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Thread: Have you changed your tactics?

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    Default Have you changed your tactics?

    I am wondering, doing a poll if you will, of departments who have changed their tactics or operations since the FDNY/UL Labs information came out.

    How many departments have changed what they do and if you did, what did you change?


    Side note: I have a whole department of guys who are scratching their heads at this information, especially the older guys. This goes against most of what we have been taught for the past 25 years. I am trying to get them to think differently but it's an uphill battle. I know, change is hard, especially in the fire service.
    Jason Knecht
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    Huh???????????
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    If you are talking about the "new and improved transitional attack" - us really old timers have used it for years.
    ?

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    One of my lieutenants at work is working closely with NIST and UL on their new endeavors, and I've been able to attend two seminars with in-depth presentations from Steve Gerber, who's one of the primary engineers leading these tests.

    The research is revealing that if we make SOME change to our tactics, it provides a safer atmosphere for us. Many people aren't paying close enough attention to what the research is revealing, and they believe that NIST & UL are saying that we need to attack all fires by standing outside the entire time, and that's simply not the case. The research is showing that transitional attack will make a quicker knock on the fire, reduce the chance of flashover, make a more tenable environment, and won't push the fire.

    Transitional attack is something we've done at work for a couple of decades, but just didn't have a name for it. We haven't done it routinely, mind you, but we've done it when appropriate. Contrast that to a neighboring department who's recently re-written all of the foreground ops to state that transitional attack will be their primary means of fire attack.

    Understanding flow paths, and the fact that simple things we do everyday (such as forced entry) will unintentionally effect the flow path is also important.

    Having a couple of friends who have been intimately involved in this research, I might be able to give you some insight into some of it.
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    See...I was thinking the same thing...us old timers have been doing this for years but didn't have a fancy name for it. Not that we knew it was doing all the good inside, just that it was "wet stuff on the red stuff."

    I think it's not the way to do everything all the time but I think I see it used a lot, with the use of positive pressure ventilation used much less, depending on the situation...of course.
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    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona, WI

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    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    They were teaching this new fangled transitional attack thing back in the 70's when I became a firefighter. Back then they called it a 2 1/2inch blitz line and you darkened the fire with that, if necessary, before entry for final extinguishment was made.
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    The problem is that the transitional attack is far from the only thing to come out of the UL studies. The transitional attack is just the most controversial, if people think transitional attack is BS, they immediately write off all of the studies. There is a ton of information in those studies not all of it revolutionary. The best part about the studies is that it helps us understand the science behind the tactics we probably already do. We are gearing up to start sending all of the studies out for company training, once the info is out we are going to look at how the new information might change our tactics.

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    We've not made any written changes, but one cannot help but change some practices when faced with conditions that we now have a better understanding of. That is to say as a student of the fire service and an officer with tactical decision-making duties, the increased knowledge will affect future operations, even if not one policy is re-written. What we need to do, at least in my FD, is make sure everyone is getting, absorbing and understanding the information. I should qualify that we've never had highly detailed tactical SOP's that handcuffed an officer's decisions, so transitional attacks have always been in the playbook for those situations that it was deemed appropriate. As Golzy notes, there is plenty of other information to be gleaned that doesn't limit itself to transitional attack.

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    I have also seen the information presented by UL, NIST and the FDNY personnel directly involved in the research. Several times actually. That's a good thing because there is a staggering amount of data. FDNY has changed some tactics as a result. Most of the changes involve ventilation and it's effect on flow path.

