Thread: High Rise Ops

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    Default High Rise Ops

    Anyone use "runners" or "scouts" during high rise calls to make quick recon? We were talking about doing it the other day and then an article just came out in Firehouse about it and was curious if anyone has policies about it. I think firehouse called them a Rapid Ascent Team.

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    Quote Originally Posted by truckmonkey42
    Anyone use "runners" or "scouts" during high rise calls to make quick recon? We were talking about doing it the other day and then an article just came out in Firehouse about it and was curious if anyone has policies about it. I think firehouse called them a Rapid Ascent Team.
    I don't subscribe, but could you briefly explain the concept, who is practicing it, what their duties are and what tools etc. do they take?

    Thanks.

    FTM-PTB

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    The Rapid Ascent Team, Search (RATS) would basically get onscene and then haul #$% up as fast as they could to recon what the situation is and possibly even extinguish small fire using extinguishers. Also check and see if elevators would be usable. I am not sure of you high rise situation, but I am sure you know it takes a few minutes to grab hose, tools, extra bottles, etc, then maybe wait for one other company and then head up.
    The author does disaster planning for high rises in the US I think.
    We were kicking around the idea of sending a couple guys up to do much the same thing and then this article came out. The author also advocates using lighter turnouts and minimum equipment for the RATS.
    The article said Chicago has changed some practices after that Cook County government fire a few years ago.
    I was hoping there would be some more opinions on this. And more specifcally, some policies and procedures.

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    Interesting, it appears the quest to give new names, acronyms to already established concepts...I suppose otherwise it wouldn't be that interesting of an article.

    Also I'm suspcicious of an article written on this topic by someone who by your account isn't a fireman at all.

    This is why one needs a Ladder Company at High Rise jobs. I know it was recently discussed on here that some Chief somewhere actually argued that there was no need for a Ladder Company at a highrise as the ladder wouldn't reach...or some other nonsense.

    Around here...the Ladder Company goes and investigates the reported location of the smoke, fire...etc. And does exactly what you state...they find-confine- and if all possible with a can, extinguish the fire. Pretty basic stuff and one would think it would be common practice...but apparently someone had to develop a silly acronym based term that sounds really fancy but refers to something that has been practiced for almost a century.

    Meanwhile the Engine is doing what they need to do should a line be required.

    The outside team proceeds to the floor above (when outside Ladders won't reach) and operate on the floor above and the OVM operates the elevators if working and if used. (only 8th floor and above, below we walk)

    BTW...there is no reason in the early stages of the fire to grab extra cylinders...that is a waste of manpower.

    Without reading the article myself...for the most part it sounds like this is how a highrise fire should be fought.

    FTM-PTB

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    FFFRED.........Haven't read the article yet, but I guess some guys feel they have to reinvent the wheel in order to have someone ride on their wagon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by len1582
    FFFRED.........Haven't read the article yet, but I guess some guys feel they have to reinvent the wheel in order to have someone ride on their wagon.
    thats the exact feeling I got when I heard this new term RATS as if it is some new mind blowing practice or technique.

    To anyone who has been around for awhile it is called Truck work!

    FTM-PTB

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    Sorry fellas I did not mean to make this as complex as it sounds. We too do high rises just like you have explained. 1st ladder and 1st 2 engines make up Fire Attack 1,2 and 3. 2nd Ladder is Recon above the fire floor. 3rd ladder is Resources (extra gear and such). 3rd Engine is water supply and 4th engine is Lobby control.

    I think the questions just start to arise if the fire is on a upper floor, like 40+. How many guys do you know who can do 40+ floors and be ready to go right away? Most can, but there may be some strugglers. The question is, would it be worth it to send these guys up as fast as possible.
    The article was on the premise that some high rises being built now are just, as my 3 yr old would put it, Gi-normous. The one pictured in the article was in Dubai and I forget how tall it was.

    Many departments have used this authors plans it looks like. Check his website out at http://www.disasterplanning.com/ and maybe you can see what he is actually trying to do.

    And for what it's worth I do not want to slam Mr. Massey at all. I do agree with both FFred and Len that the wheel does not need reinventing. But on the other hand, I am just looking for some other ideas and concepts. Does either of you have much experience in high rise fires? It would be interesting to get your input, because we have a lot of them but rarely have high rise emergencies at all.

