1. #26
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    MemphisE34a:
    Looking at the first picture it is difficult to tell a lot about conditions in the stairwell other than no fire being visible. The entire front is glass which appears to be darkened from the inside. If you look carefully at the second photo (wide shot of the front,) you can see the inside of the entrance door and the interior of the stairwell is in fact nicely soot stained.

    In this area, most engine companies arrive before the truck; most carry a hydraulic forcible entry tool like the Rabbit Tool or Hydra-Ram and do their own forcible entry. The doors in these buildings are typically not too formidable. A hydraulic FE tool will make short work of them, even with a couple of locked deadbolts. I have to believe the small investment in time (less than half a minute) is worth having a properly placed hoseline.

    I agree with you that the exterior line directed towards the roof is pointless and that this fire calls for a line on each floor and the attic. Getting a line to the attic quickly is usually the key to keeping the roof from burning off these buildings.

    I also agree with your statement that "you cannot...say that every fire should be tackled the same way", but I do believe that there are some basic principles of firefighting that we should agree on most of the time. These are the basics: Locate, Confine, Extinguish, in that order. We canít cross our fingers and hope that the stairwell door is closed or uncompromised; we have to place our line to make sure the stairwell is protected. What if this were an apartment in the rear of the building, would we stretch a line around and go through a patio door then too?

    We must also consider that most occupants enter and leave their apartments from the front (stairwell) door. They donít use the patio doors because these canít be locked from the outside. Most occupants who are capable of self-evacuation, if overcome, will be found on their way to the door they normally use.

    Hwoods:
    Chief, as you know, the spandrel spaces in these places are often not much more than a few 2X4ís and a half sheet of T111 siding, contributing greatly to our auto exposure problem. I agree that hitting the fire at an oblique angle here is worthwhile.

    Thanks for the responses, it's interesting to hear the different perspectives.

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    I have had a trio of fires in garden style apartment/condo buildings.

    The potential for hidden fire spread is beyond belief.

    The first: Fire in an apartment, got into the cockloft. The temperatiures were in the single digits and the winds were very blustery. The fire took possession of the cockloft rapidly. The only thing that stopped it from going into an adjoining building was a trench cut and big lines. The first due company reported the fire knocked down, and they were coming out to change bottles. My Engine was 2nd due, I struck the 2nd alarm on arrival. The Deputy pulled in behind us an ordered the 3rd. The LT. on the 1st due engine asked "WTF is going on.. the fire's knocked down..." I told him to look up.. he had a "holy s***" moment. The Chief of Department arrived and struck 4th alarm.

    The second: Reported "electrical" odor in a unit on the 3rd floor of a gadren style condo. We took it on a still, the cops reported seeing smoke from the eaves, the assignement was filled out. On arrival, there was no smoke in the halls or anywhere, but it was coming from the eaves. When we entered the apartment of the resident who reported it, there was smoke puffing out of the outlets in the kitchen area. I sent a few firefighters to check the unit directly below, when they touched the wall to feel for heat it, it caved in and they had heavy fire blowing out. That fire went to 2 alarms. The fire started with a malfunctioning electrical outlet and followed the utilty chases throughout the building.

    The third: 2 in the afternoon on a hot and humid summer day. A resident reported smelling "something burning" outside of her building while she was out walking her dog. Thinking it ws an outside fire, a single engine was dispatched as per our protocol. The LT struck the second alarm on arrival when the window failed and fire was blowing out of the window and into the soffit of the cockloft.

    Fire in a garden apartment: Big lines, hit it hard and fast.

    Most of these building were built under codes in the early 1960's with wonderful things like aluminum wiring, thin walls and hollow core doors.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 12-16-2006 at 06:33 PM.
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    Backstep,

    You see a heck of alot better than I do I guess, because I do not see any of that. Maybe you have inside information being local from the news reports or perhaps you know people who were there.

    The problem with critiqueing photographs is that they represent a fraction of a second in time.

    I see a reflection in the windows. After they are opened I see no smoke venting and shadows. I would think that soot staining as you see would result in some kind of smoke in that area.

