Hi all, long time lurker first time poster.
Im part of a volunteer firefighting organisation in Australia, one who's 'primary' responsibility is bushfires (or wildfires, as you yanks call them), however its role is changing, and I am in what is called a Village 2 brigade, the highest level of brigade rating for structure fires. This means we carry SCBA and have firefighters trained in offensive structural firefighting.
Now heres where the horror story begins. The brigade has 6 sets of SCBA, meaning the most firefighters we can put in is 6, if we ignore having a RIT. The organisation itself allows plenty of freedom in what we do, however the teachings are standardised. We can change our MO if we want however.
For example, standard practice for brigades is to have a team of two operating a 38 hoseline (1 1/2 inch) doing a primary search, then attempting fire suppression. Myself and an officer discussed it, and we felt that putting fire protection second to the search was risking higher chances of structural collapse, more smoke and heat reducing victim survivability, and was just a bad idea in general.
Eventually we developed an idea where we would send one team of two to initiate fire suppression and horizontal ventilation, while the second would begin a primary search. This has met with some stiff ongoing opposition by certain officers (Who are no longer qualified as offensive firefighters) who make some grand sweeping claims. Firstly they say "Its impossible to identify where a fire is located in a structure, there is too much smoke", too which I answered "If the smoke is that thick that you cannot locate any possible air tracks or light from the fire, why haven't you begun ventilation immediately, noone will be alive in there for long if its that bad. Also what happened to the IC, shouldn't someone have done a 360 to determine the fires location?" And the answer I got was "Ventilation will result in increased fire intensity and it should only be done as a last resort or during overhaul"
Some of this stems from the course where they teach you about OFF, its repeated over and again that "Ventilation will result in increased fire intensity" which while I agree thats true, Im a firefighter, I have a fire hose, I have training. I can deal with increased fire intensity.
This brigade was formerly two brigades, the one I am in allowed us freedom to change our techniques too better ones, but banned us from training our skills out of fear it would result in "an elitist clique", the other one basically worships its SCBA operators, but teaches them retarded techniques, like upon finding a closed door, they are to exit the building, contact the IC, who will then see if there is a way to ventilate from outside, if there isn't they will reenter the building with an axe (They only enter with a hoseline and kelly tool), cut a hole in the door and shove the nozzle in there. Yes, I know. Im very sorry and I apologise to all of you who had to read that, I may have actively decreased the intelligence of all readers. But its true.
So now I have set the scene/got that out of my system, the advice I really need is:
6 SCBA operators, how to best use them.
Our current practice would result in 2 being in performing both a search and fire suppression, a second 2 would be outside as RIT, and the other two sets on the truck still.
I have two ideas for what we could do, and I have the influence to see them implemented either way, I have come here to see what more experienced firefighters opinions are on this. Maybe theres a superior, third option I am overlooking?
There are no service requirements for a RIT team in this country.
The first is we work two teams of 3. One team of 3 undertakes fire suppression while the second begins a primary search. They will work as each others backup. Bear in mind there are other firefighters outside, just only 6 able to enter. The firefighters outside range in experience/training from incompetent monkeys too amatuer participants. Basically there is a huge skill gap between the people trained in OFF and those who aren't.
Pros: Superior speed and a third set of eyes and arms
Cons: If the team undertaking fire supression runs out of air, there is noone to continue while they leave
The second is to have 3 teams of 2, the first team enters the building for fire suppression and the second for primary search. They both take hoselines (thats one of those things we just do). A third team stays outside not masked up. They will begin to soften the target by removing bars, placing ladders if the need be, and beginning ventilation possible as soon as the first team makes contact with the fire. They could also "hit it hard from the yard" while the first team is moving into position, if the situation allows.
RIT team available, if an understaffed one.
More jobs being completed at once
When the fire suppression team reports being low on air, the RIT could come in and change jobs with them.
Slower movement speed than the 2x3 option.
