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Now that was weird...

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  • #31
    And this is Side A as the Chief ordered the building evacuated. That's the first fire in our town that the air horns have ever been sounded for an emergency evacuation.

    Remember in the last post when I said the fire went across the ceiling and up into the attic via the opening for the access ladder? That would've been about under where the roof just let go here. It could draw air nicely, especially with the gusty wind pressurizing the house.

    Water supply had just been one big and a few small engine-tanks, as water use from some intermittently operating 1.5" and 1.75" lines wasn't that much...and like ADSNWDFLD said many posts ago, looked like the fire had been knocked. At this point another mutual aid company laid 2,000' of 5" back to a hydrant and the ladder pipe went up to hydraulically overhaul the remains with both the floor and attic now heavily compromised.

    This one generated a heck of a lot of formal and informal discussion around the station, more than any other house fire I can think of in 20 years.

    Company's been busy -- this was the 4th of 5 working fires we've been 1st due or 1st alarm on since mid December. Record so far is 2 good stops, 1 quick knockdown followed by a hell of a good save following a premature PPV deployment (that's a story for another day...and not our district ), and 2 foundations made while you wait...one of which was a 3/4 of a foundation on arrival, the other was this fire.


    • #32
      Nope NM...it wasn't forgotten.

      The reason for the vent hole in the attic was to relieve smoke & heat on the first floor so the ceilings could get pulled.

      I do believe there was a very high fuel load in the attic compared to what we normally encounter for what seemed a relatively small fire in the basement/first floor -- smoke & CO had been getting pumped in there all afternoon. So you had condensated fuel coating surfaces (from the smoke) as well as flammable gases like CO that were still hot sitting up there.


      • #33
        If anyone would like to see this happen in a controlled environment, light a fire in your wood stove or find someone who has one. Play with the air intake for various durations. You'll see some strikingly similar results.

        Let the fire starve of oxygen, then crack the doors open, I'd bet dinner at a nice restaurant youll get an impressive flame show!


        • #34
          I'm not sure anyone caught the clue thats almost hidden from the obvious, in fact I cant say I would have either until a few times looking at it.

          Notice there is snow on the garage roof, but not the house roof? So easy to miss something we frequently talk about in tactics classes.

          I also wonder if hooks went into that ceiling, would there have been a nice ka-boom?

          Its impressive that the bathroom window sash actually began to melt from the heat, thats quite a picture. We had a fire in a tight house about 2 yrs ago whre the entire inside was gutted, bou you would have hardly known from the front that there had been a fire except for the broken windows we caused during searches. Similar deal. Fire burned through the kitchen floor, the entire kitchen table and chairs were cunsumed and what didnt burn fell into the basement. Kid came home from school, opened the door and..oops...wheres that smoke from. When we began pushing in the fire was getting going again with the introduction of air. It had a few potential interesting outcomes. Thankfully we got it when we did.
          Last edited by MG3610; 02-21-2007, 02:03 AM.


          • #35
            It seems to me that cutting a hole in the roof set in motion a chain of events that might have been prevented by using a PPV fan. With the fan, you might have a little more control over your opening and your exit (and the force).

            Of course, this might have made things even worse, but it is something to think about. Doncha think????
            Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

            Aggressive does not have to equal stupid.

            ** "The comments made here are this person's views and possibly that of the organizations to which I am affiliated" **


            • #36
              Ah. So basically this house was a total loss a few hours before the FD even arrived
              Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.


              • #37

                I'm going to have to say that the PPV fan would've made things worse. One of the contraindications of using PPV (for attack) is inability to locate the seat of the fire for an exit port. This, IMHO, would've helped you locate the fire, but potentially with explosive results. The vent on the roof was appropriate. It did what it was supposed to do...lifted the smoke and the pressure buildup within the structure. It also made the environment inside easier for the guys to see what was going on...in this case, they could get their buts out when they knew things were bad. Imagine if this thing stayed smoky on the inside and someone fell through the floor because of lack of visibility?

                I don't intend to start a PPV vs. other types of ventilation argument here...I think it is AN AWESOME scenario from which to learn. I feel that PPV has it's place, it just wasn't at this fire. And I'm glad that everyone got out okay....


                • #38
                  I dont want to be slamming another dept and this isnt intended as doing that, but I am alittle confused as to why this was such a head scratcher.
                  This fire is an example of not doing agressive overhaul right after the first knock on a fire. The first picture was taken 10 minutes after the first unit arrived and put the fire out. In my opinion it looks like fire was still in the house. When it is cold out smoke will be white on the outside, unless it is really pushing. The thing to do right after you knock the fire would have been to watch the smoke. Is it staying the same, getting more or going away? In the second pic it shows it was increasing. That should tell you there is still fire in the house.
                  Like I said in my previous post, just because you cant see anything doesnt mean you cant search for hidden fire. I would have immediately once on scene looked for fire in the walls or basement, and you know by the pictures it eventually ran up into the attic. This shouldve been pretty easy really (no offense). Get in feel the walls with your hand, use a camera if you have one. Open up and put the fire out. Any fire left to run is going to end up burning the roof off.

