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If you can remember from what you were taught or if you currently instruct in engine operations how do you handle the question of opening the line in smoke. I say you do not open the line in smoke, however when the smoke is extremly hot you must open the nozzle. Other options include leaving the area (fallback position) and increasing ventilation of the area. What do you say?

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Replies to This Discussion

Ron - I watched that video what I don't see flashover what I see is fully involved rooms. "Hit the ceiling and get the hell out."
What does that mean? Is that tactical advice?
Ray, The sad thing is that video was sent to me by a good friend who is also if fire officer but i know he's smarter than that video also. The internet with all the videos it has and the training seminars such as fdic hot classes are truly great but they are also bad at the same time. Now at no time am I taking shot or talking bad about fdic. What I am saying is that some of the trainees that attend take everyword and every action and stick to it to a T instead of using what they learned and modeling to themselves and their depts. Experience is key, some of these guys just dont know any better. Like I had said in one of my other replies. When I and another member of my company attended fdic east one of the classes we went to was flashover chamber. After witnessing the penciling crap the 2 of us were talking when we got out about how everyone was amazed by it. We thought it was just for keeping the burn going and couldnt understand why these guys all were actin like they seen moses part the red sea. We were more impressed by the fire behavior but alot were not. Sorry to ramble! As for the hit the cieling and get out I dont get it either. Let me ask you if I may at any time in your career have you ever been jammed up where you and your guys were close to gettin lit up? If so what did you encounter and what was the final outcome, how did you and your crew get out of it? I think that could be an idea for a series of training minute videos.
I'm bringing this one back to the top. My volly company just experienced this situation and the result is that one got blistered ears in which he had to get skin grafts. It was a mobile home, single family dwelling, with fire pushing out the front of the house onto the front deck. The attack team took the line to the rear and entered. They said they encountered heavy black smoke, high heat, no visibility. The first nozzleman opened the nozzle for a few seconds (I'm not sure how long) and then moved forward. They encountered a tv and a chair and the nozzleman passed the nozzle off to the back-up man to take around the corner of the chair. The back-up man opened the nozzle (they've not said if they saw fire or not at this point--they just said that he opened the nozzle) and that's when the original nozzleman felt his ears start to "sting". Some of us have discussed this to learn and teach how to prevent this from happening. Well coordinated ventilation and attack probably could have prevented this. Please give your thoughts and opinions. I'm not "Monday morning quarterbacking" just looking for more info on how to learn from our mistakes and share with the others. We've discussed this before but it seems like it hasn't settled in. The gentleman that got burned is doing great. Thanks in advance for the assistance.


Larry
ps--I wasn't on the first due company, so I got there late in the ball game. This is information told to me by the nozzleman and others on the first due engine.
My questions are did he have on his hood and his ear flaps down and was the nozzle set on a straight stream or a fog pattern?
Larry Glover said:
I'm bringing this one back to the top. My volly company just experienced this situation and the result is that one got blistered ears in which he had to get skin grafts. It was a mobile home, single family dwelling, with fire pushing out the front of the house onto the front deck. The attack team took the line to the rear and entered. They said they encountered heavy black smoke, high heat, no visibility. The first nozzleman opened the nozzle for a few seconds (I'm not sure how long) and then moved forward. They encountered a tv and a chair and the nozzleman passed the nozzle off to the back-up man to take around the corner of the chair. The back-up man opened the nozzle (they've not said if they saw fire or not at this point--they just said that he opened the nozzle) and that's when the original nozzleman felt his ears start to "sting". Some of us have discussed this to learn and teach how to prevent this from happening. Well coordinated ventilation and attack probably could have prevented this. Please give your thoughts and opinions. I'm not "Monday morning quarterbacking" just looking for more info on how to learn from our mistakes and share with the others. We've discussed this before but it seems like it hasn't settled in. The gentleman that got burned is doing great. Thanks in advance for the assistance.


Larry
ps--I wasn't on the first due company, so I got there late in the ball game. This is information told to me by the nozzleman and others on the first due engine.
He said that his hood was on and that his flaps were down. I asked him twice what pattern and did he check it before he went in. No answer. His hood is not damaged at all.
Brothers:

Having read through this whole discussion, I find myself feeling a little frustrated with the fire service as it currently functions. Larry's brothers were, in my opinion, burned by two things; opening the nozzle with more fog than SS and a lack of ventilation. Trailers, mobile homes and the modern single family dwelling is the bread and butter in most of our communities and for whatever reason,...the lessons of the past have slipped into the cracks in the pavement. SS or SB, Fog or not, we aren't getting the ventilation accomplished effectively in most of these cases.

