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Does the fire service, in general, risk safety too much at commerical fires?

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  • #31
    Mamaluke...hypothetical question...

    You have an abandoned building...it is a marked building for exterior firefighting ops only, due to safety hazards..structural integrity compromised by holes in the floor, lack of maintenance, etc.

    You are the company officer and get dispatched to a report of a fire in this building..as you pull up you see the mark on the exterior that indicates an unsafe building...it is about 1/4 involved and spreading rapidly...would you disregard the warnings and go inside to fight it? The very fact that the building has been abandoned by its owners means they don't give a fat rat's rump about it. In the case of an abandoned building, protect the exposures, put the fire out from the outside and live to fight another day.

    As a firefighter...I do have pride in what I do and I love to go INSIDE the f*cking building and put the fire out! As a company officer, it is my job to watch out for my personnel. I am not willing to sacrifice the lives of the personnel under my command for something that is going to be a total loss. Some buildings are built to burn...others are allowed to decay to that point. My Department does aggressive interior fire attack...but there comes a point where you have to weigh the options, think outside of the box, shift gears and go defensive.

    Every fire is different, every method of fire attack will be different..the one thing that remains constant is the possibility of death and injury on the fireground...and I want to make sure that my shift ends with the same number of personnel going home as I started with!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    • #32
      Gonzo, if I may field this question:

      //You have an abandoned building...it is a marked building for exterior firefighting ops only, due to safety hazards..structural integrity compromised by holes in the floor, lack of maintenance, etc.//

      This is a whole different animal. A building that we have marked a hazardous is most likely a lost building. Our first priority is the exposures, barring a known life hazard within the fire building. The first two handlines are stretched to the immediate exposures # 2 and 4, assuming they are attached or reasonably close. At the same time elevated and master streams are set up to drown the derilict building.

      NO, I would not risk a hair on any mans head for this building. I would, however, assure I had enough GPM dispatched to bury this building once and for all.

      We have had our share of squatters in such buildings and without a clear sign of their presence, a primary search of the building would be foolish, if not criminal.

      The jist I am getting from the majority of responses to this question seems to be, if there is no life hazard, don't take a risk.

      I don't agree. As I said before, snuffing a fire quickly and early, protects all that surrounds the building. Be it life or property, we are sworn to protect both. Unless they have changed the oath of office, we must take risks for both.

      My mitigating a fire in a worthless, abandoned building, protects all that surround it. If I can do it from within and get it done quickly and in a reasonably safe manner, that's my choice.

      And back to the original question...
      Do we risk too much...?
      Yup, every day, feels good, don't it?

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      • #33
        I still believe that ultimately we are not responsible for somebody else not building to code or using LW trusses and generally just doing other crap that means their building will burn down.

        That being said, if it can be done safely, get in and put it out. There are too many variables involved to say that we will never. Leave that decision to the company officer, let him/her make the decision based on their experience.
        It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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        • #34
          Ok, lets switch gears a little. How does everyone that is against fighting fire in those "disposible" buildings feel about fighting these awesome Wild Fires that are raging out of control out West? I think 6 or more have been killed so far. And this is so we can have a nice Park to go to and enjoy our vacations. Sure every so often a few buildings get in the way, and in most cases these home owners have been evacuated long ago, but the Firefighters are still doing everything they can to protect these structures. Should these brothers and sisters be told to pack it up and go home, because nobody cares about a few million trees? Me thinks I just opened Pandora's box

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          • #35
            SDS; Structurally Dysfunctional Structures. WHAT NEXT? Trying to keep track of all these acronyms is giving me a headache.

            If my failing but still selective memory is right, Pat Boone Automats were chain food stores, unstaffed, packed with automated vending machines that were operated by the singer Pat Boone; Debbie Boone's dad to you younger people.

            The Automats were glass domes and looked like mini biospheres or the top half of that round building at EPCOT. They were about fifty foot in diameter, twenty-five feet tall - all glass.

            Pat Boone closed them after a while but I think some of the buildings are still around. I think a big chunk of ice slid off one a few winters ago and seriously injured some passerbys.

            Those western wildfires are really something else. I saw the C-SPAN show on Labor Day and those dollar figures were mindboggling. My hat's off to those firefighters busting their butts out there - doesn't look easy.

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            • #36
              Ok, lets switch gears a little. How does everyone that is against fighting fire in those "disposible" buildings feel about fighting these awesome Wild Fires that are raging out of control out West?

              Those would be the raging fires created by conditions fostered by a century of well-intended but counter productive suppression of all wildfires?

              I think 6 or more have been killed so far. And this is so we can have a nice Park to go to and enjoy our vacations.
              Very little park land involved so far. Much timber, though.

              Should these brothers and sisters be told to pack it up and go home, because nobody cares about a few million trees?
              Well, first the trees unlike a strip store with significant involvement still have economic value. The strip store has already been totalled as far as the insurer cares.

              Second, unlike the strip store, the forest fire will continue to spread to involve a much greater area than if no suppression takes place.

              If you look at incidents like Storm King, this year's incident in Washington, and even arguably given the technology of the time Mann Gulch you have a failure of overhead (management) to get the troops out of the way of a fire in time. In those cases changing weather conditions where making what appeared to be a minor fire ready to blow up.

              Those situations are not unlike the arguements being made here on certain building styles/locations/occupancies -- if there is no life hazard, there is no unique property hazard, and the fire is well advanced enough that you're questioning the intergrity of the building, at what point do you say, enough is enough, the risk is no longer reasonable?
              IACOJ Canine Officer
              20/50

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              • #37
                Capt Gonzo- What Lt 229 said is exactly right...the question you posed is a whole different animal. The tactics called for in your situation are obvious. My previous response was not a blanket statement. It only pertained to the original post, which to me was suggesting that we should risk less by not going inside a building just because it is a commercial building..just because the building is commercial we should fight the fire from the outside because its only property, which isn't worth the risk of an interior attack...because even if conditions look safe for an interior attack, a ceiling could come down at any time, so we should never go inside a commercial building where we know there is no life hazard- even if conditions allow for (and call for) an interior attack...no interior attacks on a building if its commercial- just because its commercial...we judge whether we go in by the type of occupancy, not the conditions at the scene.

                Of course you aren't going to go in on some vacant, rotten, crumbling building with fire blowing out every window. But, if you have fire in the rear of a store in a taxpayer, at 2am with no one inside, you go IN and you put the fire out. You don't stay outside just because its a commercial occupancy. If you do this, what's the point of even having a fire department. The fire will get into the cockloft, spread to the exposures, and destroy the whole structure. Then what are you going to do? Make it look like you didn't f*ck up by squirting water on it from outside. If you're gonna operate like that, save the water and let it burn itself out. Then go home and try and come up with one good reason why your department should be in existence.

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                • #38
                  Mamaluke...believe it or not, I agree with you. A fire in a taxpayer structure at 2:00 AM, if caught early enough can be fought sucessfully with an interior attack. The flip side is, most taxpayers are older structures, built in the late 1800's to early 1900's, with no adequate fire protection and detection systems. Chances are the fire will already be in the cockloft on arrival. The modern version of the taxpayer, the strip mall, has a fire detection system and may be sprinklered, which gives us quicker notification and may even hold the fire in check until we get there.
                  ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                  Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

                  Comment

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