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    Monkey.....may guys can make the 40+ floor. But if you are worried that some can't....then maybe sending guys up there as fast as possible isn't for you....b/c the engine might not make it.

    Anyway....40+ isn't really that bad....most buildings have elevators that are banked if the building is tall enough. You can take it up to 20....then you have to cross over to go another 20. And if you have to climb that last 20...go as light as possible. We try to get a couple of floors below the fire floor before we get off the elevators....then walk the rest, but that is when things are working our way. Actually....before the Tracy Towers fire thats on the cover of FH...there was a job there about a month prior...on the 35th floor.....our truck walked up to the 35th floor....and back down again....is it a pain....I am sure it is...but if we all stay fit...it can be done. Actually....*(nyc..if you read this...refresh my memory) in our probie school....we do a task called FST (field strenth training) with all our gear on and on air, with tools...we have to complete tasks....which include going up and down a 6 story tower....a total of 4 times...then on to other ground level tasks. Ok...I am wondering here....back to the issue at hand. The catchy acronym....bah....lose it. Its what is done in most places today anyway......Send up the 1st due truck inside team and 1st Due engines nozzleman, officer, control if possible and all the lengths and control bag.....they can get something going by the time help arrives.
    Last edited by VinnieB; 07-29-2006 at 02:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by VinnieB
    Monkey.....may guys can make the 40+ floor. But if you are worried that some can't....then maybe sending guys up there as fast as possible isn't for you....b/c the engine might not make it.

    Anyway....40+ is really that bad....most buildings have elevators that are banked if the building is tall enough. You can take it up to 20....then you have to cross over to go another 20. And if you have to climb that last 20...go as light as possible. We try to get a couple of floors below the fire floor before we get off the elevators....then walk the rest, but that is when things are working our way. Actually....before the Tracy Towers fire thats on the cover of FH...there was a job there about a month prior...on the 35th floor.....our truck walked up to the 35th floor....and back down again....is it a pain....I am sure it is...but if we all stay fit...it can be done. Actually....*(nyc..if you read this...refresh my memory) in our probie school....we do a task called FST (field strenth training) with all our gear on and on air, with tools...we have to complete tasks....which include going up and down a 6 story tower....a total of 4 times...then on to other ground level tasks. Ok...I am wondering here....back to the issue at hand. The catchy acronym....bah....lose it. Its what is done in most places today anyway......Send up the 1st due truck inside team and 1st Due engines nozzleman, officer, control if possible and all the lengths and control bag.....they can get something going by the time help arrives.
    Yeah, I dont actually remember what FST stood for, you are probably right. But the training is right on. We carried a rollup and a standpipe kit up twice, then went up twice? with just a rollup, and operated on the top floor, then came back down and went through what was basically the job physical. It sucked physically, but was some of the best training we had the entire time.
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    I read the article, and I was curious to see his credibility. Are any agencies actually changing their hi-rise ops to match this guy's theory? It seemed that his main thrust was using brush turnouts and sneakers, 60-min airpaks, and finding the department's most physically-fit FF's to complete the ascent. I recall that he also seemed to encourage minimal elevator use, although I don't know how feasible that is in one of those monster hi-rises (Kuala Limpur, etc.).

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    Just a question. What happens if these two guys make it to the 40th floor, and half the damn floor is goin?
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    I can see both benefits and major disadvantages of this strategy.

    Any approach to a high-rise incident demands a stringent and detailed pre-plan; this plan needs to be carefully thought out; its also needs to be implemented and all firefighters must be familiar with its main points in particular. Much discipline, coordination and communication is needed to ensure the plan is effected. There is no room for freelancing.

    In the case of a RATS Rapid Response Team the advantages might be that the fire could possibly be located with greater speed and tactical routes for fire attack and evacuation might be selected in advance of the fire investigation team.

    However, this may be an ineffective deployment of first arriving resources and by splitting crews in this way you may also be sending them into a hazardous area without adequate equipment or immediate support.

    I agree with FFred and NYC that the current procedures enforced by cities such as NY, LA or Chicago are effective and are based upon extensive experience. These authorities are already despatching firefighters straight to the reported fire floor (take that as two or more floors below initially) to locate the fire itself as well as approach/evacuation routes. These teams are better equipped with basic equipment to get water on the fire quickly and assist occupants in the most immediate danger. Their reaction times are considered effective.

