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Lets take a look at some large-scale operations and a scenario involving a large scale building complex. Let's see if we can generate some discussions, and put some "virtual "sweat and stress on you or provide an opportunity to do some research and increase some of our knowledge base on this building type.

Think about printing these images and the scenario out and tabletop this with your command or company officers or other firefighters. Look at specific issues affecting firefighter safety; operational logistics; strategic incident action planning (IAP); tactical operations; structural collapse considerations; area-wide impacts (exposures) and logistics; incident command organizational structure; resources needed etc….

You're first due; (Engine Company or the Battalion Chief). Time is 23:30 hrs. Arriving on the Charlie "C" side); You have a vacant building complex consisting of five structures, Type III Construction (Brick and Joist-Heavy Timber). Fire showing on the number 1 and 2 floors of building #4 and extending. There is a light wind 5 MPH coming in from the Delta side. There are hydrants at every street intersection. Look over the images and get a feel for the severity of the incident and the magnitude of the operations. Start asking yourself the following questions;

What can I tell or predict about this building type and it’s characteristics?
How can I predict the buildings will perform under heavy fire conditions?
What am I considering in terms of fire loading and fire suppression needs (GPM)?
What are my considerations for firefighter safety?
What’s my IAP going to look like?
What’s my Incident Command ORG Chart going to look like?
What do I need for resources? Immediately or within the next 15 or 30 minutes, or beyond?
How do I organize the incident scene? What type of command (ICS) resources do I need to effectively and safely manage these operations?
What are my immediate strategic considerations?
What are my tactical considerations?
What's my life safety concerns?
What are my top THREE (3) Concerns; strategically and tactically (3 for each)


If you’re not sure about how these types of buildings are constructed or perform under fire conditions, do some research, look over some trade journals or look online. There a number of great resources and books out there. Consider this a great opportunity to expand your horizons and get some new insights or sharpen some existing KSA’s.

I think that’s enough for now. Let’s see how the comments and replies go and we can add further info and data later if needed.

Have fun….and stay safe.
Remember; Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.

Views: 256

Replies to This Discussion

I'll take a shot at this. Buildings of this type of construction present a real challenge. The heavy timber, once burning, is a huge fire load. Not to mention oils, grease, paint or whatever was spilled on the floor from when it was in use. Mill buildings tend to have large floor areas and large openings in wall, floors and ceilings. If the machinery is still in place, it's another huge load on the building. Even if it's not many of these buildings have been converted to storage and may contain anything under the sun including hazardous materials. If this building has been vacant for a while, it could be damaged due to previous fires and lack of maintenance. Once the structure is burning it will spread rapidly and quickly over power any kind of interior attack. This fire will require HUGE ammounts of G.P.M. to extinguish, so your best use of available water is for exposure protection. As far as suppression resources, this too will be huge. Not only will you have to try and protect immediate exposures, but flying brands will be an issue. My main concern for firefighter safety is collapse. Establishing a collapse zone would be one of my first priorities. Maintaining the collapse zone during the incident would be my number one concern. Organizing this scene would be best done by geographic locations with each location having it's own deputy safety officer. My first tactical priorities would be gathering intelligence on fire location and extent, establishing a collapse zone and setting up for master streams. Strategically, it would be to evacuate any endangered occupants, protect firefighters and protect exposures.

Chris, is it vacant?

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