Thread: Attic Fires

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    Question Attic Fires

    Hi,

    I was just wondering how your departments handle attic fires in residential homes. Do you guys start pulling ceilings immediately and hit it with handlines? Or do you use piercing nozzles to knock it down first, then start pulling down ceilings? Also, what is your SOP for venting an attic fire?

    Thanks.

    Chris

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    Strictly handlines. An attic fire is a structure fire last I checked and requires the appropriate flow of water.

    As for venting... First off, based on the housing makeup in my community most houses are either new construction or are of age to have had a re-roof so they all have ridge vents that fire blows out of pretty quick. If you have to add another quick vent, pull the gable vents which again in our world of disposable construction they are generally plastic and melt away pretty quick as well.

    Don't forget the property conservation aspect of an attic fire. Almost every gallon of water you flow into the attic is going to come back down into the living area. Try and move and/or cover furniture, etc if manpower permits.

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    Angry Piercing nozzels?

    Honestly, what is this trend with not attacking the fire? If I hear one more suggestion for a piercing nozzel im gonna puke (basements, attics, cars). If you dont wanna get in there and put the fire out, maybe you got the wrong job. Cut a hole, pull the ceilings and put the damn thing out. All the time you spend moving funiture doesnt do a damn thing when there is no more roof cause you burnt the damn thing off. Start making well coordinated aggressive attacks using sound methods and youll be suprised what you can do!

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    ok, PFDTruck what about this, say they have fertilizer or paint in their attic,(paint is more likely, but anything is possible) so your in there, puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff, and that paint can bleves straight at you. now we have you down, if not dead, all because you decided to grab a handline and head straight for the fire, without sizing it up or trying to find out whats in the attic.


    Sorry Chris if i hijacked your thread, just thought it needed to be said.

    i havent run an attic fire yet, nor have we covered it in trainnings yet, so i really couldn't tell you. But always think of the worst case scenario, like the above.

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    I'd be more concerned about the truss construction than paint cans or fertilizer.

    IMHO, Aggressive truck work is the key to putting out an attic fire: pull the ceilings and get water on the fire before the gusset plates start popping out or fire impinges on the trusses.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonetrexler
    ok, PFDTruck what about this,..(blah, blah)...paint can bleves straight at you.


    i havent run an attic fire yet , nor have we covered it in trainnings yet, so i really couldn't tell you.
    OK, what about this-- if your aunt had b@lls, she'd be your uncle.

    Anything else you've never done that you'd like to comment on?

    Anyway, we usually take a small line over a pencil ladder to the attic, either through the scuttle or a section of pulled ceiling. Meanwhile, the ladder co. vents the roof, then we pull ceilings to overhaul.

    PS-
    PFDTruck, I feel your pain. Some of the posts on here make my eyes hurt.

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    Throw a few large salvage tarps, then pull all the ceilings you can, even though we need to put the fire out, property conservation needs to still be done. It only takes a few seconds to throw a tarp. Especially in a cellulose based attic fire. Other than that, yes aggressive truck work is the key, but as someone else said, every gallon we put up IS going to come back down, so do we need to flood an attic? NO!
    FF/NREMT-B

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    Talking

    I'm with PFD Truck18 if it hasn't vented through the roof, get up and in there whatever way you can,use your TIC it's great tool, and one that will help you find it!!and get it out so everybody goes home!!

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    OK, what about this-- if your aunt had b@lls, she'd be your uncle.

    Hmm, yes I think that that would be a worse case scenario

    I agree with PFDTruck, Get to the scuttle, or open the ceiling and get water on the fire, while the truck is venting the roof. Salvage is an important tactic though, if you have the manpower. The thing that i hate seeing is when you only see salvage done on nice houses and in ghetto houses you dont. Its the houses in the ghettos and poor areas where the people dont have insurance. And what seems like a bunch of worhtless stuff is all that they have. the nice houses have insurance and wont be hit as hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squad1LT
    OK, what about this-- if your aunt had b@lls, she'd be your uncle.

    Hmm, yes I think that that would be a worse case scenario

    I agree with PFDTruck, Get to the scuttle, or open the ceiling and get water on the fire, while the truck is venting the roof. Salvage is an important tactic though, if you have the manpower. The thing that i hate seeing is when you only see salvage done on nice houses and in ghetto houses you dont. Its the houses in the ghettos and poor areas where the people dont have insurance. And what seems like a bunch of worhtless stuff is all that they have. the nice houses have insurance and wont be hit as hard.

