Thread: Residential Roof Ventilation
10-06-1999, 04:13 PM #1mtnfireguyFirehouse.com Guest
Residential Roof Ventilation
How many of your departments still cut a hole in the roof on your average wood frame residential structure (especially single story)?
There is a debate going on regarding this topic and I am interested in some points of view from around the country. Thanks
10-06-1999, 04:30 PM #2resqbFirehouse.com Guest
Our average residential structure is 2 1/2 story wood frame, and roof ventilation doesn't happen all that often. Usually only in a fire in the loft. For some strange reason we get the two extremes of residential fires, room and contents or fully involved (sometimes more than one house). Roof ventilation is very effective if it is done in a timely manner and horizontal is simply quicker for most departments that are running short. One guy can trow a 24' extension ladder and break some windows. It takes at least two to vent a roof, more for a safety line. Three or less on a truck is not a truck company, it's a bunch of guys that are going to work way too hard to properly ladder the building and search and all the other "truck" duties that end up getting done later on or never at all(especially salvage). I am now getting off of my soapbox. Stay low.
10-06-1999, 04:52 PM #3Truckie from MissouriFirehouse.com Guest
Roof ventilation is a good thing, when done right.
I have had the privilidge to have worked on two other departments prior to my current department. All three departments are agressive tactically. I have met several people who swear that PPV is the ONLY way to go. I feel it has it's place, but am more of a traditionalist for venting:
"Vent early, vent often." Open up the windows (read: remove them) and open the roof if it's on the top floor (think of a single story structure fire as a top floor fire) or over a stairway! Augment with fans if you want, and use the wind outside to your advantage.
Just my thoughts.
Proud Member of IAFF Local 3133!
10-06-1999, 10:10 PM #4Lt.HouckFirehouse.com Guest
We run a pretty aggressive volunteer company, in a suburban area. Our truck company runs a lot of mutual aid. I agree with resqb. Often times we see on of to extremes fully involved or room and contents. The chance to open up the roof doesn't come along often. Usually by the time the crew gets to the roof and gets set up the fire is pretty much knocked. We have found rather than waste the time opening up the roof, that one or two people assigned to OV (outside vent) is quit effective. Horizontal ventilation is quick and easy, and it can be done in time to aid the advancing hose team. As resqb said how ever we do still open up for loft and top floor fires. While the drive and the one roof man set up ladders or the stick to the roof. The second roof man take the 16' straight ladder and does a quick OV to help out the interior crew until they can complete the roof opening.
Hope this helps give you some ideas. Good luck, and stay safe out there.
10-07-1999, 02:56 PM #5Eng 48Firehouse.com Guest
We had a basement fire one time and during initial attack they went up to vent the roof. As we were making entry, I asked a firfighter to take some windows and he acted like the glass cost a million bucks! Personaly I think the horizontal ventalation would have been more than adiquit in this situation, and have used it very successfully in others. It's fast, less costly, and sometimes more effective than vertical. That does not mean there aren't times for it but look at all your options.
And watch out for the truss!
Be safe everyone
10-07-1999, 03:27 PM #6e33Firehouse.com Guest
EEK...cut the roof for a basement fire...is it just me or does that stir concern on others part? Thats a case where popping all the basement windows and maybe cutting a hole in the first floor will be more beneficial. Am i wrong?
10-08-1999, 11:20 AM #7HollywoodFirehouse.com Guest
I think ventilation has one main purpose: To remove heat and smoke off any firemen and victims that are inside the building. If people are in the building, you should ventilate. On my dept, ventilation is one of the truck's first operations. The IC can always hold it up. I had an instructor tell my class, "Ventilation saves more lives than any hose line." Most victims that die in fires today, die from smoke inhalation, not burns.
10-08-1999, 12:41 PM #8mtnfireguyFirehouse.com Guest
Oh without a doubt ventilation is necessary, I am just curious who is still doing vertical roof ventilation on residential structures as opposes to horizontal and ppv.
10-08-1999, 02:50 PM #9SNOWMANFirehouse.com Guest
We use PPV and/or horizontal ventilation on most of our interior attacks. The only exception, and the time that we will use vertical ventilation, is a severely smoke charged house that is exhibiting all the classic signs of a possible backdraft or smoke explosion.
10-08-1999, 06:46 PM #10AffFirehouse.com Guest
Horizontal ventilation with ppv is another and many times the perfered way to vent residential. But not the only. Prevailing winds, fire location, exposure considerations, and/or structure constuction will determine the best method. Don't get to focused on one or the other. Although I will admit, a rooftop vertical vent is a little extreme for a basement fire. (Unless urban renewal is the goal! ) Stay Safe...
10-09-1999, 01:40 PM #11Truckie from MissouriFirehouse.com Guest
My vote for venting the roof for a basement fire is a definate maybe. If it's a small fire, then no. If it's a working fire, where the possibility of extension exists, then yes. And here is my reasoning why:
If the fire has developed to the point that extension is a possibility, probability, &/or confirmed, opening the roof will create the chimney effect needed to help remove the heat off the backs of the firemen operating inside. Will it draw fire to the attic? Sure it will. It will draw it up through the walls, allowing for an easier decension down the basement stairs for the crews. Opening the roof combined with taking out windows and blowing in cooler air will make it more tolerable for those inside.
Just my thoughts.
Proud Member of IAFF Local 3133!
10-09-1999, 02:39 PM #12DED1645Firehouse.com Guest
That is strictly an opinion thing. Personally I don't feel it's reqired. Unless you may have row homes and you trench cut to prevent extension threw a common area if there is no fire wall. But most of the time I've experienced taking the windows right away and turbo ram fanning the front door will clear things out faster. You will always find reason to vent the roof and when it's not needed. Experience will play a large role here. One of the major factors is how aggressive is you attack team. You may not have time to vent the roof. And do you do it yourself or is you tower in your station etc... There is lots of factors. Really there is no one answer.
