By. Ray McCormack
A recent demonstration video from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services about the importance of fire prevention and how quickly a simulated room fire burns brings up some interesting questions. These questions bridge topics such as how firefighters operate their handlines, the use of containers for realism, flow discharges and nozzle patterns.
This video was a demonstration of fire and smoke spread in a home and the dangers associated with that. It was not about extinguishment tactics. The video doesn’t show the complete extinguishment of the fire. It is assumed that keeping the room setting as intact as possible was a prerequisite for extinguishment.
Interior fire extinguishment was delivered using tactics that are typically considered foreign to the American fire service.
Handline operation on an interior room varies depending upon methodology. Regardless of the set constraints a style of extinguishment was used by the firefighter. What was seen in the edited video is an elongated extinguishment process.
Current best practice calls for an initial high stream hit into the ceiling to lower room temperatures and kill fire gas flame over. While many American fire departments utilize or will soon utilize such an approach we still battle against training videos that get that wrong. When bad information is put out on either shore we accelerate a narrative that says fire research is valueless.
Realism of container trainers can be more true to life if lined with contemporary wall finishes and not just high steam producing bare metal. The small room sizes and large open air fourth walls often found in CFBT training videos can lead to distorted results.
Nozzle flows vary dramatically between CFBT training, European departments and the standard American FD. Concern over too much water being flowed during both fire approach and room extinguishment is often cited by low flow nozzle enthusiasts. The use of short burst or pulsing to achieve both entry and extinguishment is favored and has long been extolled by CFBT as the way to go. Low flow bursts on fire approach is a currently best practice in many training courses that I believe is both dangerous and leans to close to a failure tipping point.
This fire demonstrations extinguishment most likely would have been handled differently in the US, the end result of course would be the same, but the difference in extinguishment practice is where further exploration is needed.
Fog streams vs straight streams have been debated for years and with demonstration walls missing the negative effects of fog streams often go unseen. Increased fire loads and changing construction practices may bring both continents closer to a shared extinguishment style than another decade of low flow pulsing container demos ever could.