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I work for a small suburban fire dept. and we don't always have enough men at both stations (due to run volume) to start internal fire attack due to 2 in 2 out rules. My question is this, what about the old fashioned way of finding the room of origin breaking a window, putting the hose in on a tight stream and rotating to knock down the fire or control it until help arrives? I have heard conflicting arguments about pushing the fire. Will a tight stream push the fire?

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-Sounds great if you know the victim is an arsonist; someone that set the fire maliciously. How about homeless people that set the fire accidentally, or curious children playing with matches?
-Remember, the fire service doesn't judge people, thats what the cops and courts are for. Firefighters save lives; without question or exception. And until they issue crystal balls, we go in to perform a search for ANYONE that may be trapped inside.
Michael Bricault said:
-A consistent theme with many respondents is that the occupancy be void of occupants in order to really go to work with the hand line, even through the window. The key to this tactic being acceptable, they have said, is that the occupancy is empty.
-So how do you know? The answer is that firefighters don't know until they have made entry. Period. Until such time as the primary being completed firefighters must consider the structure to be occupied. The occupancy type and/or information from bystanders is not reliable. The only way to be sure is to perform the primary search.
-Something started the fire. Even abandoned buildings need to be searched. Short of a lightning strike someone got in and started the fire; and they still may be inside.

Mike,

I think you're missing the point here bro. The guy who posted this asked about fire extinguishment techniques for a rural department with limited staffing. You might be able to stand around on scene for 30 seconds to 3 minutes and wait for the next unit to make an agressive interior seach/fire attack but not all departments can do that! If you work for a rural department and the occupants say "everybody is out" you've got to make a decision/do something. Personally......I've been in that situation before several times where the next unit was 25 minutes out and I was working on an engine with 2 firefighters(including me). The most appropriate action to take is extinguish the fire from a window, doorway, or whatever to control the fire.

Don't get me wrong here! If there's a confirmed life safety situation you would have to get the driver to pack out and make a primary seach. Life safety is our primary mission and I think we'll all agree on that issue. The difference that we have is with implementing our strategy. The attitude of "the occupancy isn't clear of life safety until the FD searches" may work for a city/urban department but may not work for a rural department. You know what I'm saying here?
Adam Miceli said:
I would never advocate an attack starting through a window due to the 2 in/ 2 out rule; as a specific tactical choice where victim viability is not likely, maybe. As Michael Bricault said, it's really not a valid approach to an offensive attack.

But, as was also noted, we use this when employing a "marginal attack" or a "blitz". You need to be certain that there are no viable victims in the room or potentially in the path of the steam, heat and smoke that may permeate the building. Not necessarily "pushed" by the straight stream but by the volume of the expanding steam, a little bit goes a long way. You likely cannot be sure how confined the fire is. Is the door to the room open? Are the wall or ceiling intact? The interior crew cannot make forward progress, so the fire gets darken by a larger line or gun, knowing full well we're in property protection mode, not rescue.
In case there was any confusion on my original post, we employ the "Blitz" attack through a window when the room is involved to the point where life is not sustainable and we need to darken the fire to get inside. This is a rare occasion as between adequate GPM and ventilation a push can usually be made, but there are times when there is too much fire for the immediate crew. Again, we have already given up to the fact that no lives are savable in the fire area and a large amount of water is needed to rapidly overcome the BTU's fast with as little steam as possible.
I think what Michael is saying is that if we're not confirming or convinced (how?) that all viable victims are out, how do we abandon interior tactics for those that will likely make conditions worse for them?
Michael Bricault said:
-Sounds great if you know the victim is an arsonist; someone that set the fire maliciously. How about homeless people that set the fire accidentally, or curious children playing with matches?
-Remember, the fire service doesn't judge people, thats what the cops and courts are for. Firefighters save lives; without question or exception. And until they issue crystal balls, we go in to perform a search for ANYONE that may be trapped inside.

Have you seen the meny video clips and read the meny near miss reports where a firefighter goes in to search and comes out ten seconds later on fire? How about the 4 am Mcburger fire where the two ton A/C units fall through the roof. How about the bow string truss that has fire impingment.

I'd like to see a breakdown on how meny times we go into marginal conditions for a search/rescue that result in people being removed that were still alive 1 month later and how meny resulted in dead or injured firefighters. I have a gut feel that, like ignition sources and exposures, we bring victims to the incident.

We did not start the fire, and there isn't anything that we can do to make it better. If we do everything right and we are very lucky, we can only keep it from getting worse.

