Engine Company, Firefighter Training, Structural Firefighting

The First-Arriving Engine at Externally Ignited Apartment Building Fires

Issue 3 and Volume 171.

  By CHRIS LANGLOIS   In any department—volunteer or career—large fires in large buildings eventually bring many resources. However, in every one of those fires, a single crew, usually an engine company, arrived first. Often, the ability of this first-arriving crew to make an attack with forward progress on the fire is downplayed because it is, by itself, against a much larger enemy. What can the attack realistically do? For example, fires that start on the exterior of buildings such as on apartment building balconies are a more common occurrence than we realize. I didn’t realize it until I researched those incidents in my department, where I learned that we had experienced eight in a three-year period. Of these eight fires, seven extended up the exterior of the building quickly, impinged on the roof line, and transitioned into attic fires, resulting in a multiple-alarm fire that heavily damaged the roof…

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