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  • Feeling the Heat

    With newer, better insulated gear than in years past when we used to go inside with glorified raincoats and long rubber boots, how do you tell when a room is too hot to handle? Old timers talk about using their ears as thermometers, and I've heard some say that they leave your earflaps up (with your nomex hood on) so you can sense when a room is getting too hot.

    Overheard a discussion by two young firefighters saying how hot it was when they entered a structure fire, but there was no curling or discoloration on their helmet shield or faceshields. I've seen fires where the hoseline and/or rescue crew comes out with their faceshield or shield melted or disfigured. As Paris Hilton would say, "That's hot."

    Not looking for macho, chest-beating bs, just some practical ideas here. Obviously the thermal imaging camera is a good tool, but do many use it for this purpose?

  • #2
    Well, one way to tell if its really getting hot is since the gear is newer and protects better, if you are feeling heat through relatively new gear then the temp of the room must be pretty high. Another way that I've experienced the room being to hot is the air coming out of my tank went from being normal to warm in one fire I was in, that was a good indication that its a little to hot in the room.

    The best way to tell for sure how hot the room is is us a TIC, it'll show where the heat is, and most of the ones I've seen around now have some sort of temperature guage on them that'll tell you the actual temp of the area your looking at.
    NJ FFII/EMT-B

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    • #3
      I've taken off the ear flap on my helmet. If it is too hot through the nomex when I'm low, it is time to hit the ceiling or go.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Slaytallica45 View Post
        Well, one way to tell if its really getting hot is since the gear is newer and protects better, if you are feeling heat through relatively new gear then the temp of the room must be pretty high. Another way that I've experienced the room being to hot is the air coming out of my tank went from being normal to warm in one fire I was in, that was a good indication that its a little to hot in the room.

        The best way to tell for sure how hot the room is is us a TIC, it'll show where the heat is, and most of the ones I've seen around now have some sort of temperature guage on them that'll tell you the actual temp of the area your looking at.
        I would agree with the first part of your post, but I would have to disagree that the TIC is the "best" way to tell how hot the room is for sure.

        While the TIC may in fact give you a temperature reading, relying on this to tell you when it is too hot to stay, or of an impending flashover, is dangerous.

        Increased breathing air temperature, burning at your shoulder straps on you SCBA, burning at the creases in your bunker gear, (behind legs, elbows), and water turning to steam overhead would all be better indicators of when it is time to rapidly apply water to the fire or seriously consider exiting the area.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that any RAPID change in the heat condition is truly a sign that the room is getting ready to flash. Visible indicators, such as rollover, or dense, pushing smoke are often missed while searching, operating a handline, or simply moving around at floor level. Naturally, as a fire grows in size, or you make your way closer to it it will get hotter. It is that dramatic, INSTANT change in the heat condition that you want to be aware of. This really is a sign that it is getting, or will be getting too hot very shortly.

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        • #5
          Ditto to all the indicators mentioned so far. I too disagree with the thermal imager as the "best" of them. While a very useful and welcome tool, it is just that...a tool. Your body and the conditions will tell you what's going on as mentioned before. I'm an ear man by the way..always have been...always will be. It has served me well for 28 years. Remember too that you will be in there with others..listen to them as well.
          As with everything for me when it comes to fighting fires..experience is the key. If you are newer, listen and learn from the older more seasoned members. No offense intended here but don't be in too much of a rush to be the hero..your time will come.
          The new gear we are issued today is great, and I'm glad to have it...but we must become accustomed to it for it to work properly. If you have questions regarding you or your fellow firefighters ability to "sense" while in it you might think about trying to get your department to do live fire training as often as possible. What better way to get to know your gear than to train under controlled fire conditions in it.
          Just a thought.

          Take care
          and as always
          Stay Safe

          Cogs

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jakesdad View Post
            While the TIC may in fact give you a temperature reading, relying on this to tell you when it is too hot to stay, or of an impending flashover, is dangerous.
            Let me revise my post, I agree that it might not always give you an indication of impending flashover, what I meant was the TIC will give you an indication of ceiling temps when you enter the room, i.e. if you enter the fire room and you get temp readings in the 900-1000 degree range at the ceiling, which is the general temp range for flashover, you would know that you need to apply water and fast.
            NJ FFII/EMT-B

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            • #7
              Temperature Check

              Current protective equipment provides a layer of insulation that slows, not stops transfer of heat energy. This delays the increase in temperature that we used to feel quite quickly. Generally this is a good thing, but it increases the load due to metabolic heat and makes perception of changes in temperature in the fire environment. more difficult.

