Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

I was taught not to open up the bale on smoke, only a stream directed at the seat of the fire. As of late I have been seeing and reading articles on directing water into smoke under high heat atmospheres. Anyone have anything to say on this subject?

Views: 238

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

If your referring to using a wide fog to help clear some smoke out of a window or to help cool things down. Then yes not always, but sometimes depending on the situation. The reason you would try to direct a stream into the smoke would be to try to cool your atmosphere possibly in a pre flashover environment or to accelerate your steam conversion depending on the heat of the fire. I have done it, cant say it worked better than going after the seat, only because every fire is different and hind sights 20 20. I have found that everyone has the "only way" to do it, ya their is better ways than others but in all reality its not rocket science that we do, as long as the wet stuff gets on the red stuff and the hot stuff goes out, then you did your job. Keep an open mind on new tactics try them out in controlled situations and see what works best for you and in what situation.
I apologize I doubt any of this was helpful.
Stay safe brother
The only thing that you really want to avoid is running a wide fog while inside. It creates a low pressure area behind the nozzle and the fire gases and embers get pulled down on your crew. Also it tips the thermal layer right then, so you need to have good awareness of your location and conditions. Thermal Imager is great for smokey, steamy conditions like that.

Short bursts of SS into the overhead as you work toward the seat of the fire won't tip the balance and can keep the roll over in check for a bit.

Train, try stuff out and stay safe.
There are few ways to fight fire that I’ve found, the American way or the European way. The American way places emphasis on venting the structure as a high priority. On the other hand the European way stresses confinement of the structure. (I’m not talking bad of the American fire service; each tactic has its place on the fire ground. Confinement of a fire is not always the best tactic either. People are as split on this issue as they are between a fog and smoothbore.) If your looking for a good book to read and help you with your decision on putting water on smoke or just fire, take a look at this book (3D Firefighting by Paul Grimwood). Or you can go to his website . I’ve read the book 2 times and go to the site often and highly believe in his thought process on firefighting in structures.

In today’s firefighting world the fires are bigger burn faster and hotter than we are used to! To counter act these fire events that were getting, you need to control the environment you’re in! You don’t just open the nozzle on wide fog and leave it open, you use controlled water burst to cool the environment and keep thermal balance.
If you wait to long to apply water with the environment changing rapidly you can find your self in a bad situation!

Training is key!!!
As a general rule I think you should apply water on fire rather than smoke. A high heat atmosphere with no fire showing indicates that there is inadequate ventilation or there has been insufficient overhaul to allow access to the seat of the fire (or both). Of course heat levels are relative and you might be encountering "normal" heat build up or you may be facing a possible flashover situation. You can deal with normally expected heat while you continue to search for the visible fire. However if the heat is very intense, and the smoke is dark and pushing under pressure, I'd be a lot more comfortable backing my personel out rather than leaving them in position to apply water on the smoke.
Training is the master key to this subject and confined space fire combat experience is another key. New synthetic furnishing and decorative materials tend to generate lots more thick, dark smoke than natural prime materials. You may well face a growing fire, with rerlatively low potential flashover potential but generating enough smoke to require a snowplow to get inside. Short narrow fog spurts into the smoke mass, directed upwards, will probably help thin out the smoke mass, while lowering the temperature inside that mass. If you can't see the glow from the seat of the fire, a TIC is an invaluable tool, if the dept's budget can afford it.
Chris Brown's comments on the differences between USA and European confined space firefighting are quite accurate. The basic difference between the two concepts is not wholly based on vent or not venting, rather the basic concepts of building construction. While in North America, wood remains the primary construction material for the vast majority of residential and small to medium sized multy function buildings, in Europe, metal and/or concrete structures are enclosed by brick and/or cement blocks. Wood burns, cement, concrete and bricks do not (although the may well crack under prolonged exposure to extreme heat). I would also recomend Paul Grimwood's books (although he is British, he spent many years attached to several USA FD's).
Keep safe out there.
If you have an adjustable stream nozzle than I would suggest straightening out the stream. The method your referring to is called penciling in my dept. We utilize this method to cool the atmosphere if necessary. It involves quick burst or bursts not a prolonged spray. This task has a minimal effect on the thermal balance. I never recommend spraying water directly into smoke unless your bailing out and need some protection or are in a defensive strategy. If the conditions deteriorate to the point that "blind" firefighting is required you are in to far with inadequate ventilation and need to reconsider your position. Hope this helps. Remember the fire ground is a dynamic environment and is changing every second. Constant size up and evaluation will dictate the events to come.
The simple answer to this question is by gas cooling the compartment with short burst from a spray jet on entry reduces the chances of flashovers. One has to remember that the smoke, at high temperatures whilst confined may be explosive above the neutral plane. Therefore, by cooling the gases it makes the environment safer for the firefighters.
Hey guys thanks for the feedback, I greatly appreciate it.

Stay Safe


Reply to Discussion


Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2024   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service