    How do we know that prior to going to the patio, the officer did not open the door to the common interior stairs and see that their was little or no smoke and that the door to the fire apartment was intact and make a decision to attack the way they did??

    I 100% agree with you that locate, confine, and extinguish are sound objectives and need to almost always need to be accomplished in that order. I in fact cannot think of a time that you would vary from that, but I don't want to say never - know what I mean.

    From my view, I think these folks could have very well accomplished those tasks.

    Just for the record, I also didn't see the wide open fog pattern you described in your original post. Are you sure your not seeing things to try and justify your position?? =))
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a
    You see a heck of alot better than I do I guess, because I do not see any of that...
    The problem with critiqueing photographs is that they represent a fraction of a second in time...
    Just for the record, I also didn't see the wide open fog pattern you described in your original post. Are you sure your not seeing things to try and justify your position??
    Seeing things to try and justify my position? LOL. Thanks. The intent of my original post was to create some discussion about tactics, not to argue for the sake of arguing.

    Yes, photos represent a fraction of a second in time but they also don't lie. So you're saying that we can not or should not use photos for training or critique purposes because "they represent a fraction of a second in time"?

    If we don't agree about what they did, thats fine, you're entitled. If you don't see what I see that's fine too, and if by some chance you just don't get it, Guess what? That's fine. Be safe.

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    Backstep, do you happen to know the Photographer who took those shots?? He's been a friend of mine for years....
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Backstep, do you happen to know the Photographer who took those shots?? He's been a friend of mine for years....
    Chief,
    If it's the the same person I think it is, wasn't he a Captain at Rescue Hose Co. back when they were in the house on West Street? I only met him a couple of times and this was probably in the late 70's, early 80's, but a dedicated guy and a true gentleman as I recall.

    The thing about getting old is I can remember 30 years ago pretty well, but I can't remember where I put my glasses five minutes ago!

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    Backstep FF...You see more in the photos than I can. The glass in the common area may be soot stained, but I can't see it. The glass is certainly dark, but in such a uniform way that it looks like tinted glass. In the second picture where the door to the common area is open, I don't see any soot staining at the top of the door area on the metal header where I'd expect it.

    I do enjoy the conversations that are started by throwing a photo up, however, I don't think you can assume as much as you have. It's worth discussing the possibility that the common area was left unprotected, but its not a certainty based on their attacking the fire through the patio.

    I agree with some of the others that they may have visualized the area...and made a conscious decision to not go that route so they could leave the door to the fire apartment shut...thus maintaing a "clean" area to do evac's of other apartments. If mainpower allows, a line to protect this area is a good practice. They may have done that...I can't tell.

    I'm all for the discussions...so, please, if you have more pics...throw 'em out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BackstepFF View Post
    Yes, photos represent a fraction of a second in time but they also don't lie. So you're saying that we can not or should not use photos for training or critique purposes because "they represent a fraction of a second in time"?
    I am not saying that at all. I am saying that it would be a more thorough and true to life critique if you had the story that goes along with the picture.

    And I agree by the way that these kind of debates are good even when we don't know the entire story and maybe do not 100% agree. There could be an up and coming firefighter out there that reads our debate and notices or catches onto a strategy or tactic that maybe he or his department has not employed in the past. He could bring what he has read in this forum up at the next firehouse kitchen table firefight and see what the members of his company or station think about it, and so on it goes.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    while not specific to garden apartments, 2 of the last fires I was on reinforced the strength of energy efficient windows. The interior of both places was gutted, but the fire never caused the windows to fail. More notably, the breaking of the windows required some major league baseball type swings with hooks to clear the glass (thats a hell of a sound when they finally go). I tried taking a window with the knob on one before the outside vent guys made their way around and it just kept bouncing off (obviously a last ditch attemt in the absence of a tool but I wasnt willing to take a steam shower).

    Perhaps this stairwell is heavily charged but the windows are handling the heat well.

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    MG,

    A valid point to consider, but I can assure you that anything that costs extra , like energy efficient windows, will not be found on any apartments in my territory.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

  11. #36
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    Thumbs up Ok...........

