Thread: Attic Fire Tactics Wanted
10-02-2000, 03:09 PM #1wildmedicspmFirehouse.com Guest
Attic Fire Tactics Wanted
I am currently researching attic firefighting tactics for a SOP for my department. Please let me know of your department's tactics for fighting fires in attics or other concealed areas. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your help on this project.
10-02-2000, 11:21 PM #2naturalmassFirehouse.com Guest
ur topic leaves many intagibles to be thought of. but in general, my main concern with any attic fire is time of burn prior to our arrival. any attic fire especially one with wood trusses has to be faught agressively with simultaneous ventilation (preferably vertical) quick or not at all. the chances of truss collapse is to great with todays construction, that no chances should be taken with an interior attack if its more than 7-8 minutes of burn time.
[This message has been edited by naturalmass (edited October 02, 2000).]
10-03-2000, 01:19 AM #3LHS*Firehouse.com Guest
Here are sops
Attic Fires - 1 of 2
1. Position Command Unit in command location
2. Size-up situation, determine where the fire is going
3. Give condition report
4. Order-up any additional resources (rehab, etc.)
5. Lay supply lines or secure a water supply
6. Don SCBA and protective clothing
7. Walk around structure
8. Hand out appropriate ID vests.
9. Cover exposures, 1 3/4”, Bomb Line or Deck Gun. Get in front of the
10. Assign ventilation crews.
11. Assign forcible entry crews.
12. Assign search crews with laser.
13. Assign attack crews.
14. Ventilate positive pressure, then remove side walls. (Be sure the
utilities are off.)
15. If visible flame is showing from roof, pull attack line, 1 3/4” minimum
or use Deck Gun. Give the rood a short blast of water in spray stream.
If you get steam you probably have an attic fire. Steam will indicate the
area of highest heat. If you don’t have an attic fire, your roof will be
knocked down. See “Roof Fires” Page 18
16. Advance attack line to uppermost floor, 1 3/4” minimum. If there is a
great deal of fire, put a third person on the hose line for safety
purposes. (Get the piercing nozzle inside as soon as possible.)
17. Throw salvage covers (As soon as possible).
18. Use an infrared detector to find fire area by aiming it at the ceiling and
19. Stick piercing nozzle into the ceiling where the infrared detector
indicates to steam the fire. (Make sure that all utilities are off).
20. Continue operation until fire is knocked down.
21. Place salvage covers.
22. Pull back-up line, 1 3/4” minimum
23. Pull ceiling
24. Find attic scuttle hole or make one.
25. Overhaul the fire.
If infrared detector and piercing nozzle are not available, Items 18-23 change.
18. Get pike poles, plaster hook and attic ladders to uppermost floor. Be
sure that an 1 3/4” line is in place.
19. a. Vent attic, eves or roof over fire. (Be sure that all utilities are
b. Vent roof in front of fire, on both sides after roof has been
vented over fire.
Consider: With today’s new construction, standard ventilation practices may not be the method of choice. Sidewall ventilation is probably the preferred method.
20. Pull ceiling in front of fire and knock down the fire.
21. Place salvage covers
22. Pull back-up line.
23. Pull ceiling.
24. Set up for exterior attack.
Consider: Some departments have found great success dropping a cellar nozzle into the vent hole on buildings with large attics via aerial ladder.
25. Overhaul the fire.
Editor's note: This is the second part of the series Fire Attack Handbook. The handbook gives an A-Z listing (attics, basements, etc.) of fire attack steps. In the last issue, we covered auto fires. Remember to read part one again for general rules that pertain to all fires. This handbook is a guide to train by and play by. If you have any suggestions or constructive criticism, let us know so we can improve the handbook for everyone.
A report of a house fire comes through the volunteers’ pagers. The members leave their homes in the dead of night and head for the station. The first-in sheriff’s unit reports a fire in the attic of a two-story home, and everyone is out and accounted for. As the crew from Truck One leaves the station, the company officer spots the ideal hydrant in the map book and then scans the fire attack handbook under the heading “attic fires.” Normally, a duty officer or chief would arrive first and run the call, but this is a holiday and anything is possible. As he looks over his shoulder, the company officer sees the super command cab is full, with eight guys donning air packs and hooking on their hand lights. Long ago his department got out of the habit of waiting to see what was burning and always arrives with everyone fully dressed with masks on. He slips into his air pack harness and dons his imaging helmet.
He turns around and starts giving crew assignments, even though each member is sitting in a seat with preassigned duties determined long ago. He reminds two members that they are the attack team. One is supposed to carry the irons and act as a backup man, and one gets the nozzle. He assigns two rookies the job of throwing salvage covers. One firefighter is assigned positive pressure ventilation and told to meet the company officer inside when he is finished. Another member is told to bring the 6’ piercing nozzle and a 1” line in. One is told to catch the hydrant and then report to the engineer. Another is told to kill the power to the house and fill all top floor rooms with floodlights. The company officer will support the attack line and take up a 5’ hook. He reminds the engineer that he wants compressed air foam in the 1” line and to get ground ladders to windows on at least two sides, as other members arrive on scene.
