Monday, December 10, 2007

Got Command...?

If you're aspiring to be a Command Officer within the fire department then this is a must watch training video.... click here

Those who have watched this video say this is the best approach in dealing with warehouse fires. (see posting below)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Think About It...curtain walls

Curtain wall is a term used to describe a building fa├žade which does not carry any dead load from the building other than its own dead load. These loads are transferred to the main building structure through connections at floors or columns of the building. A curtain wall is designed to resist air and water infiltration, wind forces acting on the building, seismic forces, and its own dead load forces.

There are over 300 high-rise buildings in Fairfax County and with new development around future metro stations, there are many more planned. the vast majority of our highrises are built using curtain wall construction.

The first alarm assignment on a high-rise fire is designed to cover the first essential positions with the understanding that a confirmed fire will get at least a 2nd alarm.

The 4th due engine and the 2nd due truck on the 1st alarm are assigned to go to the floor above the fire. Discuss the tactics expected of these two units and why knowing the location of the fire on the fire floor is important to the operations on the floor above as it relates to curtain wall construction. Discuss also just what a curtain wall really is, how the exterior walls are attached, how fire can extend, and where checking for extension needs to occur.

(Courtesy of Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Coffman)

Monday, November 19, 2007

CloseCall and Safety101 - Invaluable!

At the recent Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) Annual Safety Forum in Orlando, FL Fairfax Battalion Chief John Gleske (BC02/A) delivered a two part seminar on incident safety. They were titled Safety 101 & Close Call/Hazard Investigation ~ The following topics covered were: Risk Management/Risk Analysis, PPE Inspection, Size-up, Enroute Considerations, Arrival Considerations, Onscene Operations, Communications, Accountability, Rehabilitation, and Post Incident Critiques. The second half of the program discusses how to set up a close call/hazard investigation program with an outline to describe the benefits of the program.

John wanted to share these important programs with our readers with the hopes that YOU will share them with others in your department. These are valuable PowerPoints that can be used for training and review with your folks at any level in your department. Like all of the other posts on this site these programs are designed to make you think!

Click on the titles below to download each program:
(note file size and allow sufficient time for download)

Please ensure that John Gleske receives the proper credit for the .ppt programs and mention you found them on - Ron Kuley

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Close Call? some say "nah"...

Our readers know the intent of this website and we continually try to meet your expectations. Even though the infamous Boston video is now making its way around the Fire Blogs I thought it would be important to post it here as well. I have already received some comments via email and know our readers would find them interesting and want to provide additional comments. As one reader writes, "there is one point that needs to be mentioned. They rescued 11 people from this fire including children." This fact should not be lost in discussing what happened during the roof evacuation. Now it is your turn... Thanks! Ron Kuley ---- Click here or the picture to watch the video.
As with any of our postings take the time to review with your shift and discuss the tactics involved. What if this was your company on that roof? Would you go to the roof next door or climb the ladder down? Who goes first? Ask the tough questions... WE all can learn from these incidents!
(AP Photo/John Cetrino)

Thursday, November 8, 2007


No intro is necessary for this posting...
An excerpt of the LA Times article found here - As flames roared up the incline, they opened the nozzle, but found, to their horror, that no water was coming out. The hose had burned through, as had the others they tried.

With no place to escape and the fire about to overtake them, someone gave the order "Deploy your emergency packs" -- metallic, fireproof coverings called "shake 'n' bakes" by the firefighters. The eerie sight of the huddled firefighters was captured in a photo that appeared in Tuesday's edition of The Times. It was the first time the emergency packs had been deployed by firefighters in Orange County.

Click here to view a slideshow and audio of the FF's during this incident. Pay particular attention to the communication.

What am I getting into? THINK!

This week the 123rd Recruit Class will be graduating from the FCFD Academy. Congrats - now it is really time to learn what this profession is about! Scared?

Thanks to Charles Bailey ( for use of the article below. We'll be posting some articles pertaining to Fire Tactics from Bailey in the near future.

What Am I Getting Into? -- Keeping things in perspective
Bill Carey for

It’s a little after midnight, and Engine 7 and Ladder 3 are responding to a reported house fire. As the engine briefly stops at the hydrant, and the truck pulls around, the Probie can hear the Ladder 3 officer transmit the working fire over his handie-talkie. The engine pulls up and our Probie runs to the rear, waits a moment while the nozzleman grabs his folds of hoseline and then steps up and grabs his. It’s a short distance up onto the yard and to the front door. While the interior team of the truck is forcing the door, the nozzleman and officer are donning their facepieces. “Start flaking that out” his officer tells him, and the Probie works furiously to make wide bends and get rid of kinks. No sooner is he done, and then he looks at the front door and sees his crew and the crew of Ladder 3 entering.

Hectically he drops to his knees, and fumbles with his facepiece. He has cinched it down tight on his face and after a short inhale, realizes he hasn’t turned his bottle on. Once this is corrected, he pulls up his hood, puts his helmet on, and makes his way inside, crouched down.

He shuffles his way forward, completely unsure of where he is going and what is ahead of him. In a moment, he remembers to follow the line and he drops to his hands and knees and feels around for it. Instantly he feels something hitting him from behind, and then a cursing directed to him to get out of the way. A foot steps on the back of his leg... for the rest of this important article click here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Helloooo Probie...

Leadership 101: Ignorance

Each day that we come to work, we face a new set of challenges. Building construction is constantly changing to lessen the cost of the building which in turn means inherently less safety for us, new materials for those items being placed in those buildings are changing and inherently more toxic to us, and on a more personal note, our newest personnel are coming to us with less and less life skills, which inherently makes them less likely to “get it” as quick as “we did”.

