“Some advocate it should be "Vent, Enter, Isolate, Search" - maybe, but when I first learned VES, and every time I've taught it, closing the door has ALWAYS been the first action after you enter. Maybe some people were just teaching it wrong...”
I love this part. I'm of the opinion that if we need to add the "I" so a firefighter doesn't forget to close the door, maybe aid firefighter should never be in the position where any fellow humans rely on him/her? Or maybe we should teach MVECISR? Come on you don't remember the acronym? Mask up, Vent, Enter, Crawl to door, Isolate using door, Search, Remove victim or Return to ladder if no victim is found.
Our reliance on acronyms to remember basic duties has become pathetic.
As noted in the comments below the story, the all important first line needs to be stretched rapidly. Confining the fire very often is the best way to protect people when resources are scarce. A recent video on Youtube shows a rapid fire growth event that sent firefighters bailing out onto an aerial after reportedly both the first and second due engines went into the rescue mode. Of course as always we know very little of the overall circumstances, but I always like to go back to Norman's 5 Concepts in Chapter 1 of the Fire Officer's Handbook of Tactics.
Locate, confine and extinguish. Put water onto the fire and 80% of your problems go away.
The article is well written and spot on. The only thing I would add is that it doesn't deal with some of the other findings from the UL study. Specifically, the idea that you can't push fire and flowing a handline in a window may not be a bad thing.
I'd be interested in what Nick has to say about that. I know what Chief Salka had to say, and I'm sure Nick would be in the same camp.
I am as aggressive a firefighter as you will find and when at all possible I believe we should go inside and fight the fire where it lives. For sure we need to go in and attempt to save viable victims ( I now some of us have differing opinions on what is a viable victim but I won't start that debate here again.). But I believe that to die for a building that will most likely get torn down is just plain stupid.
All I know is if it don't push the fire, the minute or so, plus that I have to wait to do a primary because of a messed up thermocline may be well more than what a victim can afford.
Any scientific study on fire behavior is worth reading.
Typically in a comparative scientific experiment, which is essentially what the UL study was, data is gathered in a "controlled" environment using what is referred to as "known variables" in order to achieve usable data for comparison. For example, the UL study used the same "building" and same "fire" in each test scenerio, but changed the ventilation point(s) in order to see the effect each had on that fire.
In the real world, pretty much everything is an "unknown variable" and therefore there's no equation or calculation to plug the variables into and reach an absolute solution. As such, we can't assume the fire will behave in real situations exactly the same as it did in the study. However, we can use the knowledge learned in the study to help predict fire behavior more accurately and make better strategic and tactical decisions.
Science (ie, relatively controlled events in a relatively controlled environment) can serve to challenge our assumptions, which can be a good thing. We may assume that based on our knowledge and experience, a given situation will yield given results.
However, such studies may prove that that our knowledge and experience is flawed, for any number of reasons. We're finding this with the glued together cardboard and toothpick "lightweight construction," where, f'rinstance, the glue (yep - no nails) holding the plasterboard to the ceiling joists may fail at temperatures well below anything we'd consider dangerous, bringing the ceiling down on top of us.
I just got hold of a memo that originated with FDNY regarding bowstring trusses, which are now thought to hold only 40% of the load that everyone thought they'd hold. This results from testing that shows that the assumptions used in designing them were wrong. The FDNY memo is dated December 21, 2012. Such science may well change one's assumptions on how long one might consider operating under such a structure. The FDNY memo says not at all...
Nicholas Martin Said On 29/Nov/2011@18:40
I went to college with the guy who wrote that study and I plan to ask him about that… I read that too, but I and many others have been on the receiving end of “opposing hose lines” and had different experiences in the real world than the study suggests.
Even if it does not push fire, it does push steam. Several of the scenarios exhibit significant enough temperature spikes from outside application to effect a nearby unaffected civilian. I wouldn’t want to guess from the front yard which of those scenarios we’re in.
And attacking from an outside window does nothing to protect the steps, protect occupants inside, attack fire behind compartmentalized partitions, protect FF”s operating in adjacent areas, and stop good old extending fire. Before we go ahead and re-write the basic tenets of firefighting let’s do a little more thinking and looking. Even this study admits that its results on “fire pushing” were not really studied and we’re only ancillary data.
Call me cynical, and I may very well be. It appears to me, with the fire services' huge emphases on college degrees and an the NFA EFO program, with everybody trying to come up with a new catch phrase or get published, we are turning out a whole bunch of over educated yard breathers.
Lets get back to what has worked, putting the fire out!! I have yet to see a theory or hypothesis do just that.
Don't get me wrong, education of the trade is essential, but lets keep it focused to the task at hand. It's awesome you can name every step and position in NIMS. Or at your incidents, you have filled every position in the command van. But lets be honest, if you can't read fire conditions as they relate to the building construction at hand and deploy your resources in the most effective manor for purposes of protecting life and safety, you are completely useless.
Thanks for the information. I had a feeling what his thoughts would be. Like the original article, it seems like sound, logical and experienced advice.
As for bowstring trusses - the tone of the memo from FDNY is such that it would seem that we are just now discovering that they are even weaker than we thought the were.
It's been a while since I went through the UL study.. they had a very good interactive guide that we went through as a drill one night.
From what I remember the key thing I took away was that almost all content fires are vent-limited, not fuel or heat. If you vent, the fire is going to get worse.. fast.. unless you're also in a position to control it. I think the one metric was around 200 seconds (3 minutes). That one key concept drives all the other discussion on tactics.. VES, coordinated vent, fast movement of the first line..etc.