FDNY Rescue 1, Captain Robert Morris (ret), lead the FDNY Engine Co. and Truck Co. Operations Hands On Training (HOT) Track last week at County Fire Tactics annual High Rise Operations Conference (HROC), at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Side Convention Center.
The forcible entry and door control training video below is only a glimpse of the amazing training nuggets FDNY Captain Robert Morris (ret), FDNY Captain Rex Morris, and other instructors provided the 100’s of Firefighters from across the United States who were in attendance.
When you attend a CFT event our goal is to provide our attendees the most highly experienced and knowledgeable instructors from all over the country who share a passion for making our profession as safe as possible while being as aggressive as possible. Continue reading →
First and Foremost we here at County Fire Tactics, FULLY support vertical ventilation and letting the HEAT OUT! Heat rises and when you open the roof, you are releasing BTUs therefore lowering the amount of GPSs required for knockdown. It amazes me how many fire departments do not support or allow vertical ventilation. I wonder if the same individuals support having the flue open on the fire place?
There is no question that vertical ventilation/roof operations on newer buildings requires training and a good understanding of building construction. Todays houses/buildings do not allow for delayed roof operations. You must decide early if vertical ventilation is needed and get it done ASAP. You must already have a line in place applying or ready to apply WATER to the FIRE, before or during the process of opening the roof. Today’s Fire Loads burn hotter and faster than fire loads of yesterday. They also respond more aggressively to oxygen and this requires the fire service to have a better understanding of ventilation in general. Firefighters could break windows and open the roof 30 years ago without much of a threat to Rapid Fire Growth. If you take the window, open the door, cut the roof, and its not done at the right time, in right location; and coordinated with water application, you could have significant fire growth in seconds.
Spray Foam Insulation is becoming the common all over the country and could cause issues on the fireground. I have had numerous fires with SFI and have personally seen it burn and give off significant heat and fire gases. One fire was in a new commercial building that was fully sprinkled and still had a significant fire in the attic. I was first to arrive with heavy smoke pushing from the roof and eaves. The interior was clear and had a couple of sprinkler heads flowing. We supported the FDC, stretched a line to front entrance and assigned two crews to the roof. The crews started open the roof with a K12 “30 tooth blade” and the depth of cut was not sufficient to penetrate the SFI. The K12 cut the roof decking, but would not cut deep enough to cut all the SFI. The SFI had enough strength to keep the decking intact. The crews started punching with their roof hooks and haligan to break through the SFI. This fire showed the need for a traditional chainsaw with a 18″ bar to penetrate the decking and SFI. I personally recommend a Stihl 460.
We recently had a fire in a New HUD house that had just been completed. The house got hit by lighting. I arrived first to observe light smoke. Once I got close and started a 360, realized we had heavy heat and smoke trapped in the attic. The house was clear inside, front to back. The fire was contained to the attic and starving for oxygen. I assigned the first due engine to stretch a line and the first due truck to set up for roof operations. This was a one story, but still wanted them to place the aerial to the roof. With todays building construction and fire growth, please consider using the aerial when possible for roof operations. This gives the roof team an independent platform/way of opening the roof without getting on the roof . It also gives a high point/something to hold onto if there was a collapse. You still want multiple ground ladders placed to the roof and a roof ladder when possible. Once the roof team opened the roof, the smoke lit off and rapid fire growth within seconds. This was a none issue, based on the Engine had a line in place, charged, and multiple firefighters to open the porch ceiling. This allowed for rapid extinguishment and minimized any further damage. The roof team advised the roof felt SOLID before and after cutting. This attic had SFI and gives a FALSE sense that the roof is SOLID. When going back the following watch, we put 12 firefighters on the roof and it still felt solid. SFI makes sounding a roof very tuff and hides the weakness of a lightweight/ “TRUSS’ constructed roof. Get Out and preplan your district. Understand that SFI attic spaces can cause a false reading when firefighters are operating on the roof. If you have heat and smoke trapped in an SFI attic, have a line stretch, crews breathing air, and be ready when that space gets the oxygen its looking for. OPEN THE ROOF before pulling ceilings. Let the fire gases escape vertically before giving oxygen from below.
We also had another fire this last year in a three story MANSION that had SFI all over. The fire started from lighting on the exterior and communicated up the side of the house. Crews were outside operating multiple lines and checking inside for extension. Crews inside were advising, no extension and everything outside showed signs that the fire was out. The IC was starting to release companies, when my driver “Light Duty assigned” spoke up that he could see light smoke from the eaves. He pointed out where he could see the light smoke. I took another look from a different angle with my TIC “TICs outside are critical” and I could visible see heat on the TIC screen. We rapidly called for the Truck to set up from an adjacent hotel parking lot and place the aerial over a large wall separating the Mansion from the hotel parking lot. We ordered lines stretched to the top floor interior and the roof crew to breath air while opening the roof. Once the roof crew opened the roof, it lit off violently, blowing through the hole ten feet. There were multiple chiefs on-scene and the interior was having trouble getting the 350′ attack line to the third floor. Yes, it took a 350′ attack line to reach the third floor finished attic. I took interior and when I reached the interior stairs that lead up to the finished attic, it was lights out with medium heat. Once up in the attic it was high heat and everything was destroyed and we had active fire. The SFI was so thick it covered most of the structural members. This could have turned out much worse, if it was not for a firefighter speaking up, and utilizing aggressive tactics, to include vertical ventilation. This was a multi million dollar house, that sustained minor damage, in comparison to what it could have been. This was another SFI FIRE that required VERTICAL VENTILATION with rapid water application from below.
