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Thread: Vertical Ventilation in Private Dwellings

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    So you were two feet inside the front door? And I'll assume you went in low? And your Bourkes were already melting? That puts the temperature at about 300 degrees just inside the front door and down low.

    I've got news for you. It's time to open the line. Temperature at ceiling was probably pushing toward 1000 degrees (or more). This isn't about "spraying smoke". Those temperatures put you squarely in the fire area. No need to wait to reach the "seat of the fire". The "seat" of the fire was all around you.

    We all talk about the way the dynamics of the "modern" contents fire have changed as compared to the "legacy" fires. We've seen the research (most of us). We acknowledge the synthetic materials. We acknowledge the higher heat release rates. We acknowledge the "tighter envelopes" (more insulation, energy efficient windows and doors, etc). We admit that fires are faster and hotter than ever before. we admit that the fire environment is more volatile than ever before.

    Then we engage in tactics that were developed 100 years ago. Back when they went in with no mask and insufficient PPE. If the single pane glass hadn't self vented they vented it. If they could get a hole in the roof they did it. Because they HAD to if they were going to mount any kind of interior attack. It would improve conditions because conditions were nowhere near as bad as what we encounter today. Try fighting fires with no mask today. See how long you last. Not long, I'm sure.

    So how about we all marry up the tactics with the conditions? How about we all drop the "I don't spray smoke" nonsense? That's an outdated mentality that dates back to when the smoke was "colder". The smoke we encounter is fuel. If it's hot and we add air it will light up. No way around that. To stop it we spray water. That IS the best way to cool the area. ALWAYS!

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    On that particular fire I did go in low, real low. We were aggressive with this fire because it was about 2am, doors locked and a car in the drive. Turns out all residents were out of town. Wouldn't have opening up my line in that situation caused a downdraft of that super heated top thermal layer and put it and all right down on us? Or you suggest this after realizing thermal conditions at upon initial entry? Im about learning and trying new techniques.

    Sorry for derailing original thread topic.

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    Short straight stream flow will cool the ceiling gasses a little bit and not cause enough thermal imbalance to come down on you. Good tactic when lots of ceiling roll over occurring. This tactic now part of our FF1 training.
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    Quote Originally Posted by firedan525 View Post
    On that particular fire I did go in low, real low. We were aggressive with this fire because it was about 2am, doors locked and a car in the drive. Turns out all residents were out of town. Wouldn't have opening up my line in that situation caused a downdraft of that super heated top thermal layer and put it and all right down on us? Or you suggest this after realizing thermal conditions at upon initial entry? Im about learning and trying new techniques.

    Sorry for derailing original thread topic.
    When entering a fire building/apartment, go in low.

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    Everyone.

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    I've never been a fan of the "protect the thermal layer" school of thought. Protect it why? It's not our friend. It is an accumulation of heat and flammable gases looking for a reason (air) to light up. If this happens conditions will worsen drastically. Let's not forget that the door we stretch through is a ventilation point and will affect fire behavior to some degree. So what's the point of the "short bursts of water" or "penciling"? To try to get in under the heat and "make the seat of the fire"? This is an outdated tactic based largely in part on the fact that firefighters had no masks, hoods or bunker pants and lower level PPE all around. Fire dynamics were also different. Modern fires develop faster and get hotter than "legacy" fires did. The environment in the immediate fire area and all adjoining areas is more volatile in the modern fire.

    At some point we still have to open up the nozzle and knock the crap out of the fire. No way around it. Anyone who is waiting for roof vent before operating line is doing it backwards. Same goes for horizontal vent. Ventilation is real NICE. Water is real NECESSARY.

    We will not "drop the thermal layer down on us". Steam will be produced and it will fill the area from floor to ceiling. But temperatures will significantly drop. Heat release rate will significantly slow. Fire will decrease in intensity. I don't advocate beginning all stream operations at the entry door, but if we are met at the entrance with high heat we should begin operating.

    Use a solid stream from a door way. Perform controlled ventilation ahead of the line whenever possible. Operate briefly and then if you think it's needed let it "blow" a little. Continue the advance. Use full PPE properly. Contrary to what some believe, no one will get "cooked" or "boiled like a lobster"

    I work in a busy area. We go to work at structural fires regularly. We very, very rarely have someone burned by steam from line advance. Not since hoods came into play. I review injury reports for over 100 firefighters. I just don't see reports of firefighters burned through their PPE by steam. Our burn injuries are usually the result of contact with water runoff (knees and legs) or direct contact with hot materials (hands).

