View Poll Results: Primary Attack Line?
- 60. You may not vote on this poll
Through the FRONT
From the REAR
10-09-2005, 11:33 AM #26
Your statement is right in relation to the tests done for fans but I have seen this tactic used successfully on numerous occasions. As I watched this I noticed that it would at best push smoke and heat to the rear and at worst I saw it just simply help keep the fire in place during attack and actually making it more visible to the attack crew. As far as the neighbors stating no one is home, I can't put any validity to the statements most of the time. This has to do with the fact of the area covered. Here we have a very high poverty rate and high unemployment. Day or night we have found many individuals inside even though the neighbors stated the opposite. This is one reason I would make the attack from the front and have the search crews checking all rooms (also closing all interior doors) while lines are advancing. I don't want to push even more heat, smoke and fire into uninvolved areas forward of the kitchen because of possible victims. The fan and the effective (nozzelmanship) use of the streams will definitely help keep the fire in check (coordination of ventilation and attack). The above statement on occupancy is one reason everyone needs to know and understand their response area, construction (we have VERY little of the light weight construction here) and it's population (I looked at it in relation to the area of my own response district). In the 33 years I spent fighting fires and the 15 as an officer, I never had any of my crew seriously injured or killed. I feel that my experience in Detroit has given me some excellent opportunities to learn a lot about the firefighting process and allows me to have made valid decisions that don't always go along with the books.
This is the reason I don't care for scenarios that are on paper. My decisions are made because of what I see, hear and my experiences (which don't always mesh with the books). I wish all departments could have effective burn buildings and acquired structures in order to practice various strategies used during actual fire operations. I still can't really figure out the percentage of involvement from the graph but it doesn't look like a large percentage of the kitchen itself or any extension beyond that kitchen area. I haven't read all the posts and just responded to the scenario as put forth.
I'll add this. Would I consider a different tactic in the suburbs of Detroit? With the majority of lightweight construction used there, yes I may very well change my tactics depending on the differences in population and structures (distance between structures that interrupt air flow) along with amenities (trees, fences etc that will also interrupt air flow) in the back yard leading to the rear entrance.
Last edited by FireLt1951; 10-09-2005 at 12:24 PM.
10-09-2005, 12:22 PM #27
Tip of the hat to your experience and knowledge. I agree with you that table-top 'scenarios' fall someway short of realistic training etc as I feel this is what you may be implying. However, this is a forum and an educational process where we do all undoubtedly learn some things.
The scenario is an actual fire. It is well worth you following the link to the NIOSH report and I hope you will all do this before furthering the debate.
Although the 'scenario' was aimed solely at firefighting actions I accept that the task of locating occupants remains of prime concern. However, without firm reports or any likelihood of trapped occupants we must tip the balance of our approach in the 'risk versus gain' connundrum towards firefighter safety above everything else.
We have a single storey structure .... no attic .... no basement .... all sides accessible .... a working fire inside .... a moderate wind gusting.
All I am hearing here are reasons why we 'normally' take the front door approach. That's what they did at this fire and a brother is dead. I am suggesting a good reason to take this one from the rear. Like I said, 30mph winds have killed firefighters in multiples before.
The ONLY good reason I have seen to take the front approach comes from Lt 1951 .... to search rooms behind the advancement of the hoseline and 'push' fire away from these areas, or at least prevent it from spreading there in the first place. However, this is exactly the approach taken at this fire and within 4 minutes of entry it 'flashed over' and killed a firefighter.
If they had taken the rear entry .... would the firefighter still be here? I think maybe, yes he would.
If you are a proponent of PPV .... I cannot accept the tactical approach where you would attempt to oppose a wind!
If you search EVERY structure on an incalculable risk, without basing your approach on a reliable string of evidence that is weighted towards occupants actually being there in the first place .... confirmed reports .... time of day .... etc then any officer may well be placing their firefighters in harms way without good reason.
