1. #1
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    Default WWYD: Basement fire, stairs collapse, FFs trapped

    Here is a scenario my FFII instructor told us, and he told us it gave him the willies.

    you are dispatched to a single family dwelling, for a reported basement fire. 2 floors and the basement. 1st floor is full of smoke. your first crew in (2 FF and officer) have an 1 3/4 hose line down the basement door. they encounter heavy fire, high heat, and visibility is close to zero. about 5 minutes after they are down there, the stairs collapse. how do you get them out?

    Basement descriptions:
    normal SFD size, used by family as secondary storage.
    only entry and exist is through the main door.
    1st floor has heavy smoke condition
    distance from basement floor to doorway is approxamitely 10-15ft.
    there are windows, they are the thick glass types, that allow light in, but are nearly unbreakable. they are also 1ft x 2 ft in size.

    the crew still has the charged handline and are using that to control the fire, but they are running out of air.

    what would you do?
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    Definitely scary!

    I would try to ventilate away from them to buy them some time from the advancing fire, hopefully the first floor is not nearing flashover yet, or it will need cooling or aggressive ventilation too. If you can't use the old stairway hole, find or make an access hole in the basement wall or first floor adjacent the wall, and get a ladder down it.

    If you had to get them air while completing this, send down a RIT bag with air, or another SCBA pack to switch to. They are alive and conscious, so they can help themselves to some extent.

    And as for the windows...

    When FF's are trapped, I find it hard to believe that any window is unbreakable. I'd drive the frigging truck through the wall if I had to.
    Last edited by mcaldwell; 11-04-2004 at 04:54 PM.
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    If this sounds like I think it does, the basement crew is trapped in the basement but NOT under debris. I would have them keep attacking the fire and get a fast team with a ladder (collapsable or straight job if I could). Place the ladder into the basement like a set of stairs. At the same time I would try to ventilate the basement as far away from the former stairs (ladder) as possible and have them climb out while possibly keeping a hoseline on the fire from the first floor giving them protection while their backs are turned on their way out.

    I know what kind of glass you're talking about (the old subway glass) and there isn't much you can do about that.

    There's it for my first WWYD.

    Tide
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    Is first floor at ground level or raised up giving access to the basement walls from outside? Are the stairs located in a way to drop a ground ladder down the steps? Drop some ropes and lift them out. Chainsaw through the first floor to provide an opening. Those little, hard to break windows, should be getting opened anyway just to provide ventilation in the cellar while they were attacking with the hoseline. If you have to, and can access the walls from outside, make a door with a sledge hammer.

    The very first fire I was allowed interior attack on was a cellar fire. Scared the sh@t out of me. That was more years ago than I want to admit too, but I have always looked at basement fires as a challenge.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Toss a ladder down the stairwell. Ventilate like mad, and get another line in. The guys can't get out because of the stairs. Give them the ability to get out but cover their exit with another line.

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    that is correct, they are not trapped under debris.

    can't use the chainsaw to cut a hole in the floor. remember, you got heavy smoke coming from the basement, and it's filling up the first floor. a chain saw won't work in that enviorment.

    the basement is below ground. the first floor is at ground level.

    and remember, it's at least 10, probably closer to 15 feet down. will your collapsable ladders reach? and also, with the stairs on the ground, you are not going to be able to get a sturdy footing on the ladder.

    as for dropping a spare pack down to them, how many people carry spare SCBAs on their engines? often we carry spare bottles, but not spare packs. so where are you going to get the spare packs from?
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    Originally posted by DrParasite

    can't use the chainsaw to cut a hole in the floor. remember, you got heavy smoke coming from the basement, and it's filling up the first floor. a chain saw won't work in that environment.
    We don't have a chainsaw anyway, so it's an electric reciprocating saw, or the axe. And if the doorway to the basement is deep inside the house, aggressive ventilation is obviously going to be required anyway.


