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I am a big fan of companies getting out and scoping out their response area. Just when you think you have seen it all, something catches your eye that you missed the other 100 times you passed it by. We all know what I am talking about.

Look at the picture above. As a fire service leader, what do you see? What have you learned from your years of experience and training about these types of buildings?

What is of significance?
What is of significance that you see right away but the new guy might not have a clue about?

As an officer that will be making the initial decisions on this building you have a great responsibility to know as much about this structure as you can. It will certainly help you to make the best possible decision about your tactics.

Take the time to sit with your crews and look at the features of this building. What type of construction is it? What type of occupancy is it? Why are both so important? It just might mean the difference of saving the occupants and yourself.

Stay safe and be careful.

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It's a vertical lumber yard, that will not last long under fire conditions, this will pose huge risks to civilian and firefighter lives! This will also probably come in at 10:00pm and I will be up all night. That should get you started Brother, more later!

Be Safe!
Jeff
Like Jeff said, lumber yard waiting on the match. Early collapse, quick extension and a room and content will quickly turn into a "structure". Preplanning and training on this structure is a NECESSITY, not an option.
Just to give some thoughts about where I was going with this; the stairs and landings are wood and will remain wood. Unless a local jurisdiction amends the building code, there are no requirements for non-combustible materials. The same goes for the decks, which are at floor level on the second floor.

What you need to consider is that if a fire happens, each unit only has one exit and the second floor combustible landing is the only exit for the upstairs. So, your first course of action may need to be to throw some ladders and check for trapped occupants before you every pull a line. Of course, this is all incumbent upon the first arriving officer knowing the area, the building, and making the "first" right decision.

Everybody is right with the comments and everybody sees different things. The fire barriers are important and the attic is draft protected. FYI, per the IBC any attic area 3000 square feet for over must have draft stopping or spinkler, most draft stop if the rest of the building is not sprinklered. Hope this helps.
Yes this builing is quite a piece of engineering. Looks like tooth pick lumber! This is a classic case of lets build and screw occupant safety! I guess they figure that everyone will be out by the time we get there. WOW 5 draft stops and it looks like they are sheeted in OSB and I at least see fire stops in the walls.

The best thing that could happen to this building would be to double sheet rock the fire stops in the attic, sprinkler every occupancy and void to include a dry system in the attic, put in an FACP with hardwired and battery backup detectors and then educate the hell out of the occupants about the importance of secondary exits and escape ladders and pray that their is no match waiting!

Stay safe!
-Unprotected stairs are the first thing that catch my attention. These types of occupancies usually go up quick and the stairs will remain open and unprotected potentially trapping occupants above the fire.
-The first line needs to be stretched to protect the stairs. An immediate stretch of a second line is also going to be warranted based on fire conditions as well as a third line as a back up/stand by line.
-The structural integrity of these rapidly built, disposable buildings is questionable at best and any moderately sized fire that get into the structure beyond a room and contents fire, will call in to question the buildings ability to remain tenable. A primary search is paramount.
-The sad reality is that a moderately sized structure fire in this type of building will result in this structure becoming uninhabitable; rescue is the priority in these multiple occupancy dwellings. Initial rapid stretching of the lines will facilitate the search protecting both the firefighters and the victims.
-These fires are manpower intensive and drain available resources very quickly.
-Agressive overhauling operations are also necessary.
Hi Michael

I'd be interested to get your opinion about incident ground priorities/tactics given your last comment "rescue is the priority in these multiple occupancy dwellings. Initial rapid stretching of the lines will facilitate the search protecting both the firefighters and the victims."

I am faced with the situation of being OIC of a 1 pump (like a squad) station. I have myself, a driver and two FF. We arrive about 4 - 5 minutes before the next crew in most parts of our patch. Given that rescue is the priority (no doubt about that one), I am faced with the decision whether to go straight in to attempt rescue, or to make a rapid attack on a developing fire in order to protect life so a subsequent rescue could possibly be more effective. There are, of course, times when it's an easy call, eg. when a trapped occupant can be seen and is able to be reached immediately, or when fire is preventing access to the structure and firefighting must commence to enable entry to be gained. But, there are times when it is very tricky. I'm in favour of rapid deployment of a hose line by the first crew when immediate rescue can not be performed. I have argued about this, and I'm open to comments and ideas from those with wiser heads than mine. I believe that by minimising the threat to lives (ours and occupants) as quickly as possible we give trapped occupants a greater chance of survival and us a greater chance of successful search and rescue. If we fail to take immediate control of rapid fire spread, especially in buildings like this, we run the risk of loosing the chance to rescue anybody, and may possibly end up getting ourselves in need of rescue (or worse). What do you guys think?