10-09-2005, 12:41 PM #28
Without adding my method of attack on this scenario I would like to thank Paul for starting this tread. I wish we could have more like this instead of some of the useless threads that get started on here. Excellent discussion, and excellent lessons learned. I too try to read most of the NIOSH reports that are listed and when I find one like this one I will sit down and have a round table with the men I work with to discuss what happened and what we can do to prevent the incident from occuring again. Again thanks Paul for the thread keep up the good work.A "Good" fire is not measured by how big it is, but by the fact that everyone is going home safe, and that we possibly learned something new about firefighting. Member:IACOJ
10-09-2005, 12:59 PM #29
I just read the report and the following are questions I would have about that report.
The question I would ask is this. WHY was the probationary firefighter allowed to disconnect himself from the officer or his assigned partner? I always made sure that my trial firefighters understood one thing (the trial firefighter is MY responsibility). YOU NEVER EVER leave me or the partner I assign you to, period! This was an inexperienced firefighter! The report did cover this.
The second question would be this. If the crew understood their district, why would you not have tools with YOU that allow for entry into a barred home (we use the Detroit Ripper, the saw, halligan and sledge hammer works great too)? Time is of the essence and you can't have your crew's running back to get tools they should have had with them. Here we have many, many homes that have these bars and we always carry tools for this purpose and don't leave them on the rig. This (bars on windows and doors) should have been seen upon arrival and size up.
The third question would be this. I saw no mention of a coordinated ventilation and attack (unless I missed it). Why was this not covered in the report?
Fourth question would be this. Why would you shut the pipe down? That's the last thing you would ever want to do inside a structure while fighting the fire. Even if you have to back out, keep that pipe flowing. A second line operating to the opposite side of 1st attack line would have helped the situation. The report also touched on this.
As I mentioned earlier Paul. Here, we've had some serious incidents because of individuals stating no one's home but in reality (here at least) it is usually NOT valid and we don't take it at face value. This has caused some civilians their lives because the first officer on scene took the neighbors statement as fact and was wrong. We now take it with a grain of salt.
I think there were more serious (as I see it) mistakes made that caused this tragedy other than just the entrance of the attack crew.
Last edited by FireLt1951; 10-09-2005 at 01:50 PM.
10-09-2005, 01:43 PM #30
Originally Posted by PaulGRIMWOOD
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
10-09-2005, 02:00 PM #31
Paul, I agree.. a far more useful post than the usual.
The wind in and of itself may or may not be an issue, our observations of what is occurring could change how we work. Options might include
Opening up out front and observing conditions briefly before entry or delaying vent to the rear until water is on the fire. The wide open floor plan would indicate that a good stream could make that fire as soon as they got by the fireplace
I agree that the fan is not going to make a dent when confronted with that wind.
Barred windows and doors on the FRONT would generally indicate a much worse condition to the REAR. We are slowly getting more urban style security here and it seems that stronger and less attractive measures are taken in the areas not seen readily from the street.
One thing that could be a major issue, what was their flow rate and stream type? Not to start a fog / smooth debate, but I think we'd have a better shot with 200 gpm straight than 125 fog.
10-09-2005, 02:16 PM #32
Firstly thanks to everyone who has posted on this thread. I feel there are some genuine reasoned answers and there is never (rarely) any ONE way to approach an incident. I think the debate is healthy and based on approaches being made on our fire-grounds.
If I were to attempt to complete a 360 at every fire I had attended then yes it would have been a long walk! I can probably state that the fire-grounds I served offered some of the largest ranges of buildings in the world in terms of area. However, this scenario under discussion is typical of suburban and rural risks where there often is good access and a 360 must form the basis of a good size-up. Having said that, even in the inner city we are able to complete an all-round size-up by locating crews on roofs looking down light-wells and to the rear of structures to observe and report to the IC.
Yes, I sincerely believe - don't commit to search AHEAD, BELOW OR ABOVE the hose-line unless their are good reasons to believe it is occupied. Having said that, as the Lt points out, local risks may present a high likelihood that an area is likely to be so. However, even then, I would never wish to assign firefighters to search dangerous areas in the off-chance there might be someone there. This is a culture that is now commonly accepted in the UK and many other parts of the world. It all depends how you define your terms of acceptable risk, which interestingly are the same here in the UK.
Lt. 1951 ....