    The research proved that hose lines don't "push" fire. Not from the outside to the inside and not from one inside area to another. Many a crusty old dog refuse to believe this, as it was long held fire service mantra that hoselines could push fire. IMO, this dates back to when a member would go in a window with subpar (or non-existent PPE) and begin a search opposite the line. This would be pre-flashover while the fire was still developing. He would be operating below the worst heat layer. The line would open up and the area would fill with steam from floor to ceiling. Even though the overall area was cooled, there would be steam at the lowest level. The level that the unprotected firefighter was at. The steam would burn that firefighter. He would then conclude that "they pushed the fire at me".
    Heat sensors were placed throughout entire houses. They revealed that any water applied from just about anywhere cooled the immediate fire area along with all other areas of the house. So it was proven that transitional attack not only did not push fire, but it also cooled all areas of the house significantly. The heat sensors also revealed that temperatures were extremely high not only at the seat of the fire but throughout the house. Sometimes approaching 1800-2000 degrees. IMO, this is evidence that the old mantra of not opening up the line until we are at the seat of the fire is no longer a hard and fast rule.
    The studies were not directed at transitional attack. The information concerning that was almost a byproduct of the research. Many of you did not need to be told that transitional attack can be quite effective. FDNY did need to be told this. Some still fight it.

    The FDNY goal was to study the behavior of the fire itself and the results of ventilation on these fires. It logically followed the research that had been done on wind driven fires in high rise buildings.
    We now often arrive at a fire that is ventilation limited. There is plenty of heat and fuel but available air has been used up by the fire. The heat and airborne fuel (smoke) will spread to any area that is open to the original fire area. Any opening we make will provide air to the mixture and could result in flashover conditions. A firefighter in such an area can only be saved by immediate withdrawal (seconds) or immediate application of water. PPE will not be sufficient protection.

    We've made the following tactical changes:
    Embraced the effectiveness of transitional attack. At least on paper; some still are skeptical in reality.
    Put all ventilation at the discretion of the ladder company officer on the fire floor. No windows are taken w/o checking with him. Roof vent also has some restrictions on it. Prior to roof vent door to apartment must be controlled or charged hose line in place. This is not as extreme as it may sound. Roof firefighter is never in place and ready to vent sooner than inside team is at fire apartment door.
    Control of entrance door. Entrance door is a ventilation point. This must be as closely controlled as windows. If entering prior to charged line being in place, the door must not be chocked open and left. A member must remain in that area and control the opening. It's also a good way to guide inside members out in an emergency. (calling out, banging tool on floor, etc.)

    Fast water on the fire is still the best answer for any fire condition we meet. This should be the highest priority for available staffing. Ventilation prior to a charged hoseline being in place is counter-productive. Search w/o benefit of a charged line is very risky. There isn't much point in getting to victims if fire conditions subsequently prevent us from removing victims.

    In the grand scheme of things, implementing some tactical changes based on this research is not a big deal and doesn't substantially change fire ground operations. We're still firefighters. We're still interior. We're still aggressive. We're just a little bit (a lot?) safer while we do it.
    RFDACM02 and bshawd2 like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    I have also seen the information presented by UL, NIST and the FDNY personnel directly involved in the research. Several times actually. That's a good thing because there is a staggering amount of data. FDNY has changed some tactics as a result. Most of the changes involve ventilation and it's effect on flow path.

    The research proved that hose lines don't "push" fire. Not from the outside to the inside and not from one inside area to another. Many a crusty old dog refuse to believe this, as it was long held fire service mantra that hoselines could push fire. IMO, this dates back to when a member would go in a window with subpar (or non-existent PPE) and begin a search opposite the line. This would be pre-flashover while the fire was still developing. He would be operating below the worst heat layer. The line would open up and the area would fill with steam from floor to ceiling. Even though the overall area was cooled, there would be steam at the lowest level. The level that the unprotected firefighter was at. The steam would burn that firefighter. He would then conclude that "they pushed the fire at me".
    Heat sensors were placed throughout entire houses. They revealed that any water applied from just about anywhere cooled the immediate fire area along with all other areas of the house. So it was proven that transitional attack not only did not push fire, but it also cooled all areas of the house significantly. The heat sensors also revealed that temperatures were extremely high not only at the seat of the fire but throughout the house. Sometimes approaching 1800-2000 degrees. IMO, this is evidence that the old mantra of not opening up the line until we are at the seat of the fire is no longer a hard and fast rule.
    The studies were not directed at transitional attack. The information concerning that was almost a byproduct of the research. Many of you did not need to be told that transitional attack can be quite effective. FDNY did need to be told this. Some still fight it.

