National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: What Flashover?

Understanding the dynamics of fire is essential to successful fire attacks and the reduction of injury. A frequent presentation on fire behavior is necessary for today’s firefighting crews and fireground commander; so that they have the ability to recognize and predict fire growth.

“The first arriving engine found a fully involved two story wood truss apartment fire. The occupants escaped via jumping from the balcony prior to arrival. This information was transmitted by the first arriving officer. The fire attack team underestimated the fire conditions and selected a 200 ft, 1¾” fog nozzle attack line and the nozzle man entered the fully involved space alone. Shortly after, the firefighter was driven out by the intense heat… The safety officer, upon his arrival within five minutes of initial dispatch, recognized the fire conditions and immediately ordered the attack team to rehab and reported his findings to the incident commander.”

“The incident commander, upon his arrival within five minutes of initial dispatch, ordered and confirmed personnel accountability reports and switched to a defensive mode applying the first in attack engine’s master stream deck gun…”

 Recognizing fire growth potential takes an aggressive fire attack and changes it to intentional, and if fire fighters lack an understanding of fire growth in today’s environment this is a path to disaster. Once you have read the entire account, consider the following:

1. What are the signs that warn of impending flashover?
2. What is the Thermal Protection Performance (TPP) rating of your turnout gear?
3. Is the TPP rating designed to extend the time a crew can mount a fire attack or protect them in the event of rapidly deteriorating fire conditions?
4. Think back over the last three structure fires you responded to. Were they pre- or post flashover?
5. Did the fire attack procedures vary between the fires you recalled in #4? If not, should they have varied?

Google “Thermal Protection Performance” for additional information on TPP Ratings.

Have you encountered a flashover or missed fire cues? Predict a flashover and avoid an injury? Tell the fire service about your experience through today.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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