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    Lightbulb Scenario: fire in a self storage facility

    Time: 4:30 PM
    Weather conditions: sunny, 20 degrees F., winds from the west at 10 to 12 MPH with gusts up to 30, wind chill factor of 8 F at normal wind speed.

    You are dispatched to a self storage facility via a 911 call, with the manager of thr facility stating that he can see smoke coming from a row of units in the facility.

    Your response is 2 Engine companies, a Ladder company and you as the shift commander in the car. You would normally have the Rescue respond, but they are tied up with a motor vehicle accident along with the Engine from the district the fire is in, so your second Engine company is at least an additional 3 to five minutes out. Your staffing is 2 firefighters and an officer on the Engines, three firefighters on the Truck, so the initial reponse has 9 firefighters plus yourself for a total of 10. The Rescue is staffed with 2.

    There is a hydrant right in front of the complex. The row of storage units is at the far end of the complex, an approximate hose lay of 400 feet from the hydrant.

    As you pull in, the manager states that the row of storage units has some units rented by a couple of landscaping companies, and he states that there "may be" pesticides and fertilizers in there, along with lawn mowers and fuel for same.

    The storage units are metal clad with lightweight steel bar joists supporting a flat built up roof. There are 40 units in the row, the units are "double deep" 20 on one side, 20 on the other. Each unit has its own owner supplied padlock, the management has no keys to the units.

    As the incident commander.... what is your game plan?

    Have fun!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 02-27-2006 at 04:45 PM.
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    Take my TIC and scan the exterior of the building. The Fire room should show up as a hot spot with the light metal clad construction. Have the truck set up for a cut off if it gets big, then breach the exterior wall at the seat of the fire and attack with 2 1/2 through the breach. Re-assess from that point.

    2nd option: After the exterior scan, if the seat is close to an entrace, try for an agressive interior attack. The initial scan with the TIC should give you a good idea of the location and your crews will be able to go right to it, but only if it's close to an entrance and they can get in quick.


    3rd option: Declare a Hazmat incident then drive back to the engine house and establish the commad post.

    I am loath to put personel in light steel truss warehouses with unkown fire load. Plus you don't know how long fire has been working on the trusses. Add to that the difficulty in finding the fire from the interior, due to the locked doors. I know this goes against the old rule of fighting form the unburned to the burned, but with a large line you may be able to kill it before you push it too far. If it looks like more than a 2 1/2 can handle, set a monitor in the breach. If it's bigger you will be defensive anyway.

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    Sorry. Not steel truss, but bar joist......Same Same. Light steel bla bla bal..fall on your head make you dead.

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    Saw this yesterday first hand. They did a good job with what they were faced with. With benefit of hindsight....


    1. Call for help.
    2. Get water on both sides
    3. Split the truck, both crews with FE saws
    4. Find the farthest spot up the row I thought I could defend with 2 1/2'"
    5. As help arrived continue working back to the source or if it were in the middle of the row, repeat the same process as above upwind.
    6. No interior attack, small packed places make this an exterior event.

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    The single most important size-up factor in a fire in a self-storage warehouse is to remember that NO ONE, even the facility manager, knows what is stored in the units. He will know who rents them, but he does not have a clue what these people put in them. These occupancies should be approached as though each unit contains something really bad. It doesn't have to be haz mat. It can be something like extremely hazardous light combustibles-dried flowers for example.

    The second thing to remember is that these buildings are (usually) built with no consideration for fire spread inhibition. Open it up, open it up, open it up. Every unit. Get ahead of the fire.

    I also agree that putting personnel in these buildings is simply reckless until the fire is located and is under control.

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    I'm right there with everyone else, locate the fire unit(s) as best I can and then determine where I think I can make a successful stand (leaving a large margin for error in making the choice). Once I got my defense established, work back towards the fire.

    Nobody goes inside, that's a totally unnecessary risk. Around here, these rooms are usually no bigger than 10-12' wide and at the very most, 20' deep. Usually, they're half that deep. Open the door and drown it from the outside. If I'm lucky, the fire rooms will consume the fuel load and/or vent itself as I work back towards it.

    As more help arrived, I would put them to work opening up the entire building and check every single unit for extension.

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    Im cringing saying this lol, but i agree with george j/k. Anything can be stored in these places, and in todays world, caution should come before aggressiveness in this instance. Only problems are gonna be opening up. How would you go about getting the roll downs opened(since most of these places are truss roofs, and no one is goin on them)?
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    Circular saw (K12) with a metal cutting blade.