    Backstep. Yup. Charlie is a Fixture in the AFD, been around forever.

    MG, valid points about the Glass, I've had a couple of run-ins with it myself.

    Kayak, Perceptive view on your part, I agree that the glass is probably tinted. I'll try to reach the Photographer and ask a few questions, since, as you said, the Aluminum frame isn't stained.

    Bob, good point on the expense of safety items. We get most improvements when they are mandated by legislation, instead of waiting on the "Goodwill" of the Landlords. One thing that has been beneficial about our Sprinkler Laws, when the cost of repairs to an unsprinklered property reaches 50% of the value of the repaired building, it must be fully sprinklered when rebuilt. And, any building renovation/remodeling work that hits that 50% mark will also trigger the sprinkler requirement.
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  12. #37
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    Thumbs up Yup!.........

    The glass is tinted........
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    I fully agree with all the tactical considerations you have discussed. It is always very tempting to hit the red stuff with the wet stuff without considering where the fire is being pushed. However, these considerations for me are aimed at compex Buildings.

    Once again, I am absolutely astounded that in one of the most advanced Nations in the World, buildings can be 'thrown up' with little regard for fire spread and the subsequent safety of the occupants and Firefighters. The photgraphs look very familiar to any number of small blocks of flats all across the UK...including those where my own Mother lives. Built anytime after the war the one startling difference is...You'd have to bomb them to get them going that well.

    Simply put, they are built from concrete with concrete floors and concrete walls between each flat (apartment) with either Breeze block, brick or plasterboard internal partitions. The likelyhood of lateral spread is almost impossible, but of course their is always a potential for auto exposure to the flat above if the fire is venting through the windows.

    The photos below show a reasonably serious Flat fire in a standard 1950's medium rise apartment block. You will see that the fire took the plaster off and left the walls down to brickwork. The fire travelled out of the room of origin because the door was open and along the hallway causing heat and smoke damage throughout. The fire was knocked down by a 2 man BA Crew using a single line of 1.75 with an akron Combi nozzle from a dry riser (standpipe) had the fire been in a lower block the fire would have certainly been tackled with a high pressure Hosereel (booster).

    In the post below that you will see almost total compartment destruction in a large open planned commercial office. The fire in this building spread fropm 7th to 11th floors due to auto exposure (it was a July fire and the windows were open as the building did not have a HVAC system) Despite the extension to several floors, crews were able to fight each fire from either end of each floor, eventually pushing in following a blitz attack from outside from aerial monitors the walls and floors remained intact.

    As an aside and adding to the smooth bore vs oombi argument we struggled on this job, this is where our Ackron Combi nozzles did not have the 'legs' for the job abd we badly needed hig flow smooth bore nozzles like our old Noble's





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    Commercial High Rise, Extension by auto exposure only.



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    The First series of photos is a day in day out 'bread and butter' job for UK Inner City Crews, any person at a reasonably busy Station should expect to see a handful of these every month in any combination of Low rise, medium rise or High Rise apartment blocks.

    The Commercial High Rise was a 20 Pump affair back in July 2003. In my 20 years I can only recall around a dozen Commercial High Rises that have gone beyond the floor of origin and only another two that went several floors like this.
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    "The likelyhood of lateral spread is almost impossible,"

    Almost.
    Type II Multiple dwelling. Main body of fire in rear bedroom with extension throughout fire apartment.

    Photograph 1.
    Waste line in kitchen of fire apartment looking up to apartment above.

    Photograph 2.
    Main waste line in bathroom of fire apartment looking up to apartment above.

    William Carey
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    Last edited by bcarey; 12-21-2006 at 04:09 PM.
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    Steve,

    Totally off the subject, but how many runs do you normally have for people coming out of those, I'll call them "poor man balconies"? (your number three photograph in the first post of photograpsh) And have you had any members come across them and fall, or almost, while operating?

    Just curious.
    "If you put the fire out right in the first place, you won't have to jump out the window."
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    William,
    Firstly, with regard to my comment on lateral spread...I was implying this specifically in terms of UK public apartment Buildings... Below is a photgraph of one under construction, you can see how robust they are...

