporate this into an acquired structure.

    Each burn room has two or three 55 gallon barrel drums assigned to it. In each burn room there is also a metal "shelving" system. About 4 feet long, with one "shelve" right above the height of a 55 gallon barrel and one about 3 feet higher. Outside the burn building the 55 gallon barrels are prepped with mostly straw and some pieces of broken up pallets. At the beginning of an evolution, a barrel is brought in and pallets are stacked on the shelves. Then the barrel is lit and the evolution begins when appropriate.

    At the end of the evolution, the used barrel is pulled out and replaced with a new pre-made barrel, and the pallets on the shelves are pulled and replaced with new ones. Then while the next evolution is getting started, the used barrel is emptied out and new straw and wood is put in so its set to go immediately when the evolution finishes.

    The Pros-
    -rapid re-ignition of burns
    -easier cleanup at conclusion of training
    -very good at replicating good fire conditions
    -pallets that are pulled from the shelves that are wet but reusable are stacked together and allowed to sit for several weeks to dry out and be used at another training down the line

    The Cons-
    -Must have instructor/stoker outside during evolutions (more manpower intensive)
    -difficult to do for upper stories on a burn tower (but can be resolved by staging them on a lower floor, if possible)
    RangerJake72 likes this.

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,170

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ATFDFF View Post
    Here's how it's done at our local tower, and it works well. Unfortunately this only works for burn buildings...not sure how/if you could incorporate this into an acquired structure.

    Each burn room has two or three 55 gallon barrel drums assigned to it. In each burn room there is also a metal "shelving" system. About 4 feet long, with one "shelve" right above the height of a 55 gallon barrel and one about 3 feet higher. Outside the burn building the 55 gallon barrels are prepped with mostly straw and some pieces of broken up pallets. At the beginning of an evolution, a barrel is brought in and pallets are stacked on the shelves. Then the barrel is lit and the evolution begins when appropriate.

    At the end of the evolution, the used barrel is pulled out and replaced with a new pre-made barrel, and the pallets on the shelves are pulled and replaced with new ones. Then while the next evolution is getting started, the used barrel is emptied out and new straw and wood is put in so its set to go immediately when the evolution finishes.

    The Pros-
    -rapid re-ignition of burns
    -easier cleanup at conclusion of training
    -very good at replicating good fire conditions
    -pallets that are pulled from the shelves that are wet but reusable are stacked together and allowed to sit for several weeks to dry out and be used at another training down the line

    The Cons-
    -Must have instructor/stoker outside during evolutions (more manpower intensive)
    -difficult to do for upper stories on a burn tower (but can be resolved by staging them on a lower floor, if possible)
    I like this idea and will put this forward to the powers that be.

    Thanks for a great post with a great idea.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default

    At the Massachusetts Fire Academy, the ignition crew works with the instructors on timing and let the fire get to the ripping stage before allowing the student crew to put it out, vent and overhaul it. After each phase burns, the instructors give a critique of the evolution and the students put the Engines and Aerial back into service while we rebuild the fires. Phase 3 and 4 burn days (multiple floors, multiple rooms) we do four fire evolutions, the students respond from the Academy's firehouse.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  7. #7
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    2,047

    Default

    I hate "forking" wet hay. - On a single story building could you build your fires on a sheet of steel with skids so a forklift could move it in and out of a bay type door? Have several sheets built and ready , move the wet one out for later salvage (dry out) and move another in, I just dont know how long (or how heavy)a door would last. Or have a narrow gauge track and move the skids in and out that way.
    ?

  8. #8
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    KENTUCKY
    Posts
    410

    Default

    Seems like this practice came about around the same time that we began putting new firefighters in the "fire appreciation" cans (Flashover simulators). They see the instructor penciling, which in the closed container isn't such a bad thing unless you like that warm, steamy feeling. But when they bring that to a more realistic setting, doesn't work that well. We've had acquired structure burns where the nozzleman penciling has brought us to the edge of getting someone hurt until their tactics were adjusted.

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,170

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LFD2203 View Post
    Seems like this practice came about around the same time that we began putting new firefighters in the "fire appreciation" cans (Flashover simulators). They see the instructor penciling, which in the closed container isn't such a bad thing unless you like that warm, steamy feeling. But when they bring that to a more realistic setting, doesn't work that well. We've had acquired structure burns where the nozzleman penciling has brought us to the edge of getting someone hurt until their tactics were adjusted.
    I understand penciling, but this is not that. This is the "don't put the fire out, we have lots of crews to get in here, shutting the nozzle off so they don't wreck the fire method".
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,170

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    I hate "forking" wet hay. - On a single story building could you build your fires on a sheet of steel with skids so a forklift could move it in and out of a bay type door? Have several sheets built and ready , move the wet one out for later salvage (dry out) and move another in, I just dont know how long (or how heavy)a door would last. Or have a narrow gauge track and move the skids in and out that way.
    Not a big enough door for a fork lift.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  11. #11
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,170

