At a time where Flashovers are starting to become a common occurance, how do you know when you're in to far? When is it too hot?
I've heard about testing the air above you by taking of your glove off and holding it over your head. Is this really realistic? How many of you are in there empty-handed with the time to stop and take your glove off?
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Thread: In Too Far?
06-25-1999, 07:30 PM #1HollywoodFirehouse.com Guest
In Too Far?
06-26-1999, 05:23 PM #2eng2ltFirehouse.com Guest
An interesting note in this regard. The British fire service issues Nomex hoods with vent holes over the ears. This gives them some indication when conditions are to hot. They lose less firefighters annually then the U.S. does statistically. Another technique in high ceiling occupancies is to aim the nozzle over your head and release a quick burst. If you don't get water back on top of you it is probably rolling. This works well in whse. type occupancies with heavy smoke where you can't see the ceiling. Lastly, some P.A.S.S. alarms activate if you have taken to much heat. This may be one solution. Some type of device that lets you know the heat your in. Nothing substitutes good ventilation. Good Luck! Stay Safe!
06-26-1999, 09:39 PM #3TRUCK 110Firehouse.com Guest
I concur with you 21t, since the Wave now is to integrate a Rate of Rise detector into your PASS Alarm system.
The Question as to why we lose so many Firefighters maybe that we have More Fires, and more Firefighters, when you consider that FDNY is 14K strong, and they are just one of the Major Metropolis areas in this Country. We have great expanses of Land, and our World in Chemistry is Killing us. If it's Beautiful, it must burn better..LOL
I also think, as crazy as it sounds, that our Laws maybe killing us too, in the sense of the word. We have Really, truthfully done a Great job in Fire Prevention. And when we do get the Big One, we may not really be Trained for it, and I mean this seriously. Major Alarms now are not the same as yester year. They are the same Magnitude, but are really less frequent, and again, the World of Science is now interjected into it. We also do not have the Horses we use to, when we could Bully a Fire, so we do it with less people, and more Firepower, aka Squirts, Tower Ladders, Portable Masterstreams.
Enough Soap Boxing..Thanks for the Post..
06-27-1999, 10:18 PM #4Tom LafleurFirehouse.com Guest
When your ears burned it was time to get out. End of story.
06-28-1999, 06:37 PM #5Tim SchaffnerFirehouse.com Guest
Two Things will save more of us than anything else!!! Proper sizeup and Ventilation first!!!! Try it , you might find it faster , easier , and safer. Also one other thing.... Big fire - Big Line!!!!
06-30-1999, 03:14 PM #6Hook and LadderFirehouse.com Guest
When your Bourkes start to droop down you're on the borderline.
06-30-1999, 05:51 PM #7hyloFirehouse.com Guest
In Dublin, we still use the age old method of when your ears start to shrink, its to hot, we currently are not issued with nomex hoods, and we wear helmets from the U.S, unlike the French gallina type that cover your head and side of face.
So when your ears are covered, its down to experience, using lots of short spray bursts to cool the over head gases before advancing to far in.
stay safe guys,
07-01-1999, 12:19 PM #8Lt_JohnFirehouse.com Guest
First off I think we have to remember that we are not going in any further or for longer than our predecessors - fires are just hotter now. I think that training in recoginizing the conditions preceeding a flashover are key. I am firm believer in full gear including hoods - I like keeping my ears intact. I know of at least one department that has live-burn facilities that can simulate flashover conditions (great training if you can get it). Going through this type of training will make you a better FF or officer.
Also lets not forget that the number one killer of FF is heart attacks - this is an issue of physical fitness not how far someone is in the building.
Thats my two cents - hope it helps.
07-02-1999, 01:08 AM #9PickheadFirehouse.com Guest
Our modern fire fighting grear does an great job of protecting us from the extreme heat. I've seen guys melt the helments off their heads and say it never felt hot enought to bail out. a lot of old school FF's in our department were reluctant to wear hoods when first issued because of this, so we have a lot of old farts with nasty looking ears. Training is the key to knowing when conditions are right for a flashover. our department purchased a swede flashover chamber about 5 years ago and it is the best training I've had yet.
07-02-1999, 12:49 PM #10Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
I'm with Tim Scaffner on this: The first thing that we always need to do is proper size-up, the second is often to strategically ventilate to avoid things like flashover and backdraft. The part you need prior to arrival, of course, is to make sure everyone is trained to recognize and deal with signs of trouble. It's a natural response to want to charge right in and "put the wet stuff on the red stuff" immediately, but it's not always the best course of action.