Terrorists like to kill first responders. They have a reason to. If we aren't there, everyone dies, every time.
Larry Lasich said:
I'd like to see a breakdown on how meny times we go into marginal conditions for a search/rescue that result in people being removed that were still alive 1 month later and how meny resulted in dead or injured firefighters. I have a gut feel that, like ignition sources and exposures, we bring victims to the incident.

We did not start the fire, and there isn't anything that we can do to make it better. If we do everything right and we are very lucky, we can only keep it from getting worse.

Terrorists like to kill first responders. They have a reason to. If we aren't there, everyone dies, every time.

Larry, one must also ask, how often a marginal attack or aggressive search reveals unexpected occupants? While we struggle to reduce all LODDs how many of us die as a result of over aggressive tactics for the situation vs. numerous other factors? I think we can all agree that a measured risk assessment is called for in every incident regardless of victims, construction and fire. Fires are extremely dynamic events that we cannot know all the variables to before we act.

On the terrorist thing? How many of our brothers or sisters have been injured or killed in an attack directly targeting them? It's more hype. We have to do our jobs and stop worrying about the things that don't factor in much and focus on the key issues like Physical Fitness and driving safer.
What I was saying is, save your people and they will save others. Kill them and no one gets saved.
Here's an example of where the fire service has held on to something way too long, that is the interior attack and the "unprofessionalism" of an in-the-window knockdown. We spend way too much time trying to find our way to a room during an interior attack at the risk, often unnecessarily, of our own. There is no better way to help a victim (if there is one) than to put the fire out or at least knock it down AS QUICKLY as possible. Why? This allows for much more rapid entry into a much safer environment. I've seen firefighters take charged hose lines past vented windows and then take an additional 5 mins to find their way to the room where they were just at and the fire has now grown significantly (What do you think happened to the victim?). Interior combustible compositions have changed dramatically in the last 20 years and flammable and toxic atmospheres now exist way beyond the fire area. We can now put 200+gpm rapidly onto a fire, with preconnects if so desired, which will overwhelm most 1 or 2 room fires. No one is saying we have to use indirect attacks and upset thermal balances and everything else that goes along with saving a potential victim or use opposing streams, but putting water on the fire as rapidly as possible will do more than anything else to help all of us. RIT teams (2-in 2-out) must be a requirement but they're less important if the fire is in the process of being extinguished.
Unfortunately, unless there is a rescue to be made, the dept I work for will have to do things this way initially. There are only 3 of us on the daytime shift and this includes the chief. We rely on volunteer FF to bring the remaining apparatus and provide manpower. We also rely on mutual aid of course. I agree with knocking the fire down quickly coupled with adequate ventilation (right place, at the right time). These 2 tactics usually let us get a handle on things at most private dwelling fires.
Chris, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I was also taught to ALWAYS attack from the unburned to the burned, and to NEVER stick a nozzle in a window if going offensive. When I came on shift there were some old guys who told me to the contrary. At that time I doubted them, but I have since learned that it is SOMETIMES ok to wring out a window, I always do it with a straight stream, and I don't see where it pushes any fire, and very little if any steam into other rooms. I have also learned that it is SOMETIMES better to not come from the unburned side when it requires long and/or twisting turning stretches. Again, I always use the straight stream and haven't seen where it pushes fire. To call either unprofessional is short sighted and hard headed. There is nothing unprofessional about being efficient.



Chris Truty said:
Here's an example of where the fire service has held on to something way too long, that is the interior attack and the "unprofessionalism" of an in-the-window knockdown. We spend way too much time trying to find our way to a room during an interior attack at the risk, often unnecessarily, of our own. There is no better way to help a victim (if there is one) than to put the fire out or at least knock it down AS QUICKLY as possible. Why? This allows for much more rapid entry into a much safer environment. I've seen firefighters take charged hose lines past vented windows and then take an additional 5 mins to find their way to the room where they were just at and the fire has now grown significantly (What do you think happened to the victim?). Interior combustible compositions have changed dramatically in the last 20 years and flammable and toxic atmospheres now exist way beyond the fire area. We can now put 200+gpm rapidly onto a fire, with preconnects if so desired, which will overwhelm most 1 or 2 room fires. No one is saying we have to use indirect attacks and upset thermal balances and everything else that goes along with saving a potential victim or use opposing streams, but putting water on the fire as rapidly as possible will do more than anything else to help all of us. RIT teams (2-in 2-out) must be a requirement but they're less important if the fire is in the process of being extinguished.
Eliminating the use of a window to during an offensive attack shouldn't be a rule of ops. It's an option if the conditions allow for it. Keep your options open.
I hear alot of guys saying an the indirect attack will automatically disrupt the thermal layers. Not true...if done correctly. Read some of Grimwood 's papers and some of the other research papers. Using a straight/solid stream will however result in disrupting thermal layers if not directed at the seat of the fire.
If you don't have enough manpower on scene to make entry (using 2in/2out) then I'd suggest you look at some options available and research their effectiveness. An exterior offensive attack using some of the researched tactics is one of them.
You could also consider making PPA your option....if you knew when your next in truck was coming. It would make your environment and the victim's much more safe if you absolutely couldn't wait till the next truck is due....and it can be done with 4 ff's safely.
We have to get away from "this is what I've been told" and start looking at some of the research thats being done out there to protect our own a**** and assist us in protecting others.
A very interesting debate, with two very important components, safety and proper fire attack method. Following the OSHA standard, if your staffing is not sufficient to meet the regs, you really do not have any options, if as you state, there is clearly no life hazard.

