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This place has a mind of its own, so I had to re-post the discussion and I moved the comments here from the other place.

So we have discussed some of the why.........

Now how about some of the whats?

What have you been taught, and do you teach as far as condition recognition?

What have you been taught, and do you teach about survival? Refuge, defensive searches, etc?

What have you been taught, and do you teach as far as preventing the flashover?

I know there a bunch of different schools of thought, some of them even a bit controversial. But what is being done today in the Fire Service to heighten awareness and prevent injuries associated with Flashovers?

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Replies to This Discussion

I remember when I first started how we were trained to read heat with our ears, take a glove off and
raise your hand above your head for heat and to recognize smoke under pressure or "rolling" and
how and what it meant when you felt heat where at least in certain times you don't want it to be
"warm and moist".

Since that time the way we have approached this "recognition training" involves watching the
"smoke pillow" (which I often refer to as the "top of the ocean"), meaning what the smoke layer looks
like if you approach from below, the movement of the smoke back toward the seat of the fire instead
of out of the vent you just created by opening the door (this is actually the bottom of the
convection cycle) test the bouyancy of smoke by reaching up with gloves on and "bouncing" the
smoke and finally a feedback test where the pipeman would make a quick short burst on wide fog
at the ceiling if no water comes back the test is considered "failed". All of these test would need
a "failure" in order for the crew to consider flashover as about to occur.

As far as survival thats where the controversy develops in my mind. I have been shown acouple of
nozzle techniques that I just don't believe in so I think there is only two options

1) the safest would be to back down/out to floor below or the hallway with a good door, call for a
horizontal vent, let it blow then go get it or

2) Let it fly full bore at the ceiling I think this should only be used in the instance where a
search and rescue crew somehow made it ahead of the line and they should be ordered to "back out",
of course the nozzle man must leave last. I won't claim the experience to truly know but I am of the
opinion that once the space decides to flash it's going to. I have more but this is long enough for

Jim Puleo
An old timer once told us "ventilation, ventilation and ventilation" at sometimes easier said than done. I really don't like seeing a ladder pipe or other line of hose being played in a vent h*** which is doing its job with heavy fire venting but of course that mkes for good PR photos.."see the firemen are really spraying water on the fire" ever heard that ??

Bill Noonan
Most of what I have learned in terms of reading any potential indicators of imminent flashover/deteriorating conditions has been informal, and the result of watching conditions closely at incidents whenever possible, listening to the instruction of more experienced firefighters, and reading whatever I can on the subject.

I am a firm believer that everyone on the fireground must contstantly be engaged in their own individual size-up of conditions, and that the process must remain an active one as the incident progresses. In other words, never completely abdicate the responsibility for your own safety to anyone else on the fireground-regardless of their rank or title.

Some initial indicators I have relied upon have been the conditions reported upon arrival, dispatch indications of a delayed report of fire, color of, and pressure under which smoke is leaving the building, and tell-tale signs of recent updating (such as new windows in an older structure) that may have rendered the occupancy more "energy efficient," and therefore having potentially contained the fire to the point where flashover may be an imminent threat.

I try to always assess the first-due companies' progress on the fire, and the status of any ventilation that may be in progress on the scene as I approach the building. In terms of searching, whenever I am engaged in VES, I always make sure my first move (following assuring that there is a solid floor under the window , of course!) is to locate and secure the door of the room I am searching. Trying to remain as cognizant of conditions, specifically with respect to ambient temperature in our encapsulated state is a constant concern of mine.

