Photo by Thomas K. Wanstall.
It appears that a firefighter is horizontally ventilating a fire that has reached or is seated in the top floor (occupied attic space) of this structure. But is that all there is?
I have discussed the “rear” of the fire in Random Thoughts. While this stretches the concept as presented —it is right on as far as firefighting size-up is concerned.
The attic is occupied. How do you know? Well in most cases, the giveaway is multiple bells on the door, more than one mailbox, and a fire escape to the third floor attic. Other clues include screens in the attic windows; windows open or storm-windows shut; curtains, blinds, and drapes on the windows; and an air-conditioner.
These firefighters should be thinking V.E.S., or, in order of priority: Ventthe attic space for entry into it to search the space at the rear of the fire before the nozzle gets there.
If this space is occupied, these firefighters at the “rear” of the fire are the only chance anyone inside has to be removed or rescued before the fire within the occupancy is driven to them by the advancing hoseline. If this space is unoccupied, this ventilation procedure gives the nozzle team advancing up the attic staircase a greater chance of success.
These fire photos, when viewed together, show an awful lot about the value of tower ladders. The fire is a defensive operation. All handlines are withdrawn and the fire is fought from the sidewalk and street. Pressures on handlines are increased for volume and penetration. But there is never really enough. In the first photo there are five firefighters on each handline. The staffing levels are excellent, but for an outside stream a handline does not supply enough water, nor does it have the sufficient force to knock down the partitions and ceilings that would have been done by “truckies” if the firefight remained manageable and we remained inside.
The tower ladder shows its worth at aggressive defensive operations like the one in these photos. Collapse is not a possibility yet. We need the hitting power of highvelocity master streams, delivered with the aggressiveness of a handline —the tower ladder.
Aggressive defensive (outside) operations mean starting with the lowest floor on fire and hop-skipping up and back down until the highest floor on fire is quenched. It is virtually impossible to do this with a traditional aerial ladder stream.
In these photos one tower ladder stream can do the work —and more —of the two handlines, and with less danger of injuries. These firefighters are exhausted. Drop the tower ladder to the sidewalk, start water, and let those just evacuated “take a break.”
Photos by Richard F. Symon.