Thread: trench cutting

  1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    st. ignace mi.

    Default trench cutting

    hello brothers and sisters!!

    my department recently fought a 2 story motel fire with a common cockloft throughout the building. this building was built some time ago so ther were NO fire stop walls used during construction.

    question...barring any rescues to be performed...should we attck these type fires directly or should we trench cut the roof and make a stand to stop them at a certain point?

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!


    We had a similar situation in an apartment complex in February 2001...the fire started in a 3rd floor apartment, got into the cockloft and was driven by the wind towards the interconnecting building. We used a trench cut to stop the fire spread into the adjoining wing. 11 apartments on the top floor were destroyed on the fire, which went to 4 alarms. In our fire, the trench cut stopped the fire from spreading any further, master streams were used to knock the bulk of the fire down, followed by intensive overhauling.
    ‎"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."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000


    We have a one story motel in town.

    And this phrase has been used twice in the last 10 years -- "Vent it just like we did last time." 3 major fires in the last 10 years, I think 5 major fires in it's history.

    Which is one quick "hole" vent to by some time, followed by a larger trench cut right at the intersection of the three wings. Keeps the fire confined to the same wing.

    Same wing burns each time. Each time, despite room of origin, the attack is 1st due department goes for the room to knock down the bulk of the fire, our department comes in backing them up, vent the roof to cut off extension, and pull ceilings to extinguish the attic fire.

    Guess it makes the Chief's life easy when his command can consist of simply, "Same thing we do every other time."
    I do think your strategy depends a lot on your manpower and equipment. If it's lacking, and you got a fire in the attic, you may be best off venting and concentrating at cutting off.

    Not sure you always need to truly trench cut -- a couple big vent holes made quickly may be just as effective combined with hose work.

    We also use piercing applicators heavily -- fast to deploy, and in an unvented/poorly vented attic, the steam smothers the fire pretty effectively. May buy sometime while a crew or two is effecting trench cuts and another crew is pulling ceilings below the trench.
    IACOJ Canine Officer

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    San Francisco


    I see only two factors that would keep you from an aggressive interior attack. First is the extent of the fire. If you have an obvious loss you are relegated to a defensive attack. Second is manpower. If you are short staffed there is not much you can do to aggressively attack a fire that has extended into the cockloft or attic space. Otherwise, you have no other alternative but to get inside and open up that attic space and chase the fire down. This is where truck crews work their tails off. It is with these types of fires that proper staffing and quick response times are critical

  5. #5
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    st. ignace mi.


    thanks again gang for your input on this...

    at this fire that i mentioned we only responded on intial alarm with 7 people (it was the begining of deer hunting season)so we were short and on arrival we had to wait for an ladder truck from a mutualaid dept. close by. we went for the throat in the begining, then swithched tunes as soon as the ladder truck showed up.

    does your dept. use 2 1/2 or 3 inch blitz lines alot?

    take care god bless.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2001


    RE.LT 907
    Our tactics were to get a primary hole over the fire room (area) first start with 6x4
    and increase it to 6x8 and push ceiling down.
    Place a few inspection holes (a drop of the blade)20 ft out(or midway) from primary hole
    in direction of were you will be trenching.
    You can cut your trench but dont pull it untill the fire is showing out of your
    inspection holes.Trenching dont work on to
    good onlarge area roofs like in a taxpayer,
    you need that narrow throat area or wing.
    Add a couple of handlines and hooks underneath with your primary hole and most
    times a trench is not needed.
    You know your response and man-power , so
    if your not going to get hands on the scene
    quickly , I would get my primary hole in to
    slow the fire spread in cockloft and then go
    right for the trench.
    None of the venting tactics will put out the fire only slow it down , you need man-power
    and water to make the stop.

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