Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company | Posted on 02-07-2015| Posted in
In general, a report of “victims trapped” should not cause any major changes in your initial operations. They may cause slight alterations – like where you take your line, which window you VES, etc. However your plans/SOGs should already be setup assuming there are persons trapped. When added information increases the likelihood of entrapment, we should be doing what we always do – just harder and faster!
Remember, all tasks work in support of each other on a fire. Abandoning one will reak havoc on the others. The results do not improve the victims chances, and put us at greater risk. I have seen many incidents quickly go south when everyone “loses their cool” after a report of entrapment. Things later water supply, ventilation, and fire attack are abandoned because we all think we’re just going to dash in and “save the baby”. When this happens we are often unsuccessful in our firefighting efforts, the victim usually perishes, and we frequently hurt firefighters due to our scatter-brained actions. By cutting corners we LOSE, and often then find out there wasn’t anyone trapped!
As was the case last night, reports of a victim do not mean there IS one. And no reported victims (or reports of “everyone’s out”) do not mean there ISN’T one. Deploy in response to conditions and always give any known OR unknown victim their best chance. Don’t guess on “survivability” from the front yard – you don’t know what you don’t know. Our job is to react to conditions, not guesses, and give them a chance. As I was once taught by a veteran truck officer, they are not out until our searches SAY they are out.
Posted by Nick Martin on Monday, June 29, 2015
Great job by Columbia Fire Department 2nd shift crews last night. They demonstrated the effectiveness of these thoughts and made a rapid knockdown alongside rapid searches.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Truck Company | Posted on 29-06-2015| Posted in
Touching the Ground
By: Ricky Riley
When we talk about Ladder Towers, there is always the discussion of the ability of them to place their basket on the ground to do the patented sidewalk sweep. On most units especially rear mounted towers this can be a very long distance from the side of the rig. On some units they may have to extend out 60’ just to be able to touch the ground and start operating in the hydraulic sidewalk sweep tactic. For those of us that are Aerialscope snobs, and believe only in these units midship-mounted configuration and low turntable height as the only device to effectively perform this type of operation. We have now found a group of firefighters and officers that have been working to decrease that extension length and place that basket on the ground in a shorter distance. While working to fully understand the operational aspects of their unit and provide a sidewalk feature for their unit, our friends from the Wichita Fire Department have come up with the “South Side” lean.
By making use of the “H” style jack system that they have on their Pierce rear-mount tower, they have the jacks on the side they want to operate lower on at the minimal depth to the ground, and also reaching the pressure needed to fully stabilize the rig. In other words the green OK light comes on at the stabilizer control panel. They then extend the jacks on the opposite side to a height that lowers the operating side of the rig to a lower height. Once again getting all the required green OK lights to come on. This tilted position lowers the rig on the operating side, thus reducing the amount of ladder extension needed to reach the ground, creating a better scrub surface and operating area. This is a great example of firefighters and officers understanding a tactical operation, and working within the safe operating limitations of their vehicle to achieve that operational success.
Before any department tries this method, we would ask you to contact your aerial manufacturer to ensure that this is a safe operation for your particular aerial device. A thank-you goes out to the men and women of the Wichita Fire Department for sending us the pictures of this technique, particularly the members of Engine and Truck 2.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, training-development, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 22-06-2015| Posted in
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, Truck Company | Posted on 25-03-2015| Posted in
A fire on January 19, 2015 for the Harrisburg, PA. Bureau of Fire demonstrated some excellent teaching points for Drivers or Chauffeurs of Tower Ladders. The fire in the 300 Blk. of N. Front Street involved the top floor of a four story mixed occupancy structure. The first due truck was Tower 1 from the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire, the Driver positioned the rig with a perfect spot.
The rig is positioned on the corner of the structure with the turntable right at the Alpha/Bravo Corner. This allows for the boom and basket to reach the entire Bravo side and the Alpha side for rescues and firefighting.
The cab of the rig is angled 15 to 20 degrees out and away from the structure, thus taking the obstruction of the cab out of play for maximum scrub surface for the boom. Depending on the booms length the basket might be able to reach or see the Delta side if required, though only for firefighting and not rescue.
If you notice there is no engine in the way of the positioning of the Tower. Once again a diciplined and trained engine driver did not sucumb to temptation and park in front of the building.