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    At the Massachusetts Fire Academy, the ignition crew works with the instructors on timing and let the fire get to the ripping stage before allowing the student crew to put it out, vent and overhaul it. After each phase burns, the instructors give a critique of the evolution and the students put the Engines and Aerial back into service while we rebuild the fires. Phase 3 and 4 burn days (multiple floors, multiple rooms) we do four fire evolutions, the students respond from the Academy's firehouse.
    We tend to run hose lines off from hydrant pressure, 100 to 120 psi, so the lines come out, the fire is refueled and bam next crew. We tend to do lots of fires very rapidly and I believe that is the problem. I believe we need to slow down the speed, have less, more intense fires where students are allowed to do a proper fire attack.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  12. #12
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    2,047

    Default

    Maybe its just me , but it seems like the 2nd and 3rd fires never build up as well. Even in a concrete burn building there seems to be some residual moisture hanging around. And I agree 100% with fyredup -when we try and get several fires out of one "build" we are teaching a bad habit.
    ?

  13. #13
    Forum Member
    GTRider245's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Augusta,GA
    Posts
    3,062

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    Maybe its just me , but it seems like the 2nd and 3rd fires never build up as well. Even in a concrete burn building there seems to be some residual moisture hanging around. And I agree 100% with fyredup -when we try and get several fires out of one "build" we are teaching a bad habit.
    We have the opposite experience. Our third and fourth fires of a rotation burn the hottest and strongest.

    Most of us sound like we are in the same boat. We are doing an ok job of teaching pattern selection and nozzle control with the fires we build, but we are not doing a good job of teaching actual fire extinguishment. We have literally seen newer guys in their first fire hit it once and sit and wait for it to rebuild.

    Poor training builds poor habits, and we are all guilty.
    Career Firefighter
    Volunteer Captain

    -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**.

  14. #14
    Forum Member
    VinnieB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    On the couch in my skivvies
    Posts
    2,316

    Default

    Is there a way to partition the training area so water wont easily put it out? When I was teaching, Id use a burn barrel with hay, stashed on the same side of the door the students came in, a few feet in so theu could feel some heat, keeping it reletively safe, id put a few flares in the opposite corner, and that was the "fire" and they could have at it. The flares give a good glow, make there own smoke, an are generally cheap and safe...with proper safeguards in play. The students could make entry, open up and operate. Granted, its not exactly what they would get in a job, but they still had to work as a team and got all the experiance of moving the line.


    At work, we are lucky to have a big trainng center, during engine ops, you train as you fight..
    IACOJ Member

  15. #15
    Let's talk fire trucks!
    BoxAlarm187's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,324

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    We have the opposite experience. Our third and fourth fires of a rotation burn the hottest and strongest.
    We're in the same boat. The burn buildings in our state are required to be equipped with heat reflective tiles (often manufactured by High Temperature Linings) that not only protect the structure from the high heat fluctuations throughout the day, but also holds the heat within the rooms. I've found that not only does the heat increase throughout the day, it also allows us to still have quality fires later in the day.
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

  16. #16
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,170

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by VinnieB View Post
    Is there a way to partition the training area so water wont easily put it out? When I was teaching, Id use a burn barrel with hay, stashed on the same side of the door the students came in, a few feet in so theu could feel some heat, keeping it reletively safe, id put a few flares in the opposite corner, and that was the "fire" and they could have at it. The flares give a good glow, make there own smoke, an are generally cheap and safe...with proper safeguards in play. The students could make entry, open up and operate. Granted, its not exactly what they would get in a job, but they still had to work as a team and got all the experiance of moving the line.


    At work, we are lucky to have a big trainng center, during engine ops, you train as you fight..
    I like the burn barrel with hay in the room, more smoke, hence a little more reality. Now we have VERY little smoke because the fires are pallets and card board to start, and then pallets only once a good bed of coals is established to keep re-igniting the pallets.

    We went away from flares probably 5 years ago because the college didn't want topay for them anymore. All the fires are lit with one of those big torches that go on a grill sized propane tank.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  17. #17
    Forum Member
    VinnieB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    On the couch in my skivvies
    Posts
    2,316

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I like the burn barrel with hay in the room, more smoke, hence a little more reality. Now we have VERY little smoke because the fires are pallets and card board to start, and then pallets only once a good bed of coals is established to keep re-igniting the pallets.

    We went away from flares probably 5 years ago because the college didn't want topay for them anymore. All the fires are lit with one of those big torches that go on a grill sized propane tank.
    Hmmm....can you acquire a bunch of barrels, and load them up...stage them in the hallway, out of the way, and have them ready to go if the students put out the intended barrel?
    IACOJ Member

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. BURN BABY .. BURN.. (Everyone's Favourite Dream)
    By MalahatTwo7 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 03-30-2006, 12:44 PM
  2. New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation
    By E40FDNYL35 in forum The Off Duty Forums
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-21-2005, 12:51 PM
  3. Hose tower / training tower conversion
    By ullrichk in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 05-02-2005, 01:35 PM
  4. Training/Live burn tower
    By rwilliamspfd in forum Departments Helping Departments
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-10-2003, 12:22 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-06-2003, 05:58 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register