10-10-1999, 10:01 PM #13Dalmation90Firehouse.com Guest
You know in the last couple years I've seen two ranch house fires (where the "textbook" answer is now that horizontal's fine and vertical vent is a waste of time...) and both times the fire did not go past the roof vent hole.
And that's despite unusually heavy fire loads in both cases (once a fully involved garage, and once a basement that contained high density polystyrene "dock floats")
I've kinda become a much bigger believer in them!
10-24-1999, 10:04 PM #14UPNOVER1Firehouse.com Guest
Trucies to the roof and open the joint up.I take a chainsaw (stihl o44)and a 6'hook.Don't wait....it might be too late!
10-25-1999, 03:35 PM #15SBrooksFirehouse.com Guest
I'm with UPNOVER...our truck runs first out of my station. The driver and the tillerman (and perhaps some others) #1 make any outside rescues #2 vent: vertically for top floor and cockloft, horizontally otherwise. typically a ladder or two will be thrown through the fire area windows if it hasn't vented itself.
The 6th and 7th men on the truck, when we have them, are assigned to throw ground ladders. If we have 6 or more on the truck, the tillerman goes straight to the roof.
The interior team will ventilate as it goes.
10-25-1999, 11:01 PM #16STA2Firehouse.com Guest
If its in the attic then open it up. No two ways about it. PPV and horizontal ventilation is great for room and contents or first floor jobs and even top floor fires with no vertical extension. DON'T set up fans for attic fires. For PPV to work you need an entrance and a smaller exit. Even if you pull ceiling and have a fan at the front door blowing into the attic, you have to have an exit. Natural exits like vents are only so good. You need to make larger openings to make it effective to its highest potential. That means opening the roof. Why waste the time of setting up the fan and blocking a doorway and then opening the roof when you can go straight up when you get there and get it done. An indecisive Truck Co. officer can be a real obstacle in itself.
As far as opening the roof on a basement fire, I have a question for those that disagree with it. How many of you have been to the exact same fire and found it in the attic after you turned around your extra companies and/or placed it under control because you thought it was "just a basement fire"? Then you find out afterwards that it was ballon construction and was in the attic before you were off the rig. Know your building construction and how it relates to your territory. Don't assume anything because "I've made this type before". Be safe.
11-21-1999, 10:45 PM #17dc45bFirehouse.com Guest
I agree with sbrooks. Vent the roof over the fire in the upper floors. Most of the time with a room and content only, you can use the windows on that floor and use a PPV fan. People most of this is common sense.
12-08-1999, 01:32 PM #18Bobby HaltonFirehouse.com Guest
To reply to the original question yes we here still do sometimes open the roof on residential structure fires. It is usually the call of the first in IC, depending on conditions. That doesn't stop us from taking windows and using fans. I gave up on the pressure concept of fans now I use them to move smoke like creating wind. The tatics are not as important as the result. Use the fastest safest and most effective way to reduce heat, increase visibility and put the fire out. I don't know if anyone is intrested in this but I am working with an engineer out here at Sandia Labs who is into explosive devices. We think he is going to have a proto-type unit which can be thrown onto roofs then remotely detonated. The unit uses water and generates a force in one direction. His first is only good for standard plywood and asphalt shingle but it's kinda fun working with a guy who blows stuff up for a living. Anyway the object is to have something to use when putting our guys up there is not safe or we are running light and we need to vent vent vent. Be safe Booby
12-08-1999, 10:59 PM #19F02Firehouse.com Guest
Explosives in the hands of a Truckie?? Oh my!
12-09-1999, 03:02 PM #20Truckie from MissouriFirehouse.com Guest
LET ME AT 'EM!!
And, give the explosives MORE POWER!!! (Now insert Tim the Tool Man Taylor's grunts here!!!)
Proud Member of IAFF Local 3133!
All postings I have &/or will post are strictly my opinions. I am representing only myself here, not the IAFF, Local 3133, or my employer. No animals were/will be harmed from the production of this disclaimer. Thank you.
***END OF DISCLAIMER***
12-09-1999, 06:56 PM #21AffFirehouse.com Guest
Isn't there a thread out there titled "Truckie, another word for klutz?" LOL
12-10-1999, 08:26 AM #22Paul GrimwoodFirehouse.com Guest
Don't make me laugh!!!! If you saw some of the guys I worked with try to throw a baseball you just wouldn't want these same guys throwing grenades onto roofs!!! They could end up in the chief's car.....ha ha LOL........
12-10-1999, 11:01 AM #23Halligan84Firehouse.com Guest
you know, always wanted that on my resume... Job duties - Blew stuff up.. gotta like it.
Anyway, most of the time we can get away without cutting a roof. Horizontal vent and an aggressive high flow attack can limit the need for vertical vent in many cases. The time involved to cut the roof and push down the upper floor ceilings is a big problem, not to mention storage packed attics.
12-13-1999, 10:12 AM #24Drive P17BFirehouse.com Guest
First off never give explosives to a truckie, the pumpermen have all the brains. You know the saying you need a frontal lobtamy when you have to go from a pumper to a truck.
Yes we still open roofs. We even use our axes to do it. We use 4 man truck companies. We have done PPV, horzontal ventilation but the more the better. I know when the truckies have opened the roof when I am on the nozzle, you can sure tell. Smoke has wants to go up. You are just helping it along.
12-16-1999, 11:24 PM #25phyrngnFirehouse.com Guest
Don't know how many of you read other publications (even though Firehouse is the best), but Fire Engineering has a very interesting Roundtable Article on PPV/PPA this month...
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