This kind of apparatus placement is a crucial element for fireground success. And the most important part it is not done by chance or luck. This ability and skill for proper placement comes from PREPARATION, PRACTICE and ANTICIPATION and a desire to deliver the best service for their Company, Department and Citizens. Great work by all the companies involved in this fire and the chance for all of us to learn.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company, vehicle-operations-apparatus | Posted on 20-01-2015| Posted in
By: Retired Chief Michael Horst, Harrisburg Bureau of Fire
Often times you only get one chance to make a difference when positioning a tower ladder. You can make best use of that one chance by training for it…by being “Combat Ready.”
In the above photo Harrisburg Tower 1 recently worked a building explosion and fire at a local steel mill. Due to the magnitude of the adjacent exposures large caliber streams were required forthwith. Their positioning on arrival, albeit tenuous, made a difference and enabled operations to keep the fire to the building of origin. Hampered by a debris field from the explosion and both electrical and mechanical hazards the quick thinking members of this truck company were able to end up front and center at this industrial blaze.
The members of this truck company, as have most all Harrisburg firemen, trained for this EXACT evolution on countless occasions. As rookies, as firemen and in their chauffeur promotion all have had to endure this confidence course. The drill doesn’t have a real name but it should be referred to as “Scrub but don’t Scrape.”
The drill is simple, and requires only one prop, the open apparatus bay. The object is two fold. It provides the chauffeur and bucket operator the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities in positioning and flying a tower ladder. It also provides them the opportunity to develop trust in each others ability to operate in tight situations.
The drill starts by having the apparatus positioned in front of the apparatus bay. This in itself is great practice for young drivers and helps them learn proper positioning for “scrubbing the building.” You can setup at various angles just as long as you can clear the chassis and “work” the entire opening. Make sure that the boom will clear and you can swing the bucket into the doorway. For safety there must be one person on the turntable, a spotter and operator in the bucket.
To start go slow and easy because mistakes will equate to contact. Learn the “play” in the joystick or controllers. As a reminder make sure operators understand the nozzle reaction when using an elevated master stream and it’s potential. Once the operator has developed the basic skills and confidence they move to the second phase.
At this point the operator practices close “tracing” inside of the doorway, working all four sides. Here the operator will be forced to use his senses and trust the same of his spotter/turntable operator, a genuine team building exercise.
As skills and confidence permit now the operator can extend further into the building, avoiding “props” and assuring the extended boom doesn’t make contact at the doorway. The turntable operator likewise can gain valuable experience maneuvering an extended boom and platform and get a feel for working with a “dead-man.”
It’s also a great time to change those burned out light bulbs inside your apparatus room. Remember the next time you have to thread the needle with the bucket your training, this training, will never let you down!
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, fires, major-incidents, news, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 06-02-2014| Posted in
By: Larry Schultz
If you are in to fire porn, then there is an unlimited supply to be found on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook these days. I would surmise that if you have an ounce of fire service passion left in you, then you too are a fan of fire porn. Over the last several months, I have watched many videos of fires where the fire was located in the attic area and more obvious in the void spaces of the knee-walls.
As I always say, it is ridiculous that we reinvent how we deal with these fires over and over in spite of the fact that they are very predictable in how they are going to behave and what needs to be done to deal with it.
Here are just a few reminders for company officers and IC’s to consider.
For the sake of the article, I will clarify a few terms so that we are all on the same page. It doesn’t particularly matter what terms we use as long as we understand a few back principles. The first and most important one is that these fires (attic’s and knee-walls) are very predictable in how they behave and even more predictable based on the type of structure involved.
When I use the term attic, I am speaking about the space under the roof of a house, where that space is large enough to be used as a livable space or as a storage area. This space will have access via interior steps. This is different then a cockloft which I would describe as the small space (non-livable) that lies above the top floor and below the flat roof, commonly found in a rowhome.
When I talk about “knee-walls” I am talking about a constructed wall of 2-4 feet, constructed in the “A” framed area of the attic, built primarily to keep you from smacking your dome on the ceiling (see picture above).
There are some pretty common signs that a fire has moved in to the attic/knee-wall area, most notably smoke and fire pushing from the dormers and gable ends. Interior environments where you are experiencing high levels of heat, but cant locate the fire can be indicative of fire concealed in the walls as well.
There is good opportunity to make an aggressive push on this fire if you can beat the fire to “flashover”. Generally speaking, this is a doable scenario if you remember a few basic things (always goes back to core basic skills).
• Starts with a good stretch using an appropriate sized line. Remember, you need enough water to out perform the heat release rate not blow the roof off. You will likely be stretching up at least two flights of steps including in to the attic. Avoid the absurd “big fire big water” mentality and go for maneuverability.
• Good stretch means, chasing kinks, using the well of the stairway properly, tying off the hose when needed (keeps you from constantly having to hump line) and knowing how to quickly remove the balusters if necessary (limits wasted hose length)
• Stretch the line dry until you get to the point where you need to mask-up.
