I am looking for some thoughts on saws, saw blades, and saw set-ups on truck companies. We are a suburb of Dallas that runs one truck company. Our operations are based on a 5 person truck crew with an interior team of 2, an exterior team of 2, and an OV. It is the responsibility of the exterior team and OV to address forcible entry and ventilation on all interior operations. I am currently writing the Saws Section of our Truck Manual and I would like some feedback on experiences with saws and blades for forcible entry and ventilation on residential and commercial dwellings. We do conduct vertical ventilation operations when necessary.
TO me, the answer to your question is based off of the construction types, occupancy layouts, forcible entry challenges you face, and types of roof coverings in your city. If money is not an issue ( yeah right!), then I would run 5 saws on your truck, especially since it is the only one! They would consist of 2 chain saws fo the roof, a rotary saw for metal roof coverings, and another smaller motor chainsaw and a second rotary saw for forcible entry. With the right blade, both rotary saws can be used on the ground for F.E. & on the roof. So as far as which saws & blades to go with-
#1 & #2- Either the Stihl 460 magnum w/ the carbide R.D.R. blades or the Cutters Edge rescue saws with their bullet chains are a decent option. Both chains are for 20" blades and are designed to cut through wood and thin gage metals such a sheet curtain R.U.D.'s. We've have found that these newer designed carbide RDR blades have a life span ratio of 1 of them to approx. 9 of the regular carbide chains. The smaller motor chain saw would be used to remove plywood board-up and fallen trees & bushes. It would have a traditional wood cutting chain that could be sharpened since carbide doesnt do so well on green wood such as trees!
#3  would be the Partner Husquavarna 960 or for some real power, the 1250. One in the outboard position & one in the inboard position( outboard= F.E. & inboard = roof & various F.E.). As far as blades go for rotary saws, my department is currently in the process of testing and purchasing the best blade for the $$$. But in general what your department should be looking for is a blade that can cut metal of varying thicknesses, have longevity in its life span, and have minimal gyroscopic effect on the user! There are many blades that fit this description at all levels of cost. We actually ended up finding a very good blade from a local manufacturer who's blade was the happiest medium of the 3 categories above. We are awaiting the departments decision. Hope this helps! CK
P.S. By no means do I know what the task level responsibilities are of your "outside vent man" position but if any of them consist of "taking" out of arbitrary windows then I would encourage you to take a very good look at the Ventilation study performed by Underwriters Laboratories. Particularly the "Tactical Considerations" portion. With todays high synthetic, low mass furnishings, some big name, big city fire departments such as the FDNY are rethinking the O.V. position and considering renaming it to the D.C.(door control) position since they found that every new opening is a ventilation opening and a new path for the fire. Anyway, hope this helps and take care!
Thanks Colin for the great info. As you stated, it all depends on what types of buildings you are dealing with. We are a suburban department. We added the OV a few years ago and it has improved our efficiency and effectiveness significantly. I am familiar with the FDNY studies, and the work being done by UL, but from what I am hearing, they are not abandoning venting…..I believe the thought is going to be more emphasis on getting water on the fire quicker, and strategic corrdinated venting. Venting can be very dangerous if done wrong….taking the arbitrary window….but ventilation at a minimum must be addressed, at least in our case, on all interior operations. I said addressed because we may not have to vent every interior operation, but we do need to address it. Also I think the subject of transitional attack will be seriously looked at. I really hope though that people take the time to read the information and not just conclude that venting is no longer necessary. Addtionally have you looked at all of the studies on positive presure fire attack, this also can be very dangerous if done wrong. We are very hesitent to place a fan for the same reasons. Great discussion.