Thread: Made a Mistake or Not
10-15-1999, 05:04 PM #1BURNSEMSFirehouse.com Guest
Made a Mistake or Not
Here is the Deal, at approx 4:30 this morning we answerd a Structure Fire Call at our Mayors Residence, upon arrival, we were met by the Mayor and His wife, All ok, but Heavy Smoke was emmitting out the Eaves of the house, Roof Type is Hip Style with no Gables at either End, 5 FF/Packed out and entered Residence with Heavy Smoke conditions interior with (2) 1 1/2, Returned to Door and said they could find no Fire on Ground Floor, when I asked where the enterance to The attic was I was told there is not any acess, never has been, Here is where I wonder, I told one Crew to attempt acess from the Bottom, Living Room area, I had another crew 3 ff with Saws go to the Roof and Commence to Cut a Vent Hole, Hydrant Connection was made at this time we were only 100 feet from one, Mutual Aid Arrives 2 Engines 1 Tanker, Interior crew reported Lots of Heat, Smoke is Real bad, Upon Cutting first Hole in the roof it Looked Like a Damn Volcano, Roof Sector FF stated Roof was real Soft, It was at this time acess was made from the Bottom, (Lots of Fire) approx 2200 sqft House, Mutual Aid Crews were Salvageing every thing they could get there hands on, I requested all persons off the roof, one 6x6 Hole was all that was Managed, with one 4x8 Hole in the Bottom Living Room, It was at this point after confering with the Mutual Aid Chief that we went to a Defensive Attack, Utilizeing Ground Ladders and Hand Lines avg Flow from 2 Engines and Two Hydrants 1200gpm, in approx 7-10 min the Roof Collapsed over the Kitchen, Dining Room and Car Port (almost pancake collapse)within 3 1/2 hours the Fire was called out and Mutual aid was sent Home, the Roof was Totaly Burned off, Lots of Water Damage, but alot of stuff was salvaged prior To loss of the Roof, all interior walls remain only the Kitchen and Dineing Room and Garage were Lost, I believe the Fire had started in the attic and was well out of Control Prior to arrival, I am not sure if we should have Vented this Fire from the Top before we Tried the Bottom, and if we would have realized the fire was in the attic first if it would have been any differant. This house is Brick outside 3/4 Toung & Groove Pine overLap with Sheetrock on the Inside Ceiling, This House was built in 1951 and had the same type Roof with several Layers of Shingles, Fire Marshall is Looking at Electrical as a Cause. How do you all Handel Attic Fires with Limited acess.
Here today for a Safer Tomorrow
[This message has been edited by BURNSEMS (edited October 15, 1999).]
10-15-1999, 10:24 PM #2S. CookFirehouse.com Guest
Now is the time!
Tell the mayor you need thermal imagers and piercing nozzles on all apparatus.
With an imager, you could have found the seat of the fire quicker and without having to tear up so much structure. With a piercing nozzle, you could have stuck it in at the seat and put 250 gpm right there.
Then you would be able to take a little more time and do a cleaner overhaul
Less damage, quicker knockdown, less risk to the crew.
10-16-1999, 02:09 PM #3benson911Firehouse.com Guest
It sounds like you did the right thing. Evacuating personnel from under and on the roof was the right call. Even though this was not truss construction, the delayed notification of the fire due to it being in a void space caused the roof to be spongy. You recognized the collapse potential and did the prudent and SAFE thing.
The comment above is also very correct, take your opportunity and request the items you need to improve your ability to size up a fire.
Like I said before, once the heavy fire was located in the attic void, and you did not have immediate access, removing personnel from danger was the right call. At my department we would have applied water through our 2.5" attic/cellar nozzle, but once we found the spongy roof, we would have gone defensive, too.
I hope the occupant/mayor understands how much risk your people took to save some of his stuff. Having a roof fall on you to save a piece of furniture is not fun.
Don't second guess yourself, who has a house without attic access? Poor construction and an ugly architectural style isn't your fault!
10-16-1999, 03:36 PM #4SteamerFirehouse.com Guest
You had a well advanced fire long before you got there. It sounds like you took the proper measures from the get-go. Most of the property was salvaged, and even more importantly, the collapse potential was recognized by the roof guys and you removed them and the crews below them before they all became statistics. All in all I would say this was a good job. Don't second guess yourself. You did what you needed to do.
[This message has been edited by Steamer (edited October 16, 1999).]
10-16-1999, 04:33 PM #5EPFD-ALFirehouse.com Guest
Let me tell you something my grandfather told me when he was Chief back in the 50s, "1/3 will like the job you did, 1/3 will dislike it, 1/3 will not care, you're not a fireman to make friends, want a friend, get a dog."
10-16-1999, 06:15 PM #6Dalmation90Firehouse.com Guest
Everything you did sounds solid to me too!
We're lucky to have a ladder truck. What I might have done once we knew the fire was in the attic, and given the sponginess it was dangerous to be below, is have the crew stay on (or tethered REALLY close to) the aerial and work a piercing nozzle through the roof into the fire area -- trying to work down the length to use the steam to push the fire out the vent hole. But it's tough, and there's a good chance you wouldn't get the oppurtonity on most residence to position a ladder to work this aggressively, but when you can, it's great.
Maybe you can manage to get the town to pay for a used ladder truck too know!
Bottom line is you had a fire in an inaccessible void space with delayed detection -- and that's about the worse case you can get.
10-17-1999, 12:47 PM #7BURNSEMSFirehouse.com Guest
Thanks for the input, most of our Fires are single story woodframe structures,and mobile or prefab homes, The Mayor is all fine and good with the Outcome,and yes we will be discussing a Imager with we only average 9- 15 house fires a year, and most of those are in the county and Blowin and Goin when we arrive, But even if we use it once a year its worh the price
10-18-1999, 02:03 PM #8Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
Having to work from ground ladders and the roof itself, as you were, this sounds pretty good to me. I definitely would pull the roof crews and look for other means of attack under these conditions. Basically, you stopped the fire safely with as much salvaged as you could. That pretty much sums up a good job.
Just a suggestion, maybe it's adaptable for you:
With the benefit of our two aerials and similar interior recon, we generally would have had two crews working from above on the sticks, and opened the inside only as a last resort. In our experience, that ceiling will provide some protection from damage caused by the operations above. Ive seen the second floors of over/under duplexes gutted, while the first floor has only minor water damage simply because of the protection afforded the first floor by the ceiling (& second-floor's floor).
One way to get at a fully-involved cockloft or attic like this is to open a vent hole in the roof, then open the side attic vents (or cut holes in the side walls) to get access to the attic at "floor level" without directly exposing the inside of the house. Then, attack through the side holes you've made and push the fire out the vent hole on top. This way, you have effectively the same vantage point on the fire that you would have had if you had ascended an interior stairwell and tried to fight the attic fire from there. The benefit of using the vents (or cutting your own) is that if the thing falls in, your crews are on exterior ladders and can bail out quickly.
If you can't get on the roof to vent at all, and the interior of the attic or crawl space is fully involved, you can still attack across the space through side holes, rather than through the interior. In this case, you'll have to attack from one side and vent through the opposite side. Watch out, though...This isn't as effective and opens up the risk of pushing the fire down into the walls (it's rare, but it's not good if it happens). Of course, this attack can also work against you and spead the fire if the whole area under the roof isn't already involved, so you need to be careful in a few ways and have good initial recon before deciding what you're going to do.
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