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Coffee Table Quick Tips: Vol. 2 - Issue 8

Size-Up Consideration for the Summer Structure Fire

With each changing season here in New England comes a change in approach when performing a size-up and conducting a 360 of a structure potentially on fire and possibly occupied at the time of call.


Being the first week of June 2024, we have already begun to experience exposures to high heat and humidity with many already having their central air operating and cooling the interior living spaces of their homes.


For many, the simple fix to heat and humidity in residential environments, more importantly rooms designated for sleep, is the implementation of window air conditioning units.


When arriving on scene for a possible structure fire during the summer months, your approach with a size-up and a 360 tour of the property needs to now take into account what sides (A, B, C & D) and levels/divisions (1st floor, 2nd floor, etc.) have an A/C Unit installed.

A window observed with an A/C Unit installed provides two (2) key elements:

  • The likelihood that the window leads to a livable space/sleeping quarters which should take priority as a vent, enter, isolate and search (VEIS) area.


  • An advantage is that once the air conditioning unit is removed, the sash lock is released and the bottom sash is open. The remaining window should still be removed prior to entry being made. 

Hazards to consider when removing A/C Units:

  • When pulling or pushing the air conditioning unit free to create an entry point, a free falling unit can cause significant trauma to a civilian and/or firefighter with the average window unit weighing 50 – 60 lbs.

  • Without being able to confirm if a victim is sleeping below the sill or has succumbed from smoke beneath the A/C unit, use caution if pushing the unit inward.


  • Maintain constant awareness of Officers and/or Firefighters working below you and your ladder when pulling the unit outward and free from the opening.

AB Turenne is a 25-year veteran of the fire service and is currently the Captain of Training and Safety with a career department in Middlesex County Connecticut. As a Certified Level III Fire Service Instructor, AB's training curriculum has proven to be conducive with the operational needs of those he teaches and in turn has improved the human capital knowledge of many. A graduate from the Master of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College, AB has continued his efforts in training and education by contributing to the Fire Engineering Training Community.

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