    An important issue is that stairshaft security is secured and maintained for occupants attempting to evacuate. In this situation I can see a use in some sort of 'RATS' team. There will be other names for this crew task and I am sure most cities do this anyway .... I would hope.

    The author Massey is well known for his building fire safety plans. I am uncertain of his operational firefighting credentials.

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    Actually in the Chicago incident (Cook COunty Building), they did a report and one of the suggestions was to use Massey's pre-plan template for high rises. After reading this report it is very humbling to say the least. CFD is an excellent department with a high number of high rises, but it sounds like the policies and procedures were just not there. I was not there and by no means am 2nd guessing CFD.
    I think one of the most important things to learn is that there needs to be a definite separation of attack vs evacuation stairwells.
    Does anyone us scene tape or anything to direct incoming companies to a certain stairwell? We are trying to implement that. Lobby control group would make a path to the attack stairwell using tape, cones etc. Much like a HAZMAT incident. Any other suggestions or ideas for other tactics? Thanks again for all the great discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by truckmonkey42
    Actually in the Chicago incident (Cook COunty Building), they did a report and one of the suggestions was to use Massey's pre-plan template for high rises. After reading this report it is very humbling to say the least. CFD is an excellent department with a high number of high rises, but it sounds like the policies and procedures were just not there. I was not there and by no means am 2nd guessing CFD.
    I think one of the most important things to learn is that there needs to be a definite separation of attack vs evacuation stairwells.
    Does anyone us scene tape or anything to direct incoming companies to a certain stairwell? We are trying to implement that. Lobby control group would make a path to the attack stairwell using tape, cones etc. Much like a HAZMAT incident. Any other suggestions or ideas for other tactics? Thanks again for all the great discussion.
    Honestly...that tape/cone idea...is a waste of time.

    Anounce over the handie-talkie(and have the dispatchers do the same over the dept radio) that that the attack stairwell is Stairwell C or A or whatever it is.

    Using men to put out cones or tape for this is not giving your members enough credit. Besides if one is going above the fire...the member might want to take the evacuation stairs right?

    I suggest focusing on the basics and stop looking to make this more complicated than it needs to be.

    JMHO

    FTM-PTB

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    As you know, we don't use Ladder Companies in the UK.... but our High Rise procedures have been in dire need of review for many years now...and lo and behold a couple of good High Rise jobs in the past couple of years that have caught us with our pants down, killing 2 on one job and nearly killing another 5 on two other jobs....

    Suddenly, everyone who was dismissing the Pro-American Heavy attack on High Rises that me and one or two others in the UK have been bleating about for years now wants to hear our side.

    After a serious High Rise job in London in 2003...where when I got ordered on at to 20 Pump (6th Alarm) stage and was heard telling everyone who'd listen "I told you so" I and some others got invited to set up a High Rise Ops review panel.

    After a year or so of exhausting work, we put a report forward to the Corporate Management Board (Yep, this is still a Fire Brigade although it sounds like a Multi-National???) They read it and then they put it forward to the 'Members' (The elected politicians from the 33 London Boroughs who make up the Fire Authority for the Mayor) The Members...experts in Firefighting as they all are ) decided it would be too expensive to address.

    Cue a fire in a residential High Rise in Hertfordshire just North of London which killed two Firefighters and no one wanted to touch this hot potato. In the end, the Union threatened the LFB with a Health & Safety Lawsuit and common snece has previailed...much to the disgust of the Civilian side of the LFB Corporate Management board, we have now had the attendance to a High rise doubled and we are in the process of getting the recommendations of the UK Governments reports into the 9/11 attacks acted on.

    In short this recognises the increased reaction time, likely fire growth, lack of external Firefighting ability, the physiological effects on the crews of deploying of getting themselves and equipment up to the fire.

    Those making the decisions were of the opinion that because London only has a few dozen very Tall Buildings that are very well protected their isn't an issue.... until we pointed out that in fact London has 1000's of High Rise Buildings...is the most densely populated High Rise City after the obvious New York, Chicago, Toronto, Singapore, Hong Kong etc... most fo those Buildings are badly protected public housing stock where the poorest people live and in fact we were attending a serious (First Alarm or above) fire in a High Rise roughly once every two weeks.

    Like with every big Metropolitan FD, change is slow in LFB... but there is no short cut to safely fighting fire in tall buildings. IT comes down to a heavy weight of attack utilising well trained crews with the proper equipment.

