Article and photos by Daniel P. Sheridan
Overhaul means opening walls, ceilings, voids, and partitions to check for fire extension in both the precontrol and postcontrol phases of firefighting operations. Precontrol overhaul takes place up until the point where the fire is under control. Postcontrol overhaul takes place after the fire has been declared under control.
This fire was at 1300 hours, and we finished at 1400 hours. Later, at 0400 hours the next morning, I was working in another battalion in the same borough. I heard the dispatcher announce over our voice alarm that there was a second alarm in the borough. I turned on the radio to listen. When I heard the address of the fire, I felt the blood in my body drain. It was the building we had been at the previous day. I felt as if I had committed a cardinal sin, rekindle. I spoke to the duty chief; he told me that they had a very heavy fire condition on arrival. Did they turn the electric back on because they didn’t want to hire an electrician? Was there some foul play? I don’t know the answer. I do know that we were very thorough. There was not a wisp of smoke when we left.
(1) Opened ceiling on the top floor at a four-alarm Harlem (NY) incident.
(2) Windows at the same incident.
Remember that the people who called you are expecting you to be professional. That means all of us, volunteer or paid; we are all professionals. We need to act as if the resident of the fire scene was someone very close to us. Treat the fire scene as you would expect your own house to be treated. Be thorough, and if you have any nagging doubts, investigate them because your gut is probably correct.
DANIEL SHERIDAN is a 24-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York and a covering battalion chief in the First Division. He is a national instructor II and a member of the FDNY IMT. Sheridan founded Mutual Aid Americas, which works with fire departments in Latin America.