    and remember, it's at least 10, probably closer to 15 feet down. will your collapsible ladders reach? and also, with the stairs on the ground, you are not going to be able to get a sturdy footing on the ladder.
    If it is inside the main floor, why not use the roof ladder? Cut a wider doorway or hole if needed to manoeuvre it into place. Secure and steady the ladder from the top if you have too, use ropes if you need too, but that's messy and puts more crew in the building to hoist them up. IMHO, A pile of debris is probably not going to be enough to render the ladder useless. Use the debris to build up the base.


    as for spare bottles, how many people carry spare SCBAs on their engines? often we carry spare bottles, but not spare packs. so where are you going to get the spare packs from?
    I thought most people carried RIT bags now with the 15-20 minute mini bottles?

    We do carry spare packs, or at least enough to spare one for the first guy to run out of air. Then send a bottle to swap onto that empty one for when the the next guy runs out. You should be able to change a bottle with your eyes closed.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Originally posted by mcaldwell
    I thought most people carried RIT bags now with the 15-20 minute mini bottles?

    We do carry spare packs, or at least enough to spare one for the first guy to run out of air. Then send a bottle to swap onto that empty one for when the the next guy runs out. You should be able to change a bottle with your eyes closed.
    we are still working on getting that RIT pack. we have escape masks on our ladder (I think), but they only last for like 5 or 10 minutes. and while i agree that you should be able to change a bottle with your eyes closed, can you do it while holding your breath (because it's still an IDLH atmosphere), with your eyes closed, while your heart is pumping a mile a minute due to the basement fire? if so, then your in a better position that I would be.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    That's why the third pack. Chang it before you run completely out.

    We also have buddy breathers on our Draegars, so we can connect to our partners pack as a last resort.

    Either way, I admit it is not easy and ideal, but neither is the situation.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Advise the 2 FF in basement to try to stay near the stairs and attack the fire. Get 2 airpacks lowered down to them. Bring in a ladder to drop down the stairwell. Have a backup line on Division 1. While all that's goin on I'm going to have someone in on Division 1 cutting a hole in the floor underneath one of the 1st floor windows for the vent (opposite side from where the stairs are/were).......

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    1. Ic should start additional alram, if not already done so. Accountability should be done so we know who is missing.
    2. Launch RIT. If your dept doesn't equip RIT with spare SCBA or extra cylinders for transfilling, they should.Like, yesterday.
    Are there extra personnel outside that aren't on air? Use their SCBA's.
    3. Have attack team defend in place. Use hoseline to protect area, conserve air.
    4. Make a couple plans for removing the team- ladder through the hole or breach a wall or cut the floor. Use plan B if plan A fails. Ladder stability becomes a minor concern when you'll die if you don't get out. Breaching walls is tough in a below ground basement, so a hole in the floor or the pre-made stairway opening is the choice.
    5. Ventilate to the floor above the basement- cut holes in the floor with a sawsall or axes if unable to use the chainsaw. Fans on the first floor should be able to clear a single family resdience of smoke fairly quickly.
    6. Remember, what's the problem? If the basement is too hot, put the fire out (cellar nozzle through a hole in the floor?). If it's smoke, put the fire out and clear the smoke.If the ff are low on air, get air to them, then get them out. Break th eproblem down into problems and solutions, then work the problems.
    "Don't just do something, stand there!!!"

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    your first crew in (2 FF and officer)
    Ahhh,assumeing your know what two in,two out means, I would not attempt such a dangerous mission with out at least another engine company on scene, not enroute.

    Ok now that we have back up out side and a water supply I would send 3 down the stairs. Once encountering high heat I would open the dam hose and flow some water. The open door ways should provide adquete ventillation for steam----for now. Once they called a mayday I would have the other 2 firefighter get a pencil ladder down into that doorway NOW and have the guys in the basement follow out the hose line out and up the ladder.

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    If they are conscious and alert.....

