Chapter 10: "Stairway to Heaven or Hell"
Do we ever teach our firefighters just how dangerous a seeming simple set of residential stairs can be... we would argue that we do not.
Knowing the staircase styles that are prominent in your first due and how to navigate our movements and the hosestretch up and down them is extremely important. Good hoseline management, facilitated by Engine Company firefighters is paramount to get the proper amount of charged hose at the ready, prior to making the push. Making that move, up or down a set of stairs does indeed require skill and technique for ultimate efficiency.
But, have we set ourselves up for failure right from the start? What is the width of the staircases at your training facility? Have your members ever practiced stretching up & down a 'narrow' set of stairs, like those found in the average residential building? Have they ever experienced moving past another firefighter on that narrow set of stairs?
"Stairs tend to be a common congregating place in residential buildings for firefighters, but stairs are for us to go up or down. No firefighter should be camped out on the steps. Generally accepted building stairway widths from International Building Code (IBC) section 1009.1 list dwellings serving 50 or fewer occupants at 36 inches at minimum. At this width, fully dressed firefighters attempting to pass each other on the steps requires extreme coordination and can be nearly impossible in the best conditions. Add smoke, heat, and fire, and you can see how we have created a potential recipe for disaster. (Chapter 10, page 103)"
Give your team a lesson today on the stairs. Discuss design styles and the components that make them (I-stairs, prefab, open treads) our plan for stretching and operating on them. Practice passing another FF on a set of 36' or narrower set of stairs in full PPE and while on air. Practice and discuss how you will set up your hoseline prior to advance up or down to ensure that you make the full staircase and be ready for fire attack.
And, explain to your members the simple fact that, while we all want a piece of the action, we must be all remain disciplined and mind the steps... WE MUST NOT CLOG THE STAIRS!
GO UP, GO DOWN, DON'T CAMP OUT!