SFI is common and will continue to be used. It is not a problem, as long as you understand its insulation capabilities. It will seal heat in and keep oxygen out. It can increase the chances of a smoke explosion and/or backdraft. Nothing Showing, Means Nothing Anymore!!
Don’t be LAZY!! Stretch Lines, use your TIC, Breath Air, Open Up, and be READY to FLOW WATER!! This was just a quick nugget. More to come on SFI.
I have repeatedly stated that the engine company officer has the biggest impact on the fireground. You IC’s out there needn’t worry. You’re important too and of course, so is the ladder officer; however, fire extinguishment is why we are in business and that comes from the exit port of a nozzle directed by the engine officer.
For those that aspire to be engine officers, there is plenty to learn and discover. A good portion of learning should have already taken place as you observed others. The discovery portion is truly the variable because it is about individual effort. To discover new ideas, new methods and try them for suitability is one very important component of professional growth.
Can you honestly say you are into it? If you find yourself with a lack of passion for engine company operations as an engine officer, it’s time to turn the tide. I would hate being in this business and just let it all pass me by without hitching along for a ride. The diversity in engine operations alone should spark an area or two of potential interest and perhaps eventual expertise. When you encounter someone who works at a business and is asked a question that they should know the answer to, but doesn’t that’s bad, worse is when they don’t care to boot. You have just encountered a compartmentalized employee. This person has a narrow band of knowledge, and is in a rut. If that’s you, that’s bad, but not inescapable.
The tuned in engine company officer sees opportunity where others see extra work. They see variations as possibilities and possibilities as platforms for enhanced operations. By going to extra lengths for yourself and your company you ‘ll be able to increase your tactical safety and call for water quicker than the rest.
Three Mile Bridge
The fire service is always traveling by bridge as it heads back and forth on topics of concern and popularity and for the passage of new ideas. The direction of the bridge traffic is two way or bidirectional and changes depending upon which debate direction you’re heading in. The bridge comes with two lanes on each side so that slower traffic can keep to the right allowing new ideas to pass on the left.
While we can’t see the other side of the bridge until we have moved at least half way across, it doesn’t mean that when we arrive on the other side we have changed our minds. We must; however, travel the full span of the bridge before we decide if we will turn around and head back or stay.
The debates that rage in the fire service may seem so legacy to some; however, all debate is good. The reason debate is good is because it shows interest. For those that debate, your opinions matter and even with voices raised, ideas can come through. If you debate because you wish to change minds, just make sure that yours is as open as you hope others are.
Cause champions attempt to collate support from like minded thinkers so that the message, often made brief for mass consumption, will be swallowed up more quickly. With campaigns and causes, we need to examine not only their direction, but the final destination they’re headed toward. If you cannot figure out their means and motivation, then maybe you should not climb aboard. Sometimes you will have to look far ahead to see where some ideas are truly headed, and that is not a task for a distracted driver.
Independent thought is often bullied by organizational media control while only giving exception to enablers. Organizations make claims of success and victory that don’t materialize while then attempting to push reconstructed messages for improved results. Bridge traffic can be heavy and slow at times. It is up to the individual firefighter to make sure that when they change lanes or merge with new ideas, they are not just doing so because everyone else is.
When you travel the three mile bridge, the toll is paid in both directions, and while exact change is preferred by many, change agents are there for those that may take something back from the ideas of others.
Tactical Safety for Firefighters
By Ray McCormack
While the fire service tries to figure out how much firefighting it can stand and which line to pull, there is a heavier burden to bear and that is commitment-the commitment of protection of your fellow firefighters while attached to a hoseline. There is a sacred bond between an engine crew and the firefighters they protect. This bond is sacred and must not be broken.
Any fire can challenge your crew beyond what you thought possible. You must work at developing challenges in the training phase so that when the reality phase kicks in, you are prepared. For those that believe all extinguishment issues are solved through the looking glass, please take a deeper look. Your people must also be morally tough so that when the chips start to fall, they can throw up a temporary shore, at the very least, for those who might otherwise be trapped.
When the bond snaps, we need to know why. There are few things tougher to do than hold your position at some fires, but hold you must. An engine company provides protection and saves lives. When the bond breaks, the repair may never come. Keep Your Bond Sacred
By Ray McCormack
The Stockholm Syndrome is something people who are held hostage for a period of time can experience. It was named after a group of bank employees were held hostage for six days in Sweden and how, after a time, hostages will often empathize with their captors. Firefighters are no different in how they will defend and support their department even when it’s hard for others to grasp.
A close-up lens is a wonderful thing because it provides an intimate view without a contrasting background. We all have our beliefs on fire attack and the procedural methods to accomplish it. If you look at how a department operates, you will see similar fire attacks, not just because of SOP’s, but because of belief.
If a department changes like the wind, it probably had a weak stand on tactics in the first place. Some are constantly looking for something and ending up with too many options. If you see a department that doesn’t change much, that is not necessary a bad thing. It is just that change often has a lot to prove before it is implemented.
Departments that operate under a system that many progressives would cringe over must realize that they are doing it their way too. They are just as much hostages as the constantly changing department is, but for different reasons.
The first department is subject to constant change while the other is married to routine. The problem with the first system is that they will probably keep changing and adopting all types of tactics creating a vast options menu and a very confused officer core. The second group has no such confusion and while they may appear to some as very legacy, they operate with a broad understanding of capability and uniformity of fire attack and are slow to take on new options.
All will defend what they do, they have no choice. It’s what they believe in. The bigger question is will the first department ever get it straight and when will the second department ever modify? Neither will until they are released from their own captivity.