Your points are all extremely valid indeed. I don't believe though that points 2 or 3 would have had any impact on saving that firefighter's life. The venting would not have taken effect within the 4 minute time frame it took to 'flash'.
Keeping the 'pipe' flowing .... I know what you're saying but our own firefighting methods would not support that approach (another story). In this case, it may, however, saved his life yes.
10-09-2005, 02:23 PM #33
I'm not a fan of PPV but I would probably have used it as an offset for the wind direction and speed (considering 14 mph with gusts of 31 mph). The reasoning behind this is that in my area the homes generally have small yards, 8' wood fences with large trees and bushes in the back yards, along with structures not far behind the involved structure. The alleys also have large major vegetation growing in them. This tends to cut down on the effectiveness of the wind coming from that direction. It wouldn't have the same effect if the back yard was large and wide open and therefore I probably wouldn't use PPV. I would have also made sure that it was coordinated with rear ventilation and attack. It's interesting to see the differences in tactics suggested by different departments. My answers are based on the situation in Detroit.
I know we never take for granted that a structure is not occupied and it just has to do with the population itself. The fire I mentioned above happened about 15 years ago and we found a 14 year old that had skipped school that day and no one knew he was home. So in reality, you never know and you're totally right about bums and vagrants.
Last edited by FireLt1951; 10-09-2005 at 02:30 PM.
10-09-2005, 02:44 PM #34Originally Posted by PaulGRIMWOOD
On 3, I would have to say that had they done a coordinated ventilation along with an attack of 2 lines (1 right, 1 backup line left), it would have greatly lessened the probability of a flashover or caused the crew leader to realize the fact that a flashover was probable while making the initial attack at the point of entry.
I know these may not be directly related to the loss (good ventilation techniques may have proven otherwise) because the loss itself was a direct cause of an officer not keeping crew integrity but I still feel they are valid questions that should have been brought up in the investigation.
Last edited by FireLt1951; 10-09-2005 at 03:14 PM.
10-09-2005, 03:05 PM #35Originally Posted by PaulGRIMWOOD
Im sorry to hear of the Brothers passing.Fire Marshal/Safety Officer
"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
Success is when skill meets opportunity
Failure is when fantasy meets reality
10-09-2005, 04:03 PM #36
Your opinions and experience using PPV is acknowledged. I would never teach using PPV (attack mode) against an opposing wind as my own experiences have shown it to be ineffective. I have also used computer monitored test houses to record the effects of PPV ventilators against simulated opposing winds and these have also demonstated the inability of the ventilator to overcome even the smallest of simulated wind speeds.
It is also against our UK SOP for PPV (attack mode) to be used against a fire that is demonstrating 'backdraft like' conditions. I cannot comment in this particular situation other than 'smoke was seen to 'roll' out of the front door at mid level on entry'.
I am interested to hear other views on what is considered 'acceptable risk' in terms of the primary search .... what defines a needed search in hostile areas of a structure .... ie;
· Firefighters will take a calculated risk, and provide for additional safety, to save valuable property or reduce the potential for civilian and firefighter injuries?
How far do you go in defining that statement?
10-09-2005, 04:31 PM #37
I think you may have discounted a major factor in this incident by stating there was no attic. Based on what I have seen in the construction here in the South, and from what I could see in the pics I would say that there was indeed an attic and it very likely was a lightweight truss.
Another point is that most residential structures in the urban areas have some type of security fence around the back yard, usually a 6' wood privacy fence. This would mean access problems on top of the presence of the bars for the rear of the structure.
With these points in mind my plan of attack would be a quick walk around of three sides and then an attack line through the front door. We would immediately check the attic for signs of fire and then proceed on to the seat of the fire. We would not advance beyond the front door if we found fire in the attic. The point was made by Lt.1951 already, but I think the indicated lack of flowing water from the initial attack line is IMO a big reason this fire got out of control (I would be interested in hearing your hinted alternative tactics at some point ).
10-09-2005, 04:43 PM #38Originally Posted by PaulGRIMWOOD
I will admit, its a thin line between the wind speeds that PPV will work and when it will not. 15mph steady is fine although gusts to 30mph would be at the upper limit. Once you hit say, 20-22 mph steady, we start rethinking our ventilation tactics.