The newest employees (generalization) do not have the same life skills that the generations before them had. We see this in any number of ways but we do see it. Sometimes we as supervisors view them as “stupid” or “unable to learn” which could not be further from the truth. These new employees often lack the basic life skills because they come from a “microwave” generation—where everything is done for them and they just have to know how to use the microwave or they want it right now. This generation has not had to fix the lawn mover because it was cheaper and easier to buy a new one or they have not had to sharpen an axe because their parents hired someone to cut the tree down.

While I know I am making a number of generalized statements and that we in fact have great people coming to work with us. What I am challenging you to do is to look at HOW you train the “Probie”. These employees come at life from an entirely different perspective than we did and by the way, we came at it from a different perspective than those before us as well. For me (or anyone) to try and give you all the methods on how to reach them would be foolish. This means YOU must do some homework and become a “Student” of your new employee so that you can learn just how to communicate most effectively with them. To simply say B.I.A.T.C. (Because I am the Captain) has limited educational benefits—although at times it will boil down to this.

As I close, if you take a look at your shift, you will notice the Probie gravitating to at least one person. That person will be able to communicate to the Probie more effectively on a learning level than your rank will. You may want to work with that other person to influence the Probie’s attitude towards learning and what you will find is that all three of you will grow professionally.

Not a lecture just a thought.

Larry Everett,
FCFD - Batt. Chief 5/A

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Go to Bed...ZZZzzz..Wake UP!

Report of the Week from

"I was working the second half of a 48-hour shift (trade) over the busy Independence Day holiday. We had been running constantly, without significant sleep for over forty hours. Driving the rescue back from an EMS call, I fell asleep at the wheel on a winding, rural road. I awoke as the vehicle drove into the median. I was able to correct and returned to quarters without further incident. I'm not sure that my crew members even realized what had happened." click here for entire report.

The consequences of sleep deprivation are well chronicled in a number of industries. Some studies indicate that for every hour of sleep less than 8 a human misses, the impact on performance equates to one alcoholic drink. Fire departments across the country, regardless of composition, face this dilemma every day. The easy answer is, “Get more sleep.” However, even people not engaged in emergency service work are significantly sleep deprived. The true answer for emergency service workers lies in adopting strategies that balance service delivery with adequate rest and recovery periods.

1. How does your current lifestyle (off-duty activities, commuting distances, etc.) impact getting adequate sleep given your department work schedule or duty requirement?
2. Has your department adopted a more flexible attitude toward firefighters and EMS workers “catching a nap” during “regular” business hours? If not, why?
3. Would adjusting shift start times (e.g., 8 a.m. vs. 6 a.m.) provide for additional rest and recovery?
4. Should there be a limit on the maximum number of hours a firefighter/EMS provider can work consecutively?
5. When was the last time you obtained 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep?

Excellent information can be found here at the National Sleep Foundation.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

You Make the Call!

Based on the picture above ask yourselves the following questions: (comments?)
• Identify the construction features of the building that will help to increase or decrease fire spread.
• List any construction features that may impact the safety of crews operating in or around the building.
• Identify size-up information.
What does the situation tell you?
• What is the Benefit to be gained by taking the Risk?
• Is this a Go or No Go situation?
Are there any other considerations to assist our decision to Go or No Go?
What is the destination of first attack hose line?
What is the destination of second hose line?
Where are you going to place ground ladders?
Where is the primary ventilation location?
What is the aerial ladder position?
What is the primary life hazard location?
What is the Interior fire spread problem?
What is the exterior fire spread problem?
Is there a Collapse hazard?
What is the worst case scenario?

As always if you have any pictures or ideas to submit please send us an email at Thanks to JJ Walsh (Batt 7/A) for the info above.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Think About It!

Aerial ladders and tower ladders make up our compliment of truck companies with a 50-50 split between the two. Both have unique characteristics. We should treat these units as another tool, just as much as a halligan, some sort of hook, Hurst tool, saw, etc. The aerial device is certainly not a hand tool, but a tool just the same. When considering tactical options, the aerial ladder is more suited to stationary functions, while the tower ladder is best suited for tactics requiring mobility of the device. Discuss the different kinds of situations where you would more likely use an aerial, and those where the tower would be best. An example of this is the issue of strip shopping center operations. It is preferable for an aerial to take the rear and a tower takes the front when that is an option. Consider not only the use of the master streams from these units but rather all the different tactical operations for which they might be engaged.
Courtesy of Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Coffman

You Make the Call!

As mentioned earlier there will be a new addition to the blog called... You Make the Call!

Based on the picture above ask yourselves the following questions:

• Identify the construction features of the building that will help to increase or decrease fire spread.
• List any construction features that may impact the safety of crews operating in or around the building.
• Identify size-up information. What does the situation tell you?
• What is the Benefit to be gained by taking the Risk?
• Is this a Go or No Go situation?

Are there any other considerations to assist our decision to Go or No Go? Is there anything else to add? We hope to make this a frequent topic on this blog.
As always if you have any pictures or ideas to submit please send us an email at Thanks to JJ Walsh (Batt 7/A) for the info above.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Think about it.

Your unit has the assignment of RIT at a fire in a 4-story building. The construction type is Type 2 (Non-combustible). It is an older building that was built prior to sprinkler requirements. There is significant active fire on the second floor in the Baker quadrant with some extension to the 3rd floor via a pipe chase.

All hands are working and a second alarm has been transmitted followed by a RIT level II alarm. Only the first alarm units are on the scene.

Discuss what actions should you take as the RIT Company…? Recognizing that there are hazards associated with this building, including the presence of casement windows. There are certain actions the RIT Company should take from a safety standpoint and this should be the basis for your discussion. Make any assumptions you want about the building and fire conditions but assume that the fire is not under control at this point. (courtesy of Deputy Fire Chief Coffman)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Are YOU in or out?

Click on the picture to view an educational PowerPoint. Courtesy of JJ Walsh, BC 7/A.