Cheers
Mike D


Michael Bricault said:
-Unprotected stairs are the first thing that catch my attention. These types of occupancies usually go up quick and the stairs will remain open and unprotected potentially trapping occupants above the fire.
-The first line needs to be stretched to protect the stairs. An immediate stretch of a second line is also going to be warranted based on fire conditions as well as a third line as a back up/stand by line.
-The structural integrity of these rapidly built, disposable buildings is questionable at best and any moderately sized fire that get into the structure beyond a room and contents fire, will call in to question the buildings ability to remain tenable. A primary search is paramount.
-The sad reality is that a moderately sized structure fire in this type of building will result in this structure becoming uninhabitable; rescue is the priority in these multiple occupancy dwellings. Initial rapid stretching of the lines will facilitate the search protecting both the firefighters and the victims.
-These fires are manpower intensive and drain available resources very quickly.
-Agressive overhauling operations are also necessary.
-Hi Mike. First I will say that the rapid stretch is usually a good move... knocking the fire down will generally make things better, generally speaking. However, the knee jerk reaction of stretching the pre-connected line is not always the answer in ever situation. As you stated this decision will always be based on condition upon arrival and the available manpower at the time.
-My impetus is always to get firefighters to think about rescue earlier in the operation and especially during the size up and not as an afterthought of fire knockdown.
-Unfortunately, the one factor that is consistently overlooked by those that advocate the stretch over everything else is the flex time; the time that is measured from arrival of the company until something definitive has been accomplished; definitive meaning as water being applied to the fire or a rescue is accomplished. The average flex time in the US is approximately seven (7) minutes.
-While the line is being stretched and advanced into the structure, the fire located, water started and the fire attacked the victim continues to be exposed to the superheated environment, smoke and all the poisonous gases in the environment. Add to that the thermal inversion that will take place and the searing steam production and the fire attack has literally placed the survivability of the occupancy ahead of the survivability of the occupant.
-All this assumes that a victim is in fact inside the structure. Decisions are easier when we know for certain if there is a victim or not but, that's not reality. So we use Rescue Profiles. Low, High or Urgent.
-Urgent is a victim in need of rescue.
-High, you believe there is a victim in need of rescue.
-Low is the condition when companies are not sure if the structure is occupied. There is not a category for NO RESCUE. This condition occurs only after the occupancy has been searched.
-In the situation you describe arriving at this building, fully occupied, with a four man company, the typical suggestion would have one member and the pump operator begin the stretch to the fire area and engage the pumps while the officer and the second firefighter begin a search in the fire area. The key is restricting activity to the fire area and not the entire building.
-I personally favor keeping the company in tact, focusing on the stretch to the fire apartment and having one member search the immediate area within the fire apartment. I think that given factoring in flex time and the time you mentioned of additional companies arriving with four minutes, aggressive searching of adjacent apartments can be performed by the next due companies.
-Obviously all this changes if there is a known or highly suspected life hanging in the balance. In that instance all efforts should be directed toward the rescue.
-Another point I was trying to make is something Tom Brennen spoke of often. Far to many firefighters have lost sight of the interrelationship of the tasks being performed on the fireground and how one job facilities the next. Lines are stretched after the door is forced and aggressive ventilation is implemented and therefor stretching is dependent on these prior tasks. Far to many nozzlemen have forgotten that their job is not to knock the fire down but rather to keep the fire in check; to facilitate the search and rescue operations, to protect the searchers and the victims.
-After the search is complete, then suppression takes priority. Suppression to early takes time leaving the victim exposed to the environment plus the resulting thermal inversion and excessive steam production. Remember, the victim doesn't have an SCBA or bunker gear. All to often a room and contents fire will leave the entire apartment uninhabitable. So what are we saving? Human life always is given priority.
-By the way, I think a four man engine company is great staffing in these insane times we live in.
Thanks Michael