Thoughts? Im only a newbie at this, in an organisation with very limited structure fire experience. So be gentle, its my first time
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02-09-2014, 06:58 PM #1
- Join Date
- May 2012
Advice Needed, Volunteer Organisation with weird and outdated techniques
02-09-2014, 10:33 PM #2
- Join Date
- May 2013
You have some real challenges to face. Sounds like the area you work in has some changing demographics? Increasing population and developement that goes with it? You'll probably need more of everything if this is the case.
Without knowing more about your department, your building types, etc. a very generic plan could be something like this:
I think your best option for now is to have three or four firefighters work together to get the first line in place. Fast water on the fire is critical for a successful outcome. Two SCBA equipped firefighters could then advance and operate that line with help from non SCBA equipped firefighters on exterior. Basically they would be at entrance door feeding hose to interior team. Practice will be needed to coordinate this. It's not as automatic as it sounds.
Then you could have that backup line stretched by remaining firefighters. It could be brought in by two SCBA equipped firefighters on search team.
I think you should consider having the backup line stretched and charged and put into readiness in front yard. Two SCBA equipped members could perform a more rapid search without having to deal with hoseline. They would also be able to carry hand tools in order to more easily force any additional interior doors encountered. And perform ventilation from interior where appropriate. And the backup line would be readily available if needed.
The remaining two SCBA equipped members should be left available for RIT, whether it's mandated or not. Two isn't much and will be seriously challenged if actual RIT is needed. But it's better than nothing. And definitely worth it. Or they could rotate in and relieve two of the interior SCBA equipped firefighters if necessary. Of course the two relieved firefighters would then have to change cylinders and act as RIT. But by this point the fire may be mostly controlled, and their services as RIT less likely needed.
Horizontal ventilation could be performed by RIT members, as long as they can maintain operational discipline and not over commit. Or it could be performed by exterior non SCBA equipped members. But it must be controlled by interior team. It should generally be performed opposite hose stream, and coordinated with opening of nozzle.
It is often true that fire location cannot be determined from the exterior due to heavy smoke throughout all or most of the structure. This does not mean there is no chance of survival for occupants. Although it is less likely due to Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Cyanide and other toxic gases that will be present. Plus there are times where fire location is readily discenable from exterior.
Ventilation is not a last resort. It is still a valuable tactic. Your department will need to learn where and when to perform ventilation in order to have it help versus having it hurt the operation.
It sounds as if your entire department needs some formal training in modern fire behavior and ventilation tactics. You will also need to admit that fighting each other and dividing up into cliques will not be helpful.
02-11-2014, 06:11 AM #3
- Join Date
- May 2012
We also have two Cat 7's, but they are largely irrelevant for structural duties, with the exception of bringing more crew too the fire. Generally at a structure call after work hours/b efore work hours we will get 20 firefighters or more, although most aren't trained in village firefighting. Even the ones that are, in order to be fully qualified as capable to enter a structure, conduct search and rescue, fire suppression, ventilation etc, is only 64 hours of total training, including assesments, with approximately 3 hours of live fire experience. So we aren't talking highly experienced people. The main issue is because the organisation was originally only for bushfires (as in, 30 years ago), practically all of the "old" members take the view that the more qualified you are the less you know about "real fire". Its something we are trying to work on, both by changing their perception of village firefighting, and perhaps voting some officers out (Not sure how its done in the states, but here we vote on our officers)
But anyway, if I can get this accepted, and enough people motivated to do training weekly on structural firefighting, hopefully they will allow us to resume that sort of training.
What I found the most embarrassing was when I made the claim "We need to train, this is serious stuff, someones life may be at risk, and ours are definitely at risk" I was told "If you can't retain the information you were taught on your course then you shouldn't be a firefighter" followed up by "Only stupid firefighters get themselves killed"[/QUOTE]
Anyway, I appreciate the advice quite sincerely, thanks for letting me rant on.
Last edited by Griskard; 02-11-2014 at 06:14 AM.
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