Too often in our profession we must make the very difficult decision to "Go or No Go" otherwise known as "Risk vs Benefit". This PowerPoint file is a dynamic review in Risk Benefit Analysis which will assist you in establishing your Rules of Engagement. Review with your shift as this will surely create some lively discussion. Watch for weekly postings on this website titled, "You Make The Call!"

excerpt - "We should never take short cuts because we feel it is a nothing “call”. If we habitually lay out supply lines, pull attack lines, wear our PPE properly, carry all the tools, chock the doors open, ladder the windows for firefighter egress, then we will not be caught by surprise if the situation deteriorates."

Where do we fail on the emergency scene?
–Lack of strong and visible command.
–Failure to control the actions at the scene.
–Failure to coordinate the use of resources.
–Breakdown in the communications process.

Thanks again to JJ Walsh (BC 7/A) for sharing this very important file with us. If you are going to use this for training please ensure that this website and B/C Walsh receive credit. Thanks. Ron Kuley

It is what it is...

From Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Coffman - Your unit responds to a local alarm for a building alarm on the 20th floor of a high rise... When you arrive, the maintenance man tells you that kids were throwing fire crackers off the 20th floor and he reset the alarm system. He says the security guard didn't see the kids he just heard the popping noise. A woman approaches you and says she saw fire on the 20th floor on a balcony. You make the call to “fill the box”. The maintenance man again said that it was just fireworks and no fire; he had been there and saw nothing.

What actions should you take in this situation and what are the possibilities of what you might find on the 20th floor? So are we going up? What are we taking with us?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

(click on pic for dramatic video - MUST SEE)

Houston fire captain responds to rescue criticism
By Rosanna Ruiz - Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — Unable to make his way out of a burning building and with his oxygen tank empty, Houston fire Capt. Eric Abbt seemed to be out of options. If he was going to die, he would do it by the book.
The 40-year-old wanted to spare his family the added grief that he was somehow to blame for his own death. He lay prone on the fifth floor of the North Loop building near the two victims he had discovered. Firefighters would have a better chance of recovering all of them if they were together.
But moments later, and still conscious, Abbt realized he might be able to survive. He repeatedly beckoned on his radio for help between gasps for air. He told those listening, including his wife, Melinda Menchaca, who is also a Houston firefighter, that he was on the fifth floor near a window.
Firefighters on the ladder truck below began to break out the windows in their search for their fallen captain. When that proved too slow, they used the ladder as a battering ram.
Once the ladder was close, Abbt leaped from the window, his legs hanging precariously off the end of the ladder. He was saved.
Almost six months after the March 28 fire, Abbt suffers from flashbacks and has trouble sleeping. Locked doors and the dark of night sometimes send him into a tailspin. The 15-year Houston Fire Department veteran also can't seem to shake the feeling that he gave the department a black eye.
The recent release of a 24-page HFD report faulted him for failing to maintain "crew integrity" after Abbt separated from the two firefighters with him and got lost in the pitch-black smoke inside the building.
"We try to keep crews together," Abbt explained in an exclusive interview, "except in a life-or-death situation when you do what you have to do." Please read the rest of this important story... click here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Whaddya gonna do?

Another in a series from Deputy Fire Chief Coffman-
Your unit is part of the second alarm assignment to a fire in a large shipping center, such as a UPS or FedEx facility. Several vehicles were on fire and the fire extended to a section of offices inside the building. There is still active fire in these areas located along the "D" side of the interior. The building was occupied by at least 50 people when the incident started and there are at this point 8 employees that are unaccounted for. You and two other companies have been given the assignment to work on the primary search. Discuss the issues you must overcome in order to carry out this assignment.

Editor's addition - Do you know where these types of facilities are in your 1st of 2nd due area?
What are the hazards in responding to fires in a UPS/DHL/USPS/FedEx facility?
Is the picture below just another vehicle fire? Do we know what is on board? Does the driver know what he is carrying?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"We're RIT"

Many times while performing RIT duties such as a recon of the structure or staging outside the structure the Rapid Intervention Team are often asked, "who are you with? or what are your assignments? or can you handle a certain task?" It is obvious in the pictures above who is assigned to RIT. If Command or a Division officer can easily I.D. the RIT then any confusion would be eliminated.
For a quick review of the Top 5 Initial RIT Actions
(info below from the Fairfax Fire Dept. RIT Manual)
1. Recon of the structure to take note of building construction, access and egress points. Problems such as bars on windows, etc.

2. Confirm location of all units working in IDLH.

3. Perform the initial actions needed for rapid access/egress i.e. place ladders, force doors, remove window/door bars. (editor's note - The RIT should be able to assist in coordinated exterior ventilation and control of exterior utilities)

4. Establish an appropriate tool cache based on the findings of your recon, occupancy type and construction.

5. Monitor radio traffic. Perform periodic secondary reconnaissance.
Be prepared to go to work!
Is there anything else that you would like to add? Do you agree with the above...? Thanks to Tom Griffin 18/A on his assistance with the above information.

editor's note - The pictures above were taken from a recent fire in Sharon Hill, PA. A FF was critically injured along with two other FFs that suffered non-life threatening injuries. According to various reports units were fighting a garage fire when an exterior wall collapsed trapping the three FF's. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families.
Pictures courtesy of Brian Feeney from
Feeney Fire Films.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Size it the smoke.

First, what is your initial onscene report?
Based on the conditions you can see - What are the conditions on the top floor of this building?

Borough of Pitcairn, PA - Crews from Pitcairn, Monroeville, FDNV and several other boroughs battles a fire on the top floor of a high rise apartment fire. Crews contained the fire incredibly to the top floor and has minimal damage to the lower floors due to great salvage work. A few firefighters were hurt, but nothing seriously. The fire was truly a sight to be seen at it's peak with the heavy black smoke and fire. (pics and story courtesy of

Friday, September 21, 2007

A-B-C easy as C-A-B...