I totally agree with all you say. The important thing is to direct your resources to achieve the ultimate goal of saving life. The whole operation should be simultaneous to achieve that goal. I have drilled with the crew over this scenario, and we've accepted that we may leave 1 member on the hose line to carry out "interior containment" to contain fire spread and protect the search and rescue crew, while myself and other carry out rapid primary search. It's not what our procedures would have us doing. They dicate that we should always work in pairs and never ever be seperated. However, in most cases a risk v benefit assessment would allow the deviation. 4 per crew is our minimum shift staffing (MSS). We have fought to keep it for years and it is currently still the case. With that in mind however, we lost the rank of Divisional Officer (Battalion Chief) in the mid 90's during industrial strife. So as crew OIC's we take all command responsibilities up to 3rd Alarm level. At that point an Area Commander would respond (from home after hours) which could be up to 1 hour away. Our command and control procedures now expect me, as a senior station officer (Captain) to remain outside in command mode for all incidents, and task the crew with inside responsibilities. We are discouraged from entering with our crew and leaving the outside without command. It works ok when I'm responding to assist as 2nd or subsequent pump but gets a bit tricky when I'm first there. We get by most times, and I have a good arrangement with the OIC of my second arriving pump. The rank of DO is missed and it puts pressure on OIC's and even more pressure on FF's inside buildings without an officer.

Thanks again for your reply. I have taken some useful information from what you have said.

Cheers
Mike D

Michael Bricault said:
-Hi Mike. First I will say that the rapid stretch is usually a good move... knocking the fire down will generally make things better, generally speaking. However, the knee jerk reaction of stretching the pre-connected line is not always the answer in ever situation. As you stated this decision will always be based on condition upon arrival and the available manpower at the time.
-My impetus is always to get firefighters to think about rescue earlier in the operation and especially during the size up and not as an afterthought of fire knockdown.
-Unfortunately, the one factor that is consistently overlooked by those that advocate the stretch over everything else is the flex time; the time that is measured from arrival of the company until something definitive has been accomplished; definitive meaning as water being applied to the fire or a rescue is accomplished. The average flex time in the US is approximately seven (7) minutes.
-While the line is being stretched and advanced into the structure, the fire located, water started and the fire attacked the victim continues to be exposed to the superheated environment, smoke and all the poisonous gases in the environment. Add to that the thermal inversion that will take place and the searing steam production and the fire attack has literally placed the survivability of the occupancy ahead of the survivability of the occupant.
-All this assumes that a victim is in fact inside the structure. Decisions are easier when we know for certain if there is a victim or not but, that's not reality. So we use Rescue Profiles. Low, High or Urgent.
-Urgent is a victim in need of rescue.
-High, you believe there is a victim in need of rescue.
-Low is the condition when companies are not sure if the structure is occupied. There is not a category for NO RESCUE. This condition occurs only after the occupancy has been searched.
-In the situation you describe arriving at this building, fully occupied, with a four man company, the typical suggestion would have one member and the pump operator begin the stretch to the fire area and engage the pumps while the officer and the second firefighter begin a search in the fire area. The key is restricting activity to the fire area and not the entire building.
-I personally favor keeping the company in tact, focusing on the stretch to the fire apartment and having one member search the immediate area within the fire apartment. I think that given factoring in flex time and the time you mentioned of additional companies arriving with four minutes, aggressive searching of adjacent apartments can be performed by the next due companies.
-Obviously all this changes if there is a known or highly suspected life hanging in the balance. In that instance all efforts should be directed toward the rescue.
-Another point I was trying to make is something Tom Brennen spoke of often. Far to many firefighters have lost sight of the interrelationship of the tasks being performed on the fireground and how one job facilities the next. Lines are stretched after the door is forced and aggressive ventilation is implemented and therefor stretching is dependent on these prior tasks. Far to many nozzlemen have forgotten that their job is not to knock the fire down but rather to keep the fire in check; to facilitate the search and rescue operations, to protect the searchers and the victims.
-After the search is complete, then suppression takes priority. Suppression to early takes time leaving the victim exposed to the environment plus the resulting thermal inversion and excessive steam production. Remember, the victim doesn't have an SCBA or bunker gear. All to often a room and contents fire will leave the entire apartment uninhabitable. So what are we saving? Human life always is given priority.
-By the way, I think a four man engine company is great staffing in these insane times we live in.
-Mike, these insane times chock full of BS do more with less staff-cutting politicians have put a ridiculous strain on all of us from the manpower perspective.
-I do agree with your department SOG that insists firefighters should work in groups of at least two. However, due to the aforementioned dumb a** politicians, it is almost impossible to do all we need to within these manpower guidelines and sometimes, in the real world, firefighters must do what they must in order to complete the mission.
-We operate under the philosophy that remaining in direct voice or visual contact fulfills the parameter of working in pairs.
-Should we ever be working alone? In an ideal world of course not. But we don't live in utopia, we live and work in the hard realities of the cruel world created for us by uncaring, uninterested, self serving, selfish double talking leaders, administrators and politicians.
-Train hard, live well and...
-Keep the Faith.
Like Jeff said, a vertical lumber yard, lots of fuel and air.
Coming from a more urban area but now here in the "sticks" for 20 years with M/A sometimes better than 1/2 hr away I'd say 1 small hand-line dedicated to protect the stairs and landing area [watch the back side of the wall to the right of the stairs] and 2 large flanking on either side for initial attack on ground and/or fire floor. then we can decide next move based on available manpower here now, how many coming/time to get here, etc
Now, lets just hope we can muster at least 4 or 5 FF's in the middle of a week-day. Well, 5 or 6 at least if you need to do tanker op's too.
Jason I disagree with you on holding off on pulling a line. I'm commenting on what I see and not what this construction site is going to be. That being said, depending on how involved the scene is, a turret and a defensive posture is probably in order.

