1. #1
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    Sep 2003
    New York

    Default Basement Fire ??

    Today my dept. was drilling with a live burn. One of our scenarios was a basement fire..... Now there was a debate on how you should proceed down the stairs..obviously you want to get down quick and all that stuff. BUt some guys felt that you should decend the stairs feet first on your belly (with the line). Others felt that you should proceed down the stairs in a normal fashion with the line. What do some of you guys think??? HOw and why?

  2. #2
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    Weruj1's Avatar
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    Dec 1999
    NW Ohio


    there are at least 2 schools of thought on this, one being that if you go down on your belly feet first pulling the line, if the stairs are burnt or give way then you may be able to pull yourself up as you would still be looking in that direction. Certainly if it is not to hot and smoky and you can "make the stairs" then just go down them.
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  3. #3
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    Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Mar 2000


    I've never heard of the "on the belly" method, and I can tell you I ain't pulling my butt out of somewhere!

    The best method I've been taught is to go down quickly, essentially sitting. Feet are probing, and if you get in trouble you use your arms to push yourself backup the stairs -- I suspect I'm like most people and am far stronger pushing than pulling. You're also less "blind" -- yeah, it's probably smokey, but at least you're not turning your back to changing conditions and your in a position to use the nozzle if the need/chance arises.

    I don't know what you meant by "normal fashion" -- don't go down stairs of questionable intergrity either walking or crawling -- in either case if something gives out you'll tumble through for sure.
    IACOJ Canine Officer

  4. #4
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    Feb 2004


    Ive been in quite a few basement fires and almost all have had more then one way into the basement. The way i like to do it and has been very effective is running a line 2 the first floor... that crew does a quick primary and holds the stairs to the basement to protect them for egress and also extension control and have a crew with a line enter through bilco doors or another entrance through a garage etc and knock the seat of the fire. Anybody else use this tactic?

    Also talkin about dangers of going down the stairs.. I recently was on the line at a basement fire and we made the stairs from the first floor and started to take a step down and was quite suprised when there were no stairs.. ALways keep ur head up and dont get tunnel vision. It could of been disasterios
    Last edited by WestsideEngCo1; 04-26-2004 at 12:24 AM.

  5. #5
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    XCAPT1's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Suffolk LI,NY


    When I first came into the fire service I was taught to always take a line and go down on my butt checking each stair tread with a thump of my boot. I also was shown a similar technique where you go down with your body turned sideways with one cheek on the treads. Also checking the treads with a thump of your boot. This way if you were forced by heat or fire to exit the stairwell all you did was roll to your belly and exit with your back to the fire.
    Now they are teaching going down on your belly. There are some good reasons for it. The first is the same as above. If fire pushes you out you have your back to the fire and you are lower on the stairwell. You won't take the brunt of it in the face and you can exit quickly. The next reason is for stairwell integrity. By going down on your belly you can move your feet out next to the stringers. The outer parts of the treads near the stringers are the strongest point. This will give you a lesser chance of a tread giving out. You still have to thump each tread to check their integrity. I tend to use the belly technique the most.
    I will say no matter what technique you use the most important thing is to get down and off the stairs as quick as possible. DO NOT stay on the stairs. It is either up or down. Make sure you have enough hose in a service loop at the top of the stairs before you go down. There is nothing worse then getting caught half way because you didn't pull in enough hose in.

    Stay Safe

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