|1st Line in Considerations|
|Written by Robert James|
|Monday, 19 March 2012 05:00|
1st Line in Considerations
By: Capt. Dave Polikoff
As firefighters we know things can change quickly on the fire ground. Recently we had a situation near us where firefighters were faced with high winds that were blowing from the rear of the house towards the front. According to report, the crews made entry, and then roughly 8 seconds later they were hit with a large amount of fire. The crews described the fire as acting like a blow torch. As they began to evacuate, several firefighters were injured. The injuries ranged from bumps and bruises to critical burns.
With that being stated let’s look over a short list of things to remember before entering an IDLH.
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1. Understand how the mechanics of fire can change during high wind conditions.
Even a wind gust as little as 10mph, once hitting an opening of a structure, will gain speed through a funneling effect. This pressurized air will intensify a fire and push the products of combustion to an opening. This can account for the blow torch effect seen by firefighters when an exit is created.
2. Once a door is open we must stay low and allow the room to equalize and observe the conditions before we enter.
At the training academy we teach students to safely open the door which they intend to use for entry to attack the fire. We teach them to stay low and not directly in front of the door, and to ensure they are using their SCBA. Once the door is open the students are taught to wait at a few seconds to allow the room to equalize. By doing so, you will allow the smoke to lift and, if the room is going to flash, you will be low enough and to the side out of harm’s way.
3. Ensure there is a charged hose line ready to go.
Make sure your line is charged and kink free before any door is opened or before any ventilation is started. Opening the line and bleeding the air out also ensures there will be a continuous flow of water with the correct pressure. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the hose line is kink free. This means if you see a kink, take care of it.
4. Do your best not to get in front of the hose line when moving through the door.
Getting a line on the fire will make most of the problems go away. There are situations when crews may search ahead of the hose line, but we must do our best not to hamper the line moving to the seat of the fire. While advancing into a fire we must also avoid standing or crawling on the line. This will slow the line’s progress, allowing the fire to continue to grow.
5. Crew integrity
It is imperative we stay together as a crew. We work as a team on the fire ground, no exceptions. In the event of an evacuation of a structure, a PAR check must be done. For everyone’s safety we must be able to tell command our crews are accounted for.
6. Don’t crowd the stairs of the door way.
Once you move through a door, continue to move. In the event we need to retreat we must have an unimpeded exit way. Firefighters blocking doors have been trampled when members try to leave rapidly. The same holds true for making sure we are not blocking the stairs. Firefighters have been pushed down stairs by evacuating firefighters. Stairways are known funnels for heat and fire. In the event of a flashover or a wind driven fire, firefighters can be burned or knocked down by retreating firefighters.
All crew members must be aware of the weather conditions throughout the shift. It is every person’s responsibility to perform a size up enroute as well as on the scene. We all need to remember our basic Essentials of Firefighting training when on an incident. These are the skills needed to safely operate on the fire ground.
For more information on wind driven fires follow the links below:
|Last Updated on Monday, 19 March 2012 05:07|