I have never been taught the penciling technique, but I have tried it as described by a very well respected Fire Instructor, but I see now, that he and therefore, I didn't have all the facts about where it comes from. I think if I could talk to him today, he would have changed his stance by now, as I have. That being said, I think Brother Hankins is right, there is a time and place to open up on the black fire. I like the way one of you pointed out that instead of penciling being the appropriate tactic, open that damn thing up and fight your way in! As I watched the LB video, that was my thought process. In that circumstance, I tell the nozzleman to open up and push forward to hit the seat. I don't have smoothbores to work with, the department won't buy them, we have to use pistol grips, they come with the nozzle that's purchased by the department. We can't effectively teach because we don't have realistic fires (flashover sims are not realism, they are very hot!). So....not to sound too negative, I teach what I mentioned above, very much like Brother Hankins describes. Too frequently, with the lack of experience we are forced to deal with, we are stuck in the hallway, with bad conditions and too little or ineffective ventilation. Gotta fight or flight.

Speaking from the ground zero of small towns, I think part of our problem is that good men are trying to teach a subject that they have little experience in (relative to areas with heavy fire volume runs). But if they aren't doing it, who will replace them? Many of these guys are truly devoted, and among the 20%ers, and are probably teaching other things as well. There just isn't enough experienced brothers to go around. Sometimes the guy with all the experience really sucks at teaching or has no desire to be involved. Maybe I'm missing the mark, Ray. But I really think the nozzle issue is one of several that make up a whole picture of failing to effectively perform on the fireground. That's what I see. And I don't even begin to think I have anywhere near as much fire as many of you, but perhaps more than some. I'm looking to learn.

Larry Glover said:
He said that his hood was on and that his flaps were down. I asked him twice what pattern and did he check it before he went in. No answer. His hood is not damaged at all.
Hello Mates, Ray ,how are you? I've looked at a lot of the responses and what I see is some confusion. Most answer NO, to water on smoke but then add something like-"if your pinned to the ground, or you feel extreme heat etc." so then you would open up on smoke. If you gave it a shot at the ceiling and temperatures dropped, why would you then retreat, why not monitor the conditions and continue the advance? I'm also interested to know who out there has done any study of or training in the pulsing or penciling technique? I have not, yet I know a number of FF in the U.K. who do, and I have had a discussion with them about it. I do not understand it all however I would not call it nonsense until I knew more. Remember their fire service came out of the pounding those brave men took in WW2, they are not morons, they just approach their craft differently then we do in the states. I've recently had the opportunity to train various ranks on my job and that confusion I speak about is out there. We all need to wrap our brains around this issue and try and find out what really is going on and come up with a solution. I know what I would do in that hallway, be aggressive and smart!

Joe Dombrowski said:
I definitely agree with you on this one Ray. You should not open a line in smoke unless your pinned down to the floor by the heat. This is really only to protect your own butt so you can fall back into a safe position until adequate ventilation can be acheived and you can make an advance. I would add one thing and let me know what you think about this.

In a structure where I am a little suspect on how high the ceiling is and have a heavy snotty smoke condition I would throw a quick blast up at the ceiling (just a second or so). This does two things for me, it gives me an idea of how high the ceiling really is and lets me know a little bit about what the conditions are up there. Throw some water up there and it either does not come back down or you hear it boil when it hits the ceiling tells me the smoke could be ready to pop and we need to fall back till ventilation is effective. I feel all too much crews are not doing this in large structures and by the time you feel that heat on your back it might already be to late. We are getting in too deep without knowing the condtions high over our heads and find ourselves bailing out or even worse.

In a regular residential structure your gonna feel the heat quick and you can take action to protect yourself right away but in a super market or department store there may be 10 or 20 feet of smoke and heat over your head. By the time you feel that "pin you to the floor" heat the smoke up in that large ceiling area is gonna light off a lot quicker than in a residential structure. Even now a days in these new mcmansions and qiant houses with large open great rooms, two level entries, etc.. we should consider giving the ceiling a quick shot just to give us a clue on what we are dealing with.
Confusion is right. Reading Marques Bush's post about the Flashover instructors teaching them not to "pencil" is totally different then what they taught us about 7 years ago.
Guys
If you are penciling a smoke condition to advance into a fire, you are asking for a boat load of problems. Penciling started in the early 70s...AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL TOOL! I know it was said in this post before. If you guys even think of putting water on smoke, it must be hot enough to do so, as no one here are idiots and want to make a lights out scenerio. When you do, open up all the way, advance down the hall, and put the fire out! With the fuels of today, the smoke is the fire! God I will be happy when someone finally puts this penciling thing to bed!
Brothers,

