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We have been having a discussion on what side of the door you should control the door from on outward opening doors. Some Brothers are saying you open from the hinge side so you can use the door to protect you from the escaping heat & flame, others are saying from the latch side so that a possible backdraft will not pin you between the door and the building. What are your thoughts

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I have never really given this that much thought before. I have always gone to the hinge side. I haven't ever been taught this, nor have I taught it. It just seems like common sense to me (another topic)...

Would a backdraft really pin you behind a door? I have not experienced one first hand so I do not know. I do have my doubts. I have much more concern that being on the latch side of the door during a backdraft is going to burn your butt and injure or kill you in the blast...

Good topic Ricky, I look forward to the numerous posts to come...

Be safe Brother

Hey Bro!

Great topic! I wanted to strangle one of my instructors that taught a recruit not to use the door to their advantage. I
These are only my thoughts! I am very curious to see what the experts have to say on the FE Community site.
Control from the hinged side. Backdraft is a result of increased O2 entering a relative vacume and allowing unburnable fuel to explode. If you crack the door and are in a position to keep it from swinging wide, you will see (feel) the door start to draft closed from higher pressure air trying to get in, and can close it before the balance shifts and the door tries to come off the hinges.

Next step would be think about defensive attack from outside and then transition to offensive interior attack.
As a Truck Officer, we prefer to control outward swinging doors from the hinge side. I wait until the Engine is ready and then open the door away from them. Not all situations present us this option, just as long as we remember to control that door.
Controlling the door can usually only be done from the hinged side. Exterior doors can be a little more forgiving but interior doors with limited area for movement will cause you to control from the hinged side.
-If you are controlling the door as a member of a fire attack team, you would need to be on the hinged side to allow the company to enter with the hoseline. If you were on the non-hinged side, you would impede the progress of the crew and could not maintain true control of the door opening.
-If you are controlling the door as a member of a search team, you would need to be on the hinged side to allow the door to be opened while the crew makes entry and then potentially close the door behind you to control ventilation.
-Regarding fears of a potential backdraft, this topic usually surfaces during discussions regarding non-ventilated compartmentalized fires. If there is negative pressure, or a vacuum, the hinged side will allow you to assess the door while opening it, allowing you to quickly close it using your body. The key would be to have solid body contact with the door. If you kept a distance between you and the door and experienced a true backdraft the force of the door could potentially knock you for quite a loop, potentially disloding your PPE and SCBA facepiece. Being on the non-hinged side would leave you in the "blast zone". If the door was "blown open" and it was an interior door, the fire gases would surely capture your egress path and cut you off. So losing control of the door could be a fatal error.

So, I guess the question is whether you want to maybe be squeezed by the door or get blasted out to the curb from the latch side. I've never given this much thought; good question. I think for the time being I'll stick with the hinged side. In the case of fire simply blasting out, Ive got some protection from the door, and if I've got control of it, I can close it. If fire comes blasting out and I'm on the latch side, I may have to clear the doorway, and then I've lost control of the door. I stumbled across this youtube video from NewHaven CT, very interesting, there is a smoke explosion in the attic which takes down about a 35 foot chimney, and if you watch the guy coming out the front door just as it takes place, he fairly well gets blown down the steps. ( I think he might have done a little self preservation dive too, when he realized something very bad was happening behind him)  And he wasn't anywhere near where the smoke explosion took place! Hopefully this link will take you there:


If the link doesn't work,type it in your browser window. I've watched this video dozens of times. If you're able to watch it, let me know what you think. Specifically, since it's not very high quality, let me know if you think this is a brick chimney or a wooden utility/chase enclosure. It looks like brick but it lands a little strangely, not with the impact I would expect from brick ( it did run through some tree branches on the way down). It seems unlikely that a wooden enclosure could seperate so cleanly, all at once, so I'm thinking it's brick. TJP


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