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    Quote Originally Posted by firedan525 View Post
    As far as a fire vented out a window, let me give you an example. We had a possible structure fire toned out a couple months ago. Upon arrival we had heavy low lying smoke in the area and found a large single story structure fire with fire blowing out 2 windows on the D side of the structure. I pulled a line to the front door and partner forced door. Same time roof was being laddered and vented. I went in about 2 feet before my bourkes melted down to my mask. We pushed our way towards the fire which started in a BR but had spread to another BR, Bath, and hallway. The rest of the house was unburnt but smoke was indicating impending flashover. There was a door at the entrance to the hallway that was partially burnt through up top which stopped fire progression to the other side of the house but still allowed for "Pre-Heating" LOL. We got to the fire about the time I could hear saws cutting. We started knocking it down but once our vent crew punched through and the conditions improved 400% LOL. Fire was fully extinguished very soon after.

    I will agree that using the line is the best way to relieve conditions, but not always.
    If this is a "TRUE" story I thank God you are not on either of the fire departments I am on. Frankly, I don't believe that you Bourkes melted down on to your mask. You would have been down to the floor crawling to try and get below the heat.

    A well trained, prudent, skilled, firefighter would have cooled the overhead as they advanced to drop the ambient temperature and to reduce the possibility of flashover. I don't think you were particularly brave or smart in this fire attack you describe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    I've never been a fan of the "protect the thermal layer" school of thought. Protect it why? It's not our friend. It is an accumulation of heat and flammable gases looking for a reason (air) to light up. If this happens conditions will worsen drastically. Let's not forget that the door we stretch through is a ventilation point and will affect fire behavior to some degree. So what's the point of the "short bursts of water" or "penciling"? To try to get in under the heat and "make the seat of the fire"? This is an outdated tactic based largely in part on the fact that firefighters had no masks, hoods or bunker pants and lower level PPE all around. Fire dynamics were also different. Modern fires develop faster and get hotter than "legacy" fires did. The environment in the immediate fire area and all adjoining areas is more volatile in the modern fire.

    At some point we still have to open up the nozzle and knock the crap out of the fire. No way around it. Anyone who is waiting for roof vent before operating line is doing it backwards. Same goes for horizontal vent. Ventilation is real NICE. Water is real NECESSARY.

    We will not "drop the thermal layer down on us". Steam will be produced and it will fill the area from floor to ceiling. But temperatures will significantly drop. Heat release rate will significantly slow. Fire will decrease in intensity. I don't advocate beginning all stream operations at the entry door, but if we are met at the entrance with high heat we should begin operating.

    Use a solid stream from a door way. Perform controlled ventilation ahead of the line whenever possible. Operate briefly and then if you think it's needed let it "blow" a little. Continue the advance. Use full PPE properly. Contrary to what some believe, no one will get "cooked" or "boiled like a lobster"

    I work in a busy area. We go to work at structural fires regularly. We very, very rarely have someone burned by steam from line advance. Not since hoods came into play. I review injury reports for over 100 firefighters. I just don't see reports of firefighters burned through their PPE by steam. Our burn injuries are usually the result of contact with water runoff (knees and legs) or direct contact with hot materials (hands).
    Excellent post. I couldn't possibly agree more with what you have said here.

    Straight streams, smoothbore preferred, working the overhead as we advance into high heat areas. Up, down, all around, to kill the fire if there is heavy involvement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by firedan525 View Post
    On that particular fire I did go in low, real low. We were aggressive with this fire because it was about 2am, doors locked and a car in the drive. Turns out all residents were out of town. Wouldn't have opening up my line in that situation caused a downdraft of that super heated top thermal layer and put it and all right down on us? Or you suggest this after realizing thermal conditions at upon initial entry? Im about learning and trying new techniques.

    Sorry for derailing original thread topic.
    The thermal conditions as you describe them called for immediate application of water into the overhead with a straight stream to cool the gases and reduce the chances of a flashover. Crawling under that heat and potential for flashover got you nothing but additional heat punishment. Cooling the overhead and reducing the overall temperature increases survivability for everyone inside the structure.

    Using a straight stream or smoothbore, and bouncing the water off the ceiling, allows for cooling but not the same huge steam release that a fog nozzle creates.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    If this is a "TRUE" story I thank God you are not on either of the fire departments I am on. Frankly, I don't believe that you Bourkes melted down on to your mask. You would have been down to the floor crawling to try and get below the heat.