As they approach the fire area, smoke can be seen hanging in the neighborhood. When they pull up to a hydrant, a volunteer is already waiting. The officer turns around and tells the hydrant man, “Stay on board--you’re my extra man.” He then yells out the window to drop a 5” line. Just then he hears Engine Two responding with a crew of eight. Before the unit pulls away from the hydrant, the engineer has already engaged the pto pump, the aerial, the compressor and the generator. He has also flipped on 12,000 watts of floodlights. The company officer takes a look at the building through his helmet-mounted imager and can see heat buildup in the attic and a glowing wall on the next-door neighbor's house. He then gives his condition report, “Dispatch: Truck One on-scene, 111 Allen Court. I’m transferring the Allen IC to Engine Two. We have a two-story frame dwelling with fire showing from a second-story window on the left side and extension into the attic space. We have an exposure threatened on that same side. No other structures are threatened. We’re laying in, starting an interior attack and covering exposures. Have Engine Two come straight in for manpower and start a side wall vent.”
He waits for dispatch to confirm his size up and then goes to work. The engineer positions the turntable, using the side-facing million-candle-power spotlight directly over the front door. At the same time, the officer directs his in-the-cab-controlled deck gun onto the wall of the exposure. He opens his foam water valve until just 100 gpm shows on the flow meter. He widens the pattern and the exposure disappears under a coating of foam. He leaves the nozzle flowing and dismounts.
The officer then ensures that each member of his crew goes about his assigned task. He tells the extra man to get a hook and take out a window on either side of the window blowing flames. A 1” and 2” attack line and a blower are waiting at the front door. The officer joins his crew at the front door just as the power goes out inside. As the crew begins the attack, it notices the last occupant to leave had locked the front door. The irons man makes quick work of the door, and the attack line moves up the stairs, illuminated by the 500-watt cord light advancing with them. When they make the landing, the officer instructs the crew to take out the fire in the bedroom. The salvage crew throws a runner behind the attack crew and then is ordered to cover the rooms on each side of the fire room. The 1” line with the piercing nozzle tip is inserted into the hall ceiling right where the imager says it is the hottest and starts blowing foam. In seconds, the fire room darkens. The 1” line is repositioned to an adjoining room. The blower man reports to the officer for an assignment and is told to find the crawl space. The attack line is operating in a full fog out the window in an effort to clear the second floor of smoke. The rookies are already on their second pair of salvage covers. The 1” line is then moved to the next room. Because the line is shooting “shaving cream,” ceiling collapse does not occur. The company officer announces on the radio that he has knockdown.
Meanwhile, outside the engineer has connected his supply line, called for water and is busy raising the aerial to the roof. When he sees the interior companies have achieved knockdown, he shuts down the deck gun. The floodlight man has a light in each upstairs room and is now helping the hydrant man place 1,500-watt tripods on each corner at the rear of the house.
Engine three arrives with 16,000 watts of floodlights blazing. Two members are assigned to throw a ladder and one to get a saw. The three of them start removing the side wall. Three are assigned rapid intervention team duties and pull a 2” line, a saw, a hand-held thermal imager and assorted entry tools to the front door. The engineer lets the IC know that his company officer wants one ladder on at least two sides of the house, and the IC gives the engineer two guys to do the job. A ladder is then placed under each open window.
The company officer sticks his head into the crawl space and takes a look around with the imager. All he sees is a cool mass. Two firefighters using a hand-held imager crawl into the attic with a 1” line and look for hot spots just as the side wall falls away. The company officer rotates half his crew outside to change bottles and take a blow. They will be going back into the attic later to haul out the fire debris. The company officer takes a walk around the dwelling looking for extension with the imager and then gives the IC a condition report. Although they are volunteers, this crew was able to staff their apparatus to capacity and have invested in technology wherever possible to get the most bang for the buck.
The Three-Person Crew
The company officer can remember just a few years ago when only three guys would respond on an engine, and only one or two would have air packs on arrival. Let’s take a look at the same fire with a crew of three and the second-in company of three four minutes away, using standard firefighting practice. The engine leaves the station, and the company officer tells the engineer to operate the pump and the hydrant man to drop a line. A condition report is given on arrival. The company officer works under the light of two 500-watt floodlights if the engineer had time to start the generator, turn the poles and throw the switch. He pulls a line to the front door and waits for the hydrant man to begin the attack. The hydrant man is already shot from running a block and a half in full gear from the hydrant. They find the front door locked, and one man leaves the line to get the irons. The crew then goes in to the house with the power still on, and they let the room on the second floor have it.
