BY TOM BRENNAN
We have been talking (at least I was), about those tactics, tasks, and procedures that occur on most well-trained operations that support aggressive structure firefighting. They are “done,” but are there any negative ramifications that would make things easier and safer for us?
Just talking the basics of forcible entry can bring us to America’s commercial entrance locking assemblies-the glass and metal doors.
We have beaten to death the fact that the cylinders should be pulled on these assemblies as a matter of routine, mostly because it is easier once you believe in it-but more importantly, it removes the glass-sharded entrapment opening resulting from just breaking the glass. However, there is an often-overlooked step that we should say something about.
Most of these assemblies are double doors, few of which have tumbler locks on each of the facing doors. If we take the time to lift and drop the two bolts in the dummy stile of the second door, we create a logistic delivering opening into the fire enclosure that is six or more feet wide instead of the three-foot funnel. Yet, in graphic after graphic of fireground operations that pass this desk, the second door is left intact most all the time (at least, the one that has the photographer on the scene). As with ANY other horizontal opening in the fire structure, get all the obstructions out of the way.
Speaking of fireground openings, I had an interesting question put to me more times than I care to count in these past 40 years-that is, “When cutting a roof, where would you cut your second ventilation hole?”
What second hole?
For interior operations at a fire that has located itself below the roof enclosure (top floor AND one-story buildings), there is only one effectively best location that will handle vertical ventilation of the monster below in textbook fashion; halt the horizontal spread; draw the condition on the fire floor back into itself; purge the structure of the probability of smoke explosion and flashover; reduce the problem of rollover; and reduce the effect of heavy winds on the interior fire condition. Only one location! That is, as directly over the fire location as is safely possible for aggressive professional fire teams. Someone should say, “… and nowhere else (generally).”
The trick is to prepare the planned hole so that the venting conditions below do not (or are not able to) drive the vent team away from the ability to make the original hole bigger.
In cutting an initial hole of three or four feet square, the team that removes the sheathing and pushes the ceiling membranes down should be prevented from doing that until the size of the hole is extended in three or four directions. That will ensure that the team will be able to continue without being “punished” into another location.
There are some really funny theories that excuse the poor action of another team’s cutting a hole remote from the original location; most are summed up by simply not knowing. Cut the first hole bigger! Someone should say it.
Another point on ventilation procedures concerns horizontal ventilation. It is a mistake (that is sometimes never detected or talked about) to vent horizontally without having a plan based on size-up factors and interior aggressive offensive operations.
“There, I said it,” I say.
“What you mean?” you say.
There are two types of horizontal ventilation. One is for accounting for human life, and the other is to ensure effective firefighting.
Venting for life is to open anything that will keep the interior search going-or allow entry and search of areas behind the fire before water or fans start.
Venting horizontally for fire control (textbook) is to open the fire floor methodically depending on the fire location, movement of the handline, wind conditions, and autoexposure. This usually means (1) where the fire is going to be pushed by the nozzle; (2) the flanks of the enclosure that the nozzle is trying to pass through; and, finally, (3) at the side that the nozzle entered from, if necessary.
Gosh, this kitchen table is fun! ■