Mastering the C-A-B Method
By Brad Havrilla
(courtesy of
Have you ever watched someone who is a master of his or her trade? Take, for example, a top chef. When they get a knife in their hands and start chopping, it’s incredible how fast they move (and that they don’t lose any fingers).
When we think of vehicle extrication, we should strive to be like the chef. There are strategic evolutions we can all master that will improve the outcome of our rescues.
With this in mind, I’d like to discuss one of a few tried-and-true methods for the successful removal of trapped patients from vehicles, this one based on the A-B-C rule.
As you know, the A-B-C rule specifies that we cut the vehicle’s posts in that order: A, B then C. The vehicle roof usually serves as an entry point for rescuers to gain access to the patient. We know the C post is the largest post, and we know if the A and B posts are cut first (as the A-B-C rule tells us), we will have to commit personnel to hold the pillars while the C post is being cut. Furthermore, if a reciprocating saw is used with this approach, the weight of the roof will bind the blade during the cut.
However, there is another method used effectively in both the field and extrication competitions — the C-A-B method. I have spent a lot of time training and participating in vehicle-extrication competitions nationally and worldwide, and I’ve found that C-A-B is the preferred method.
Make the first cut to the C post with a reciprocating saw. Be sure to clear the C post of plastic molding and check for the side impact curtain systems before making the cut. It will be a fast cut — 20 to 30 seconds max. I suggest using a demolition blade with 10 to 14 teeth per inch. Your first cut should be fast and cause no vibration to the car or patient.
Next, move to the other C post and cut it in exactly the same manner. It should be a mirror image of the cut you just made. Have the heavy hydraulic cutters ready on the A post. When the second C post is cut, immediately start the cut on the A post. The reciprocating saw can be set up on the B post farthest from the patient. The move the cutters to the other A post. The last cut is made to the post over the patient with the hydraulic cutters. At this point, you’ll need help removing the roof.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Look...look over here! What? Ouch!

This week's safety message is courtesy of
“…final evolution of evening vehicle rescue training, the assistant chief conducting the training was standing approximately 15 feet away from firefighters using spreaders to pop a door…door popped and a large bolt flew into the face of the officer hitting him square in the safety glasses. Luckily, he had proper eye protection on, which probably saved his eye…”

There are a number of “signs” in this week’s report that have all the making of an injury report. “Final evolution” and “evening” are two indicators that can be frequent background factors. Personnel tend to begin to relax at the end of a drill and evening drills can be particularly susceptible to producing injuries due to fatigue. This week’s anonymous leader by example reminds all of us that any time we are engaged in fire and rescue operations, we can never let our guard down. After reviewing 07-964 and the referenced reports, consider the following questions to reinforce the lesson:

1. What are the specifications of your issued eye protection?
2. What agencies oversee the standards for manufacture and wearing of eye protection?
3. What is the primary standard that defines eye protection?
4. Can a helmet mounted face shield be a substitute for eye protection?
5. How is your eye protection stored? Does your storage technique keep your eye protection in good condition?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not JUST a room and contents fire.

There has been much discussion within the FCFD about Cyanide exposures and (possible) poisoning. The HazMat equipment committee is currently researching cyanide detection devices for our HazMat team and Safety Officer's vehicle. Please review the info below on Cyanide poisoning. Since reviewing the info on Cyanide our approach to "JUST a basic room and content fire" should change especially during the overhaul period. Sure we can put the fire out but our exposure to this incredibly toxic gas is present and has a cumalitive effect on our bodies. Below is great info to share with your shift to encourage discussion and further research about Cyanide poisoning. - R. Kuley

For valuable info on Cyanide - click here

Cyanide & Fire Chiefs
By Janet Wilmoth (IChiefs)

How often after a fire or response do you hear firefighters complain of headaches, dizziness or achiness? These symptoms are pretty typical after a long, strenuous physical activity, dehydration or lack of sleep. Recent research indicates, however, that these symptoms could indicate cyanide poisoning, which occurs in firefighters more often than recognized.
Early last year, a firefighter in Providence, R.I., was diagnosed with cyanide poisoning after responding to a building fire. Over a period of 16 hours, seven more firefighters were diagnosed with cyanide poisoning, including one who suffered a heart attack. It was only through a series of coincidences that emergency-room physicians checked that last firefighter for cyanide poisoning.
After the diagnoses, Providence Deputy Asst. Chief Curtis Varone turned his attention to the dangers of cyanide poisoning. He said that quite a bit of research had been done about the effects of cyanide poisoning and possible impact on firefighters, but that research isn’t reaching the mainstream fire service.
According to Varone, blood tests aren’t done routinely for cyanide poisoning, and the nature of the chemical makes it difficult to detect. The half-life of toxic cyanide is one hour. If a firefighter is close to being toxic when he leaves the incident, within an hour his toxicity level has dropped by half. Another hour and it’s half again. It leaves the blood quickly, but continues to cause harmul effects, Varone said.
A second problem with diagnosing cyanide poisoning is that only eight laboratories in the United States can process the proper blood tests. Rhode Island Hospital is one of those eight and it stocks cyanide antidote kits.
Varone has been tracking the link between firefighters and cyanide poisoning and its correlation with firefighter heart attacks. Cyanide affects the organs involved with respiration, the brain and the heart.
Repeated exposure to cyanide can affect the heart, Varone said. “It would be possible for someone to show cardiac arrhythmia for up to two weeks after exposure.” Varone says that we could be underestimating the rist that cyanide exposure causes heart attacks.
Awareness is the important first step to prevention, Varone said. “Wearing the [SCBA] packs goes back to staffing: how many trucks at the fire, how many crews are available so nobody has to take their packs off.” Also using longer-duration bottles allow firefighters to be protected earlier and for longer.
Varone will present more information in “Cyanide: The Tip of the Iceberg” at the Fire Department Safety Officers Association Safety Forum, Oct. 31–Nov. 2 in Orlando, Fla. For details, go to or call 508-881-3114.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What a Cluster ...!

