Crews Battle Buffalo (NY) Dwelling Fire

Apparatus outside a fire in Buffalo, New York, with a firefighter scaling a ground ladder.

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Incident report and photos by David F. Kazmierczak

Buffalo (NY) firefighters of the 7th Battalion 2nd Platoon were called out to battle a structure fire  at 827 E.Delavan Ave early Monday morning, September 26, 2016.

Extra equipment was required to bring the fire under control. The fire started on the first floor of the 2 1/2-story frame dwelling and dropped into the basement and spread to the second floor and attic. Division Chief Mike Biasillo was in command.

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Firefighters Control Buffalo (NY) Structure Fire

 

Buffalo Dwelling Fire

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Kevin Brautlacht
(1) The fire is in the 2½-story wood-frame structure. Members are masking up to conduct interior searches. The engine already has the first line in place. (Photos by Kevin Brautlacht.)

By Michael M. Dugan

A fire was reported in a 2½-story wood-frame dwelling. This type of response takes place every day all over the country and the world. On a July evening, the Buffalo (NY) Fire Department responded to such a call. On arrival at the scene, the first-in engine company saw fire on the first floor rear and advanced a hoseline to the front door. Always place the first line through the front door if the fire is on the first floor and in the rear, to protect the interior stairs and to allow for rescue and removal of trapped occupants from the floors above.

Use the second line to protect the first line and back it up until the line is in operation and the fire is darkening down. Then advance the second line to where it is needed. That might be to the second floor, because with any amount of fire in a structure built like this one was, you most likely will have extension to at least the second floor.

Kevin Brautlacht
(2) The second engine is stretching a hoseline to back up the first engine; members have enough line off the rig to cover the entire building.

These buildings might be balloon-frame construction but will always be wood frame. If the fire extends, it will normally travel to the floor above through a void in the ceiling. If the fire gets into the walls, you are going to have to get a unit on the top floor or third floor quickly.

At this fire, the fire extended to the second and third floors. Fire traveling presents issues for the units on the scene. If the first two lines were stretched through the front door and you need to stretch a third line to fight the fire on the third floor, consider line placement. You should avoid whenever possible stretching three lines through the same doorway and up the stairs because you increase the chances of the handlines becoming entangled and difficult to stretch.

The units laddered the porch roof and vented the second floor. Members on the roof had to coordinate ventilation and operations with the members and officer of the engine company on the second handline because they must be aware of premature ventilation and the possibility of the handline being operated in their direction. The stream could possible knock a member off the porch roof if crews are not careful.

(3) Members are stretching the third line
(3) Members are stretching the third line, and the second truck company is preparing to enter the structure to search on the floor above the fire for fire extension and life hazards.

The third floor is a challenging position to make with the third hoseline because you are stretching past members already operating inside the structure and past the hoselines already in place. The third line is really for the attic space-if the fire is traveling in the walls, it is going to end up in the attic space. This also will lead to problems in communication: Is it the third floor or the attic space? The department should have a policy for buildings in its response area as to what to call that space. If it is the third floor, it is always called the third floor. If the space is the attic, then it is always called the attic. Common terminology will lead to less confusion and more complete information making its way to the command post.

The engine company assigned to advance the line to the third floor will encounter tight stairs to access the third floor in many older buildings. These stairs are very small, with limited areas for movement. The nozzle person and backup have to have a plan and be on the same page. Getting the hoseline into position should be the first priority for the attic.

Once up on that floor, the engine company is moving toward a truck company member with tools who will start opening up. Have the line in position and prepared to protect this truck member. Fire might be burning behind the ceiling and behind the knee walls (the half walls that make up the side walls in the attic). An officer or member with a thermal imaging camera will be a big plus to the operations. The fire behind the knee walls has been a factor in many fireground injuries in the past. Because the knee walls are in place to make a livable room, there is a lot of space behind them that most times is not fire stopped. Fire burns behind them, and a member operating on the third floor and opening holes in the wall and ceiling feeds the fire oxygen, and the fire grows. Many times a flashover of the third floor happens quickly, and members feel oppressive heat quickly. Because of these issues, placing a ladder to the third-floor window and communicating its location to members operating on the third floor are great ideas.

MICHAEL M. DUGAN is a 27-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York, where he served as captain of Ladder Company 123 before retiring in 2012. As a lieutenant, he served in Ladder Company 42 and was a firefighter in Ladder Company 43. He has been involved with the fire service for 39 years.

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