Jason Hoevelmann said:
Just to give some thoughts about where I was going with this; the stairs and landings are wood and will remain wood. Unless a local jurisdiction amends the building code, there are no requirements for non-combustible materials. The same goes for the decks, which are at floor level on the second floor.

What you need to consider is that if a fire happens, each unit only has one exit and the second floor combustible landing is the only exit for the upstairs. So, your first course of action may need to be to throw some ladders and check for trapped occupants before you every pull a line. Of course, this is all incumbent upon the first arriving officer knowing the area, the building, and making the "first" right decision.

Everybody is right with the comments and everybody sees different things. The fire barriers are important and the attic is draft protected. FYI, per the IBC any attic area 3000 square feet for over must have draft stopping or spinkler, most draft stop if the rest of the building is not sprinklered. Hope this helps.
Michael, are you assuming there are at least four on an engine and a truck? You mention 3 handlines and a primary search, but I didn't see you mention anything about ventilation, laddering the building to name a few other fireground duties. I won't even get into R.I. T. crews now. With what you propose, lets say, 3 engines and two trucks you would be talking about 20 personnel. The sad reality is with today's reduced manpower, that just isn't the case unless you are fortunate enough to be in a major city. Some depts are lucky if they have 2 people on an engine or a truck, 3 at most. I am all for pre-planning a building and the surrounding area so we can anticipate fire spread, rescue water sources, etc., but it will be the fireman/officer (yes I said fireman, some career depts don't even have an officer on every piece) to make a quick size up and set the tone for what will happen for the rest of the call, whether they attempt a rescue, or pull a line, or take command and direct the rest of the units coming in. In this photo, lets face it, there may be very little left to save by the time everything is set up. As for as someone else's comment about it happening at 10 pm. I know it doesn't always happen that way, 6 am on a weekday is a possibility also. I don't mean to sound negative, but we all know we have seen buildings like this in our own areas. Look at them now, in a week , in a month, follow the construction process, see what is being done and what's not being done. Be prepared and be safe

're assuming that cite>Michael Bricault said:
-Unprotected stairs are the first thing that catch my attention. These types of occupancies usually go up quick and the stairs will remain open and unprotected potentially trapping occupants above the fire.
-The first line needs to be stretched to protect the stairs. An immediate stretch of a second line is also going to be warranted based on fire conditions as well as a third line as a back up/stand by line.
-The structural integrity of these rapidly built, disposable buildings is questionable at best and any moderately sized fire that get into the structure beyond a room and contents fire, will call in to question the buildings ability to remain tenable. A primary search is paramount.
-The sad reality is that a moderately sized structure fire in this type of building will result in this structure becoming uninhabitable; rescue is the priority in these multiple occupancy dwellings. Initial rapid stretching of the lines will facilitate the search protecting both the firefighters and the victims.
-These fires are manpower intensive and drain available resources very quickly.
-Agressive overhauling operations are also necessary.

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