Firefighter Training, Firefighting

Rapid Fire Spread at Private Dwelling Fires

Issue 10 and Volume 166.

BY JERRY KNAPP The house fire is the most common type of working fire for most U.S. fire departments. Firefighters too often take them for granted and don’t recognize the risk house fires present and the important ways in which they have changed in recent years. The traditional strategy and tactics are usually really simple: Conduct a thorough size-up with a 360° walk-around, develop and execute a search/rescue operation, quickly get a line through the front door to the seat of the fire or to protect the means of egress, and ventilate as needed. However, standard strategy and tactics do not take into account new home construction materials and methods. The combination of new building methods and materials for the single-family dwelling has created a new and dangerous dimension: extremely rapid fire spread. In these cases, the fire quickly envelops the home along several paths at the same time. This…

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