Cool the space, and that does include the smoke as you advance.
So many of us were taught not to "use water on smoke". Outdated practice these days. Smaller incipient type fire, go ahead and wait until you're at the "seat". More developed fires, the seat is everywhere. That's how I look at it. Don't even need to see fire begin to roll over your head. Lack of O2 could make that impossible. But plenty of heat could still be there. Use your water.
I saw a video where they burned a single upholstered chair in a room. It was the only thing in the room. Left untended it created enough BTU's to cause the room to flash over. Don't remember the timeline but it certainly wasn't the 20 minutes or more from years ago. Probably 5-10 minute range but possibly less.
It's a brave new world. Don't play by outdated rules.
Good point about the training burns vs actual structural fires. It bears repeating over and over, especially for the inexperienced. No real similarity between hay/wood fires in a fireproof burn building and the hydrocarbon based fires in class 3 or 4 construction (lightweight or standard). Not to mention the endless array of alterations to real world buildings over the years.
IMO, these classes in burn buildings should be looked at as an opportunity to stretch line, operate nozzle, learn the backup position and get a basic feel for what a proper water stream can do. But don't look at it as a chance to learn real structural firefighting. There's only one place to do that and it takes a lot of time to get real good. Younger people coming into the fire service need to know that as much as they need to know anything.
Burn room firefighters. That's what I call those that have never seen a real fire but have extensive time in burn towers. The truth is just as you have stated it. We get lttle heat, virtually no smoke, or if there is smoke it certainly is not the hot, heavy, black, pushing smoke of today's dwelling fires.
The reality that needs to be stressed to firefighters is that heavy, black, pushing smoke is nothing but fire that has not ignited yet. It is looking for enough oxygen to light up. If we crawl under that without applying water we are crawling into a potential inferno. The problem is in many places people are not keeping up with the new research, with new techniques and are still teaching the same tactics we used 40 years ago. This is going to injure and kill firefighters and we need to move forward and change the way we fight fire as much as the fire has changed.
We were just lamenting about the good old days of training this morning after reviewing a class A burn for our regional FF 1/2 program this past weekend. The issue in so many smaller FD's and regions is that while many of us know the limitations of the training in the burn buildings, the reality is many of these "kids" go back to their local VFD's and are the most technically trained personnel they have. We've had some barely squeak by the class only to end up as officers and in one case a training officer within a year of the program.
Even in our small career/combo FD, the ability to keep a rookie under the watchful eye of an experienced firefighter or officer is quickly fading away as workers are way down and thus gaining true fireground experience is much more difficult. All adds up to a recipe for trouble in the future. My own department could see every career officer retire within the next 8 years if we all left at 25 years! We have some smart, talented people but their experience levels lack a bit, though I suspect the officers before us said the same thing as they endured the same "war years" in the late 70's and 80's, just on the smaller scale that matches our size.
To this end we've fought to keep the ability to use acquired structures as live fire training options, but seem to be slowly losing the battle to all the regulatory agencies. They don't get that if firefighters can't be properly trained to extinguish fires, the environmental damage may be worse. They don't care about the danger to our personnel from inadequate training. Sorry I've been on this soapbox since 0700, time to climb down and go home and mow the lawn.
Lack of fires, compounded by lack of realistic live fire training, further compounded by dinosaurs that refuse to keep up with current studies and information are a trifecta of looming disaster for many parts of the fire service.
I work with some of those dinosaurs. Personally, I don't know how they can deny the reality in front of their faces. Funny part is that the tactical changes we've instituted are not drastic in nature. Just a little more control over ventilation of all kinds covers most of it. We're still aggressively fighting fires as we always have.
One of my POC FDs burned a house down for practice last week and we did a brief transitional attack stream from the B side into a fully involved, post flashover, living room. With just a 5 second shot we immediately dropped the temp in the room over 200 degrees. That temp drop made the concept easier to understand. We limited the amount of water applied simply because we wanted to burn the house down. My feeling is we could have dropped the temp substantially with another 10 or 15 seconds of application.
Fortunately both of my current FDs use either straight streams or smooth bore nozzles and with flows ranging from 150 to 300 gpm so we are good In that area. High flows are the norm here.