1. #1
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    Default Unecessary roof ventilation

    I was visiting my brother this past weekend and there was a structure fire down the street from where he lives. House was a residential 2 and 1/2 story colonial, not balloon frame. (The houses on that block were built in the early 1980s). Apparently the homeowner accidently dropped a halogen lamp on a couch inside the unfinished basement; got the basement going pretty good. Fire was confined to the basement only, did not extend to the 2nd floor or into the attic, yet the roof was cut. I ended up helping them out with overhaul. I'm still trying to figure out why that department cut a nice big hole in the roof without any extension of fire into the attic or even to the 2nd floor. Their hose team did a great job a getting a quick knockdown and stopping extension, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why the roof was cut.

    Do you guys see this mistake alot?
    Last edited by chrisdurkin44; 11-11-2005 at 07:22 PM.

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    Default Inexperience

    Most often when vertical ventilation is performed when it is not needed it is due to inexperience. Many times complete horizontal ventilation will be adequate in dwelling fires and vertical is only required when the fire has a "jump" on you. This would include a complete top floor of fire. I wont say that this roof didnt need to be opened simply cause I wasnt there. I will say that having a fully involved basement may require opening the roof especially if the IC feels his hose teams are making slow headway and expects spread to the attic or cockloft. Just remember top down ventilation. Dont make things worse by taking a window too early.

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    As I have stated on the Forums before: Vertical Ventilation is one of the most over used tactic's in the fire service.

    it seems that cutting the roof is on some checklist and must be completed before the fire can be declared under control.

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    Since you helped them out...did you bother to ask any of them? Since none of us were there, we can't really tell you why they did it, only they can. Maybe there was some reason they felt they needed to. Maybe there wasn't. Only they can tell.
    "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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    I didn't ask them why they did it because I didn't want to seem like a ***** (excuse my language). But I cannot think of a good reason why they did, the fire did not extend upstairs or into the attic and it was not a balloon frame construction.

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    Open the roof when their is a fire inder the roof, (second floor or attic space).
    I don't see any reason why they went to the roof, but as stated I wasn't there either.
    If you suspect a fire in the attic then get the roof and quick. Just as an example I live in a 2005, platform, Colonial / Queen Anne mix the attic has over 8' of head room and a 3/4" plywood floor. The only thing opening the roof will do is vent the attic, none of the smoke from inside the house will go anywhere with that tactic. Mine is a bit unusual so lets take the scenario as presented opening the attic caused several thousands in unnecessarry damage to the structure.
    I have seen departments automatically go to the roof but the order to cut is given prior to the crew going to work.

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    Over-zealous and undertrained...I can't see why else a roof would be cut with no fire to vent.

    It sounds a little like a kitchen fire I had with a probie several years ago.

    The fire was contained to the range and hood area and was extinguished in about 20 seconds with one 1-3/4" preconnect.
    As the fan was being set up, I told my new FF to open some windows for ventilation. Suddenly I hear CRASH...CRASH! Before I could say anything, two windows were shattered by a flashlight!

    When I asked him why he didn't just open the sashes, all I got was a blank stare and the response: "Damn, I didn't think of that!"
    (He thinks about it now!)




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    Last edited by fireman4949; 11-12-2005 at 11:19 PM.
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    is your brother on the department in question ? why not ask him ?
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    Was there smoke showing from the second floor and/or attic ? If so a little, a lot? Grayish or black and snotty? Not second guessing, just wondering.

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    I think this runs in the same vein and goes back to the sentiment "try before you pry" or in this case "think before you vent."

    I personally don't see the mistake made a great deal around here. If anything vertical ventilation has been underutilized in this area from what I've seen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM
    As I have stated on the Forums before: Vertical Ventilation is one of the most over used tactic's in the fire service.

    it seems that cutting the roof is on some checklist and must be completed before the fire can be declared under control.
    Totally in agreement

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    I say inexperience.

    Like what was already said, it seams like if there is a fire, cutting the roof is something that HAS to be done before the fire can be determined under control.

    I was on a 15 x 15 garage fire as a mutual aid company and when we got there, our assignment was to cut the roof. The fire was under control and the 1st due company FF's were doing overahaul in the garage with no SCBA on ?????