    As for people at balconies... I don't think we have had any more or less rescues from those type of balconies than any other...although we would tewnd to treat that as a window rescue because whatever way you lokk at it they are still within the building and not on any sort of balcony that might offer at least some respite from the fire.

    There have been no particular issues with Ff's falling or almost falling from them. Any external rescue would be from a ladder directly placed at that opening.

    Last edited by SteveDude; 12-21-2006 at 04:26 PM.
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    Default Thanks.

    I was adding on to your statement about lateral spread. At a fire in one similar apartment( garden style here), I was sent up to the floor above to check and had an officer from another truck stop me and give me the "she's all concrete, that fire isn't going anywhere." After we got into the apartment above, we found the base cabinets on fire.

    On the balconies, I was curious as to how those gate'bar devices hold up. I imagine they are in place by masonry anchors. Oh, what is with the holes in the walls? SAS patrol action?

    Thanks. Stay safe and have a Merry Christmas.
    "If you put the fire out right in the first place, you won't have to jump out the window."
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    Sorry for the confusion bruv.... I see what you are saying now.

    The holes in the wall...no idea? The block is probably 80% derelict so anything could have caused them...even the SAS
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    Default speaking of garden apartments...

    hwoods, remember this one?

    It is a bit south of you, but a history maker none the less.
    Photo courtesy Jim Guyton.

    Additionally, the book he mentions is out of print, but if you need to be book smart about it, you can find it at a few online sources (http://www.bookfinder4u.com/detail/0876188854.html). There may be a photo of a familiar Stuphen in there as well, if my memory is correct.
    Last edited by bcarey; 12-28-2006 at 05:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarey View Post
    hwoods, remember this one?

    It is a bit south of you, but a history maker none the less.
    Photo courtesy Jim Guyton.
    Yep, 6400 block of Pennsylvania Ave, I can't recall the exact year ('91-'92 or so?) but it was definitely one of those jobs people talked about for years. I was on the first alarm.
    Long story short - weekday afternoon, 2-3 story occupied brick garden apartment. There was a failure of the gas meter in the end-of-row building that caused an explosion and fire, pretty much demolishing that building. First arriving unit E-26 had fire blowing 20-30 feet straight out into the street. It was a miracle that there were no fatalities. We got lines into the attached exposure buildings, ended up burning the crap out of Exposure 4but did manage to make a stop saving the other two buildings in the row.
    Didn't get out of there until about 0300 the next day.

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    I am new to structural firefighting, and I am currently studying the "ventilation" portion of the essentials book.

    In the overhead photo, about midways along the roof, it looks as if the roof was trenched towards the edges in order to stop the fire. I was just wondering if this was correct, or it was something else I might be seeing.

    Also, would the trench normally be done "downstream" or down nozzle from where the fire is, in anticipation of the fire being pushed that direction by prevailing winds, forced ventilation, or water attack?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWLAFireDawg View Post


    I am new to structural firefighting, and I am currently studying the "ventilation" portion of the essentials book.

    In the overhead photo, about midways along the roof, it looks as if the roof was trenched towards the edges in order to stop the fire. I was just wondering if this was correct, or it was something else I might be seeing.

    Also, would the trench normally be done "downstream" or down nozzle from where the fire is, in anticipation of the fire being pushed that direction by prevailing winds, forced ventilation, or water attack?
    Those cuts, in order to be effective must go from fire wall or bulkhead to another firewall or bulkhead so fire cannot pass the cut. They might have started and abandoned the operation...but it certainly doesn't appear to be a complete cut.

    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFFRED View Post
    Those cuts, in order to be effective must go from fire wall or bulkhead to another firewall or bulkhead so fire cannot pass the cut. They might have started and abandoned the operation...but it certainly doesn't appear to be a complete cut.

    FTM-PTB
    So in this case, if as stated in earlier posts there were no firewalls, the trench method would be ineffective, and would at best only slow the extension slightly?

    Or were you referring to the fact that it does not appear to go from the edge of the exterior wall to the edge of the other exterior wall?

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