Thread: Practice Burns!

  1. #1
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    Default Practice Burns!

    Check this out..... My department recently had a practice burn on a very nice size home. That is the good part. The bad part of it is how it was run! One 1250gpm Engine with 5" hose to a blue top hydrant. Inexperieced pump operator at the panel. One 2 1/2" saftey line at the front of the house supplied by the attack Engine. Two 1 3/4" attack lines (one for attack and one for back-up). The back-up line was only manned for two evelusions. Absoulutely no saftey, a roving command, and Chief officers walking very close and inside the structure with no turnouts (especially during a free burn phase). There was no back up water supply, no safety lines that were supported by another engine. No staging and especially no RIT team. And my favorite the press walking all over the fireground like the owned the place. Oh did I mention that the "Mayor" was there and he wanted to fight some of the red devil.

    Now it may just be me but I thought the NFPA has guidelines to practice burns. What is your opinion and does anyone else run the "show" like this?

    It may be me but when your doing a job that is already dangerous enough, shouldn't you practice and play like the real thing?

    And of course the statement here is of my opinion only and definitely not that of my department.

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    That $hit ain't cool,man...

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    fireeater, thank you for your eloquent response. You've added so much to the discussion.

    As far as practice burns, NFPA 1403 is the standard which covers this practice. Part of it covers fixed training facilities and part of it covers acquired structure training. You, and your command staff should read it carefully.

    Then, if you have access to backissues of Fire Engineering magazine, check in, I think, March 1996 issue for an article I wrote on a fire training accident in which we sought to charge the instructor with attempted murder. We were not succesful, but the case resulted in a complete revamping of fire training in NJ. For the better.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Sounds to me like you guys were very lucky not to have killed someone. No back up crew available is just asking for trouble. What happens if the fire flares up behind the attack crew? How long would it take to be noticed? No second water source, ummm, I take no one at your department has ever witnessed a burst hose line? Or the pumper has never failed? I've seen both at working fires. You said all the lines were off the same engine, ok, so if the pump operator messes up, you lose water in all your lines. When we do a training burn around here. We have two lines for attack, one is main attack, the second is back-up. We normally also have another line outside to be grabbed and taken where ever it's needed. The third line is always off of another engine. We also keep an inside safety line. This is off of the second engine and is kept with the instructors or "arsonist" if you prefer. We always have two water sources. Even if the one is just a loaded tanker sitting there hooked up and ready to nurse one of the engines. We also run a line between the two engines, that way if one of them goes down due to mechanical reasons, the one can pump through the other and supply it's lines. One thing I just realised you didn't mention either, was this structure laddered? I'm guessing this house probably was two story, and if so, a ladder is a must. You mentioned there was no R.I.T. team, my area is just starting into this (yeah, I know, took us long enough)though in a sense, our manned backup line has us covered. There' two more positions I think are a must, a Safety Officer and an Accountability Officer, the two can be combined, but myself I prefer them separate, especially at a training burn because the pace can get fast and overwhelm just one person. To sum up, like I said, you were damn lucky not to have killed someone. And if your chief thinks what he did was acceptable practice, I think for the safety of your memebership and of your community he should be asked to step down. If everything you said is true, the he or she acted extremely irrisponsibly and needlessly endangered the lives of the personell under thier command. I can understand not doing a lot of the safety steps I mentioned at a real fire with imminent danger to life, but to takes such risks in training is just disgusting. We can be killed in training just as easily as responding to emergencies. Sorry about the ranting, God bless and stay safe, and also remember our fallen brothers and sister.
    Randall E. Guntrum FF/EMT
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    Count yourself very lucky. The only serious injury to a firefighter we have had was at a training fire. This was 23 years ago and a lot has changed but it sounds like the PR that was exercized will come back to haunt your department. The public will probably conclude that firefighting isn't nothing but play and that you don't need any more equipment since you won't use it anyway. I feel for you. Watch your back and your brothers back. Good Luck.
    Kevin Sink
    Fair Grove Fire Dept.
    Thomasville, NC USA
    kevinsink@northstate.net

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    I was there with fire_sar......this thing scared a few of us.

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    This sounds like it was a dog and pony show put on for the benefit of the mayor and the media. The concept of doing a live burn is nice and a great training opportunity, but the way this was done put the members of your department in severe peril.

    What if the unthinkable happened? With the mayor and the media there, they would have been all over your department like stink on scatology.