Another in a series from Deputy Fire Chief Coffman..
In prioritizing our operations, we talk about the protection of exposures. This can mean both interior as well as exterior exposures.

Cluster homes are showing up in new communities all over the county. These are home of various sizes but some are quite large. The homes are built with very similar floor plans, extremely close to one another and often have windows facing each other on the B and D sides of the homes.

Assume you are a later arriving engine company and units are already working on the inside of the building of fire origin. Fire is out of two windows on the B side facing the next door home. Discuss all the possibilities for fire extension and what tactics you might have to employ if given the assignment to protect the exposures.
Take the time with members of your shift to discuss the above.. C'mon you have ten minutes to spare.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"Holding on for dear life..."

'As Close As It Gets to Going to Hell'
By Steve Olsen, as told to Carl Glassman POSTED September 1, 2007

The Deutsche Bank fire that killed Joseph Graffagnino and Robert Beddia on Aug. 18 nearly took the lives of other firefighters as well. One of them was Steve Olsen, 47, a 19-year veteran assigned to Ladder 1 on Duane Street. This is his story, as told to Tribeca Trib editor Carl Glassman.

I was assigned to the F.A.S.T. truck (Firefighter Assist and Search Team). Our job was to assist firefighters if they got in trouble.We took the outside construction elevator to the 15th floor.

Everybody was all jammed up there. About 50 guys. They said stairway A and B were blocked. They couldn’t go up. But I couldn’t understand that. I wanted to find a way in case we had to get up there.

I went to the B staircase and walked up the stairs but it just ended. I cut through heavy-duty construction plastic, exposing a wood box over the 16th floor. They had taken the walls down on 16 and put a heavy timber box around the whole staircase. I couldn’t lift it. I tried forcing it. I tried putting my back on it. Johnny Moore from 10 Truck worked with me. We couldn’t open it.

Looking for another way up, we went to the east side of the 15th floor where a firefighter was taking the glass out, and we finished taking it out. Then John Moore and I shimmied up the bars connecting the scaffold to the building, climbed to the scaffold and went up the outside staircase on the scaffold to around the 18th floor.

for the rest of the story click here... Would you have made it out alive?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Follow me...Follow you?

(Another guest columnist that will be publishing a series of post for us to think about and discuss)

Editor's favorite quote on Leadership - "The Key To Successful Leadership Is Influence, Not Authority."

The Leader Always Sets the Trail for Others to Follow

Leadership 101:

Since my departure on injury leave, (I look forward to my return shortly), I have heard from many of you on how different the people who have been filling in for me have operated—not anything negatively just different. This is a compliment to me since one thing I strive for is consistency. I have taken from all these comments that if I am nothing else, I am consistent. Consistency is what I want to share with you all in this entry. As most of you know, “Leadership” is nothing more or less than “Influence.” Both mine and your ability to lead is simply based upon our ability to influence others.

In order to influence others, you must have host of different personal skills and traits. Integrity, operational skills, dependability, consistency will ultimately speak to others that “I can be followed.” Consistency is ONLY built over time—DUH! But think about this, if you as a person are happy and joyful today and tomorrow you are nasty and disrespectful, how will people view you? Well if this is the first time it happens, everyone says you are having a bad day. If this is everyday, then your people will quickly find a place to hide from you.

I know, I know,--DUH! But think now of how we apply policies and rules. If today, you are completely and utterly strict without grace or mercy, and tomorrow you could not even care if people show up to work, then what does this do for your people. Obviously they will struggle under this kind of leadership. What is amazing to me is that when I think back to the best teachers I had in school—it was the strict ones that were the best. They held me to a higher standard and I rose to the challenge. They became to me someone I wanted to follow and trust.

While I am not saying that you need to be strict in your leadership style, I am saying you must be consistent in how you operate. The more consistent you are in enforcing policies and rules, the more people will respect you—even if they do not agree with you. People want someone who can be trusted and will cause them to grow. Consistency is the easiest method of ensuring both trust and the environment where growth can happen. Whatever you do—Do it with Greatness!

Looking forward to being back in the seat—Larry Everett (Batt.5 “A” Shift)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Think about it...

We are fortunate that Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Coffman has agreed to allow us to post his "Random Thoughts". Coffman sends these to A-shift members in the morning for round table discussions. This is a great way to encourage tactic and strategy dialogue with your shift. Most of the time it takes 10-15 minutes and proves to be very effective...
You have a crew of 4 members. Your unit has been assigned to conduct a search of the 2nd floor of a SFD. Fire is in the basement and the inital attack line is just being stretched. Neighbors are reporting that they think the occupants are home and it is 0500 hours. Construction is light-weight wood frame and the home is a 2-story colonial style of about 400 square feet.

How will you go about completing the task? What are your concerns that you need to address in your size-up? What issues are present regarding firefighter safety for your crew in particular and what other tactics are you counting on to be completed by other units? (courtesy of DFC Jeff Coffman, Operations A-shift)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"I guess we'll get everybody there..."

Drowning Causes Controversy Over Response Time
Watch the report here ... We would like to hear your take on this event.

(KSDK) - A 45-year-old St. Louis man drowned Monday night at Glen Echo Country Club in north St. Louis County, officials said.

Barry Dorsey's death has caused a divide in the Normandy Fire Protection District. At issue is whether his life could have been saved if the ambulance had gone to the correct location.