The most frequent objections I hear to early ventilation are that there isn't enough manpower or the truck company isn't there yet. I don't buy it. Ventilation in some form is almost always possible. I've been involved in low manpower operations where the initial ventilation came in the form of the pump operator throwing rocks through second story windows. It doesn't make a pretty picture, but it gets the job done in a pinch. My point is that the key to success is to assess the situation and the available resources and find a way to get the job done. As always, failure is not an option.
Lt. Bob Snyder
FFC#2, Mohnton, PA
07-02-1999, 11:21 PM #11NBFDT1Firehouse.com Guest
To all the proponents of the burning ear theory, remember that human skin burns at 131 degrees F. That temperature is reached in just about every fire we go to. If we run out every time our ears tingle, we will surely burn down more property than we save. Instead, as others have said, wear all your gear, learn to recognize the signs of backdraft and flashover, have charged hose lines ready, perform proper ventilation, and practice correct water application. The days of leather lungs are gone and so are crispy ears.
07-18-1999, 10:17 PM #12Truckie from MissouriFirehouse.com Guest
I am of the opinion that hoods in general are good at keeping your ears from getting frost bite. They also make excellent snot rags.
However, the use of hoods is mandatory where I work. So, I compromise. I make sure that my hood's elastic is loose enough that I can pull it away from my face and neck to temporarily expose the meganerves on my cheeks/neck. When the rate of temperature rise is significant such that I notice immediate increases along the meganerves, then I know that an unpleasant event is about to occur. Time to either cool the ceiling or back out until a line can get in.
In no visability environments, doing this can also help indicate where the fire is (which side is hotter).
Just my humble thoughts.
07-19-1999, 04:06 AM #13TillermanFirehouse.com Guest
I have to say that the ear trick is bogus. Like earlier posts have stated, when your ears start to burn get prepared to be there all night. With flashovers the best thing to do is proper ventilation and get water where it counts. The rise in Flashovers are not contributed to new materials or hotter fires, its the quicker response by the firefighters. All fires reach flashover, its weather or not you are there when it happens. Wear your gear properly and ventilate, and flashover is less lickley to contribute to a fatality. Besides can you please tell me when the last time we lost a brother due to a flashover. Flashover is not killing us, and neither are the Backdrafts.
07-19-1999, 11:03 AM #14K AFirehouse.com Guest
==The rise in Flashovers are not contributed to new materials or hotter fires+
There is significant research that shows stuffed furniture has brought about the flashover issue to every property. In the old days rooms did not flash over when the matress or couch caught fire. Synthetics did it for us. In the old days you arrived at a smoulder piece. NOw you have a faster higher time and temperature curve. In the old days you hauled the mattress out now it is gone on arrival.
07-19-1999, 04:24 PM #15Paul GrimwoodFirehouse.com Guest
Tillerman - brothers are dying all the time in 'flashovers' ...... some guys were killed only a couple of weeks back in DC. I like the sound of what most guys are saying here....recognising the signs.....wearing full protection....and yes, you can take a glove off to test the temperature where you can't see any signs. Those Swedish simulators are the BEST form of training you can get in relation to flashover conditions. However, take time to consider water-fog applications and how they can be used to prevent flashovers and backdrafts. I really think there is a lot to learn from the 'new' wave of water-fog techniques and hopefully, then, firefighter deaths through flashover will be a thing of the past.
07-19-1999, 08:53 PM #16PLAYPIPEFirehouse.com Guest
Water kills flashovers. Get the guys with pipes where they are supposed to be. Get the place opened up. Where the pipe is, (and in the right experienced/trained hands) can be the difference between life and death.
07-19-1999, 09:01 PM #17PLAYPIPEFirehouse.com Guest
I do believe we ARE in fact going in farther and for longer than in the past. Technological advances in turnout gear and breathing apparatus have made this possible.
07-20-1999, 04:10 AM #18TillermanFirehouse.com Guest
Did flashovers start occuring with the manufacturing of plastics? No. Flashover has exsisted as long as fire has. Every confined fire will reach flashover unless disrupted by us the firefighters. Flashover breaks up the three stages of fire.
1. Growth Period=Fairly low temperatures throughout the room, and even low temps around the burning object.
2. Fully Developed Period=This is the time when flashover will occur and thus making it inhabitable for humans and possibly firefighters.