                  The lesson to be learned by this is you have to stay aggressive in searching out the fire and putting it ALL out. This goes for initial attack also. Too many times I have seen where a guy will hit the fire then just stop right there. You have to keep the line moving until you hit the back of the room and make sure there is no fire in any other rooms. And (like in this fire) if the smoke doesnt go away, you need to be opening walls, looking in the attics, checking for extension on all 6 sides of the fire.
                  Last edited by Squad1LT; 02-21-2007, 10:07 AM.


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Dalmatian190 View Post
                    Early February, 1645. What would your impression of the situation be?
                    My first impression was damn, did they even have bucket brigades back then?

                    And Dal, things started to happen quickly?? C'mon pal it was daylight when there was just a lil smoke and it was dark when the fire was coming through the roof!! Sounds like a fish story! How quick was it?
                    cell #901-494-9437

                    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

                    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.

                    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.


                    • #40
                      Did the back of that coat say " Danialsun"? I never knew there was a kirate kid FD
                      Real men wear kilts. www.forourfallen.org


                      • #41
                        WARNING- Thread Hi-Jacking

                        I find it absolutely astounding how many people here are advocating the use of PPV when they have no idea where the fire is. Maybe I've been misinterpurting every thing I have learned in the past, but a practice such as described above by several members seems designed to make foundations. My thought process is that if you don't know where the fire is and you start PPV, you don't know where you are going to push the fire that you didn't know where it was at. Maybe it's just me (I know it's not, I'm just being nice) but PPV should not be used to find fire.

                        Back to the post. Given that they did not find the fire and the attic was charged or in the process of being so. I see no problem with venting the highest point of the building to let gases exhaust. Which is what it seems they did or attempted to do. I don't know that they made all the right choices or wrong for that matter, but after an extended period of time of the house being filled with heat and smoke and an attempt at horizontal vent alreay done, than I agree with the attempt at vertical. Even if they did take it to the ground, I think they made the safe decisions for their people


                        • #42
                          MEck51....I totally agree, but theres one thing i have learned from years of reading this forun is that there are alot of advocates of PPV in this type of situation. I expect that you will hear from one or two of them....but what do I know.


                          • #43
                            To paraphrase Paul Harvey...

                            ...where's the rest of the story!

                            Great method of teaching by the way...


                            • #44
                              I don't know that there's much of a "rest of the story."

                              Most of the firehouse observations and speculation are specific enough to our local situation there probably is no benefit to the people on the internet.

                              It was a very unusual fire. Finding a fire well into the decay phase in a tight building is unusual. Like some alluded too, one of the "warning" signs for potential backdrafts is the oily residue from condensated smoke on the windows. The building simply didn't quite have the right mix of conditions to do it...but it was probably the closest I know of with my company since I joined in '87.

                              Multiple things contributed to the puzzle. The products of combustion from the long burning fire; the gusts that kicked up as the sun went down; the spongy floor and heavier-than-usual smoke/steam conditions inside had my company's guys going slower then expected to open up the ceiling.

                              Couple complancey items certainly came up that were lessons for everyone.

                              Water supply wasn't established early on. During the interior operations, small handlines (3(?) 1-3/4s and a 1-1/2") were operating intermittenly and were supplied by Engine-Tankers. First Alarm would've had 6,200 gallons. With such a low flow, there was no shuttle organized. Once operations shifted to the outside, the remaining water was rapidly drawn down while a 2,000'+ 5" reverse lay was made to the nearest hydrant.

                              The electric lines where never disconnected to the house. Since our local utility is very responsive, I'm going out on a limb and believe it was overlooked to notify them. They put on a nice spark show when they burned off (a safety zone had been established anticipating that).

                              Nine times out of ten..or better...those wouldn't have come back to bite you on a fire you made a quick knock on.

                              While I don't believe it was inevitable that the building was going to be lost...at the same time nothing stood out as a screw-up that lost the building. With the multiple issues, it was a fire that needed an "A" game brought to it, an average operation wasn't enough.


                              • #45

                                What was the cause?

                                The wind kicking up at night is a huge point and very observant. Our wildland brothers put huge stock in talking to the locals to find out that exact kind of thing. Around here, we usually have a west wind, but when the Santa Anas kick up both people and fires go haywire.


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