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I had the privilege of going through a smoke reading class with a great teacher of mine and friend capt. miller with the Salisbury NC,FD.I believe he got the concept from the FDIC convention this year.The concept is really starting to spread here and i recommend all departments try to start using it.As far as painting a better picture of a scene size up,where it's burning,which way it's going and how much fire you have.I guess my discussion is are we behind in using this and if not i can tell you how to get the concept going in your department..

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Check out John Taylor, www.Smokeburns.com. I have gone to several of his lectures and he made a believer out of me. He's a Brit and comes from a different school, but the info and the way he teaches safe operation in the fire building is second to none.
Retired Chief Dave Dodson (Loveland, CO) has been presenting this concept for several years now, and I agree, it's an art that must be reborn in the fire service, especially with new construction and the increaing number of engineered components used in construction. The concept is simple; volume, velocity, density and color. Knowing how to look for laminar vs. turbulent flow and reading the plane of the smoke. We review this concept with our firefighters annually, and it has paid off on a few fires, in detecting the fires location within the structure.
I have taken a reading the smoke class a few years ago at the winter fire school we have here in Iowa. It was a very good class. I think as fiefighters we should be useing this concept in the fire service. I would like to see us at the volunteer fire service I'm on start doing this more often. What did you use to start this concept in your department? Let me know.
Thanks, Adam
I agree that this concept really has great benefit to all of us. I just put together a modified version of this for my own department and believe it is invaluable information to add to our size up evaluation. Adding video links on you-tube has really helped me show the concepts being presented, since some of us don't see quite enough to become more confident in our size up skills. Any ideas and help you can throw at me is appreciated...glad to see this as a topic.
we have also incorporated the reading smoke concept into our trainings several times a year, engine company ops, truck ops, safety and survival and RIT, all have this concept integrated into the lectures, to include photos, vids etc, this way we are constantly refreshing

I am not sure I agree with the comments that white smoke is an indicator that conditions are too lean, and that dark smoke is an indicator of conditions that are too rich. Nearly all substances give off white smoke when they pyrolyse and this is laden with unburnt fuel and can be deceptively dangerous! Dark smoke is often rich in unburnt fuel but it depends a lot on how efficient the combustion process and the fuel package.

I am also not sure about how scientific the smoke filtering concepts is. Soot will deposit readily on surfaces, but in my experience it has little impact on the color. It may reduce the thickness (optical density) but it will still be black. Either way I believe that it is incorrect (and possibly dangerous) to relate smoke color to flammability range.

Laminar or turbulent flows depend on a number of factors and are more a function of the size and location of the openings in relation to the stage of fire development.

Interpreting fire indicators is a vital skill, but it needs to be supported by science and fact and to stay away from myths.

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