• The Engine Officer should report the conditions (smoke, heat, fire, clear) as soon as they cross the threshold and provide the same report for each ascending floor.
• Once you’re ready to make the push, this is the perfect time to ditch the “pistol grip” (just kidding). Get that nozzle out in front of you and use good nozzle pattern selection.
• If the roof is not vented then flow your line from the steps or consider the attack from the underside (pulling the ceiling from the floor below the attic).
• Remember, hood on, collar up and flap’s down
• Start venting the easy stuff first, dormer windows and gable vents. In order for the engine company to make the push, you need to get that roof opened up. This is the one scenario where you do not always need to get to the highest point of the roof. When dealing with knee-walls make your cut dormer level high. Don’t forget to punch through the drywall.
• Empty your ladder bed.
• The livable space of the attic must be searched. Do so, only after the line has advanced in to the area.
• Walls and ceilings must come down, aggressively and completely. Fire in the walls, open up the ceilings, fire in the ceiling open up the floor above. Keep going until there is no more fire or you can see the sky, which ever comes first.
• When space and visibility inside is limited and your dealing with wood frame construction, consider open up, from the outside in. Take the siding and lapboards from the outside will provide you the same access often times quicker then from the interior.
• When dealing with knee-walls remember that the attic stairwell walls will allow you access to the void area behind the knee-wall. This allows good access for water application.
• Validate that upper level windows are fully cleared and ladders are in place.
• Remember that stairwells are likely to be overcrowded with people and hoselines. Look for alternative points of ingress and egress.
• Have a chainsaw available and ready to go in order to expand window openings
• Control the number of hoselines going up the stairs
• Have 2nd in hoseline maintain a position at the bottom of the steps until requested. Have the Company Officer help in keeping the stairway clear
• Pay attention to the vent work
• Watch smoke behavior, it will tell you how well things are going or not going.
• Don’t play catch up with Truck’s; always have one in staging ready to go.
Posted by administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Engine Company, firefighting-operations, fires, news, Training Resources, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 06-01-2014| Posted in
We have been leading up to our dance with this “beauty of fire” in both Part 1 and Part 2 of “Check your Dance Card.” Feel free to go back and take notes as we journey closer and closer to this ‘beauty.’ We have discussed cues and clues to help us not get burned, things to note… both outside the fire building and on our way up to the fire floor.
Now is the moment we have been waiting for. It is time to dance… this “beauty” can wait no more, it’s time to find her. Excited? Yes, but we have prepared, practiced and anticipated this event for some time now. This isn’t the time to be posting about it on FB or squeezing 140 characters out on twitter… we can do that later.
We need to make our move out onto the dance floor and get into the fire apartment. As we move in with cautious rapidity… keen up your senses.
LOOK: What are we looking for? We are looking to find the seat of the fire and also locate trapped civilians. With obscured vision from smoke conditions in the apartment, we may have had an opportunity to get the layout of it from a quick glance on the floor below or may get information down the road from those who may go to the apt. above. Inside, look for layout clues, sometimes smoke movement causes a brief layer of clean air to develop low… you may just be able to make out the room/hallway and/or see that lovely ‘glow’ in the distance. Do not get tunnel vision or be put blinders on, keep your head on a swivel, up/down/left/right. Thermal imagers can assist us, but we must know what we are looking for … they are a tool to ASSIST us in the search. Electronics are fallible, our preparedness, training and search techniques should not be.
LISTEN: We never seem to listen close enough, often it’s the sense we often shut off when under stress. We must be diligent, occasionally even force ourselves to stop and listen. Use a 30-10 or similar technique (search 30 seconds, then pause, remain quiet for 10). Listen to whats going on around you. You may hear a human life, the crackling fire, hoseline movement, water flowing, windows breaking, etc. Listen to what is going on around you, they should be familiar sounds. Don’t forget the ‘2 ears, 1 mouth’ saying…
FEEL: On the dance floor, the fire apartment… we are covered head to toe in PPE. As such, this is the way we must train ourselves to ‘feel.’ We must adapt ourselves to recognize clues in this encapsulated environment. Residential recognition…with gloved hands take a second to feel the flooring you are on (tile, carpet, wood), feel and decipher the furnishings of each room you pass through. Using the inferred info gathered from what you feel, you may have a better idea of where you are operating. For example, tile floor, cabinets, countertop (kitchen). Another example, large radiator, couch, TV (possible exterior wall in living room).
“Check your Dance Card.”