    A well trained, prudent, skilled, firefighter would have cooled the overhead as they advanced to drop the ambient temperature and to reduce the possibility of flashover. I don't think you were particularly brave or smart in this fire attack you describe.
    Unfortunately, I suspect there are entirely too many firefighters who are being taught this kind of stuff. Well-meaning but na´ve (dare I say ignorant) chiefs, senior men, instructors, et. are apparently teaching that we don't open up until we get to the seat of the fire. Sometimes that's perfectly good advice. Other times conditions are way too severe and require immediate action. Someone has to know the difference and react accordingly. Guys need to know that when their equipment is melting, IT"S OK TO OPEN THE NOZZLE!

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    Unfortunately, I suspect there are entirely too many firefighters who are being taught this kind of stuff. Well-meaning but na´ve (dare I say ignorant) chiefs, senior men, instructors, et. are apparently teaching that we don't open up until we get to the seat of the fire. Sometimes that's perfectly good advice. Other times conditions are way too severe and require immediate action. Someone has to know the difference and react accordingly. Guys need to know that when their equipment is melting, IT"S OK TO OPEN THE NOZZLE!
    I had to chuckle thinking about how I was trained to fight a room fire 38 years ago when I started. Crawl into the fire room, flop on your back, grab the hose about 18 inches back, open the nozzle on wide fog and fill the room with superheated steam. The results? All the heat, steam, and black nasty slammed down on us on the floor and burned us every time. Funny thing is most often after ventilation the fire was still burning merrily away.

    I train my students and firefighters to look at the ceiling as they enter. If there is fire up there hit it IMMEDIATELY. If there is high heat and/or smoke pushing up there hit it IMMEDIATELY. If necessary to control the environment keep the nozzle flowing as you advance towards the fire room or area. Intially we were taught to enter the fire room to affect extinguishment, NOW, I teach my students to knock the fire down from the doorway. Why enter and expose yourself unnecessarily to the heat and by-products? The hose stream will easily reach across the room in residential and most comercial fires.

    The days of burning your gear, roasting your helmet, and melting stuff to look cool are over. Do the job safely and live to fight another day.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 12-16-2013 at 01:41 PM.
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    At my first fire I decided to wait to put on my facepiece until the guy I was backing up put his on.

    I'm still waiting.

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    Well I have to admit, I learned something today. I joined this forum because I feel that I could learn things from it. I appreciate the advice and will utilize it in the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    At my first fire I decided to wait to put on my facepiece until the guy I was backing up put his on.

    I'm still waiting.
    Please tell me that culture is changing in the FDNY. We just had a guy in from the firefighter cancer support network and the increase in firefighter cancer AND cancer to firefighter family memers in the last 10 years is outright horrifying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    Wouldn't water have prevented it from getting into the dormer and second floor attic? I assume stretching and operating hose lines is also as easy as snubbing a hydrant?