Then again, it all depends on what speed that wind is reaching the area in question. Are there trees blocking it, another building perhaps? A house which backs up to another through short yards with trees, shrubs out buildings and such would have a lower exposer to the wind then a house that backs to the beach.
I think one reason we have success with PPV in our normally breezy local is our size of exaust hole. I belive one mistake many departments make when deploying PPV is to open a large exaust hole. We keep ours small, usually one window only.
And dont forget, if needed you can always place one PPV fan behind another to boost the CFM. I have seen this done several times on very large structures with good effect.
Oh and Paul, thanks for starting another FANTASTIC thread.Fire Marshal/Safety Officer
"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
Success is when skill meets opportunity
Failure is when fantasy meets reality
10-09-2005, 05:05 PM #39
Dave .... Yes I have heard a bit about your Florida 'winds' even from this side of the pond and you are right (and Lt 1951 also made the point) about remembering where the surrounding terrain etc works to your advantage in slowing wi speeds - good point!
You are right there with the exhaust vent and a 2-1 inlet to vent ratio is generally advised in UK if working (post fire) against a wind. There are other thoughts on this I know where wind is not a factor .... another discussion!
Cowtown .... point taken I think the US definition of an 'attic' is different to that in UK where an attic is a actually a loft space I think that's right! A room usually for storage, sometimes for living.
10-09-2005, 05:45 PM #40Originally Posted by PaulGRIMWOOD
10-09-2005, 11:39 PM #41
Originally Posted by PaulGRIMWOOD
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
- Waterboro, Maine
It is hard to make tactical decisions from a floor plan only. Many factors like wind speed and direction, that weren't part of the original post. Accessability by personell and apparatus, landscape features, other structures, utilities etc.
Maybe I took the drawing to literally, but it shows a very small fire that someone described as cook stove and cabinets. There is obviously a driveway to the garage, but if there is a stonewall 30 feet from the structure then I wouldn't place my apparatus there. In my area, the fires I've been on have had limited opportunity for placement of apparatus limited to only one side, two at best. We try to place equipment in such a way that if the whole operation goes to hell, we don't lose an engine. I saw a 90 foot long home, and assuming a front yard truck placement with a 50 to 75 foot setback, by the time you stretch a line around the back, there isn't enough left on most preconnects to advance very far into the dwelling. The 30 mph wind is a real concern, and if I had access to the rear, I would try to use it to my advantage. Still with the info at the time of the original post, we'd be going in through the front.
I will read the report eventually.
ThanksThere goes the neighborhood.
10-10-2005, 12:06 AM #42
- Join Date
- Jun 2004
As a first in engine Lt.
Assuming smoke showing with no flames.
Do a 360 while the crew pulls a rack line and fan.
If fire room identifiable from the rear bust a window or open rear door for ventilation.
Place PPV at front entrance and attack from the unburned side of the structure with 1.75 rackline.
We have preassignments for arriving units. System is set up to conform with 2 in 2 out, establish water supply, emplace back up line with a crew, RIT team, Inside and Outside Truck company, Rescue unit for utilities and monitoring, Fire Chief for command, Safety Officer, EMS unit for medical support and rehab.
Last edited by Nail200; 10-10-2005 at 12:22 AM.
10-10-2005, 03:58 AM #43
Having read the NOISH report, I'm thinking maybe this discussion has made a wrong turn. I may be wrong but the biggest problems causing the death were the lack of cohesion within the assigned teams, and the fact that hose team didn't have the flow necessary to knock down the fire. NOISH recommended that the backup line should have been deployed BEFORE the entry was made, and thus the first in team could have called for it then the fire started to role.
The wind thing has worked itself out. Ya 30mph winds can pump a lot of fresh air on a fire.
10-10-2005, 07:54 AM #44
Well, being an 'outsider' (IE not a fireman, but interested in the job) I was interested to read this thread. I voted in the poll before I read everyone else's answers & actually found I had voted in the right direction (if the majority are actually right).
