a "routine" house fire
We've heard that before
by Chief William Goldfeder
It appears that, although
there were injuries, an important task at this fire was done, and it paid
off. A ladder was extended and in place for the firefighters to escape...before
it was needed! Think about your last 2-1/2 story dwelling fire...were
ladders placed to provide a way out? Don't count on the interior stairs.You
probably remember the story of a fire at the end of 1999 (the one where
there were a total of 5 firefighters on the first alarm.) that was described
as "looking normal"...and then within seconds three firefighters died moments
later in a genuine FLASHOVER, as the investigation revealed.
FLASHOVER in it's true form
is rarely survivable, as the experts tell us. But a whether it flashes,
rolls-over or whatever several essential tactics and procedures
MUST be done to minimize the chances of it occurring:
1-Ya gotta VENTILATE
2-Ya gotta COOL
3-These must occur simultaneously
and in coordination
expect to respond to a reported house fire with four or five people on
the initial alarm and then expect to be able to handle it properly.
I don't care how good ya
are.I don't care if you can do the firefighters combat challenge in under
a minute while wearing two airpacks. I don't care if you have a thermal
imaging camera for everyone and your mother. I don't care if your new pass
device beeps to remind you that Jerry Springer is on in 20 minutes.....
None of that crap matters!
What matters is the basic
stuff of water supply, stretching the 1st hose line, stretching the second
hose line, vent crew (inside and outside), truck work, search & rescue...
all done at the same time-coordinated by an experienced and trained Chief
on the scene-with adequate staffing to do it in!... and trained on
it plenty of times "before the run".
Anyonecan do these tasks
one or two at a time...but to do it successfully and to minimize
the chance of anyone gett'n hurt... they gotta be done at the same time!
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where, no matter what,we're still
going to be placed 'at risk'....
As a Fire Officer, you are
responsible to determine those risks through your initial size-up...and
then continue doing that during the run. As Chiefs, prior to the emergency,
you are responsible to have the training, personnel and response and operational
plans in place so the job can get done-the right way.
One final note... I mentioned
"risk" before. We are in a "risky business" the public expects us to take
needed risks when someone needs our help....just ask them!!
We may get hurt or even lose
the life of one of our own in the provision of our duties-the key is do
do everything you can PRIOR to the run, to insure the public, your troops
and yourself that you have done the best to be ready. Beware of those in
our business who want to "risk manage" firefighting to the point where
we have completely lost touch with our mission...to save lives, which includes