Be Safe,

Chris Barry
Horizontal venting should only be done after a line is in place otherwise it can cause a flashover or arapid fire event to occur (witnes the "vent discipline " video) Venting should be vertical and conducted as soon as possible
Water (in the proper form and quantity) is the only then that kills a flashover so get the lines in there early and have firefighers on both ladder and eng companies trained in the recognition of the signs of flashhover. Train them how to utilize the stream with proper and timely coordinated horizontal ventilation to cool the overhead without steaming themselves
On the interior, rapid heat build-up is the most reliable. All others are "maybes", but rapid heat build-up should never be ignored -- ever. if the air in your bottle is getting hot, get out. For Ladder guys, consider that no one is going to survive this atmosphere, so don't risk yourselves for a recovery
On the exteior, the best cue is the presence of pressurized smoke. Voluminous smoke is a also an indicator, but it must have pressure behiind it to indicate a high heat condition. The problem is that firefighters on the inside canmnot see this pressure, they only feel the heat. Remember also that when guys go inside a building, all they see after that is the "box" they are working in. They do not see fire progress as it is seen on the exterior. The "we almost got it, Chief" statment is indicative of this box mentatlity. We must instill in our inside guys that when ordered out, there is no time for negotiation
The best way to train FF's to recognize and respect flashover conditions is by flashover simulation training. There they can observe how the flashover builds and occurs. granted, it is a lazier version than out in the feld, but all the stages are there. It should be mandatory training for all FF's who are in FF1 and annually. If you look at guys bailing out and hanging out windows or worse, burned and killed because of a rapid fire development sit, it is usually because they did not pay attention oto thier surroundings or the command structure was weeak and di not direct a coordinated operation. A bail-out is a failure of the system at EVERY LEVEL and absolutely unacceptble. Teach your personnle ton recognize the signs, train them to coordinate their attack, communicate well, and enforce strict accountability policies.
I think the greatest problem we face with flashover is a poor understanding of what it is. Few firefighters understand how/why a flashover occurs or what influences it. Flashover is a normal event during fires in a confined area (like a room) and we should be able to predict when it will occur (if at all) and what events or actions will influence or change the event.

In the real world we don’t always have all the information necessary to determine exactly what the fire will do, but we should know enough to make a strong educated estimation. The key to predicting fire behavior is the same as that needed to predict building collapse. Conducting an ongoing size-up, understanding physics and maintaining a margin of safety. We no longer consider it acceptable to wait for “warning signs” of collapse but proactively a**** building construction and its known hazards. We predict the probability of collapse and how we can mitigate it.

The same should be true of fire behavior. We can establish what basic/normal fuel loads are, the normal fuel arrangements, the floor area, ceiling heights, and potential ventilation openings of frequently encountered compartments (rooms). Normal fuel/ventilation profiles are like building construction or occupancy types: they share general characteristics which often behave in similar ways.

This information allows us to predict the depth of the smoke layer within the room, the rate of smoke/heat loss, and the fires heat release rate. (These factors can change as we or the fire alter the environment by creating or closing ventilation openings.) A fire behavior assessment allows us to make an educated risk/benefit analysis and perform tactics with the specific intent of altering or mitigating fire behavior.

What we do about a predictable fire behavior event is dependent on many factors, but its occurrence should not surprise us. That being said this is a dangerous business and we make errors in judgement, miss important information, or just get caught by the odds because we are playing with fire. Just like collapse we need a plan for when it all goes wrong. That is when “warning signs” and “bail outs” come into play.

However, if we learn how a flashover occurs and what effects it, we can make better decisions and greatly decrease the incidents of things going wrong on the interior.
I agree with all that is being said. I think the mentality is that we get there quick enought , get water on it there will be no flash over which will all know is wrong. Our guys vent great but not every room or space can be vented at once. Another thing said was water. A lot of officers will shy away from a 2 1/2 inch line in favor a more manuverable 1 3/4. I was taught you can never go wrong with a "big line" (term we use in Boston). The silly part is we have the man power to move it if we have to. Right amount of water is a big issue. As far as using a ladder pipe in a vent h***, the person who ordered should be re educated. Then again, ladder pipes are a weapon of last resort.
On the front page of this group is a picture of a Flashover that I was in in 2001. I thought i was doing everything by the book by doing horizontal vent, now I believe that I actually fueled the fire, essentially creating a wick like a candle. I teach all of my students to be sure that they have something to cool the ceiling with (Water can or hand line) before they just go and vent horizontally.


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