    Your command staff owes your company officers, firefighters and the community an apology. This should not be allowed to happen again!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    All of the practice burns my department does are at the Fire School in a controlled burn building. However, we did have a malfunction of the heat and fire alarm on this building and two fire fighters were almost very seriously hurt - I am talking seriously charred helmets. No matter how safe you are there is a chance that something could go wrong. But reading what you wrote it sounds like there were a lot of people and officers NOT doing their jobs that day. Fire is unpredictable, but controllable in certain environments....the environment you wrote about it not one of them. There are guidelines, safety officers, laws, etc. that should be in place when doing any live or practice burn. I hope your department straightens this out before someone gets hurt. Great post.
    Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

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    Very unsafe. As GWCFI wrote there were problems as these in Jersey but the DCA has stepped up and made it so hard to burn in a non-training (such as at a fireschool) building that you wouldn't even want to start the paper work. I can recall of one event where the television news was there for "The fury of fire" to show how fast a fire can move. It took months to get the right paper work and even with all the planning there were still some glithces. I know of another event of which I won't speak, because if anything ever came about I wouldn't want to anywhere near the aftermath. If you get caught doing something without the proper paper trail there goes your instructor card and you just might end up in the brink. I'm not sure exactly what event George Wendt CFI is speaking of, but I've heard of people using GAS ballons to light off a training burn, and I don't remember where in N. Jersey some firefighters got seriously hurt and I beleive 1 died in a "bus" in my opinion more of an oven that they turned into a training building. Now I know of the type of people that are doing these unsafe acts but the worst part is no matter what you say about it, they are right they're training the new guys. Do your best to stay safe and keep the ones who want to stay safe.
    the truth never hides for long

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    As a victim of my own stupidity I will share something with you... Never let down your guard or become complacant... This sounds corny but it also sounds like the attitude at your burn training. Why do I mention my stupidity??? Well...In May of 1990 I was a newly promoted captain (since nov 89) and was conducting live training on auto fires at the station. I had a back up pumper with a line pulled (pumper not running and unstaffed). I had an Engine crew of 3, a Tanker Driver and a staffed medic unit. We were doing training in context so the crew was in station and were to be dispatched and respond around to rear of station. The day had started bad as a construction crew had cut our water line and we were unable to shower after fitness training. We had water in the station diesel tanks which was also being worked on. the first burn went with no problems. As we began the second burn I had apparently splashed some deisel on my coveralls (shorts under it) and as I threw the flare in the car to ignite it...there was a flash fire and my pants leg caught fire! You see..I was not wearing gear and apparently the "dry gas" being used by the gas company had lowered the flash point of the fuel we used. I was off for 50 working days with 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns from the top of my 10" leather boot to my thigh.

    I knew better...I am an istructor and had 11 years experience at that time in the career service.. There was a procedure or standard...but...I let my guard down and chose to say.."the hell with it." If your department doesnt know about the standard, train them...if they do and ignore it....change officers or departments..

    Do not be stupid like me....

    Retired
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    thats shocking......a mayor who does something for the publicity....has the mayor EVER stopped in to see how you guys are doing? Probably not
    Its not something you do,
    Its something you are.
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    About three weeks ago we did a practice burn. We had 1-1500 GPM pumper with a 15 year vet at the panel. We had 5 2.5 inch lines off of it with no back-up pumper ready. It was supplied by by one 5" line. We got there at 8 AM. After eight hours in the 95 degree heat outside, the twelve of us there were shot. All of us were on shift. We had no prior notice of the burn to that day. I understand your pain, brother

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    OLE
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    It's too bad when people have to be "less afraid" of fire because we're only training with it. It's still the unpredictable hot stuff that will kill whether at an incident or training!!!! We need to PRACTICE like we PLAY!!!!!!

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    Two weeks ago, we conducted a training burn on an aquired house. It was a large single story taht had flooded several times. Due to environmental reasons, we were not allowed to completely burn the structure to the ground. We used NFPA 1403 as our guideline. Attack line was a 1.75" off of a 1500 gpm pumper (750gal). Back up line was another 1.75" (charged) off of of a 500 gpm mini-pumper (300 gal). Booster lines were pulled from both trucks for use on the outside of the strucure. Both trucks were supplied by 3" lines from a tanker. We also had another tanker and 2 engines at the scene with additional water if needed.

    We used safety and accountability officers and everything went well, until the final burn. A neighboring dept has just received a bunch of new rigs and brought one over to try out their CAFS. The CAFS did not work very well and pushed the fire into the voids and attic and we almost lost the house. We probably would have, if we didn't already have charged back up lines and crews standing by on them.

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