Dorsey, of the 5800 block of Pamplin Avenue, was pronounced dead just before 9:30 p.m., Normandy Police Chief Doug Lebert said.Lebert said Dorsey, an employee, was participating in the country club's employee appreciation night.

Dorsey was dragged out of the pool by bystanders before being administered CPR by Normandy police, Lebert said.

Lebert raised issue with the response time of the Normandy Fire District. He said an ambulance dispatched at the same time as other emergency responders went to Norwood Hills Country Club in Jennings.

Lebert said the ambulance's arrival at Glen Echo was delayed by 14 minutes.

"The main thing is patient care. Did the patient have delayed patient care? The answer is, 'No.'"

(The firefighters) did the same thing that the ambulance would have did if it had been there," said Normandy Deputy Chief Airest Wilson.

(Click here to listen to the entire 911 call)

Lebert said he was "extremely disgusted with the continued decline of service from the Normandy Fire District."
He said it was "a direct result of the Fire District Board firing good employees and replacing the terminated employees with part-time, less qualified personnel."

"They're putting people on the streets that are not half as qualified as the people they were taking off the streets. ... We just want to make sure that they're qualified and can do the job," said Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665 spokesperson Chuck Coyne.

The fire board said it intentionally dispatched crews to both locations because it wasn't sure where it should respond.A 911 tape released Tuesday refutes the claim. The dispatcher clearly states the address for the ambulance crew.
The Normandy Fire Protection District said it would review its response to the drowning.

Whats the lesson learned here you ask? How can we use this for training? 1. If you're not exactly sure where you should be going... Then ask the dispatcher specific questions to confirm you are responding to the correct address. 2. Never lie or mislead the citizens you serve and the media. In this case the tapes tell the truth. 3. Don't deflect accusations of incompetency to non related issues. Take the hit. Investigate what happened then learn from it.. don't deny and don't deflect.

So, How many public pools do you have in your first due? Can you name them and their locations?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Modern Housing Dilemma – It’s what’s on the outside

(courtesy of Jared Goff, LT @ FCFD Training Academy) So this is a preview of what is going to come out in the Line Copy. For those that attended the last officer in service training, vinyl siding, strategy and tactics was the theme.
As the first article from the Fire & Rescue Academy, I was very excited and motivated to be the author and to share some of my experiences and knowledge.
I was raised by a father who was a West Point graduate, Army Ranger, and a career officer. Needless to say I was taught about respect, for people and property. As I reflect on my childhood I recall one piece of advice that truly sticks with me and is applicable everyday; don’t judge a book by its cover. Fast forward about 15 years and I am still learning about my job and the fire service. Contrary to what I was taught, I have learned to judge each building or call to the best of my abilities utilizing training and experience.
Due to some recent significant events within the fire service, many have had a common denominator, vinyl siding. For the fire service, we should start calling it something to the effect of; wrapped solidified fuel.
Looking at some facts and figures given to us by our friends in the Fire Prevention Division and NIST, it’s very easy to see that this animal needs to be tamed quickly with the proper tools. The real bottom line for fire fighters is the speed and the fuel contribution. The table below is an item that has not been largely noted since it was first published in 1996. This is a table from NIST on tests done for untreated siding materials.Table 1. Flame extension times for untreated siding materials
[1]Siding Material Time/Initial Flame Extension Time/Flame Extension to Eave
Aluminum--------------------No extension-------------No extension
T1-11 Plywood----------------203 seconds--------------288 seconds
Vinyl---------------------------82 seconds--------------130 seconds

For the rest of the article click here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pick your exposure to protect...

(Great information from Bill Schumm ret. FCFD) Yesterday we reported on a spectacular house fire up in Calgary. What made an ordinary garage fire into an international news event was the construction methods used on the house. Namely, vinyl siding, cheap structural materials and close proximity to other houses. The fire started in the garage of a home while none of the occupants were there and quickly spread throughout the house. When the FD arrived on the scene, not only was the house fully involved but the neighboring houses on each side of it were well underway, too.

It is receiving a lot of press in Alberta because it follows on the heels of that massive fire in Edmonton last month that consumed nearly 200 residences. The fire chiefs up there have the public’s ear right now and they are taking advantage of it by pointing out the deficiencies in the building codes that allow this type of construction method. And now the Provincial government is actually taking up the issue.
This problem may well end up being a hot topic down here in the lower 48 as well, if we can keep a high public awareness of the situation. We are already having fires in these places that were “built to burn” and now the public focus will be more likely to look at it.
But it is our responsibility to point out to our citizens what all the fuss is about and what can be done about it. It’s not our place to go out and scare everybody into selling off their homes, but we need to help guide them into putting political pressure on our legislators to change the codes so that they will prohibit materials like the solid-petroleum siding that accelerates fire spread, plywood floor joists that fail immediately under a fire load and particle boards filled with glues and resins that burn readily.
The fire stations are always getting requests from citizen groups to “Please come and talk to our organization.” This should be the topic that you talk about now. Point out to your audience what all the noise is about and why. Tell them why this newer construction increases fire loss and how an ordinary room-and-contents fire is now suddenly becoming a multi-dwelling disaster.
Keep on them and stick with it. In most places, the construction industry has a firm hold on the politico’s attention and they want to build houses as cheaply as possible. Many of them don’t really care if it burns down or not, once it’s been sold. Make this your mission.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Location, Location, Location!

