Surviving “Routine” Residential Fires

Click to EnlargeIn the FDIC 2010 Workshop “25 To Survive: Residential Building Fires,”  Captain Dan Shaw of Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue (right) and Lieutenant Doug Mitchell of the Fire Department of New York (left) reviewed some of the most common issues and errors for firefighters operating at residential building fires.

“The majority of civilian injuries and deaths from fire occur in single-family residential buildings,”  Captain Shaw said. “This is coupled with the fact that the majority of our citizens also live in these style structures when compared to other types of residential occupancies. Even with the Fire Service’s dedication to save lives and protect property, these ‘routine’ and perhaps ‘mundane’ residential structures are also where the majority of firefighter injuries and deaths occur year after year.”

In their interactive, back-and-forth presentation, Shaw and Mitchell discussed a common thread that emerged from examining firefighter line-of-duty death (LODD) and “near-miss” reports: many fireground tragedies are predicated by the inability to perform basic firefighting tasks under pressure and in zero visibility. Through speaker and student experiences, Shaw and Mitchell touched on common issues arising at residential structure fires in rural, suburban, and urban response areas, such as information about structures you can glean from observing house style; the need for firefighters to get out into the community and learn about structures under construction;  taking advantage of training opportunities on “routine” calls; and much more.

Click to Enlarge“These 25 topics, some very specific and others more broad-based, will help all firefighters and officers perform with a new understanding of the ‘routine’ house fire,” Shaw explained.. “Lessons learned in this program may aid responding firefighters and officers in saving lives, perhaps even their own.”

Captain Shaw has been a past contributor to Fire Engineering magazine, having written on firefighter emergency egress training on Hi-Impact Wallboard and other topics.


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