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    As Halligan84 said, Clementon in Camden county had a 3 banger at a self storage. Haz-mat was called for unknown stored items.

    One thing i would have done, was determine which units to right off, and then go a unit or two down, clear out that unit, and place an attack line in there (so as to prevent the fire spread that way) the construction of these particular units were i believe a thin piece of sheet metal separating each unit (but each one had a 2 inch gap at the top of the sheet, and the roof was constucted of the same thin sheet metal. K12 to the roll-up doors (A-cut to the door) for large fire involving multiple units, get deck guns and aerial pipes in service, if the water supply permits.
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    Circular saw (K12) with a metal cutting blade.
    I think you misunderstood. I think we all know how to open a roll down gate. But do you really wanna get that close to this building with a complete unknown burning behind it? Thats taking a big risk for someones stuff!
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl
    I think you misunderstood. I think we all know how to open a roll down gate. But do you really wanna get that close to this building with a complete unknown burning behind it? Thats taking a big risk for someones stuff!
    No. He meant that's what he wanted to use on you for agreeing with me.

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    Im pretty sure the snow plows are out in full force in Hell right now.
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    mdodds..

    From the IC and Truck officer from 222, the fire was passing them as quickly as they could get the doors open. Philly Fire has some good early shots. As far as emptying one to make a stand, good luck. We had a backhoe and bobcat in there later that were having a tough time. The place was packed.

    There was one that was set up as an apartment as well. That individual is getting charged, supposedly an illegal hook up started it.

    http://www.courierpostonline.com

    There was a bed, kero stove and appliances in that unit. Haz mat was called for air monitoring, really not much to find. I don't think we found anything really out of ordinary.

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    yeah, i read about the cause, guy is in a lot of trouble.

    Yeah, now that i really think about it, clearin a unit down there would take a crap load of time and energy. I have a 5x10 unit down at that same complex, and mine is pretty full (and it has insurance now)

    hell, the fire had to be movin so quick because of 1) all the fuel it had to burn 2) the material between units was ****. Atleast they were able to make enough of a stop to save 10 units.
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    Why would you make a stand? These buildings are not built to withstand fire at all. There are no people in these buildings until you put them in there. Screw it. Defensive ops and go home. They will rebuild the building in about a week and have the rented out again in 2.

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    George,

    My reply is based on the layout of the facilities of these types in my community. As I said earlier, in all of ours you could extinguish the entire contents of a unit from outside the rollup door. My stand would be made from the outside and if it got past us then, as you said, too bad - its just gonna burn up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EFD840
    George,

    My reply is based on the layout of the facilities of these types in my community. As I said earlier, in all of ours you could extinguish the entire contents of a unit from outside the rollup door. My stand would be made from the outside and if it got past us then, as you said, too bad - its just gonna burn up.
    I wasn't responding to your post. You clearly stated "Nobody goes inside...".

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    Angry "let it burn"

    Well that just about makes me sick. what about your duty to protect life AND property. Open it up with saws and apply water. 1 3/4 is plenty big for 10 X 12 room. Ladder pipes and master streams? Are you kidding? Force entry and open the tip. "Do you really wanna be that close" NO, I WANNA STAND BACK AND MAKE NO EFFORT TO PROTECT THE PROPERTY IM SWORN TO PROTECT. ALL FIRES WILL GO OUT IF "YOU LET IT BURN", NO POINT IN HAVING A DAMN FIRE DEPARTMENT THEN WITH THAT ATTITUDE!
    Just another one of the 99%ers looking up.

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    I am with PFDtruck. That is somebody's sh!7. Have the truck company start at the far end or half way mark and start cutting doors. If there is fire at the halfway mark go all the way to the far end and open up. Then with a hand line or 2 work your way from there back to the orgin.

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    Tell me. In your world, how much "stuff" is worht a fire fighters life?

    These are not normal buildings. They are barely safe to begin with. When they are exposed to fire-any fire at all-they are prone to early collapse. There is also a huge unknown as to the contents of these buildings. There are no rules. There is no requirement for inspection. Thre is no requirement for placarding. Thre is no requirement that the tenants declare their contents. There is no requirement that the owner demand no hazardous materials.