    The FDNY goal was to study the behavior of the fire itself and the results of ventilation on these fires. It logically followed the research that had been done on wind driven fires in high rise buildings.
    We now often arrive at a fire that is ventilation limited. There is plenty of heat and fuel but available air has been used up by the fire. The heat and airborne fuel (smoke) will spread to any area that is open to the original fire area. Any opening we make will provide air to the mixture and could result in flashover conditions. A firefighter in such an area can only be saved by immediate withdrawal (seconds) or immediate application of water. PPE will not be sufficient protection.

    We've made the following tactical changes:
    Embraced the effectiveness of transitional attack. At least on paper; some still are skeptical in reality.
    Put all ventilation at the discretion of the ladder company officer on the fire floor. No windows are taken w/o checking with him. Roof vent also has some restrictions on it. Prior to roof vent door to apartment must be controlled or charged hose line in place. This is not as extreme as it may sound. Roof firefighter is never in place and ready to vent sooner than inside team is at fire apartment door.
    Control of entrance door. Entrance door is a ventilation point. This must be as closely controlled as windows. If entering prior to charged line being in place, the door must not be chocked open and left. A member must remain in that area and control the opening. It's also a good way to guide inside members out in an emergency. (calling out, banging tool on floor, etc.)

    Fast water on the fire is still the best answer for any fire condition we meet. This should be the highest priority for available staffing. Ventilation prior to a charged hoseline being in place is counter-productive. Search w/o benefit of a charged line is very risky. There isn't much point in getting to victims if fire conditions subsequently prevent us from removing victims.

    In the grand scheme of things, implementing some tactical changes based on this research is not a big deal and doesn't substantially change fire ground operations. We're still firefighters. We're still interior. We're still aggressive. We're just a little bit (a lot?) safer while we do it.
    Quite possibly the best and easiest to understand explanation of tactical changes brought about by the NIST, Ul, and FDNY studies. Thanks!
    bshawd2 likes this.
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    We really don't have any formal SOGs or SOPs for our operations. For the most part, my department is kind of resistant to "outside information" and behind the curve in some aspects of our operations compared to national trends (accountability and RIT specifically).

    However, to an extent we've been ahead of the curve on some of the stuff coming out of the studies. We already use the transitional attack at times and we tend to not ventilate until the first line is in place, but that has more to do with our low on-duty staffing than anything else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Quite possibly the best and easiest to understand explanation of tactical changes brought about by the NIST, Ul, and FDNY studies. Thanks!
    Thanks for the "Atta Boy". Glad I was able to make the point clearly. That's not always the case.

    The research yielded a mountain of data. Anyone who wades through enough of it to clearly see the picture can't really argue with the results. I've seen plenty of old school highly experienced firefighters and officers embrace the information. Those who resist have probably not had a chance to see and understand the research.
    I strongly urge all firefighters who get a chance to see a presentation on this topic to do so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    Those who resist have probably not had a chance to see and understand the research.
    Or care to... Three hundred years of tradition, unchanged by progress.

    Excellent summary, by the way.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Default Changing tactics

    We at the Du Quoin Fire Department are changing some of our tactics, we have added offensive exterior operations when appropriate, and I am currently writing a class to instruct coordinated fir attack with ventilation. All of my paid people have taken the UL online courses and have become far more aware of flow path and attempting to control fire growth by limiting ventilation until an attack can be made. They have also been told to hit the heat and retreat when smoke and fire begin to rapidly change. I see these as more tools in the box. Only a fool would not pay attention to empirical evidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    I have also seen the information presented by UL, NIST and the FDNY personnel directly involved in the research. Several times actually. That's a good thing because there is a staggering amount of data. FDNY has changed some tactics as a result. Most of the changes involve ventilation and it's effect on flow path.