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    Default cutting holes?

    Isn't it enough to break the windows inorder to ventilate?

    This can be done from a ladder or skyworker without danger for the involved firefighter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fireman4949
    Over-zealous and undertrained...I can't see why else a roof would be cut with no fire to vent.

    It sounds a little like a kitchen fire I had with a probie several years ago.

    The fire was contained to the range and hood area and was extinguished in about 20 seconds with one 1-3/4" preconnect.
    As the fan was being set up, I told my new FF to open some windows for ventilation. Suddenly I hear CRASH...CRASH! Before I could say anything, two windows were shattered by a flashlight!

    When I asked him why he didn't just open the sashes, all I got was a blank stare and the response: "Damn, I didn't think of that!"
    (He thinks about it now!)

    Kevin
    Perhaps the IC on that fire understood the potential for rapid, severe fier development in a confined space with a fuel package with a high rate of heat release. An upholstered couch has a HRR of about 28,000 btu/lb-about 5 times as much as normal combustibles.

    Perhaps the IC understood that the surest way to prevent flashover and to get his crews to the seat of the fire is to get the smoke and heat energy (yup-heat energy) out of the building.

    Perhaps the IC (as I suspect) is smarter than all of you criticizing his tactics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Perhaps the IC on that fire understood the potential for rapid, severe fier development in a confined space with a fuel package with a high rate of heat release. An upholstered couch has a HRR of about 28,000 btu/lb-about 5 times as much as normal combustibles.

    Perhaps the IC understood that the surest way to prevent flashover and to get his crews to the seat of the fire is to get the smoke and heat energy (yup-heat energy) out of the building.

    Perhaps the IC (as I suspect) is smarter than all of you criticizing his tactics.

    Perhaps...After all, I wasn't there.

    Perhaps he was just over-zealous and under-trained.






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    Question What I see....

    Yes, it is a common problem that occurs more often than most of us would like to admit. For some reason, vertical ventilation is strongly focused on. It is a very effective way, we all know that. The issue lies in when do you use it? A lot of times vertical ventilation is done to late in the operation and does not really benefit fire attack at all, and ends up just creating more damage somewhat unjustified. I think the major cause is low staffing. A department that has "unlimited manning" is more likely to get all of the initial operations underway at the same time. With this capability, all operations tie in together, and are equally effective. That is the way it is designed to work. When your department has very limited initial resources, the awareness and recognition that certain things need to occur, i.e. ventilation is there, but, the ability to perform those operations immediately is not. After adequate personnel arrive, operations such as ventilation, RIT, search all become an "auxiliary" task and can then be completed, and more often than not, many donít need to be done. Experience as an officer is the best solution to this problem, company knowledge of recognizing when trained operations donít need to be preformed, is also a great benefit.

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    The smoke and heat have to be going somewhere, so I would think smoke from the sophets might have been possible, giving him the idea it was in the attic already. When arriving on scene, he did not know the fire was confined to the basement. He probably gave the order, then went in and found a different situation. Better safe than sorry.

    But I don't know what the scene looked like.

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    Vertical ventilation is a fantastic tactic when used in a timely and proper manner, if you arrive in teh truck 10 minutes after the engine crew has began the attack on the fire, not just advancing in, but attacking, what good is poissibly going to come of it. Especially if it's being controlled easily with a single line. I preferably am going to stick with horzontal first, and if I still feel I need more opened up, or that there has been extension to a 2nd, or higher floor where vertical is going to be of use, then it will be used. But a proper sizeup including smoke conditions/color/velocity/location, as well as length of time before it can be completed.
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    Just food for thought: newer energy efficient windows can be quite expensive, but a typical vent hole in the roof can be repaired for about $500. A window vents one room at a time, but a good vent hole can vent the whole house. Life safety above property conservation, right? Cut the hole, lift the CO, and increase the survivability of any trapped victims. Just my 2 cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingHippo
    Just food for thought: newer energy efficient windows can be quite expensive, but a typical vent hole in the roof can be repaired for about $500. A window vents one room at a time, but a good vent hole can vent the whole house. Life safety above property conservation, right? Cut the hole, lift the CO, and increase the survivability of any trapped victims. Just my 2 cents.
    Here's some more food for thought...