    What makes ME sick is people who have this reckless, damn the torpedos, attitude. It is one of the things that kills fire fighters.

    BTW, please enlighten us as to how many of these fires you have fought.

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    George, i have stuff stored in a storage unit at the facility that had a 3 banger this past weekend. If i knew that the local company could have attempted get in somewhat and make a stand and save my ****and didn't i would be just a little upset. Some of these people didn't have insurance for their spaces, so they are now out of luck (short of laying a lawsuit against the person who was responsible for the fire)

    we are sworn to protect life and property, and yes, there were no lives at risk on this fire (short of the crews fighting the fire) The units that were already well involved could have been written off. Get lines on the flanks of the fire and prevent the fire from spreading anymore then it already has. My company wasn't at that fire in Clementon (would have probably been next due) and i don't know the actual tactics that were performed. "how much "stuff" is worht a fire fighters life" well, some people do store valuable items in these spaces (while i may not understand why someone would put something that valuable in such a space without insurance)

    If you get there, and determine that no matter what you do, you can't save the structure or the items inside, ok then. However, just saying "screw it" isn't an option in my book, i'm sorry, just isn't

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    Guys...

    Read **all** of George's posts here before you get to upset

    And yes, it is easy to take him out of context if you just read one of them.

    At least from what I've read, he's saying get ahead of the fire by 3 units or so, open them up, and cut off the fire. Which is very sound tactic to write off a few units to save the more.

    What he's saying is don't get tunnel vision and get guys inside trying to make a stand inside a high fire load / very flimsy construction building like this. Fall back a few more units and find a more defensible position.

    Am I far off George?

    ==================
    Also to add...

    If I was OIC...get crews with K-12s going and open up every other unit in the building...cut the lock if you can, triangle cut where you need to. But get them all open so if you do have to write off more of the building, you at least know what else you have going -- if you have a unit with an Oxy Acetylene set in it to yank out, if you have a unit with an "urban camper" like the NJ fire had
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 03-02-2006 at 08:50 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    Guys...

    At least from what I've read, he's saying get ahead of the fire by 3 units or so, open them up, and cut off the fire. Which is very sound tactic to write off a few units to save the more.

    What he's saying is don't get tunnel vision and get guys inside trying to make a stand inside a high fire load / very flimsy construction building like this. Fall back a few more units and find a more defensible position.

    i know i made that suggestion in my first post, get a couple units down and prevent the spread any further. maybe it was misunderstood when i said place an attack line at/in that unit (if i said in, then that wouldn't be a too smart thing to do) Just place the line close to the opening, and make it so that the fire can't move down any further.

    if i had jumped to a misunderstanding from Georges posts, then im sorry. That kind of stuff happens.

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    Hmmmm.... I wonder who said this?
    hell, the fire had to be movin so quick because of 1) all the fuel it had to burn 2) the material between units was ****.
    That is why you do not commit FF to one of these buildings until, as I said, the main body of fire is located and under control.

    Sorry about your personal property. How would you have felt if a FF bought it trying to save your stuff?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Tell me. In your world, how much "stuff" is worht a fire fighters life?

    These are not normal buildings. They are barely safe to begin with. When they are exposed to fire-any fire at all-they are prone to early collapse. There is also a huge unknown as to the contents of these buildings. There are no rules. There is no requirement for inspection. Thre is no requirement for placarding. Thre is no requirement that the tenants declare their contents. There is no requirement that the owner demand no hazardous materials.

    What makes ME sick is people who have this reckless, damn the torpedos, attitude. It is one of the things that kills fire fighters.

    BTW, please enlighten us as to how many of these fires you have fought.
    Well Gerorge,

    There is a huge unknown as to the contents of your average everyday dwelling fire. There are no requirements for placarding. There is no requirement that the tenant declare their contents. There is no requirement that the owner demand no hazardous materials. But guess what, we go in ANYWAY! Why? Because thats our J.O.B. We take an oath to protect life and property. You may fail to realize that many people store their entire livelyhood in these places and as has already been pointed out, some DO live in these places.

    What also makes ME sick is FF who refuse to take any risk in a job that is risky from the bell, they are complacent and anti-aggressive. Its one of those things that kill firefighters.

    BTW, under 5. But Im sure your enlightened self has fought hundreds of these incidents. Obviously with a huge dollar loss to the community.
    Just another one of the 99%ers looking up.

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