Auto Fire On A Sloping Driveway
(courtesy of
Auto fires provide their own unique challenges but one rarely discussed in fire service literature is location. Granted, if the location is a tunnel there's a body of material. Yet, one of the most common scenarios is overlooked.
Engine 15 receives a call to 191 Nelson Court. Upon arrival the first due finds a car with heavy fire showing. There are numerous things going through the first due officers mind but one often overlooked, by the officer and apparatus operator, is the location of the apparatus.
Countless times the apparatus is parked exactly where the photographer is in this photograph. In short, the apparatus is positioned poorly.
If the car in the foreground is burning and flammable liquids begin to leak they will seek lower ground. The run off will lead straight to the engine or ladder.
Like real estate, apparatus positioning is about one thing: Location, location, location.
To discuss -- How do you position your apparatus at highway incidents? For protection? To ease traffic flow? At multi unit stations is there an order on what your response order is leaving the station? Are cones and flares enough to take a lane while the Rescue Company is working?
Unfortunately it is all too often that we don't take the time to position properly (for our protection) on highway incidents. All you need is a ten minute shift discussion to discuss apparatus response order and positioning... ten minutes thats all!

Situational Awareness...!

(Courtesy of This week’s Report of the Week is 07-891. An excerpt from the report appears below. To view the entire report, click on the report links embedded here or visit and click on Search Reports. Then click on the green text and enter 07-891 when the text box appears. Like reports (05-527, 05-540, and 05-538) can be read using the keywords “explosion” and “brush fire.” in the keyword search. Photos related to the report can be viewed by clicking here. The pdf version of 07-891 will be available on Monday, August 13, 2007.

“Engine personnel responded to a reported brush fire. Upon arrival on scene, we found an area approximately 1/2 acre in diameter on fire with heavy brush and deep mulch involved. Personnel (2) immediately began extinguishing the outer perimeter to prevent spread utilizing a pre-connected booster line. Two witnesses on scene approached the incident commander and advised them that they were walking the perimeter prior to the engine's arrival on scene and that they heard an explosion in the immediate area of the fire. They also came upon what appeared to be a small pipe bomb on scene and then showed the area where the pipe bomb was found. Upon examining the suspected pipe bomb, the incident commander immediately abandoned all fire fighting activities and secured the area. The pipe bomb was placed in a broken tree sapling approximately knee level high..."

One element of that has become a sub theme is the abnormal occurrences that occur during “routine” incidents. This week’s ROTW takes that theme to the extreme. Firefighters encounter a deliberate act that could have resulted in the killing and maiming of unsuspecting crews. After you have reviewed 07-891 and the similar reports, consider the following:

1. What were the best practices employed by the personnel here that averted disaster?
2. Who handles explosives in your jurisdiction? What is there response time?
3. Can the heat from a brush fire detonate a pipe bomb?
4. What elements of your local population area are engaged in explosives making?
5. Who can you turn to find out the information sought in Question #4?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Could this happen here...?

Wait this has happened here...

August 11, 2007 - 0219 hours - Village of Green Tree Town Homes11 Park Vallei Lane, Parkside, PA Working Townhouse Fire, Multiple Alarm Fireground Audio:

First Engine Company arrived with "two story, middle of the row, heavy fire showing first floor". Shortly after that announcement the Engine Officer made this broadcast..."right now I got everybody reported out of the building and I'm checking for exposures"

Before you listen to the audio look at these pictures and answer the following questions based on these series of pictures and the initial Engine Company Officer's size-up.
Initial line placement? Back up lines? Is a search of the fire unit necessary? Search of the exposures? Obiviously there are many questions to ask and we look forward to hearing what you have to say about this incident... view and respond to comments already posted here - comments

Here is an excerpt from Billy Goldfeder with "The Secret List" with this early information:
"Upon arrival at the working fire, one occupant had already jumped out. Several moments later, while searching, Firefighters became trapped following a collapse". (
An excerpt from the news site in Philly, PA -- Crews found heavy flames pouring from the 2 story garden style town homes and immediately went to work battling the blaze as heavy smoke poured from the front of the building. At least 4 units were damaged by smoke and flames. There is no word yet on how many people have been displaced by the fire.
Arriving firefighters made their way into the town homes to see if anyone was trapped inside when something went wrong and two firefighters needed to be pulled from the flames.
Injured in the fire was 20-year-old Dan Brees and 21-year-old Chase Frost. Both are listed in critical condition at Crozier-Chester Medical Center. Frost is suffering from 3rd degree burns on 90-percent of his body.

After reviewing the pictures and listening to the audio could these serious injuries been prevented?

Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of the injured fire fighters.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Size it up!

There have been many great comments regarding this post. Click here to review the comments and post a response.

Are we going in or staying out?

Going in? via ground ladders? concerns?

Staying out?

How about just the basic RECEO and don't forget the V?

Feel free to use the comments link to provide your scene size-up. Yes you can be anonymous.

You down with OSB?.. Who me!?

Building Construction and Firefighters: OSB
Firefighters are often confused about OSB . Builders are using OSB (Oriented Strand Board) in place of plywood for roof sheathing and sub-flooring. It's less expensive but weighs about 10% more than a similar piece of plywood. OSB can come in sheets up to 16 feet and in thickness from 3/8 to 3/4 inch.
OSB is compressed strands arranged in layers (up to 5) at right angles. Manufacturers produce OSB with one side of the board smooth. It's a myth OSB won't delaminate. In fact, OSB will begin delaminating when exposed to excessive moisture. Considering the effects of fire and water on OSB, it's wise to familiarize firefighters with it. A local visit to a lumber yard or job site will show them what they may be standing on during a fire. (courtesy -

This was one of the aspects of building construction that was discussed today at the quarterly officer training. One of the many messages today was take the time to conduct walk throughs of construction sites in your area and discuss how those structures will react when exposed to fire. There are many scenarios that you can run... surely there is no shortage of sites to visit in your first due.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Lets review shall we?

In an effort to review certain aspects of the Lorton Fire - Post Incident Analysis (PIA) we will attempt to address the findings in the report. As the report says, "The findings from this incident will be incorporated into future firefighter training." There is no better time then now to initiate this review with our shifts. We will find relevant information for each finding, located at the end of the PIA, whether from the FCFD operating manuals and/or fire service web community.

