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.