1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Clermont County, Ohio
    Posts
    569

    Default Tactics For Attic Fires In Single Family Residences

    Several days ago, I worked a house fire in an approx 1500-1700 sq ft brick ranch. The fire appears to have started in the kitchen/laundry room in the corner of sides B & C. It penetrated the attic. I arrived on the 3rd engine in, about 8-10 min after the tones dropped. The fire in the kitchen/laundry area was knocked down, but we had flames venting from the peak of the roof, near the middle of the home.

    We attempted to attack the attic fire from underneath by pulling ceiling. We had limited success - older home - good construction. The roof was rafters, not trusses. We could get some small holes & could poke a nozzle up on wide fog to hit the fire a bit, but were unable to really knock it down. It took probably 20-25 minutes to knock down the attic fire.

    The home had louvered vents on the walls just below the roof peak on sides B & D. Has anyone ever tried pulling those vents, approx 10"x18", and sweeping the attic horizontally?

    If we had laddered side D, pulled this vent, and used an 1 3/4", would it have been possible to push the fire back toward the burnt area? The attic appeared to be pretty open.

    Please let me know what your thoughts are and what has worked for you.
    Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 1998
    Location
    Pea Ridge, Arkansas
    Posts
    151

    Default

    Pulling the gable vents might have given you a direct access, but with heavy flameage under the roof, you may have just drawn the fire throughout the rest of the attic. A chain saw to the ceiling may have given you a good look, but then again you're venting the heat and flame in a direction you don't want...the interior. Depending on the amount of involvement, the best bet may be to open the roof over the fire and attack from the gable vents. The key here is access.
    Good Luck, Frank
    Last edited by FSRIZZIO; 09-10-2002 at 01:56 PM.
    Chief Frank Rizzio
    Pea Ridge Fire Dept.
    Pea Ridge AR. 72751

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber
    CFD Hazards's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Cranston, RI, USA
    Posts
    381

    Default

    Yes, pulling the gable vents works. You can knock most of the fire down. Did you guys check the hallway or bedroom closets for a scuttle hole? This would have also provided an area for attack. They are usually big enough to get one person at a time up there.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Clermont County, Ohio
    Posts
    569

    Default

    Thanks for the comments so far. Yes, we did look for scuttle holes & were unable to find any. We were able to find an old style attic fan and tried to make an attack by pulling in out of the way.
    Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

  5. #5
    District Chief
    distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Default

    What kind of nozzle/stream were you using?

    My experience in "running attic fire" is you have to be aggressive. You have to get in and get the ceiling down and then get a good quality straight/sb stream on it. Using a fog or coming in from the ends just seems to *iSS the fire off and chase it from point A to poiint B.

    Those louvers are hard to pull but it also depends on the type of construction. In newer construction the seem to just fall out...LOL..

    In older construction you have to work at it and run the risk of being over run. In cases like you mention where the attic is cut up and access is difficult, I have used several lines in conjuntion with each other and had success. Place them strtegically throughout the house and work at it.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  6. #6
    Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    41

    Default

    We get these every day, and sometimes they are a bear. If the roof has self vented then there in no reason to go up there and make a hole. If it has not, then get up there and make one over the fire. The point about the scuttle hole is a good one that is often missed. If there is no easy access then pulling the ceiling from the inside is the only way. If there is lathe and plaster look forward to a great workout. If it is only sheetrock then get a smooth bore nozzle and blow it away. The same is done regardless of the roofs rafter or truss type. Attic fires is one reason we have so many truck companies. You bring in a bunch of gurrillas(in the past!) with ceiling hooks and the engine crews follow them down the hallways.
    Or, make your own scuttle, setup a ladder, and pass the hose line up to the guy on the ladder.

    I would not put a hose line through the louvered vents. It would be like putting a line through a window. You never want to do that because you don't want to push the fire into the structure and crews working inside.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Westchester Co., NY USA
    Posts
    567

    Default

    Using the vents is a great quick fix, but as you pointed out, you want to try to ensure you are not going to push the fire down the unburned side. It is important to keep the line you used to extinguish the interior fire with in place and monitor interior conditions in the event that you have any flare ups or any hot embers fall from the attic area through holes you've made. The key is to cut a vent hole, the biggest you can over the fire area. I generally attempt to use the ridge cut method, off an aerial, which means I start my cut on the opposite peak and then over and down. This works extremely well with newer construction where they leave the gap for ventilation.
    The final thing to keep in mind, which is sometimes a battle, especially in the conditions you described is salvage. Water is gonna go everywhere. Get a couple crews together with tarps, and within a short few mins, you can save a lot of belongings for the occupants.
    __________________________________________
    IACOJ Bureau of EMS Chairman