    Opening windows is FREE! Why is it that some firefighters insist upon breaking every window they come across?!

    It takes no longer to open a sash than it does to break one and clear the glass from the frame. It's safer too.
    If the part of the structure being vented is well involved, breaking them is relatively insignificant in the big scheme of things, but if uninvolved areas of the structure are being vented, open the windows! Save the homeowner some unnecessary grief and repair.

    If entry is going to be excessively delayed, or impossible, taking the windows from the outside is perfectly acceptable. If you are going to make entry, open (don't break) as many windows as possible as you search.

    PPV and/or hydraulic venting will work equally well through an opened sash as it will through a shattered one.

    By the way, a good vent hole will vent the attic and only the room(s) below that have had the ceilings breeched...Not a whole house.




    Kevin

    EDIT: After rereading my post, I don't want to appear that I am trying to be a smart ***. I'm not. I'm just voicing my own opinions here. I apologize if I offend anyone with my reply. That is NOT my intention.
    Last edited by fireman4949; 12-01-2005 at 11:26 PM.
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    I agree with not breaking every window to a point. If it is a good job, and you are searching without or beyond the line, and you may need the window for an exit...take the whole thing out. Good rule of thumb...if you are unable to stand and open it..break it.

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    "By the way, a good vent hole will vent the attic and only the room(s) below that have had the ceilings breeched...Not a whole house. "

    Good point, but in my defense, I said it "can," not that it "will." If all the interior doors are open, you _can_ vent the whole house. (I know- it's a long shot and a weak comeback, but it's all I've got right now).

    And I agree with taking the windows (either for egress, or "venting for life"). I just wanted to make the point that making a hole isn't as damaging as some people tend to think (and even if it was, increasing the suvivability of potential victims should take precedence).

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattyJ
    I agree with not breaking every window to a point. If it is a good job, and you are searching without or beyond the line, and you may need the window for an exit...take the whole thing out. Good rule of thumb...if you are unable to stand and open it..break it.

    I agree. If I can't stand up it's got to be pretty damn hot! At that point, saving the structure far out weighs any cost of a window.

    A fire occurred a while back where there was heavy smoke conditions, but minimal interior heat build up. An unconscious victim was located only a few feet from a ground floor window. The window had been broken (from the interior) instead of opened during the primary search. The victim was on the street side of the house, and a long way from an exterior door.

    The victim was taken out of the window by several firefighters, and in the process received multiple lacerations from the broken glass that was still in the sash.
    I was not on that scene, therefore I cannot say for sure if the sash could have been just as easily opened, but I suspect that it most likely could have been.

    The victim did make a full recovery.




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    Quote Originally Posted by fireman4949
    I agree. If I can't stand up it's got to be pretty damn hot! At that point, saving the structure far out weighs any cost of a window.

    A fire occurred a while back where there was heavy smoke conditions, but minimal interior heat build up. An unconscious victim was located only a few feet from a ground floor window. The window had been broken (from the interior) instead of opened during the primary search. The victim was on the street side of the house, and a long way from an exterior door.

    The victim was taken out of the window by several firefighters, and in the process received multiple lacerations from the broken glass that was still in the sash.
    I was not on that scene, therefore I cannot say for sure if the sash could have been just as easily opened, but I suspect that it most likely could have been.

    The victim did make a full recovery.




    Kevin
    And the FF with the interior vent responsibility could have done the job right and cleared ALL the glass from the sash too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingHippo
    "By the way, a good vent hole will vent the attic and only the room(s) below that have had the ceilings breeched...Not a whole house. "

    Good point, but in my defense, I said it "can," not that it "will." If all the interior doors are open, you _can_ vent the whole house. (I know- it's a long shot and a weak comeback, but it's all I've got right now).

    And I agree with taking the windows (either for egress, or "venting for life"). I just wanted to make the point that making a hole isn't as damaging as some people tend to think (and even if it was, increasing the suvivability of potential victims should take precedence).
    You're absolutely correct...Life safety of both the occupants and the firefighters is paramount! If I feel it is necessary, I will write off an entire structure for that purpose. I just don't see causing "needless", and I use that term cautiously, damage to a structure.




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