Your dance with this particular ‘beauty of fire’ is now over. You have been a great student over these last 3 lessons, learning at each step… the steps building up to the next, closer and closer we came to the beauty. Today we got our dance, yet we were prepared, practiced and had anticipated the outcome.
You leave the dance floor sweaty, exhausted but still wanting more.
Time to tweet and FB post this ‘beauty’ so that others can see what we did and didn’t do, to make us that much better at the next dance. But please, be humble, be respectful and be aware that your dance only came from someone else’s tragic misfortune.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, Uncategorized | Posted on 04-01-2013| Posted in
One of the things we always talk about regarding staying “combat ready” is using every opportunity as a learning/teaching moment. We have an opportunity on every routine run to look at the buildings in our response area and size-up their challenges. This allows us to think about solutions in advance. The more of these ideas (tools) you have in your brain (toolbox) makes it more likely you’ll have the “right sized wrench” to fit the problem when you encounter it in stressful conditions during a fire.
During a medical run on the engine is exactly when we noticed these doors in an apartment building. Neither the gate or the door is atypical for our area, but the combination of the two inside the building is unusual for us. These gates are typically found on either the front or rear doors of many of our residences, but to find them inside an apartment building with enclosed stairs is unusual. The gates themselves are not difficult to force, they are secured by a standard deadbolt with about a 1 throw. Under normal circumstances, setting the adze above or below the lock and first crushing up and down then pulling the fork end out toward the lock side generally opens these fairly quickly. However many firefighters still like to approach these with a saw, which obviously would not work well inside the building under fire conditions.
So what would you do? My approach would be the hinges. I’ve found the hinges on these types of doors to consistently be a weak point. There is usually enough space between the frame and gate to just place the adze enough without even striking the Halligan so that a gapping (up/down) force can be applied to the hinge. This typically breaks the welds and maybe with a little outward pull on the fork the hinge is done. Work from top to bottom, see the video below.
Rocket science? Absolutely not. When you see this in plain daylight and have a clear moment to think about the challenges and solutions, the door’s weaknesses are easily found. But this is the importance of taking the time after routine runs, during on-the-air inspections, or otherwise to have a teaching/learning moment. Talk these ideas out with yourself, your crew. The more time you spend preparing for the fire, the better you’ll perform at the fire.
Posted by Blog, Combat Ready, Tips & Skills, Truck Company, videos | Posted on 12-12-2012| Posted in
It’s common that residential buildings will feature mostly inward opening doors, while commercial buildings will feature more outward opening doors. While the the technique for outward opening doors may be, I won’t say easier but more straightforward than an inward door, they may actually require a little more “force”. Outward doors on commercial buildings are likely to be set in brick or concrete, consist of strong metal doors and frames, and may have multiple or higher security locking devices.
The “power position” on an outward door comes when you set the adze fully BEHIND the door. It’s the same idea as wrapping your fingers around something fully, you’ll get the most pull. Getting the adze behind the door gives you a few advantages:
- 180-degrees of leverage, provided there are no obstacles.
- In addition to pulling outward, you can work up and down using the adze to crush the door and reduce the depth the lock is set in it’s keeper.
- You can perform several “tricks” to extend your leverage.
It is also important to set the adze FULLY behind the door – as deep as you can get it. This moves the fulcrum closer to the door and makes causes the firefighter to do less work to exert more leverage.
There are several methods to extend leverage on an outward door, but one is well illustrated at this box alarm in Prince George’s County, MD. In the rear of this commercial building, firefighters encounter a metal door in metal frame, set in brick with a couple locks. The irons firefighter from TL-33 (Kentland VFD) has already properly set his adze fully behind the door but more leverage is needed. A few things are worth noting here:
- The irons FF does not “spin wheels” – after a few tries he quickly realizes that plan “A” isn’t working and that we need to try something else.
- The irons FF does not panic or get frustrated, I’ve seen frustrated FF’s in this scenario pull the bar completely out of the door which of course is in no way helpful.
- Note the fluid teamwork with minimal communication between the members of company 33 an 37 (Ritchie VFD). Due to previous inter-departmental training, they know what to expect of each other. The left hand knows what the right needs before it even asks.
Just like many forcible entry skills, this option is not available to you if you haven’t purchased the right equipment, prepared it properly, and trained on it -not just as an individual, but as a crew. If your partner doesn’t know what to do your knowledge is useless. We shouldn’t have to have a lesson at the fire door – we should be able to resort to what we’ve always trained on.
In forcible entry remember – we can’t do anything else until we get inside. Keep your skills sharp, have multiple plans, and DON’T GIVE UP!