  8. #8
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Posts
    277

    Default

    I have also had alot of success attacking through the louvres on the side of the building. I always foam the *itch. Especially in an attic. That insulation sops up water like a diaper and gets real heavy real fast. The foam really helps to get the job done with minimal amounts of water. In any new construction which has the blown insulation, we wil have the insulation sucked out with a vacuum truck after the fire is out. They are really bad for rekindling.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Clermont County, Ohio
    Posts
    569

    Default

    Folks,
    Thanks for all of your comments. Some answers to your questions:

    Stan,
    I tried both an indirect attack with a straight stream, bouncing the water off the underside of the roof and a wide fog stream, with the nozzle pushed up through the hole in the ceiling & whipped around. Both knocked down the fire near the hole but couldn't really hit enough to knock down the whole attic.

    We couldn't find a scuttle hole.

    Since it was an old style ranch, the attic was straight & open, so we would have had good access to all the fire from the unburnt end.

    Salvage covers would have been an excellent idea. We were a bit light on manpower early on, but could have later. The ground floor was a mess.

    None of our trucks are equiped with class A foam. It's starting to get some attention in our area, I'll have to see if we can do some testing.

    Net, I'll suggest we try an attack through the gable vent on the unburnt side next time. We'll see how it works.

    Thanks again for all of your comments.
    Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Posts
    820

    Default

    We have made fires like this before and we have opened the roof over the fire as a matter of normal operations. When the access was determined to be difficult from underneath, we already had the roof opened and atleast new the horizontal spread was not going to be too great as we had it going straight up instead of running the entire attic. This bought us some time to pull the louvres and get to it that way. The horizontal spread was limited and we knocked down the attic fire quickly. As said before, use the Class "A" foam and hit it. Just because your rigs may not have a Class "A" system or tank doesn't mean it doesn't work. In my volunteer department none of our 4 Engine Co.'s have them. We carry Class "A" foam in 5 gallon pails. 1 marked for attack and 1 marked for exposure. When we get on scene, the Chauffeur simply pours the correct Class "A" pail in the tank while the crew is stretching the line and the OIC is making his walk around. It has worked very well for us. Alot of times, when refilling the tank, the guys pre-mix the Class "A" in the tank ahead of time. No corrosion problems with the Class "A" being in there all the time and saves a step on the fireground. Just some thoughts.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

  11. #11
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 1998
    Location
    Pea Ridge, Arkansas
    Posts
    151

    Default

    any problem with the foam solution cavitating the pump?

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Posts
    820

    Default

    Not in the leat bit. The foam concentrate in the tank has not been an issue in any way but a good one.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

  13. #13
    Forum Member
    Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    At the Helm
    Posts
    1,174

    Default

    My last experiance with an attic extention involved the LT telling me to pull the ceiling. 5 minutes later he tells "next time don't pull down anything structural" (I'm a big boy ). I hate blown in insulation.

    Has anyone ever tried a celar nozzle on a 5' pipe stuck up into the attic? Might work if you're close enough to the seat.

    Also any thoughts on a super agressive blitz attack using a master stream from an aerial device through the gables, bounced off the roof with a straight stream? Of course this may lead to overloading the structure if it goes on for too long. Sounds like it would work, just a long as the interior crew knew it was coming and were away from the scuttle or holes they cut.

    Thoughts?

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    3,120

    Default

    Has anyone ever tried a celar nozzle on a 5' pipe stuck up into the attic?

    Same idea, piercing applicator on a Rockwood.

    Not sure if it would've worked here, since it sounds like the fire was pretty well self-vented. You could use either a cellar nozzle or piercing applicator to knock down the fire immediately near the vent hole to expand it though.

    Since both "enter" the opening, they're no where near as bad as directing a nozzle, especially any fog, into the it. Still have to watch to make sure you don't generate a lot of steam that wants to push unburned products of combustion back into the house, but a few quick bursts should knock down the fire and not spread it.

    No reason not to go on the roof -- if the roof isn't safe to be on, it's not safe to be under. Get the roof ladders up, get it open. I have a very strange photo of myself with a piercing applicator on a roof...Deputy Chief was griping about it till I reminded him he ordered me up there, the fire was burning between a new and old roof and we used the piercing applicator to knock it down to gain time to open it up.