    I couldn't agree more!




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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonetrexler
    ok, PFDTruck what about this, say they have fertilizer or paint in their attic,(paint is more likely, but anything is possible) so your in there, puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff, and that paint can bleves straight at you. now we have you down, if not dead, all because you decided to grab a handline and head straight for the fire, without sizing it up or trying to find out whats in the attic.


    Sorry Chris if i hijacked your thread, just thought it needed to be said.

    i havent run an attic fire yet, nor have we covered it in trainnings yet, so i really couldn't tell you. But always think of the worst case scenario, like the above.
    You're about 100 times more likely to have some unseen hazard in the living area or especially in the garage...Why not use a piercing nozzle there too?! Get in there with a handline(s) and put the fire out!
    Also, Don't make a bad situation worse. Begin extinguishment and salvage operations simultaneously, or start salvage as soon after knock-down as possible.

    In my 15 years of service, I can honestly say that I have NEVER deployed a piercing nozzle. In fact, I am aware of only one call in that time (other than hay roll fires) where one was used in my department. That's once in nearly 1/4 million calls department wide! There may well have been other times they were used, but I never heard of them. We carry them on virtually every engine and truck we have...I know they have their uses. I just haven't needed one yet!
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    ok, PFDTruck what about this, say they have fertilizer or paint in their attic,(paint is more likely, but anything is possible) so your in there, puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff, and that paint can bleves straight at you. now we have you down, if not dead, all because you decided to grab a handline and head straight for the fire, without sizing it up or trying to find out whats in the attic.
    You know, I finally figured it out... Its taken me 11 years on the fire service but I figured it out. This job is just not safe and we shouldn't attack fire with handlines anymore. I'm scrapping our new aerial and buying a snozzle with the nasty piercing point on it or perhaps a retired Airport rig (except they are usually some color other than red) and just going to make every structure into swiss cheese.

    Seriously though if the paint cans and fertilizer in the attic(???) are your argument... what the heck are you going to do with a garage fire? How about a commercial occupancy like one of the few remaining mom and pop hardware stores?

    The job we do is NOT safe. If it was we wouldn't wear a 70 or so pounds of protective equipment. We do our best to reduce the risks, but we also need to be realistic.

    I'm not exactly sure what the flow of your piercing nozzle is, but if its like mine it ain't nearly enough to do anything other than steam the ****** out of you and increase possible burn injury.

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    If we have fire showing from an end or corner, we head in that direction, pull the ceiling and hit it with class "A" foam. If we only have smoke showing, we start pulling ceiling from the front door and work our way till we see fire, the hit it.

    We try and put salvage covers down, but we usually dont have the manpower right away and we feel its more important to find and put the fire out quickly. Our use of class "A" foam means less water is used anyway.

    We do not put crews on roofs for attic fires, we open up the gable ends from ground ladders, or if we can reach it with an aerial, we will cut a hole off the tip.

    As for piercing nozzles, they work good on boat fires.
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    For an attic fire, almost 100% of the time were going to aggressively hit it from the inside. I can guarantee we will open the roof and push into the attic with at least one hand line. Scuttle covers, sky lights, vent covers, and so on are all items to break open for immediate ventilation.
    The best way to hit an attic is from the inside.
    Your not going to see a lot of salvage covers used here, in fact, I donít even recall seeing them on the rigs anymore

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    For attic fires, appropriate tactics typically require (if possible) simultaneous vertical ventilation with ceiling being pulled and handlines to extinguish the fire. Of course, if your department has the manpower, then salvage covers over appropriate furnishings; however, this is not always possible these days with manpower cuts. Fertilizer, paints, etc...you're searching and sound typical of someone with no experience. Our job is hazardous and there are many items on the fire ground which can injure/kill us. We can talk about conventional versus lightweight roof construction all day, but unless a company has an operation for these types of roofs, they do not belong on the roof. When the topic of pulling off attic vents and extinguishing fires comes up, again this is very narrow minded. It assumes the fire can be completely put out from one vent; it obviously depends where the fire is. Also, is this person on a ladder holding a handline at the same time (not smart)? When the heat and smoke come roaring back out this vent, where can this FF escape to while on the ladder, as there is no vertical ventilation to relieve this pressurized heat/smoke. It's not a good idea to ever stick our heads/bodies into a ventilation hole, especially if standing on a ladder with a charged line. The specific strategy/tactics are completely more involved than mentioned here; however, attic fires should not be trivialized. As mentioned earlier, open up a hole, pulling ceiling and put the fire out. If you have never done this before, it works amazing! If you don't have the experience, save your opinons until you get it. Also, this is a repeat thread, check the history. It has been addressed in much more detail.