    Get a ladder down the hole, second crew to make a large opening in the floor at the base of a first floor window. Then take the window and the wall underneath out, right down to the floor. This will give you an opening the size of a door where the window was, with a large vent hole in the basement ceiling.

    If the ladder proves unusable(stability or whatever) rope/webbing, crap even the hoseline can be used to get these guys out. The handcuff knot would work here, also the hoseline in a loop.

    It doesn't have to be pretty, but it needs to be quick and thought out.

    For those that haven't heard about it, read "The Murder of John Nance". Its a magazine article about a jake killed in similar circumstances.

    I have it, I'll see if I can get it posted somehow.

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    Venting first floor while attack going on obviously, this will reduce the heavy smoke condition and allow the saw to run.

    Wasn't using collapsable ladder, was using roof ladder. Not worried about it's stability at the time.

    We have a SCBA on the truck for each seat, but usually 3 guys pull SCBA from the wall before getting on the truck, so there are 3 "spare" 99% of the time.

    Also don't have a RIT pack yet, we just use our normal packs for RIT. As for changing a bottle in the dark, holding your breath, etc....that is something you should practice once in a while. You can't simulate the exact thing, but getting close will/may help you in the end.

    Good thread.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    as for dropping a spare pack down to them, how many people carry spare SCBAs on their engines? often we carry spare bottles, but not spare packs. so where are you going to get the spare packs from?

    If you're trying to get guys/gals out of the basement, everything else is a secondary consideration. You have crew that won't be going in (engine operator at the pump panel, etc.). Use their packs. If necessary, even some of the crew trying to make exterior access could work without SCBAs (although they obviously couldn't go in). In my county, the ambulances/medic units each carry two SCBAs as well.

    Your mileage may very, but doesn't it seem reasonable that some packs would be available this way? It's been at least ten minutes since this was dispatched; presumably, you'd have several units on the scene by now to scavenge.

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    Too many variables here .........is there more than one company on the scene ? Thats how I am basing my reply. First, unless you live in a mansion, ceiling heights should be less than 10 feet, 12 at the most. Our ladder carries a 16 ft straight ladder, and it would go right down the stairwell.Bring in a back up line for the trip out, then perform a PAR. Whoever asked about the spare packs, we have 4 on each truck but for us the driver stays with the truck if they are pumping and hence we would have an extra pack on more than one truck. Also I would be trying to get a hole in the floor somewhere as a seondary means of egress and or ventilation. I think the glass in the windows you are talking about is the square glass blocks ? Difficlut to break for sure, so I would fire up the rotary saw and and cut out the whole frame,casing etc, or the structure to ventialte it.We dont have a true RIT team, so this is best I can come up with as to how we operate.
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    for this scenario, lets say the ambualnces are EMS only, not firefighters. as such, they have no gear or packs.

    also, you have 2 engines and a truck on scene, all with 4 guys and 4 airpacks. you also have a chief officer.

    oh, and lets make this really interesting. that's all the units you have in your department. when you arrive, a structural alarm sends you another truck and engine. however, their SCBA aren't compatible with yours (your dept uses scott, mutual aid uses MSA).

    and yes, as Weruj states, those big glass blocks are what is being used for windows in the basement. and remember, the basement is below groundlevel, so it might be difficult to get the saw down there.

    FMI, what is a PAR?
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    Originally posted by DrParasite
    FMI, what is a PAR?
    Personnel accountability report........ Officer of the crew accounts for his personnel and reports to command that they "have PAR", meaning all the members of that crew are accounted for. Each crew gives a PAR to let command know that all personnel are accounted for......

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    If they are conscious, air switch over is not a huge problem. Hold your breath and switch kids. The unconscious firefighter offers a much bigger challenge.

    Get in and get them out. This is not a time for fancy tricks. down and dirty grab 'em and haul 'em, you may not even need to change their air supply.

    Big, quick, dirty vent...ladder the stairs and get them out. Also a second line to protect the rescue.

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