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Almost biting the big one (collapse story)

Discussion in 'Firefighter/EMS Talk' started by DocRoberts, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. DocRoberts


    Jun 29, 2005
    Well, here is my action report from a recent fire. I have pulled a few unit names out to protect the innocent, well in this case the just and lucky.

    Long read, but hey, if you are at work killing time... FYI, this was an arson.

    So thats the long story, short story, no one got hurt bad. 1970's early 80's lightweight contruction sucks!. The fire was lit at the front of the house and jumped into the roof quick and ate away at the truss memebers.


    All of our training, and equipement came together, I can't say we made any mistakes (we were told there was a victim and where being agressive due to that). We learned a few lessons, but as the training officer for the FD I was trilled with how the guys handled themselves.

    I know the officers were beating themselves up for sending us in, but hey, all the guys and my crew and myself knew the risks, we through we had a legitamate rescue and willing entered after evaluating the structure. This is what we do, our training and gear fell into place to keep us safe. I might take a second look next time based on what I learned, but I would still make the same call, no regrets (just a grey hair or two added, and I am young)

    Take Care, Keep Safe --- Even the routine can be the extreme....
  2. Tvov


    Sep 30, 2000

  3. ClydeG19


    Oct 5, 2001
    Sounds like several guys got lucky on that call. I'm not criticizing, but just curious...around here it's common practice that the second piece on scene does a primary search of the structure or the first piece if it's a truck. It would seem even more important given that there was reported entrapment. Do your locals depts all wait for the first truck to search or did command has a reason for sending your crew to assist the first due engine crew?
  4. DocRoberts


    Jun 29, 2005
    Nope, you are correct. The report is only my engine report, we where 3rd on scene, the first units had already accomplish a Primary search and turned up nothing. Our problem was we had a Deputy and many bystanders telling us there were victims (which there was not). That was part of the reason for our agressive efforts. The house, at least on the main floor actually where under pretty good conditions considering there was a fire. This looked more like an attic fire. We had just had a really strong lightning storm roll through and the houses out here are notorious for getting hit by lighting.

    So...this is kinda the whole story.

    1st in (truck) -> Prepair for rapid search
    2nd in (engine)-> pulled line for to protect search crew and get lines to control fire
    -both crews enters the structure, nothing reported found on primary
    3rd in (engine)(Me) -> perform truck functions and get the ceiling opend for the 2nd in engine crew to contol the fire.

    It honest looked like a routine roof fire. Pull the ceiling, (it was allready self venting) and push the fire back from the unburnt portion. Well, this proves you never know.

    Hope that makes a little more sense.
  5. Glkster19


    May 12, 2001
    Lansing, MI
    Exactly why I don't mind riding the ambulance and leaving the firefighting to you guys. Glad all turned out well and nobody got hurt. Does suck though when people are telling you there's entrapment and lives get endangered searching and then you find out there isn't anybody there.
  6. Nozzlejunkie


    Jul 10, 2005
    Yep you guys were lucky. But that is the game we play everyone knows the risk. Yall be careful glad everyone came through all right.
  7. mohara


    Jul 1, 2005
    Sounds like a call I was on not to long ago, in an occupied 2 story townhome. Started advancing a 1.75" into the basement of this, when I got half way in, the back end of the house dropped into the basement. When I felt this, I dropped the line, and layed on my backside, and reached for my backup man. My backup man, and third man both pulled me out, just as the first floor fell into the basement, then 60 seconds later, the roof ended up where I was on the first floor! Did not think the fire progressed as fast as it did, and no one knew how long the fire had been burning prior to FD arrival.

    Now, I dont want to step on anyones toes here, but if you had that much fire load, and it was self-venting thru the roof(10-15'), and from that picture, why would you not do a quick hit with a master stream, or deck gun, or large water line from outside. With that much fire, why not hit it from outside? If that much fire is coming out of the roof, and the roof overhang, chances are that the fire has a stronger hold on it, than the small water line you pulled can handle.

    These are just my thoughts, it is not to belittle any of the members of those companies. Prior to my incident, I would have not hesitated to do the same things that you did. Glad to hear that everyone made it out, and made it home.
  8. pmed23


    Apr 20, 2000
    central Iowa
    Mike wants to know why his back is still hurting if you slowed down his fall.
  9. DocRoberts


    Jun 29, 2005
    Oh boy... some loaded questions here....

    1st Master Steams...

    I guess this is where I am going to depart from most.
    -- You have to consider the massive amount of energy being propelled at the fire when using a master stream. Not only are you hitting whatever you are aiming at with allot of force, possibly unsettling a structure that is already weekend; but you are also disrupting the ventilation flow forcing the now venting fire gasses back into the structure. The fire is going to have no where to go and what ignited fire gasses are being produce are going to be blown back into every other orifice in that structure. Think what hydraulic ventilation does; now try that from the outside, even a straight steam with that much velocity and diameter will create an air draft.

    Now comes the 2nd problem with a master stream. If there was anybody inside (which we had strong reason to believe), you would have just created a massive steam conversation effect rendering the atmosphere un-survivable. Water expanding 1700x its original volume will quickly expand to fill the entire house area with supper heated air searing the airways; your victim is now really dead. When the fire is self ventilating, the fire would actually be pulling cooler air from the bottom, also aiding visibility by clearing out the smoke; remember we had good conditions for search on the main floor upon arrival. Hit a fire like that with a master you will kill visibility and create one hell of hostile environment. All steam and smoke is going to bank down and fill the structure. That much water into the roof would also be soaked up they the insulation and cause the drywall that was still up to immediately drop to the ground further complicating rescue efforts and eliminating the only shield between a victim, or the rescues and the fire above.

    Use master streams with caution, and never when you crews are deployed inside. They are an awesome tool, but I have seen more master streams make matters worse than ever solve them. Far to many departments wind up pushing fire right back into un-burnt portions of a building as well, of course that can happen with a water can too used wrong… I see allot of FDs pull up to a house with a room & contents blowing out a window, they wind up hitting it from outside. All of a sudden they wind up with fire in the rest of the house and wonder why. My preference would be to enter the building and make the attack from the hallway and push the fire out if at all possible. Of course you better have good crews and good combined operations (hose crews & vent crews need to be coordinated)

    Fastest way to bring a building down.. Put up an Arial... That statement is all about the incorrect deployment of Master Streams.

    And Mike....

    Well, what can I say, my shoulder hurt for days. I don’t know what he was smoking that night, but he came out of that window like superman, does he not know he can’t fly. Mike owes me a beer for making sure he did not break his back on that fall........again.;c ;Q ;c even though he can't remember anybody catching him.. must be Post Tramatic Stress Dissorder.. lol