So lets start with numbers 4 & 8.
4. Initial ventilation operations were uncoordinated...
8. Crews inaccurately interpreted the fire conditions...

Flashover - What do YOU Know? - ( What is 'flashover'? There are so many different forms of 'flashover' related phenomena it can become confusing for the firefighter. We have grouped the various phenomena under the single heading - Rapid Fire Progress (RFP). These are all events that are known KILLERS of firefighters! It is essential for firefighters to know -
- What actions might CAUSE an event of RFP?
- What actions might PREVENT an event of RFP?

Here is an example of the information found at this valuable site called

THE WINDOW ENTRY - Sometimes we vent a window from the exterior. Our reasons for doing so may be an attempt to -
> Assist advancement of an interior hose-line (Vent for 'Fire')
> Attempt to gain access for Vent-Entry-Search (VES) (Vent for 'Life)
> Improve interior conditions for trapped occupants
What is happening where the smoke turns to flame? What type of event is this?

Go ahead and read the entire article online here --- and take the test.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

"Uh yea Fairfax I have a 1, 2, 3, 4 and much more vehicle accident"

Basic Strategies to Help Manage a MCI (courtesy of, by Jim Sideras)
The military has a saying, "Prior planning prevents poor performance." However, in our world we are often too busy keeping daily operations running to find time to preplan for a mass casualty incident.
A MCI may be a once in a career event, and that mindset makes it easy to put the planning and preparation for one on the back burner. Hopefully, this article will make you move your plans forward.
Having served in the role of a multi-casualty branch director of a MCI with about 100 patients, there are several things that I've learned that may make things run smoother for you.
If you fail to plan and prepare, you will face problems. The only place more uncomfortable will be during the post incident review when every "expert" sniper in the region will have you in their crosshairs, questioning every action you took, as well as failures on your part to prepare.
Click here for the rest of the article. -

For the members in Battalion 5 A-Shift this is a timely topic to review as we will be reviewing this and related EMS topics at an upcoming MUDrill. Nice pics huh

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You Must Discuss the Truss!

At some point today a firefighter in America will fight a fire involving a structure a with truss roof. Except for departments living in the dark ages, the dangers of truss failures is all too apparent. NIOSH investigates firefighter fatalities and on their site is an excellent pamphlet detailing the dangers of truss construction as it relates to firefighting. This information is FREE.
Below are some of their recommendations:
Venting the roof using proper safety precautions
Opening concealed spaces quickly to determine fire location
Being constantly aware of the time the fire has been burning
Providing continuous feedback on changing conditions to the incident commander
Watching for signs of structural deterioration
Employing a defensive strategy once burning of truss members is identified
Broadly disseminating new tactical safety concepts learned at each fire
Conduct pre-incident planning and inspections to identify structures that contain truss construction.
Develop and implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) to combat fires safely in buildings with truss construction.
Ensure that the incident commander conducts an initial size-up and risk assessment of the incident scene before beginning interior fire-fighting operations.
Consider using a thermal imaging camera as part of the size-up operation to aid in locating fires in concealed spaces.
Ensure that fire fighters performing fire-fighting operations under or above trusses are evacuated as soon as it is determined that the trusses are exposed to fire (not according to a time limit). (text courtesy of
Undoubtedly there are construction sites in your first due that are being built with lightweight construction trusses. Take a closer look at that construction site next time you drive by...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

DCFD Engine 10 for the structure fire...

July 26,2007... John Mullen (courtesy of

Units were dispatched with Battalion 2 at 20:37 hours for a reported building on fire at 7th & H St's N.E
Engine 10 went on the scene with heavy fire showing from side "c" of a two-story commercial building. The initial attack was slowed as firefighters from Trucks 13, 7, 4 and Squad 1 had to cut bars off doors and windows to gain entry.
The fire which consumed much of the second floor was quickly handled once firefighters gained entry. There were no injures reported and the fire is under investigation.

Take a look at the hazards involved and the obstacles that need to be overcome in order to extinguish the fire...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stabilize that!

Well this could happen in many places within our 1st due. OK it could happen anywhere... now we have victims still inside the vehicle and the doors need to be forced open. (or do they?) What is our first priority? And after that is accomplished then what?
I know, I know... but at least this will provide for some entertaining debates among our folks at the Rescue houses.

Its getting hot in here...

Firefighters and Flashover. (courtesy of
Flashover is the sudden involvement of a room or compartment in flames, floor to ceiling, caused by thermal radiation feedback. It's difficult to survive a flashover though not impossible. Ask the Indian Hill - Madeira firefighters or the two St. Andrews firefighters who rescued the employee at the Sofa Super Store. It should be noted that even with full PPE a flashover will burn firefighters.
Human skin burns at temperatures exceeding 125 degrees F. Wearing full protective equipment is necessary and knowing fire dynamics is essential. Here are a few signs of flashover:
--- If you feel sudden heating through your bunker gear and it's extreme, chances are the room is heading for a flashover.
Rollover is when darting fire appears in thick, black smoke. Rollover is a precursor to flashover. If you see rollover beware.
--- Thick black smoke is another sign and taken in aggregate with the above all serve as a warning that flashover is likely to occur.
Flashover signals the end of a fires growth stage and begins the period wherein a collapse can take place. All contents in the room are burning. In short, unless firefighters are instructed on fire behavior, the likelihood of knowing the warning signs is low. Survival depends on knowledge.

Take the time to discuss who has experienced the above description. If you're in that situation what do you do? Nozzle pattern? Direction?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not sure about this one...

Definately something to talk about.

The roof, the roof... just let it burn!

Take a look ... is there any reason why those folks are on that roof? If you have a good reason please let us know.