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?