The method for operating the nozzle in my opinion is the proper one for suppression, a straight or solid stream at the ceiling being rotated or moved side to side. As several have stated, pushing the fire is not the concern, but rather heat and toxic gases. The nozzle is rotated in this manner to help push heat and gases away from the hose team, if you are doing this from an outside position, the heat and gases will have nowhere to go but into the structure. The other question is how to get at any extension from this vantage point if it is outside of the reach of the stream?

In the initial post, the fire conditions described seemed indicative of a fire that is not fully developed, as it mentions breaking the window for the stream placement. Certainly there could be a good volume of fire, but not enough to cause the window to fail yet. One other possible consideration is while the line is being stretched, take the window and hit it with the can to keep it contained while getting the line charged and in position. This will also leave you with a ventilation point to push the heat and smoke out. You can knock down a good volume of fire with a can, with limited disturbance of the thermal balance.

Probably the most important thing is that if you have to operate in this manner, that all members are trained to be on the same page. Once sufficient manpower is on scene and an interior attack is initiated, all outside operations must cease. As was noted, having a fire pushed on you from an outside line is miserable experience. Members need to know that once firefighters are inside, all exterior lines need to stop operating. You need to find what works best for your Department, but training is key if this is how you will operate. A good resource to view is the Methods of Structure Fire Attack video by Andy Fredericks that Fire Engineering put out a few years ago. It is a great way to learn more about the different methods of attack and some of the misnomers about each. Operating from the exterior would be my last choice on a manageable fire, but as we are seeing like the recent fire in San Bernardino where the 3 man crew had no other choice due to Departmental rules, sometimes it may be unavoidable, but it definitely against good firefighting tactics.
Adam Miceli said:
Larry Lasich said:
I'd like to see a breakdown on how meny times we go into marginal conditions for a search/rescue that result in people being removed that were still alive 1 month later and how meny resulted in dead or injured firefighters. I have a gut feel that, like ignition sources and exposures, we bring victims to the incident.

We did not start the fire, and there isn't anything that we can do to make it better. If we do everything right and we are very lucky, we can only keep it from getting worse.

Terrorists like to kill first responders. They have a reason to. If we aren't there, everyone dies, every time.

Larry, one must also ask, how often a marginal attack or aggressive search reveals unexpected occupants? While we struggle to reduce all LODDs how many of us die as a result of over aggressive tactics for the situation vs. numerous other factors? I think we can all agree that a measured risk assessment is called for in every incident regardless of victims, construction and fire. Fires are extremely dynamic events that we cannot know all the variables to before we act.

On the terrorist thing? How many of our brothers or sisters have been injured or killed in an attack directly targeting them? It's more hype. We have to do our jobs and stop worrying about the things that don't factor in much and focus on the key issues like Physical Fitness and driving safer.

When I qualified the question by saying "still alive after a month" I want to know if the unexpected victim has 100 percent CO saturation and terminal thermal insult to their airway. You know that we grab people that are called at the scene or when they reach a hospital.

It is the job of the Crew leaders, Company Officers and IC to evaluate building and fire conditions while they are doing their 360 and during interior operations. If you are watching while a smoked over second story window is being forced and you start seeing flame rolling across the ceiling, is anything alive in that room. If the door to the room is open, are the conditions the same on the whole floor. If the room is pre-flash over, why would you send your guys into it?

Attic truss w/ metal gussets? 10 min of impingement. OSB joist? 5 min of impingement. Room and contents on the windward side w/ 20-30 mph winds? 1000 deg wall of flame moving through the house if the windows break or the doors fail. I'm just saying that we need to look at the conditions, understand what it's telling us and make our stratagy and tactics fit the conditions.

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