    Bottom Line:
    Gorilla Truckies.

  15. #15
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    Here, There, Everywhere
    Posts
    4,191

    Arrow

    Ohiovol_ff/emtp,

    My company just was on an appartment fire the other day with extension into the common attic space...as Dal 90 and Stay low put so eloquently you need Gorrilas with HOOKS! or what we around here call: "BFFI"-- "Brute Force & F---ing Ignorance" {aka: Truckies!}

    I was on the Deuce and a Half so we had 300+ gal. to work with...we just did what we always do when the fire hides from us...go get it by pulling the ceilings down and shooting the straight stream up the hole bouncing it off the underside of the roof. It puts out most of the fire if you are reasonably close to the main body of fire. And it allows you to access the attic space as it should now be tenable.

    I don't know if this house was close to the street or not but don't foget the "Basket Cut" from an aerial, if you have one of course.

    Also, as for the salvage covers...If you have time great..it saves on alot of work later on. But if the fire is getting away from you...better worry about the fire first and the collateral damage second. Although we have waited while Covers were deployed before attacking small fires in attics that haven't vented yet. The key here is the limited oxygen..if it self vents out the roof...forget the covers and put it out.

    FTM-PTB

  16. #16
    Disillusioned Subscriber
    Steamer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,475

    Default

    originally posted by FRED: Gorrilas with HOOKS! or what we around here call: "BFFI"-- "Brute Force & F---ing Ignorance" {aka: Truckies!}
    Ah, ah, ahhh, FRED.....be nice!! We "Truckies" might want ya to come out and play!!
    Steve Gallagher
    IACOJ BOT
    ----------------------------
    "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    West Jordan, Utah, USA
    Posts
    51

    Default

    We have started using a couple of tactics that have worked very well on training fires.

    Works well with a crew of 4. 2 firefighters use a chain saw to cut triangular holes in the roof above the fire. The next two come in right behind them with a celler nozzle. This is attached to the end of a 5' length of line and a nozzle valve is attached between that 5' line and the standard 200' attack line. These two drop the celler nozzle into the newly made hole, one opens the valve while the other starts to swing the hose around in the hole in a circular pattern. They do that for a minute or two then move on to the next hole. It takes some practice but works really well. If the roof is not safe to be on (truss) then we have practiced and become proficient doing this same tactic using working off of the aeriel devices.

    Granted these are not self vented fires.

    On the self vented ones we go to pulling ceilings and smooth-bore nozzles.

    We also have an in-pump class A foam system that we fun through our attack lines, so use the foam.

    For those pesky attic fires in the insulation that are difficult to overhaul we have found the thermal imaging cameras to be extremely valuable. We used to clean all of the insulation out of the attic to ensure we caught everybit of the sneaky little snakes of extension. Now we have one guy use to the camera to find all the hot spots and direct the others where to dig and remove insulation. Much quicker and a lot less work. Since doing this we have not had a single rekindle.

    Good luck.
    Firefighter/Paramedic Ron Sanders
    Midvale Fire Department
    Medic Ambulance 22 - A Platoon

    Firefighters, Walking where the Devil Danced!

    This is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

    Personal Website: http://RonSanders.Biz Check it Out!

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    Here, There, Everywhere
    Posts
    4,191

    Default

    Don't worry Steamer...It is with all respect that we use the term BFFI.
    I myself am a bastard product from an sorid drunken afair between an Engine Puke and a Truckie...yep you guessed it I'm on a Quint...the "Red headed stepchild" of the fire service. So I'm a part time truckie.

    FTM-PTB

  19. #19
    Forum Member
    Fire304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    At the Helm
    Posts
    1,174

    Default Oh Brother

    Originally posted by FRED
    I myself am a bastard product from an sorid drunken afair between an Engine Puke and a Truckie...yep you guessed it I'm on a Quint...
    Fred, brother, we lead a tough life, forced to walk the fine line between truckie and hose dragger, don't we. I live a scant 1/2 mile from the station, and our tower is first due, so I end up on the truck most of the time, doing truck work, and since it has a pump, I get to drag a hose in one hand, a TIC around my neck, and a set of irons in the other hand (makes it difficult to climb the ladder, but we bastards have a huge burden to carry, don't we Fred?) And through it all those "purists" look down from their freshly vented roofs and snear at the thought of a ladder with water, while the engine boys won't give us the time of day unless we help pack their hose before we pack our own. The shame of it all...

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register