About this time, the second-in unit arrives and sees fire through the roof; the neighboring home is also burning. A line is pulled to address the exposure as the engineer from the second-in unit hooks a supply line to the first-in unit. One member of the attack crew calls for a hook so they can start pulling ceiling. Eventually the hook arrives and the crews start pulling ceiling and spraying water. Every drop that goes up comes back down with the ceiling material, destroying everything on the second floor because the salvage covers are still on the unit. Eventually the debris finds its way to first floor belongings. Soon the air pack alarms sound, and the crew is forced from the building. By this time additional units are on scene to finish the job.
Everything takes a little bit longer with a smaller crew because there are fewer hands to go around. With insufficient lighting, things are not as clear as they should be. Without supporting the attack with ventilation, the home sustains more damage, and the crews take a bit more of a beating. Everyone has to work harder. It is possible the first-in unit might not have laid a supply line, forcing the second-in company to do so. This simply would have delayed the line to the exposure and possibly resulted in the first-in company running out of water. It cannot be stated strongly enough that it takes a bunch of firefighters to perform on the fireground. Lathe and plaster ceilings simply make life harder. Ten and 12’ ceilings found in turn-of-the-century homes delay knockdown and push crews even harder. The mix of technology, tactics and people makes the difference between what is saved and what is lost.
10-03-2000, 10:42 AM #4Dalmatian90Firehouse.com Guest
It's time for the piercing applicators...
Generally, attics a) don't have a large life hazard associated with them and b) are relatively "tight" i.e. not well ventilated.
A piercing nozzle through the ceiling near the seat of the fire will generate sufficient steam to smother the fire.
Hopefully you'll have a TIC, but if you haven't gotten one yet, try to look for signs of the fire on the roof or on the interior ceiling. If there's a scuttle hole, open it and take a quick look. If you need to, use a pike pole and make *small* expolartory holes -- you're not pulling ceilings, and you don't want to let more Oxygen in than you have to.
After the fire is knocked down and salvage covers in place, then pull ceilings as needed and complete overhaul.
A variation of this make the attic from the outside -- possibly even from an aerial and/or tied off to an aerial. May need an axe or chainsaw to make a "starter hole" to pierce the roof easier.
Don't forget you can use the piercing nozzles alone, or in conjunction with a second one, to "walk" the fire out a vent hole. With two nozzles, one opens and the next gets located about 3' ahead and opens, and then they leapfrog each other down the attic space using steam to push the fire out a vent hole (like the vent at the end of the roof)
Also, remember to consider why the fire is in the attic. It may be just an attic fire -- say caused by a lightning strike, and the above tactics are fine. If it's a balloon frame house, suspect a fire in the basement that has extended to the attic -- here, you have to very aggressively attic both the basement fire and attic fire simultaneously because their both impinging the gravity resistance system. Or it may be a room & contents fire that extended, in which case it may be simplest just to take any tool you have with you, pull the ceiling, and hit the fire directly with you handline instead of waiting for a piercing nozzle.
10-03-2000, 02:17 PM #5Halligan84Firehouse.com Guest
Consider that an attic fire is usually considered a true "structure" fire in that the structure is weakening by the second! Matt is right that the life hazard posed by CIVILIANS is not great at this incident, but the life hazard to firefighters is very great. When dealing with structures built in the last 20 years or so or known to contain lightweight wood or metal trusses, continually evaluate collapse potential and even the need to enter! Also consider that unless piercing nozzles are a regular part of your plan, attack will not be as rapid as while attacking a room due to the need to pull ceilings for your attack opening, possibly deal with finished floors (try driving a pike pole through tongue and groove when your expecting sheetrock) and attics crammed with a lifetimes worth of possession and junk.
10-03-2000, 03:44 PM #6LHS*Firehouse.com Guest
We use 3, 6 and 12 footers, preconnected to blow compressed air foam. The tip can flow 240 gpm with a pattern 60 fet in all directions. If the roof mounted imager indicates an atticfire on the driver or officer's headup displays we pull the piercing nozzles, salvage covers, and hand held or helmet imagers and go to war. In most cases the sheet rock ceiling will not collapse.
Construction andextension determine if the attack is from the inside or exterior with the tips. When inside we work from positios of strenth like headers or door ways.
for more See:
[This message has been edited by LHS* (edited October 03, 2000).]
10-03-2000, 06:30 PM #7Dalmatian90Firehouse.com Guest
We keep our piercing nozzle ready to go (one of our lines is a Rockwood nozzle...piercing applicator is next to it to snap in as needed)
Must say I was pleasantly surprised at a fire in a neighboring town the other week...my team was directed to pull a backup line. I looked at their truck...pull the closest rear preconnect...as the hose and nozzle dumps on the ground, I go "Oh cool, they have a piercing nozzle preconnected on this one!" Gotta remember that for the future...then I had to go pull the next preconnect so I had a regular nozzle to use for the backup line
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