Primary entrance sems to be the front, so it would seem logical to use it... am I wrong here?
Thanks for any feedback.
10-10-2005, 09:33 AM #45
Originally Posted by BerwynFD
- Join Date
- Aug 2001
Whatever happened to riding positions and assigned positions on a hose team? The hose team has positions not only so that the hose is advanced smoothly and quickly, but also so as everyone knows where everyone should be able to be found in case things go bad and they need to back out.
I'm still a bit perplexed how all the guys backing out didn't come across him - surely when a situation is deteriorating as much as that one was - you would follow the hoseline out, and if the victim was assigned to a company that was stretching the initial attack line then surely he should have been on that line somewhere - somewhere there is an issue here, whether it is a training issue that the victim didn't stay on the line, or where the nozzle team didn't follow the line out when backing out? - something isn't quite right, which I guess is why NIOSH do these reports so as we all learn from them or what we have learnt is reinforced.Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1
...and before you ask - YES I have done a Bloody SEARCH!
10-10-2005, 10:34 AM #46
- Join Date
- Jun 2004
The Primary entrance is not typically the reason why you would decide to use it for the avenue of attack.
There are a number of issues you want to consider as you do a size up to determine the best avenue to attack from.
Where is the fire - Generally you attack from the unburned side. I try to do this but, I've run into situations where we were having difficulty navigating to fires due to obstacles and extreme heat which has caused me to switch gears and go directly to the fire room.
Building construction - The building may dictate how you will enter. A cinder block commercial structure with no windows may leave you few options.
Rescue - Rescue situations may cause you to direct your efforts in such a way as to get a line between the victim and the fire. Of course you'll be intent on not pushing the fire onto the trapped victim.
Hazards - Hazards such as electrical lines, propane tanks, fuel storage areas etc... may influence your decision on where to attack from.
Resources - Resources available and their anticipated arrival will have an impact on your tactics. This also applies to water supply.
Firefighting is a dynamic job. There are few absolutes. When you cast your tactics in concrete you are setting yourself up for a fall. Scenarios with variables such as this one is a terrific way for you to pick the brains of fire fighters around you that might have more experience.
Good luck and have fun fire fighting
Last edited by Nail200; 10-10-2005 at 10:50 AM.
10-10-2005, 10:37 AM #47
Thanks for the feedback, Nail.. hoping to get into it real soon.
10-10-2005, 10:52 AM #48
Missing the point ????
Well I know there are several aspects and issues here about why the firefighter may have died and I find myself agreeing with just about all the reasoning on that.
But I come back to my original point .... the KEY learning point in this I believe. The WIND!!
I have seen a backdraft in a fully vented unoccupied house that displayed no warning signs. The flaming fire was the size of a small rubbish bag. It was when the WIND gusted in through the ground floor window that the whole place seemed to explode! I only ever saw that happen once our guys were all in the street at the time!
Since then we have managed to recreate the effect in small training props using an 18"x18"x18" demo box and yes, the wind gusted in one day and showed one of my colleagues how it can enhance the effects of a backdraft quite dramatically!
At the Kings Cross Fire the 'flashover' that killed 31 people in a London underground railway station occurred as trains were pulling into the station .... the airflow up the stair shaft seemed to be the catalyst for an unbelievable event of rapid fire development.
Advancing a hoseline into a one-room fire on the 12th floor of a high-rise a window failed and the sudden fire development burned three of our guys and melted plastic accountability tags/board two floors below in the stairway!
Just two years prior to this we lost a UK firefighter under the same circumstances .... high-rise .... window failed .... wind .... flashover. Then we lost another two AGAIN to the very same circumstances just last February.
FDNY have suffered badly I know to similar events and I am sure will confirm how even the slightest 'gust' of wind in through a window can change things dramatically!
Then I read the NIOSH Texas report.
Guys .... all I ask is that you NEVER under-estimate the effects of a wind gust. If you can just put this in your TOP FIVE considerations when taking in your size-up and placing your hose-lines where able, then I feel we just might save some lives here.
Last edited by PaulGRIMWOOD; 10-10-2005 at 10:54 AM.
