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?