    The research proved that hose lines don't "push" fire. Not from the outside to the inside and not from one inside area to another. Many a crusty old dog refuse to believe this, as it was long held fire service mantra that hoselines could push fire. IMO, this dates back to when a member would go in a window with subpar (or non-existent PPE) and begin a search opposite the line. This would be pre-flashover while the fire was still developing. He would be operating below the worst heat layer. The line would open up and the area would fill with steam from floor to ceiling. Even though the overall area was cooled, there would be steam at the lowest level. The level that the unprotected firefighter was at. The steam would burn that firefighter. He would then conclude that "they pushed the fire at me".
    Heat sensors were placed throughout entire houses. They revealed that any water applied from just about anywhere cooled the immediate fire area along with all other areas of the house. So it was proven that transitional attack not only did not push fire, but it also cooled all areas of the house significantly. The heat sensors also revealed that temperatures were extremely high not only at the seat of the fire but throughout the house. Sometimes approaching 1800-2000 degrees. IMO, this is evidence that the old mantra of not opening up the line until we are at the seat of the fire is no longer a hard and fast rule.
    The studies were not directed at transitional attack. The information concerning that was almost a byproduct of the research. Many of you did not need to be told that transitional attack can be quite effective. FDNY did need to be told this. Some still fight it.

    The FDNY goal was to study the behavior of the fire itself and the results of ventilation on these fires. It logically followed the research that had been done on wind driven fires in high rise buildings.
    We now often arrive at a fire that is ventilation limited. There is plenty of heat and fuel but available air has been used up by the fire. The heat and airborne fuel (smoke) will spread to any area that is open to the original fire area. Any opening we make will provide air to the mixture and could result in flashover conditions. A firefighter in such an area can only be saved by immediate withdrawal (seconds) or immediate application of water. PPE will not be sufficient protection.

    We've made the following tactical changes:
    Embraced the effectiveness of transitional attack. At least on paper; some still are skeptical in reality.
    Put all ventilation at the discretion of the ladder company officer on the fire floor. No windows are taken w/o checking with him. Roof vent also has some restrictions on it. Prior to roof vent door to apartment must be controlled or charged hose line in place. This is not as extreme as it may sound. Roof firefighter is never in place and ready to vent sooner than inside team is at fire apartment door.
    Control of entrance door. Entrance door is a ventilation point. This must be as closely controlled as windows. If entering prior to charged line being in place, the door must not be chocked open and left. A member must remain in that area and control the opening. It's also a good way to guide inside members out in an emergency. (calling out, banging tool on floor, etc.)

    Fast water on the fire is still the best answer for any fire condition we meet. This should be the highest priority for available staffing. Ventilation prior to a charged hoseline being in place is counter-productive. Search w/o benefit of a charged line is very risky. There isn't much point in getting to victims if fire conditions subsequently prevent us from removing victims.

    In the grand scheme of things, implementing some tactical changes based on this research is not a big deal and doesn't substantially change fire ground operations. We're still firefighters. We're still interior. We're still aggressive. We're just a little bit (a lot?) safer while we do it.
    I agree with FiredUp...Best summary of the information I have seen yet. Heck, even a fireman can understand it!!

    I am one of those crusty old timers that at first, I thought there is no way this could be accurate. We have been doing this the same way for a lot of years, goes against all my training, goes against all of what was told to me by hugely respected instructors and chiefs...how dare they question these men who taught me!!!

    I have been trying to change that same exact thinking of my guys. It's slow but it's being embraced. The transitional attack idea we have been doing for many years, they just put a name to it now.

    Thank you again Capt for your input.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    My VFD implemented a Transitional Attack policy using a 2 1/2" line with a smooth-bore nozzle 2 years ago.

    It has been used on one fire since them with positive results.
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