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    OK, Tbone, time to find another hobby. This one isnt for you. I would suggest bird watching, but with this whole bird flu thing, that might be too scary for you as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbonetrexler
    ok, PFDTruck what about this, say they have fertilizer or paint in their attic,(paint is more likely, but anything is possible) so your in there, puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff, and that paint can bleves straight at you. now we have you down, if not dead, all because you decided to grab a handline and head straight for the fire, without sizing it up or trying to find out whats in the attic.

    I just don't get it. So now we should survey the homeowner about the possible contents of their attic before initiating an attack because a "proper" size up has not been done? What if they are not home? Sorry Mrs. Smith, we could not extinguish your home because you were not here to advise us of miniscule amounts of hazardous materials that could have been in your attic.

    And like plenty of others have stated, what about the same stuff downstairs? God forbid fire get in the cleaning supplies under the sink, we would have to write that home off immediately!!

    This isn't rocket science. Water puts out fire, when the fire goes out everything else will get better.

    Quit acting so damn nervous. What if there is paint in the attic? Give me a break!
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    Before everyone writes off the piercing nozzle and/or cellar nozzle completely, I have successfully used them to stop running attic fires where there wasn't enough time/manpower to complete a trench cut.

    (I should also clarify that I'm talking about apartments with a common attic and not SFD's.)

    Extinguishment is still the old fashioned way - pull the ceiling down or climb in.
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    you also coulda picked a better example for a BLEVE then a paint can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrentonFF
    you also coulda picked a better example for a BLEVE then a paint can.
    Spraypaint yes, regular can...no. I would imagine the lid would just pop off, or the can would split.
    FF/NREMT-B

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    Quote Originally Posted by ullrichk
    Before everyone writes off the piercing nozzle and/or cellar nozzle completely, I have successfully used them to stop running attic fires where there wasn't enough time/manpower to complete a trench cut.

    (I should also clarify that I'm talking about apartments with a common attic and not SFD's.)

    Extinguishment is still the old fashioned way - pull the ceiling down or climb in.
    Your right. I forgot about that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a
    I just don't get it. So now we should survey the homeowner about the possible contents of their attic before initiating an attack because a "proper" size up has not been done? What if they are not home? Sorry Mrs. Smith, we could not extinguish your home because you were not here to advise us of miniscule amounts of hazardous materials that could have been in your attic.

    And like plenty of others have stated, what about the same stuff downstairs? God forbid fire get in the cleaning supplies under the sink, we would have to write that home off immediately!!

    This isn't rocket science. Water puts out fire, when the fire goes out everything else will get better.

    Quit acting so damn nervous. What if there is paint in the attic? Give me a break!
    Bob, don't forget to go to the front door and check the MSDS!

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    Here's the first thing to remember about a fire...IT'S A FIRE! It's one big friggin' ongoing hazard. The sooner you get in there, open it up and put it out, the faster the hazard will go away.

    Piercing nozzles in house fires are for girls! (George then slowly backs away after kicking the hornet's nest).

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Piercing nozzles in house fires are for girls!
    I agree...

    However....our former fire chief, in his infinite wisdom, decided to spend the money to buy one of those piercing kits that you connect a 1-3/4" line to, pound the nozzle into the roof and then space them down (for as many nozzles as you have...we have three) the roof connected by the 1-3/4" line to control a running roof fire in a large structure (such as an apartment building). Much like ulrichk mentioned earlier.

    My initial thought was...we are a rural department that protects about 3 SMALL apartment complexes. Seems like a waster of money to me...

    BUT...low and behold we get toned mutual aid to the next town for an apartment fire and deployed them...actually worked very well. There was a lot of fire spreading through the attic and we were able to knock it down fairly quickly without a significant amount of water damage in the units below.

    However, the regular single piercing nozzles...good for hay bale fires, and okay for mobile home fires....in rural areas...GREAT for grain bin fires.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Piercing nozzles in house fires are for girls!
    Let me see here - I was in a pinch and had to substitute a cellar nozzle for an entire truck company. Just what does that tell you about truckies?
    ullrichk
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