Practical Training for Auxiliary Firemen
THIS is the final installment of the series of articles on “Practical Training for Auxiliary Firemen.” Herein are discussed overhauling operations.
Q. What is meant by overhauling after a fire?
A. Overhauling is the procedure followed to make sure that all fire is out, to locate any hidden fire should such exist, and to extinguish same. Overhauling includes the working over or the premises and contents after the fire is under full control to prevent further damage from water and fire.
Q. In what way does overhauling differ from salvage work?
A. The chief difference between overhauling and salvage work is that overhauling is principally carried out to prevent the rekindling of the fire and further damage to the building, as well as the contents, while salvage work is designed principally to save property from water and fire damage.
There is some overlap in salvage and overhauling operations, such as cutting floors to drain water, draining water from floors, saving materials exposed to further water damage, etc.
Q. What steps are usually taken when overhauling after a fire?
A. When the fire is subdued sufficiently to permit men to make the floor, shut off the line and make sure that the floors are well ventilated.
Make a quick survey of the building to make certain that the fire is not getting away through different channels by which fire is likely to travel.
Examine all light and air shafts, pipes, speaking tube and wire recesses, belt holes, chutes and floor openings, and if the extent of the fire demands it, the adjoining building, especially where floor and roof beams rest on party walls. This survey must be made thorough and complete by officers and men when they receive orders to do such work.
Q. What is the next step?
A. If the extent of the fire has been large, it will be necessary to go systematically through damaged materials. Clear a space and work thoroughly through debris by shifting it to the cleared space, always working on a cleared floor. Use no water from hose line in wetting down unless size of fire remaining requires. Instead, fill fire buckets, bath tubs; pails or other utensils with water and dip the burning materials into the water.
Q. In overhauling after a fire on a floor on which a great deal of debris is encountered, should the firemen work from the center of the floor out, or from the walls towards the center?
A. The men working over the debris should start at the walls, clearing a floor space and moving the debris checked over toward the wall. A clean floor should always be maintained so that there will be no chance of any burning material being overlooked.
By working from the wall out, a safer procedure is followed. The weight is being continually moved toward the wall, where the greatest strength of the floor still remains.
Q. In overhauling on a floor heavily laden with debris, what is the principal danger?
A. The principal danger is the possibility of a floor collapse due to the beams being weakened by fire, and the added weight of the water absorbed by the debris.
Q. Does the draining of water from the floor by cutting holes in the floor or otherwise, serve to reduce this hazard?
A. Yes. Every gallon of water removed from a floor by drainage means approximately eight pounds less load on the floor.
Q. What is the particular duty of a commanding officer when overhauling work is being carried out after a fire?
A. The duties of a commanding officer at overhauling after a fire are: looking after the safety of the men: directing work of overhauling so as to accomplish the work as quickly as possible and at the same time with as little damage as possible.
In looking after the safety of his men the officer should be sure that the premises are safe for operation before having men overhaul. He should also see that heavy objects are moved toward the wall or to other points where floor supports are uninjured so as to eliminate possibility of floor giving way under the concentrated weight. He should also see that the water is drained off floors in such a manner as to do the least damage to merchandise on floors below.
Q. What steps should the overhauling crew take to make sure that no concealed fire remains?
A. In addition to working over the debris after a fire, window frames should be opened up, ceilings pulled and walls opened where there is possibility of fire having entered. Thorough inspection of the fire floor as well as floors above and below should be made to guard against rekindle due to concealed fire.
Q. What is the duty of the commanding officer relative to protecting valuables. which may have been involved by fire, when overhauling operations are being performed?
A. The commanding officer should be on the alert to prevent the removal of valuable objects either by civilians or by members of the department. Officers must insist upon men working in one place and not permit them to wander about building. If a salvage corps, or salvage officers, are at hand, this responsibility should be delegated to them.
Q. When opening up a concealed space, during overhauling operations, what signs may be considered as proof that the fire has not reached the concealed space?
A. The absence of any blackened or scorched surfaces or rubbish, or the presence of cobwebs, will be sufficient evidence that the fire has not reached the point in question.
Q. What are the principal steps followed in overhauling a bedroom, or bedrooms after fire?
A. If the fire has been in a bedroom, or if it has extended to another room or two, care must be exercised to avoid unnecessary damage to articles of value which may or may not have been involved by the fire.
Utilize wash tubs, sink or bathtub partly filled with water to dip burned or smouldering bedclothes or wearing apparel in: take the bed apart, stand it against the wall or pass it to another room. This provides room to rip out any woodwork that may be necessary, or to open the ceiling or side walls; it also provides room to pass the contents of the other rooms damaged by fire to the first room or hall.
Q. How are overhauling operations performed following a fire of considerable extent and involving more than one floor, in a building stocked with paper, rags, hay, vegetable fiber or fabric material?
A. Such an overhauling job is a difficult one because of the extensive overhauling required. This merchandise is generally baled, bulky, heavy, tiered up from floor to ceiling and with little space left for passageway.
The necessity for making room to do the work in such a case is evident and it will probably be necessary to pass enough of the material out of the building to give room to start the overhauling without causing additional loss or damage. If working above the first floor, use elevator or hoistway if serviceable, and window openings. Very often this sort of industry, or business, is carried on in buildings old in style and construction and it may be found practicable to cut the window openings of the floor on which the force is working down flush with the floor. By so doing, the necessity of lifting the bales, etc., up and over the window sill to toss them out of the building is eliminated.