Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Engine Company

(Photo courtesy of Tom Meloy, Fairfax County Company 4/A)

Post courtesy of Mike Deli, Fairfax County Battalion Chief 1/A

Now, take the townhouse from the last post about ground ladders (The Truck Crew 9/27/10), and think about fire streams. Look at the photo above. With the 14' roof ladder in place from your engine, could we have advanced an 1-3/4" line from Side C up the ladder, and operated it through the window into the attic? The fire that seemed to be unreachable was in the front of the attic, under the front gable, and partially protected from an elevated stream (most likely stream from an aerial than from a more manuverable tower ladder). The tower knocked it down quickly, but was this a 1000 gpm fire? The 2" smooth bore also pierced the fire wall and sent water into the D-1 exposure. How about an 1-3/4" stream from the roof of an adjacent exposure? Or an 1-3/4" through the front windows from a ground, aerial, or tower ladder? We've used this tactic before on other fires in the 1st Battalion, like the Cedar Cove and Fairwind fires. We should always consider what could have been done differently for the next time. Any thoughts?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Truck Crew

(Photo courtesy of Tom Meloy,  Fairfax County Company 4/A)

Post courtesy of Mike Deli, Fairfax County Battalion Chief 1/A

Look at the attached photo. E436, TL436, T425, and R439 returned to this incident scene to see what ground ladder options we could come up with.
In the photo, there are two ladders placed on the ground, leaning against the deck. The ladder on the right is the 35' extension - in this instance, it didn't reach any of the top floor windows - when we placed/heeled it outside of the back yard fence, the angle was too low and there was not enough length. When we placed it inside the fence, the deck acted like a fulcrum (What the fulcrum is a fulcrum Mike? ed.) and made the angle too high so the tip could not touch the house. Plus, it's typically at least a two person ladder. The ladder on the ground on the left is the 20' straight - this is easily a one person ladder and was the best choice to get up onto the deck. The firefighter placed the 20' inside the fence, climbed onto the deck and hoisted (hand over hand) the additional ladders up onto the deck. On the deck, the ladder on the far left is the 14' straight found on any engine and in this case is a nice fit to the window sill (where it needs to be for a means of egress from an IDLH environment). The ladder on the right is the 16' straight from most truck companies and in this case is too much. Realize that in both cases of the 14' or the 16', much of where the tip lands depends on the depth of the deck and where the ladder is butted. This isn't as simple as placing ladders to a third floor window because of the obstacles created by the fence and deck. On the front of the townhouse, the car in the driveway made things difficult -
What were our options with that car? Pull out of the way? At first we were hesitant to place a ladder. A nice combination of ladders to accomplish this might be found on the engine with it's 14' and 24', one person ladders. In the 1st Battalion we don't give up until the task is completed. The third ladder being hoisted to the deck is the 14' extension and though it could be adjusted to fit a variety of objectives, some thought the ladder is too narrow. Thoughts?...
On the front side, the car in the driveway made ladder placement difficult - get the keys and drive the car back into the garage? Initially, the crew was hesitant to place a ladder on the first landing of the exterior stairs thinking about not crowding the entrance. We summed it up like this - if the IDLH is on the top floor, that gets priority for an alternate means of egress over the lower floors that may be partially blocked by the ladder - make sense?
There is still some debate over whether or not the window should be removed by the exterior crew when interior crews are fighting an attic fire. As in any case, it's a judgement call - what are the conditions on the floor where the companies are working? But if we want always want to err on the side of safety, remove the window... thoughts?
Please review with your folks, as a single picture is worth a thousand words.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

You Need to Check Side Charlie

Post courtesy of Patrick McKay, Fairfax City Rescue Engine 33 Chauffeur

A building has 6 sides and it’s important to evaluate conditions on each of these sides throughout fireground operations. Evaluating these conditions allows implementation of sound fireground tactics. In the past few years, there have been several fires in the Metropolitan Washington DC area where evaluation of conditions viewed from side Charlie has proved critical to the success or failure of fireground operations. I am going to briefly discuss the importance of giving a proper report of conditions on the Charlie side and what it really entails.

I’m not here to tell you who gives a report from side Charlie, but rather to reiterate that somebody needs to give a report from side Charlie. Different systems utilize different companies for this task and have valid reasons for the way they operate. Simply stating “side Charlie is clear” is not a side Charlie report! I hear this way too often, and often times it is an inaccurate statement. I went to a fire the other night and that radio transmission was made, when in fact there was fire throughout the second floor and attic. With that said, how was side Charlie clear? At the same time, I don’t expect anyone to give a ten minute dissertation, of which nine minutes and forty five seconds was wasted air time.

