“Beware of smoke from everywhere”
Basement fires, and their tell-tale sign of smoke from everywhere, is arguably the most dangerous fire we encounter. Sadly, this was made evident by the recent LODD of Patrick Wolterman in Hamilton, Ohio and the close call in Toledo with FF Dorner last month. The latter has taken the time to share his story, which is imperative for us to read and share to learn. The former, sadly cannot share his story, but yet we must learn from the incident all the same. Both were basement fires and in a matter of seconds many lives were changed forever.
Regardless where geographically in the Country the fire occurs, the basement fire demands that we recognize it is a basement fire (360˚ lap), communicate our findings (situation report, CAN report), and have a preplanned coordinated attack we can implement.
“The goal we seek to achieve is isolation and extinguishment of the fire, and the coordination of this operation is similar to placing puzzle pieces correctly to achieve the finished product. Each hoseline is just one piece of the puzzle, and all companies operating must have clear and concise goals that are communicated before the incident. The front yard of a residential structure with fire issuing from three basement well windows and report of people trapped is not the correct place for the incident commander to explain a new tactic that involves coordination of four companies. The plans must be communicated and trained extensively, only to be executed when the correct situation is recognized.” Chapter 11, Page 115
Making the push down the interior stairs is the most dangerous tactic we exercise and it demands precise actions and that we move with purpose. Ensure you have estimated the setback so you do not come up short. Always be cognizant that you are operating on a platform that is being attacked by fire for an unknown amount of time. Lastly, most interior basement entrances are located in the kitchen, the room with the greatest concentrated load (fridge, stove, you!). Our success demands that we never let down our guard, eliminate complacency and have a well-drilled plan we can execute.