              First, firefighters must recognize that "hot" does not feel "hot". Significant increases in temperature will initially feel like a slight increase due to the insulative effect of protective clothing. If you have to lay on the floor or crawl on your belly, you should be asking why you are doing so. Change the environment through fire control or ventilation tactics!

              The rapid increase in temperature is not a good signal to begin dealing with potential flashover conditions, this is too late! Maintaining good situational awareness requrires that you pay attention to all types of fire behavior indicators (think about the building, smoke, heat, air track, and flame) and recognizing the potential for extreme fire behavior such as flashover.

              Another effective method for checking your environment is to use a temperature check. This is an extremely brief pulse of water fog into the hot gas layer. If all or most of it comes back the gases are not hot. If little or none of it comes back the gases are hot and should be cooled further as you advance.

              I concur with the posts regarding the TIC. A great tool, but only that. Use it early and integrate the information provided along with your other observations and perceptions of the fire environment.

              Cheers,

              Ed
              Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE

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              • #8
                My first advice is go for a session in a flashover trainer. That will definitely tell you what hot is. Nothing I've done in training has given me a better understanding of fire behavior. It will improve your confidence and your situational awareness.

                A couple of things I've done to check heat:

                -I don't use the wristlets on my gloves, so I can pull the cuff back and raise my hand up. Never thought the ears and side of the head were either effective or worth frying.
                -At a commercial or large building with high ceilings and low visibility, throw a quick burst from the nozzle straight up. If no water rains back down on you, it's HOT

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                • #9
                  Keep your ears

                  I would suggest keeping the ear flaps on your helmet, and keep your ears the way they are. Use guantlet style gloves so you can expose the top of your wrist. Works good on doors as well as smoke. Most new guys will tell you, and anyone who will listen, that the fire was "hot". Consider the source.... Be very alert for the rapid rise of heat and turbulant black smoke. When you feel these 2 things you better have a capable nozzle or a close exit.

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                  • #10
                    Keep your ear flaps up and have your hood on. If the fire is biting your ears through your hood it is hot and you better do something to change your position or change the situation.

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                    • #11
                      A lot of hot is perception. Even with the best insulated gear there is still a perception of heat and cool. Now I have left my earflaps up. As a department we have disallowed the use of the carbon hoods that take away a lot of your temperature sensation. I guess i am trying to say the old timers that don't use earflaps may be on to something and your shield or helmet frontal don't have to roll up like a burrito for you to know it's a little hot
                      To err is human, To forgive divine and at times I am as much of both as you will ever find

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                      • #12
                        Spraying your nozzle up towards the ceiling and getting no water drops back is a good indicator too. On a side not in reference to the gear, anyone else catch on to the point that your SCBA facepiece isn't rated to withstand as high a temperature as PBI? That's a nice little tidbit to keep in the back of your mind.

                        Stay Safe
                        Chris Polimeni
                        Prince George's County FD
                        Back at the Big 29er

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                        • #13
                          I would have to say that "Your Brain" would be the best thing to use in this case.

                          Knowledge, Skill and Experience are the BEST things on hand.

                          There are many things on the Fire Ground that can lead you to the conclusion that it is getting to hot. Learn what a "Flashover" is and ALL the S/S of an impending flashover. Learn about "Back Drafts' and all the S/S of an impending back draft. Learn how to read the smoke in and outside a building, learn about rollover and what it indicates.

                          TIC's are GREAT tools to use along with all the Knowledge, Skills and Experience gained over the years.

                          I have been in fires where my ears and such were hot but there was good ventilation and such...So I was not concerned with the heat. But I have been in fires where my ears were not hot yet but there was heavy black smoke to the floor, ventilation was not in place yet and there was heavy fire somewhere in the building that I could not find yet. There was wisps of fire in the smoke overhead...In this case I was very concerned with the heat.

                          There is not a (one indicator answer) out there.

                          Take care, fight hard and be safe.

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                          • #14
                            deleted post
                            Last edited by rescue84; 06-25-2008, 10:24 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rescue84 View Post
                              ears get warm but I plan on getting out when my cheeks get warm and/ or my air in mask gets warm. Also, I use my Borkes- when they start drooping. If no TIC with you.
                              Also this goes with keeping your HEAD UP when crawling; watch the things around you for drooping, and bubbling, pay attention to the smoke. I like to keep it simple and not rely on TIC. We only carry one in our department.

                              If you don't feel safe say something, someones probably thinking it and just don't want to say it's hot.
                              I have to say that using your "Bourkes" to tell you when it is time to go is probably the dumbest thing I have ever read on here.

                              Ever.

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