    Although we won't be using the Truck Companies we don't have, gone are the days of sending two BA wearers and an officer up the stairs with a couple of lengths of 1.75" & a nozzle in a vain attempt to control the fire and save life.

    DOH!!!



    DOH!!! DOH!!!

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    PaulGrimwood you have some great reports linked on your on high rise fires. After reading a lot of the reports there have been a lot of mistakes made. There are mistakes at every fire of course, but some of these have cost lives both FF and civilian.
    And FFFRED, don't let me make it sound like we are reinventing the wheel here. But the infrequency of high rise fires means we need to look at our tactics and make sure that we are prepared ahead of time to do them. I am pretty sure the Chicago FD thought they knew exactly how to fight high rise fires, but after the Cook County fire, there were some major things that came up.
    So do you show up and know exactly which stairwell is A or C all of the time? Thats definitely where pre-plans come in. We have the luxury of 4 FF's in the Lobby Control capacity so it is not a bad thing to have a FF setting up cones or whatever.
    FFFRED, what is your standard complement (Engine, Ladders, Etc) for a high rise fire and what are their general assignments per SOP? Any others also want to share? I will show ours again.
    1st Ladder - Fire Attack 1- Works W/ 1st and 2nd engines
    2nd Ladder - Recon - Above fire
    3 Ladder - Resources - Equipment
    1st Engine - Fire Attack 2
    2nd Engine - Fire Attack 3
    3rd Engine - Water Supply - FDC's, Fire Pumps
    4th Engine - Lobby Control - Elevators, Fire Control Room
    Rescue Company (Capt and Driver)- Plans
    1st BC - IC
    2nd BC - Operations
    Safety Chief - Duh
    Automatic 3rd alarm for working fire

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    Quote Originally Posted by truckmonkey42
    So do you show up and know exactly which stairwell is A or C all of the time? Thats definitely where pre-plans come in.
    A is the one labled Stair A and C is the one Labled C? Besides the stair case only matters near, at or above the firefloor. Many times you can't even access the correct staircase from the lobby. "A" might go to the lobby, but stair "B" might go directly to the street. One can start up any staircase and switch at a floor above the lobby. Fires on 8, check out 6 and see where the stairs are in relation to the reported apartment fire..you might find a closer stair that would make it easier for the truck to find the apartment and shorten the stretch for the engine.

    I honestly think that it is a bit much and regardless if you do one a year or one a week to confuse things with tape or cones or whatever...things are confusing and busy enough that those 4 FFs could be doing many other things. JHMO.

    FFFRED, what is your standard complement (Engine, Ladders, Etc) for a high rise fire and what are their general assignments per SOP?
    Here is a place to see them:

    http://sageauthoring.com/fdny/fdny1.htm#Engine

    FTM-PTB

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    In the UK there is a national working group of Chiefs and 'experts' tackling the serious issues we have in approaching high-rise incidents. As Steve says, there have been an array of incidents where the firefighting approach has clearly been under resourced; unprepared; ill disciplined; poorly trained; but moreso, based upon SOPs that are totally inadequate.

    There has also been a culture that has been allowed to develop where firefighters and officers under-estimate the demands of fighting a 'routine' working fire sited many levels above the ground.

    My book of 1991 and subsequent technical papers in the journals have made clear statements of how ineffective we are in approaching such fires. We are operating with outdated SOPs and I think it is CRIMINAL that operational fire chiefs can allow their firefighters to work under such conditions. Our failings have further resulted in the deaths of firefighters and several other near misses.

    Every attendance to a high-rise fire alarm is an opportunity to train and to practice the high-rise SOP.

    The situation in the big US metros is generally far more advanced and big city SOPs may serve as ideal role models. However, even here there have sometimes been major issues in putting the plans into effect at serious working fires. The Incident Command functions and communication networks have often failed at such fires. There have been glaring tactical failings from the first moments that firefighters have arrived.

    Never feel you have everything covered in the SOP and attention should also be paid to contingency arrangements for such things as standpipe or lift failure etc.

    I agree with FFred .... tape is a waste of time. Simply coordinate the strategic and tactical approaches through a well established lobby control and staging process. Be sure that crews are well briefed before being despatched to upper floors and that they are aware of the basic building layout.

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