    P.S. Snubbing?
    Water does a great job if you can get it on the seat of the fire. Water and conversion does a great job of snuffing a fire if the steam can displace the oxygen in that area.
    But with balloon construction, blown in cellulose, or mohair insulation, vertical voids, and horizontal travel spaces, sometimes you just can't get the water in the right place unless you make access for it.
    In this case, due to construction, we had one of two choices; let the fire continue vertical, burn up the dormer, and in ten or fifteen minutes it would have self vented. Increased fire damage, increased water damage, increased building decay, increased danger to the crews. Or we could get on top, open up the porch roof, open up the intersection between the roof and the dormer, and open up the dormer wall getting the the seat of the fire and put it out. Limiting fire spread, water damage, building decay, and the the associated hazards to the crews.
    In St. Paul we tend not to be a department that waters roofs or saves basements.
    Snubbing-our slang for catching a hydrant for a water supply.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    ...or mohair insulation...
    Been a long time since seeing any of that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Been a long time since seeing any of that.
    Still plenty of that around here, but fortunately they covered it up with the original blown in cellulose-the ground up newspaper with "fire retardant"...
    It does ensure we do a proper overhaul, rekindles suck....lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Please tell me that culture is changing in the FDNY. We just had a guy in from the firefighter cancer support network and the increase in firefighter cancer AND cancer to firefighter family memers in the last 10 years is outright horrifying.
    Total 180 on mask usage since I came on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Water does a great job if you can get it on the seat of the fire. Water and conversion does a great job of snuffing a fire if the steam can displace the oxygen in that area.
    But with balloon construction, blown in cellulose, or mohair insulation, vertical voids, and horizontal travel spaces, sometimes you just can't get the water in the right place unless you make access for it.
    In this case, due to construction, we had one of two choices; let the fire continue vertical, burn up the dormer, and in ten or fifteen minutes it would have self vented. Increased fire damage, increased water damage, increased building decay, increased danger to the crews. Or we could get on top, open up the porch roof, open up the intersection between the roof and the dormer, and open up the dormer wall getting the the seat of the fire and put it out. Limiting fire spread, water damage, building decay, and the the associated hazards to the crews.
    In St. Paul we tend not to be a department that waters roofs or saves basements.
    Snubbing-our slang for catching a hydrant for a water supply.
    I was trying to reinforce my point that ventilation isn't really a fire control tactic. Your incident was a bad example for me to use to try to do that. There is no doubt that the roof and dormer wall needed opening to fully control the fire you described.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    But with balloon construction, blown in cellulose, or mohair insulation, vertical voids, and horizontal travel spaces, sometimes you just can't get the water in the right place unless you make access for it.
    How about just old wadded up newspapers, or regular sawdust for insulation? The first time I saw it I thought it was a fluke. Now I expect it in many of the houses built in the late 20's to mid 30's in my area. Although it is kind of cool to pull out an old newspaper and read some of the happenings of almost a hundred years ago.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    How about just old wadded up newspapers, or regular sawdust for insulation? The first time I saw it I thought it was a fluke. Now I expect it in many of the houses built in the late 20's to mid 30's in my area. Although it is kind of cool to pull out an old newspaper and read some of the happenings of almost a hundred years ago.
    The wadded up newspaper is exactly how my pouch is insulated!! I want to change the windows out, when I do, I'm going to try and replace as much of that I can. Should be some interesting reading.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    I was trying to reinforce my point that ventilation isn't really a fire control tactic.
    I disagree with saying that ventilation is not a fire control tactic. In a single family room and contents fire we look at it as a game of pressures created during combustion that we can combat. We all know that gases take the path of least resistance and if we are able to overcome the pressures generated by the fire we can send those products of combustion in certain dircetions. Now of course we have to have an acceptable exhaust port, crews dedicated to managing air movement, and we use horizontal in combination with vertical to ensure we get the gases moving in the right direction. I am not suggesting that I don't need a hoseline, in fact we practice these things assuming that our engine crews are making an aggressive attack and they are making an aggressive interior, assuming we are making ventilation happen. They only work when used in concert. love the discussion, lets keep it rolling

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    Quote Originally Posted by CATruckie81 View Post
    I disagree with saying that ventilation is not a fire control tactic. In a single family room and contents fire we look at it as a game of pressures created during combustion that we can combat. We all know that gases take the path of least resistance and if we are able to overcome the pressures generated by the fire we can send those products of combustion in certain dircetions. Now of course we have to have an acceptable exhaust port, crews dedicated to managing air movement, and we use horizontal in combination with vertical to ensure we get the gases moving in the right direction. I am not suggesting that I don't need a hoseline, in fact we practice these things assuming that our engine crews are making an aggressive attack and they are making an aggressive interior, assuming we are making ventilation happen. They only work when used in concert. love the discussion, lets keep it rolling
    I look at ventilation as a support function. When done right it assists in getting heat, smoke, fire gasses out of structure. it will almost never, on it's own, stop the spread of fire or reduce temperatures inside the structure. when done without immediate use of water or when timing is wrong, it will almost always make conditions throughout get worse.
    FyredUp and MemphisE34a like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    If this is a "TRUE" story I thank God you are not on either of the fire departments I am on. Frankly, I don't believe that you Bourkes melted down on to your mask. You would have been down to the floor crawling to try and get below the heat.
    The clear burkes are pretty easy to melt. There is so little mass that they heat up pretty quickly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    The clear burkes are pretty easy to melt. There is so little mass that they heat up pretty quickly.
    I have had clear Bourkes on 5 helmets and I have melted and curled some of them but I have never had them melt down onto my face piece. Either he had some cheap schitt imitation Bourkes, he was where he shouldn't have been, or his story has been made a little more dramatic than it actually was.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I have had clear Bourkes on 5 helmets and I have melted and curled some of them but I have never had them melt down onto my face piece. Either he had some cheap schitt imitation Bourkes, he was where he shouldn't have been, or his story has been made a little more dramatic than it actually was.
    I concur. ...
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