Sometimes its funny to see how far we have advanced in the fire service only to return to where we were. How many of us have the antique brass nozzles on our desk or shelf? Were they adjustable?
To say in a blanket statement, "don't open the line into smoke", like most blanket statements, may not be right. As Ray stated in the discussion statement, extremely hot smoke needs some attention.
Two things I have not seen commented on in this discussion are; the advantages of reach that we have with our SB nozzles; and the ability to "see" through the smoke with our TIC. Reach gives us the ability to be in a position of relative safety and still attack the seat of the fire (interior configuration allowing), and the TIC gives the officer, or user, the ability to identify where the extreme heat is. Proper attack is the key as so many have mentioned. If we teach anything to the next generation of firefighters, it should be those things that will save their lives. Time and millions of fires tested methods, that have proven over and over to work....coordinated fire attack, proper application of water, situational awareness and of course outstanding leadership. Its not news to most of us, but this job is HARD and DANGEROUS. Very few things have come along that make it any safer. Let us not be taken in by the latest fad, lets make sure we train to be good at what we know works. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

Russ Chapman said:
Guys
If you are penciling a smoke condition to advance into a fire, you are asking for a boat load of problems. Penciling started in the early 70s...AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL TOOL! I know it was said in this post before. If you guys even think of putting water on smoke, it must be hot enough to do so, as no one here are idiots and want to make a lights out scenerio. When you do, open up all the way, advance down the hall, and put the fire out! With the fuels of today, the smoke is the fire! God I will be happy when someone finally puts this penciling thing to bed!
From what I've learned from firefighters in Europe, penciling is no longer used, but it was not a instructional tool, it was used to delay rollover/flashover enabling the nozzle team to get to the seat of the fire and extinguish it. I believe it started in the 80's. Over here in the states it may have been an instructional tool, however that was not its intent. If I have this right then if its hot enough you would open the line on smoke? On what you described about opening fully the line and moving in, won't that cause a lights out scenerio, driving heat down onto the advancing line overwhelming them?

Russ Chapman said:
Guys
If you are penciling a smoke condition to advance into a fire, you are asking for a boat load of problems. Penciling started in the early 70s...AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL TOOL! I know it was said in this post before. If you guys even think of putting water on smoke, it must be hot enough to do so, as no one here are idiots and want to make a lights out scenerio. When you do, open up all the way, advance down the hall, and put the fire out! With the fuels of today, the smoke is the fire! God I will be happy when someone finally puts this penciling thing to bed!
Your statement that "MAY not be right" about never opening on smoke, is a not clear to me, is it right or not? I'm asking his question about a fire that you do not have a shot at the seat of the fire and no TIC. The engine co.'s in NYC do not have TICs, ladders, squads and rescues do, but not the engines. I'm asking the same question to my job, and the answers are all over the place. If you can ask all your firefighters and officers and see what you get. Do we open up on smoke? thanks.

Joe Campbell said:
Brothers,

Sometimes its funny to see how far we have advanced in the fire service only to return to where we were. How many of us have the antique brass nozzles on our desk or shelf? Were they adjustable?
To say in a blanket statement, "don't open the line into smoke", like most blanket statements, may not be right. As Ray stated in the discussion statement, extremely hot smoke needs some attention.
Two things I have not seen commented on in this discussion are; the advantages of reach that we have with our SB nozzles; and the ability to "see" through the smoke with our TIC. Reach gives us the ability to be in a position of relative safety and still attack the seat of the fire (interior configuration allowing), and the TIC gives the officer, or user, the ability to identify where the extreme heat is. Proper attack is the key as so many have mentioned. If we teach anything to the next generation of firefighters, it should be those things that will save their lives. Time and millions of fires tested methods, that have proven over and over to work....coordinated fire attack, proper application of water, situational awareness and of course outstanding leadership. Its not news to most of us, but this job is HARD and DANGEROUS. Very few things have come along that make it any safer. Let us not be taken in by the latest fad, lets make sure we train to be good at what we know works. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

Russ Chapman said:
Guys
If you are penciling a smoke condition to advance into a fire, you are asking for a boat load of problems. Penciling started in the early 70s...AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL TOOL! I know it was said in this post before. If you guys even think of putting water on smoke, it must be hot enough to do so, as no one here are idiots and want to make a lights out scenerio. When you do, open up all the way, advance down the hall, and put the fire out! With the fuels of today, the smoke is the fire! God I will be happy when someone finally puts this penciling thing to bed!

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