10-10-2005, 11:27 AM #49
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
- The North East
Paul, I'd like to echo the sentiment that this thread has started an excellant discussion on many points of initial attack. Everyone seems to have valid questions and reasoning and respect for each others methods.
As was mentioned there are many ways to fight the same fire, and being that it is dynamic, it is hard to pinpoint the one correct way. In fact SOPs can not be so restictive as to force someone to choose tactics contrary to what they deem safe. Our SOPs specifically state that they are to be followed unless circumstance dictate otherwise. Any time personnel vary from SOP they are asked two things: First, what does the SOP manual say about this situation? We want to know that they atleast knew what the SOP was. Then, What circumstances led you to vary from SOP? We need to understand why our personnel break SOP. Was it a bad SOP? Contrary to techniques being taught now? Was the wind strong enough to create problems?
I have few other questions that have been raised in this thread:
1. Admittedly, my department is bad at PPV. We've trained (certainly not enough) and given our minimal first due staffing we do not seem to get it in place where it will do any good. It tends to get used after the fact to assist cleaing the
One of our biggest concerns is when faced with a heavy smoke condition on the first floor how can you be certain that the fire is not in the basement? I watched helplessly as a neighboring department rolled up, put the fan in the door, created a perfect exhaust and entered (with a hose) only to be forced back out as the fire was drawn up from the basement nearly cutting them off. Without cellar windows or bulkheads it may nearly impossible to tell if the fire is below the first floor or not.
Another PPV issue: In the summer most of our residences open many windows (not warm enough for AC but above comfortable). This conditon causes the PPV to be ineffective.
Third issue: In our area (the Northest US) the predominant homes are old wood frames with tons of void spaces and most often balloon construction. The use of PPV seems to create rapid fire spread in these buildings unless you are certain that the fire has not extended into the structure.
As I said earlier, we've not had enough PPV training to use it effectively or for our officers to be comfortable using it here. Again, fire spreads in many ways and building construction plays into it huge. In teh southwest, with newer buildings and fewer multi-storied single family dwellings or basements it would seem to be a no-brainer.
2. Again, I ask all of you to consider if we really still push the fire out of the building? It seems this is a throw back from the days of 1.5" hose which we all now know was rarely enough gpm to adeqautely snuff a rooms and contents. Starting with a max. of 100 gpm and then a couple of kinks causing it to be as low as 60 gpm. Today we stretch in closer and completely overcome the BTU's (or this is our intent).
3. Lastly, this has been a great debate on when to search or when to wait. I'm of the mind to search unless the fire and/or building says no! Are the victims going to be viable anyway? Does the initial assignment of search cause the attack to be slowed due to a lack of adequate staffing? Is the family the on3es telling you everyone's out or is it a neighbor? Does the neighbor know of visiting relatives or freinds? If the car is in the shop? Believe me I truly beleive in firefighter safety, but I also believe that we are the ones trained, equipped and expected by the public to ensure they are safe!
Another dept. north of us responded to a mobile home fire at around 0800 hrs. The Chief knew the elderly resident and saw that his car was gone. He decided to first knock down the fire in teh living room end from outside, assuming the resident was not home. Upon knock down the crew went in and mopped up the fire, one of the firefighters searched back toward the bedrooms and found the resident dead in the hall. Here a lack of search and proper line placement may have led to the residents death.
For every NIOSH report that details firefighters fatalities there must be hundreds of fire reports with civilian casualties. Are our practices going to reduce the number of both reports or just one. We can do better protecting ourselves but it maybe in better staffing, equipment and tactics.
10-10-2005, 11:52 AM #50
- Join Date
- Jun 2004
We have implemented the use of PPV into our SOPs in Austin TX.
We have been using PPV for over a decade but until recently there was no standardized SOP.
Of course there are situations where we choose not to utilize it during initial attacks.
We don't have many basements in our residential areas in this part of the country. We are dealing primarily with residential platform construction.
PPV is working well for us in ventilating and directing flammable gasses away from the initial attack. I understand the draw backs and don't argue some of the negative effects that can be encountered and that there are times we don't want to use it on intitial attack.
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