Thread: Fire Scenario

  1. #1
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    Default Fire Scenario

    I tried posting this in the Tactics Forum but haven't gotten a response after a week so I've simplified the question a bit in the hope that someone here will help out.

    A friend who lives in an area that has had only one and two story buildings has just recently had the following built in their response area, which is beyond what they previously have been trained for or have experience in.

    The new risk is a small gated community of about 12 modern five story apartment buildings constructed of precast concrete panels. There are no lifts/elevators fitted, nor any standpipe systems, hosereels, sprinklers etc. Each building has one stairwell, about 4 two bedroom apartments on each level, and each apartment has it's own individual balcony. All apartments are 6 hour fire rated. The central carpark around which the buildings are built is very tight when full of cars, and so you will be unable to position larger apparatus such as aerials in workable positions. There is a hydrant, but it is out on the street.

    Scenario is -

    At about 11pm you recieve a call for a reported fire in a 4th story apartment building.
    First appliance on scene will be a pumper with driver/pump operator, officer(you), and 2 firefighters - this pumper carries only 2 scba's (arrives time of alarm +5 minutes)
    Second is another pumper with 1 officer only and 3 scba's (arrives 2 minutes later)
    Third is a salvage unit with 4 crew and 2 scba's (arrives a further 2 minutes later)
    Fourth is an aerial with 2 crew and 2 scba's (arrives a further 3 miutes later)

    You arrive on scene and evacuating civilians report that there is a fair bit of smoke in the 4th floor corridor, but you can't see fire venting out the windows yet

    Any help would be appreciated by him.
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    Under the cirumstances with no training in this situation I would be calling mutual aid, preferably from someone with experiance. I would hit a hydrant, get a RIT team set up and investigate. Be ready for a work out because they will be humping hose a very long way.

    I think I would also have someone finding the owners of the vehicles to see if I they could be moved, but most people probably left there keys on the table.

    Just my thoughts this is a good thread it would be nice to get some replies.
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    You didn't say that you had any smoke showing from the exterior so I will assume that you do not. Seeing as how you will be the only unit on scene for a couple of minutes, I would tell one of my backstep guys to grab a set of irons and the other a pressurized water extinguisher and we would go up to investigate the source of the smoke. We would have to have more information to do much more than that. One of the biggest problems I would forsee would be the ability of residents on the floors above the fire to escape. One stairway is a huge problem. Typically, buildings of this type will have a stairway at each end of the building. Firefighters are able to use one stairway as an attack stairwell and the residents can use the other for escape. If the firefighters use the one stairwell for attack, the residents will have no choice but to go to the balconies for escape and it doesn't seem like you have enough people responding to make all of the rescues.
    If it is normal for the second due pumper that is responding to have only one person than I would ask the administration to take two of their SCBA's and put them on the rig with four guys. I can't understand why there aren't SCBA's for everyone on board.

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    The lack of a stairway or standpipe is a real problem. The building construction is also interesting, I'd be wary of anything used in residential construction being rated at 6 hrs, having some experience with 3 hr ratings, they are usually way too big for an apartment building. However, the construction should be in your favor in limiting fire spread. Manpower is a problem right away. So by whatever means, the box alarm for this complex should be beefed up. As usual, first job is to get a line on the fire, search needs to take place on the fire floor and above immediately. Because there is only one stairwell, take an extra moment and evacuate everyone you can from above the fire before opening the door to the fire apartment. As soon as that stairway fills with heat and smoke you go from self-evacuation to rescues and don't have the people for that. 2nd line needs to get above the fire for vertical spread and ventilation has to be considered too, these places are going to heat up like ovens with all that concrete, do you have the ground ladders necessary to make the 5th floor? I really didn't address the scenario as far as people because to be honest you need quite a few more than you have.
    On a side note, I'm curious on what the fire codes are like there? How could you have this type of building with no fire department access and such a limited means of exit? We get to do a plans review here where we would voice our concerns and specify fire lanes, etc...

  5. #5
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    My sincere sympathy to everyone who would have to deal with this type of thing. This type of arrangement of buildings vs protection is absolutely prohibited in my part of the world. Having said that, here goes: Get a couple of people up to the fire floor quickly, they need to take the usual tools and equipment regardless of the floor level that the fire is located on. included in their kit should be a rope to hoist a hose line if needed. We get a call for"smoke on the __ floor" on a regular basis, and mostly it's a result of a pot left on the stove (with the heat still on) BUT! it can also be a "room and contents" fire that is just not visible from the street. Some years back, I ran a fire in a similar building that had heavy fire in two adjacent apartments, but due to shape of the building, late night hour, and wind direction, the fire was totally hidden from the street side. We were suprised, to say the least. Remember, when choosing tools and equipment, except for hoisting rope, the height of the building is not relevant. An axe is used for the same purpose on the first floor or the fifteenth. Stay Safe....
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