Obviously the quicker we implement tactics, the better chance of a successful outcome we have. Like everything else in the fire service, with experience and practice, you are able to carry out tasks more efficiently and quickly. With that said, it’s good habit to give a side Charlie report on all reported house and building fires, appliance fires, odors of smoke, chimney fires, etc. Obviously it’s impractical for the first Engine officer to give a report of side Charlie at a warehouse or big box store, but somebody needs to do it!

So what does the side Charlie report consist of? For different buildings and occupancies it will vary but there are some constants. Identify the number of floors in the rear. Often due to grade changes there are a different number of floors accessible in the front and rear. Identify fire conditions. Is the exterior of the building burning? Is there smoke or fire issuing from the first floor, while companies have committed to the second floor? Is it an auto off to the rear of the building and not actually the building on fire? Identify Rescues. Are there people on a balcony above the fire? Are there people in windows that have significant smoke issuing from them? Identify sub-floor access. Does it have a walk out or walk up basement? Are there indications of fire in the sub floor areas? Identify any special hazards. Are there power lines down? Are there pressurized gas containers involved or exposed? Are there bars on windows? Are there exposure issues? Is there a large addition on the rear of the building, otherwise not visible from the front? Are there numerous electrical meters on the exterior of the building which may indicate separate occupancies and more occupants than generally expected?

The actions I have listed above can be completed and communicated in a timely manner on any fireground and will allow for better implementation of tactics. Remember, the fireground is a dynamic environment and conditions are subject to change and changes should be communicated. By completing a quick and proper side Charlie report, we increase our chances of successfully combating fires and doing so in an efficient manner.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Think About It!

(Photo courtesy of Tom Meloy, Fairfax County 4/A)
See additional photos of this incident (click to view photos)

This is just a little training opportunity to challenge yourself and share with your members. View the photos and put yourself in the Engine Company OIC's spot.

What would you transmit for your onscene and situation reports?

What would be your course of action?

Where would you have the first line go?

Would you remain as the IC or would you transfer command?

What if you are arriving as the second due engine company? What would you do with your crew?

What are the assignments that you would make to the remainder of the first alarm?

During this incident, the BC was responding from a Command Staff meeting with a 15 minute ETA.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Say It Loud and Clear

Most everyone has experienced poor radio traffic whether it be difficult to hear or transmit.  Especially with the digital radios and SCBA mask, many times the message is difficult to understand.  While wearing the SCBA mask, where does that portable radio mic go?  To the voice amp? Or pressed against your throat? Or a few inches from your regulator? Or the exhalation valve on your mask?  Many of you have different ideas on this, and there have been many formal and informal ways to determine what is best with the equipment you have.

The following is a decent video that describes proper portable radio use as it relates to speaking into the portable radio mic. In order to save 8 minutes of your life, start the video at the 8:20 mark and watch the "using portable radios and SCBA".

Link courtesy of Ken Neumann, Fairfax County Tower Ladder Chauffeur 36/A

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Engine Company

Your the second due engine and have arrived on the scene. The first due engine is stretching a 2-1/2" line to the alley on the "D Side" of the structure. The first due truck has reported that it is going to be delayed due to traffic.

What is your initial on-scene report?

What are your immediate concerns/actions?

What size line will you advance, and where would it go?

What about exposures?

Monday, September 20, 2010

You Make The Call!

For the obvious reasons in the photo above, you would not be sending any of your crews inside for an initial attack.

What are some other reasons, based on conditions upon arrival, would you need to make the decision to keep your members out of a building?  -Keith

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Think About It

(Photo courtesy of the Hamilton, NJ Fire Department)
Think about it. You're dispatched as the engine company, along with a truck company, to a fire alarm in a commercial building at 2:30 am. Upon arrival, you have a decent amount of brown smoke showing from the front of an 110' x 50' single story, old, brick building that is currently being used as office and storage space for an auto parts manufacturer. After notifying your dispatcher to "fill the box" for a working fire, the truck forces entry and your crew starts to advance a line through the front door to investigate and locate the fire. Visibility is almost zero as you make your way down the hall, and you can feel a good amount of heat coming from below your feet. Just then, without warning, a member of the truck crew falls through the floor into a basement. You can still barely see him through the smoke, but can't reach him.

What are your immediate actions as the engine boss?

What building construction features should you have noticed/been looking for during your initial size up/360 that may have prevented this scenario from happening?

Is there anything you can do with the staffing/equipment on scene, or will you have to wait for additional companies?

What method(s) would you use to rescue a member who has fallen through the floor?

Have you (and your crew) ever trained for this type of scenario? (Columbus Drill)