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Scenario.... smoke in the building....

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  • Scenario.... smoke in the building....

    You are in command of a truck company. You are dispatched as part of a 1st alarm assignment to a report of a smell of smoke in a furniture store. You are the first due truck company.

    Building construction: Class 2, cement block walls with a brick veneer, metal deck built up roof supported by lightweight steel trusses, HVAC units on the roof.

    The building has a "wet" sprinkler system, however, it is out of service for repairs.

    Time of alarm: 10:45 AM

    Weather: sunny, temps in the 80's moderate humidity

    Apparatus responding: 3 Engines, 2 Ladders, 1 Rescue, and the District Chief on the 1st alarm assignment.

    On arrival, the officer of the 1st due Engine company reports a very light haze in the store, coming into the store from the rear warehouse area...the alarm was telephoned in, there are no alarms sounding in the building, and it has not yet been evacuated

    Based on what information that has been given, your opinions are welcomed! PS: have fun!
    ‎"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

  • #2
    The first thing that would catch my attention would be the smell of the smoke. You may be able to get a clue as where to start. Is it a light ballast, wood, food from a microwave in the employees break area or plastic. I would evacuate the store and talk to store employees. Ask how long they have noticed the smoke and where they first noticed it. I would check the warehouse area first and then the rest of the store for the source with the TI. I would check the fuse box for any blown fuses. If I am unable to find anything in the store, I would throw the stick to the roof and check for any burned our motors or malfunctioning roof top units. It could also be an outside fire, maybe a mulch fire and the smoke is being drawn into the structure.
    Northeast Fire Photos


    • #3
      I agree about most things, including having the truck company search the roof for faulty elements, and I would assign a company to help with the evacuation. On the chance that something has been smoldering for a while before anyone knew about it, I would be establishing a water supply and stretching lines to the outside of the building-- there's a ton of fire load I know could get rocking pretty quickly. I'd pull out the thermal imaging camera to look for heat, and I might even go so far as to have local utilities shut off at least temporarily. The smell of smoke initially might not get me too concerned, but the haze seen on arrival makes me want to step this up a little.

      Not foresaking EMS, I also want the employees checked out for any symptoms while interviewing them about the situation.

      That's what jumps out at me initially. Any other ideas?

      Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
      Dennis Miller


      • #4
        I don’t have much experience as an officer but I am on a truck company so here’s how we would do it (by the SOGs).

        Assuming a full crew of 5:
        1). Irons man goes to the engine crew to assist in FE. He carries a set of irons and K tool, light box and radio.
        2). Middle man does an exterior walk around (if practical, we have a mall that would take 30min to walk around!) and reports findings to command. He carries a set of irons, 6’ hook, light box and radio. Next assignment is back with the drive to set up ladder(s).
        3). Driver positions truck, starts generator, turns on lights (we usually do this night or day)and prepares to raise ladder(s). If the stick isn’t going to be practical then the Driver and Middle man start setting up ground ladders. This may happen anyway as our SOG is to ladder as many egress points as possible.
        4). Can man and I (officer) go interior to start primary search. Or, as in this case, I would assist with evacuation and investigation of cause of smoke. We carry a water can, 6’ hook, light boxes, rabbit tool and radios. Officer and Can man stay together so any assignment from command falls on them. Officer can call up help from Middle man or ask command for additional help from arriving engines.

        For our department, the responsibility of finding the seat/cause of the fire is first due engine. Truck company provides primary search functions first, then FE assistance to the engine crew then venting as needed and finally tools and material for overhaul.

        In the example you gave my worries would be to make sure any civilians in the store are cared for and if the fire expands, the truss roof (in case we’re on it) and HVAC (in case we’re under it).
        No doubt, if the fire takes off, I sure hope command calls for surround and drown!!


        • #5

          In my city, the first due truck would be assigned to the roof to check the HVAC units. The rig would be positioned to the point it could be used for a defensive attack if need be. After the problem has been found and corrected, we would be reassigned to ventilation.

          jasonsfd Ladder5



          • #6
            along with the other actions taken I would include getting a visual on the truss/attic space.These areas of a commericial occupaccy can hold and hide alot of heat and smoke. The TIC is nice but I don't trust it to "read" the smoke for me. It takes a significant amout of smoke to create a "haze" in a large store.


            • #7
              This sounds like a very dangerous situation. The heavy loads from the HVAC units on lightweight truss roof... if there is fire rocking some place it wouldn't take much for the trusses to come plunking down. Plus, with the concrete block walls and brick veneer, I would even be concerned about a wall collapse secondary to the roof failing.

              Immediate evacuation of occupants, definetly. I'd conduct a recon mission to find the extent of the fire... i.e. if it's beyond its incipient stage. If it is not, I would contain it by having a 2.5" advanced, and a 2.5" safety line stretched. If whatever burning has progressed to the point where there appears to be significant flame and/or heat impingement on the roof systen, I would evacuate all ff's from the building and from the roof, and conduct operations from the outside as possible.

              Do we know why the sprinkler system is out of service? Can we supply it, or is it an issue beyond that?

              We need an update on this scenario Cap! It's a good one.
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              • #8
                I'm on a dragon hunt

                14,you're working much too hard.Break out the PPv and crank it up.If the dragons hidin' he should appear shortly.(you don't really think I'd do this,do ya?)Oh Gonzo,next update please the haze is deepening and we haven't found much yet.T.C.


                • #9
                  Wouldn't one of the first priorities be to get to the roof and use the emergency shut down for the HVAC units so smoke doesn't spread with civilians in side.

                  Stay safe.


                  • #10
                    If the sprinkler system is out of service-- then the building owner should be required to post a fire watch?

                    "In Omnia Paratus"

                    Member - IACOJ
                    "Got Crust?"

                    -- The opinions presented here are my own; and are not those of any organization that I belong to, or work for.


                    • #11
                      You are the first due truck company.
                      Immediate evacuation, then search for a source.



                      • #12
                        The first priority should be to remove the life hazard by evacuating the structure. I would be concerned about the possibility of fire attacking the lightweight truss system. Those HVAC units can't help the problem. Check for fire extension with the TIC or "firefighter's radar" as Brannigan calls it. There could be a great deal of void spaces due to the construction type. If the area is sealed well you could have potential for backdraft once an opening is made due to heavy CO backup. If it's attacking the truss, you have no business on top of or underneath the comprimised truss. Prepare for immediate collapse and set up collapse zones away from windows and the brick veneer which could rain down on unsuspecting firefighters and civilians. Protect your exposures. Bottom line is that life safety overrides any desire for property conservation. That includes our lives.

                        Never Forget 9-11-2001

                        Stay safe out there!

                        IACOJ Member


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