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I have good news and I have bad news.  The good news is that "things" in the fire service are finally changing and changing for the better.  The bad news is that some of you may not like it. 

I just got back from a weekend with some of the largest minds in today's fire service. (Not quite sure what I was doing there.) Here is some of what’s coming or in some cases, already here.

  • Did you know that every fire apparatus built after 2008 (I believe – maybe 2009)  has a Black Box already in it.  If you are involved in an accident, they will know your speed, if seat belts are in use, and a plethora of other information.  Bottom line, follow your departments driving policies. That way you should be protected.
  • Scientist (some of which are also firefighters) and engineers (PHD type) are finally getting a handle on the science of firefighting. 
    • They are working on wind driven fire had its effects on high rise firefighting. These studies include hotel/motels of 5 or 6 stories.  Almost every department has these in their jurisdiction. They also examined wind driven fires in single family homes in the wake of the LODDs in Houston.
    • They are working of ventilation in single family dwelling fires.  Specifically when to and when not to turn on the Positive Pressure fan.  Check out an article in www.fireengineering.com titled: PPV in Single-Family Dwellings: Not the Only Option, written in 10/01/2009 by  Brian Arnold.  The main focus has been on horizontal and vertical ventilation and they will be adding in PPV this year.
    •  They also examined wind driven fires in single family homes in the wake of the LODDs in Houston  
    • Some of the bigger city departments are learning that Positive Pressure Fans can be used for something other than front door chocks.  
    • They are learning that a key in successful firefighting is in controlling the door to the room of involvement. This slows spread and makes conditions more tenable in the area of the fire. This includes controlling any door that would provide air to the fire, not only the door to the room of involvement.

Bottom line is that when I was a battalion chief in training in the late 1980’s Positive Pressure Fan salesman used to come to the training bureau and hang toilet paper on window frames and door jambs to “demonstrate” the effectiveness of these new tools.  Now we have scientists actually showing us that there IS a difference between PPV and PPA.  One may not be so good and the other is very successful (read the article I mentioned above).  

 

If I was an active firefighter, I would be reading every new issue of Fire Engineering Magazine and continually checking the web for information on new advances.  As a retired firefighter, I still keep up as best I can. 

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Comment by Bobby Halton on August 19, 2013 at 3:13pm

Skip,

You were there because your input is extremely valuable, your wisdom is precious and your humility is contagious. Thank you for being there with us and your contributions to the group were noteworthy an important. The other interesting fact that came up in all our discussions is that we have tremendous evidence that prior to around 1983 we had a great deal of fire service literature about controlling the door, controlling ventilation and coordinating ventilation with the initial attack line. Post 1983 and the advent of widespread use of bunker gear it seems as if ventilation, weather an wind became second thoughts instead of primary concerns.

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