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Ok Brothers, trying to acclimate myself to how other Departments are operating. How do we feel about carrying "the can" (water extinguisher) on primary search?Curious to thoughts. If you are gonna tell me it's too heavy, hit a gym (lol). Seriously, do many departments carry the can. We have had great success and I do have stories to share so lets get this discussion going.....

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carrying the can during the primary search is such a good idea it should be a policy. For years it was one of those nuggets of information that senior firefighters passed on to the rookies during that informal, in house training. Several years ago it started to become part of the standard curriculum at the Fire Academy. As of two years ago when the Ladder Company s.o.g.'s were updated carrying the can became official Albuquerque Fire Dept. policy.
Being a long time disciple of Tom Brennen, I have been an advocate of carrying the can during the primary search for years. As I'm sure you can attest to, there have been numerous occasions when a heads up, fast moving can man has frustrated the nozzle team.
A heads up can man may not be able to completely knock down a good sized room and contents fire, but he certainly keep the fire in check long enough to facilitate continuing the primary search, buying a few more seconds (maybe even minutes) for the searching firefighters to return to a safe area and keep the fire room contained until the arrival of the nozzle.
Use the can well and you will certainly be able to steel the thunder from the engine company. The can man is just moving so much faster than the Brothers dragging the line and hopefully are in the building before them.
The can is a great tool and should be part of the standard compliment of tools taken in by the primary search firefighters.
We just issued a new truck company operations policy this past January, and it includes assigning a can man on the primary search team. This still requires some more training to get everyone acclimated to it, but I think in the long run, it will improve firefighter safety. We don't necessarily want the can man making a b-line for the fire that the hose team is advancing on, but one never knows where fire will "pop out," and having the can man is a good way to be prepared for an unexpected fire when searching without the protection of a hose line immediately near by.

I like the idea for two primary reasons.

1. It encourages the truck crew to locate the seat of the fire (fire apartment/compartment) which assists the engine company in placing the first line quickly. If needed they can dump the can and close the door to contain or the can may facilitate a quick search of the fire apt. This choice is dependent on conditions of the fire apartment. If they confine the fire then the search can commence in the fire apartment or in those apartments most exposed, the 5 surrounding.

2. It gives the truck crew some, though not a lot, of protection in case they make a mistake in estimating the thermal effects of the fire or the length of time till the engine arrives.

The downside is that the truck must make sure they keep their focus on the assigned task - search. It is not their job to tap the fire in lieu of getting the search done. Sometimes it can be done but 2.5 gallons is a sparce resource compared to 150 GPM or more. Training and discipline (self-discipline) are the keys to making a good decision.
I hope that no one has misunderstood my post to mean that the can man should be racing the initial attack line. That is not the case, is not what we do nor was it the intent of the post. The can man is there to facilitate the primary search and protect the searchers.
That being said, once in a great while the can man will be able to frustrate our Brothers on the engine and knock a good portion of the fire down. Just part of the friendly rivalry between the truckies and our little friends on the pumper.
What I think it comes down to, is if you come across a room on fire...pass the info along to the engine....if you need to, you might be able to slow down the fire til they get there.....or delay the flashover. i've been on jobs where I had the can, had a room that was starting to light up and move out into the hall.....but hasn't vented thru the window yet, then pulled the door almost all the way closed then dumped the whole can into the room around the ceiling, then closed the door. Steam puts out a lot of fire. 100% right...don't delay the search to put out the fire..... but if the fire goes out....most of your problems lessen.

I think it is important to remember, we joke about getting the fire on the engine guys but, we really need to be cautious on how we use our can. At a good job, we have "limited ammo".Use it to close a door, knock down a fire, clear a path to get a victim. What about the foam can? When do we take that? Generally, our rule of thumb is any call for a basement, take the foam can. They work great for oil burner fires and if it is a room going, it will work there too. Another little tip, take a large rubber strap and place around the can. Now, you can carry a couple of extra door chocks that are easily accessible. Glad to see so many of us are carrying the can. I was actually expecting the opposite.

We elected as a group to begin using the can as a regular part of our operation a little more than two (2) years ago, and have found it to be a great weapon in the hands of someone who not only understands its limitaions, but is proficient in an area that often seems to go neglected in our contiunuing training: maintaining proficiency in knocking down fire with extinguishers.

That being said, we have utilized it in all manners described, and I will be suggesting incorporating your foam can suggestion into operations as I think it is a great idea (smoke investigations in restaurants also seems worth consideration.)

We used a commercially available strap/holder (available from Fire Hooks) for our can with great success, and usually have the operator carry a hook as well-usually the six (6) foot Boston rake.
Good question. I like the idea for many reasons, however my department currently does not practice the use. Not for lack of attempt by myself and a few of our other truck company officers. The expectation of our leadership is the ladder goes to the roof at all fires. We currently staff our trucks with an officer and two firefighters and a third firefighter if every one is in for the day which is rare. We only send one truck to a working or 1 alarm fire so as you can see if I need to leave my chauffeur with the truck, I have a two man team and ventilation usually becomes the main focus. Most of our searches are carried out by our rescue company. That being said, if we do arrive early enough to the fire and there is a life safety issue, while the chauffeur can get some horizontal ventilation started, that two man team can make entry for a search and bring a can for protection and even knock it back a little to make the grab.
We have no written SOP on taking the can. I do take it with me. Seems like a good insurance policy to take with you. When you find the fire and close the door helps keep it in the room. Also if someone searches past the fire you can keep the fire from closing behind them. Great tool if you know how to use it.
In my Dept it is not part of the Truck Co SOPs but ever since I read about the use of the can in Norman I made the decision to implement it more. When I was assigned to the engine as a FF I remember a few times grabbing the can for rubbish/trash fires and putting the fire out. It's alot easier than having to drain and repack a line.
I have not had the opportunity to use it since i've been assigned to the truck as a captain but definitely agree with many of the comments here that it should be a part of the SOPs as long as guys are aware of its limitations and proper uses. Of course that responsibility will fall on me, as a company officer, to ensure that my crew knows exactly how and when to use it.
I typically make the determination on carrying the can with us based on the arrival of the engine and the delay they may or may not have getting the first line in place.

If we arrive first or the engine has a significant stretch I will take the can. If we arrive together or they are just around the corner without a significant stretch I leave it in the rig.

I always carry it on a commercial occupancy becuase the chance of us getting seperated from the engine is greater.
A definite tool for search working above the fire, added insurance, buys the time for a line if extension is found. Definitely feel better when that second line notifies me they have the interior stairs. Also good for beating the engine on that incipient fire, something I took pride in before I was transferred to the engine. All good points in the rest of the posts as well.


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