3. Decay Period=This is post flashover, and usually is not seen by most fire departments.
Do plastics make a difference, yes the studies show that it increases the temperature more quickly to allow less time between the Growth Period and the Fully Developed Period. Thus going back to my earlier post, the quicker the response time, the more flashover plays a role in your fire ground tactics. So what does that mean to us as firefighters? Ventilation and putting water where it counts(on the fire not in the air).
KA-Flashover does not include a single piece of furniture so your analogy of the mattres smoldering does not fit. Also with the development of these new materials has come the development of stricter standards. Flame retardent materials, higher flash points, etc...
Paul Grimwood-You must find me something that supports your theory of firefighters dying as a RESULT of flashover. (LOOK AT MY PROFILE) Your comment about my 2 brothers that died is false and will not be determined until the investigation is final. "A preliminary investigation has raised doubts about whether a flashover occurred because furniture and other items on the first floor did not burn" and "that the possibility that there was insufficent ventilation and crews from another engine company may have opened a line in the basement while crews were on the first floor, where the injuries occured."(a report from the Washington Post)
I have not seen a firefighter in a very long time who has died as a result of a FLASHOVER. I am not saying it has not killed but I am upset at the way we are scared into thinking it is. Why dont they scare us with pictures of our brothers collapsing at the scene of a fire as a result of a Heart Attack. This is what is killing us. Please I am sorry if I upset any of you that was not my goal. Thanks for reading!!
Watch out for the Heart Attacks while in a Flashover!!
[This message has been edited by Tillerman (edited July 20, 1999).]
[This message has been edited by Tillerman (edited July 20, 1999).]
07-20-1999, 04:41 AM #19TillermanFirehouse.com Guest
HOLLYWOOD- To help answer your question about how to tell when flashover is about to happen.
1. Pre-Flashover has shown what is called rollover. Now rollover is not what is typically thought of. Rollover is when the smoke containing large carbon molecules heats up to its ignition temperature and begins to burn. while the smoke or (Carbon) is burning it begins to really heat up the room, and more smoke is produced and the smoke line comes down and the room gets darker and hotter.
This is sometimes mistaken for flame height. When fires burn and flame height increases in your typical 8' ceilings it has no where to go but to follow the path of least resistance along the ceiling and out the door, down the hallway etc... This is what you usually see when you arrive to find fire coming out the door.
2. Please, always wear your gloves and hood. They are provided for safety and should be worn at all times. Do you take your seat belt off and drive thirty miles an hour into a wall to test your cars durability?. No!! Why?? Cause its stupid and you can get hurt.
3. Just keeping an eye out helps also, If you see stuff that looks abnormal it probably is telling you something. If the T.V. next to you just bursts into flames and there is no direct flame contact, that should tell you that its pretty hot and somthing needs to be done.
So what can you do?
1. Well you can start by ventilating while you search for the fire room. The cooler it gets the less likely that flashover will occur. Remember it only takes 1100 degrees at ceiling level to cause a flashover so get it colled down
2. Other ways of cooling is by putting water on the fire. What I mean is getting to the seat of the fire and knocking it down. As a last resort if things are getting real nuts, cool down the ceiling using a straight stream, preferably a smooth bore. This will cool it down just enough to allow you access to the seat and to put the fire out. Using the straight stream on the ceiling will also keep steam to a minimum and not break up the thermal layering. This will keep you and your team cooler and allow you to get the job done quicker.
I hope this helps, keep on fighting!!
07-20-1999, 02:51 PM #20Paul GrimwoodFirehouse.com Guest
I hear you Tillerman - and seeing your profile...well, they ARE your brothers...I'm sorry man! But I refer to a flashover in this situation as 'flashover' like conditions, which they undoubtedly were. We may never know the true cause of the rapid fire propagation.
But there are some points you've raised that need addressing -
1. Why are you saying put water on the fire but NOT in the air? Where warning signs are demonstrating the flashover stage is approaching the main objective would be to take the heat out of the overhead. The most effective way to do this is by use of an intermittent spray, suspending a range of water droplets directly into the fire gases. The smooth bore will dislodge loose debris above your heads but it will also (yes it will!) create steam that will force the smoke layers down even more.
2. Flashover is not part of the fully developed stage of a fire but rather the transitional stage between the growth and fully developed stages.
3. Where do you place the water if you cannot SEE any fire?
4. What if your venting actions actually CAUSE the fire to flashover before you manage to get any water on it?
These are all points that need serious thought. The use of water-fog on a wide setting with short bursts of droplets into the overhead will create safer conditions. You will then be able to ventilate and advance on the fire to complete the job.
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