Porterville California Library Fire LODD Report Released

Firefighter Patrick Lee Jones and Captain Ramon Figueroa died in the line of duty February 18, 2020 in fire at the City of Porterville Public Library.

The City of Porterville Fire Department assembled a team of multiple agencies who participated in this investigation. The team then produced a comprehensive “Multi-Agency Serious Accident Review Team Investigation Report”. The findings of this report were recently released after being presented publicly on Friday April 11th, 2021.

When a firefighter is killed in the line of duty, we must honor their sacrifice through studying post incident investigations. Reading through this report and then sharing with your coworkers is a very powerful way to honor the life of a fallen firefighter.

Take a moment of pause and reflect how this tragic incident has impacted the fallen firefighter’s families, their department and the entire community. Firefighters do not routinely respond to a call thinking they will not return home.

Below is the Executive Summary from the report.

On February 18th, 2020, a fire occurred in the City of Porterville Public Library. During the initial minutes of fire department operations, while searching for a reported victim, two members of the first arriving engine company became disoriented and tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

On April 29th, the Fire Chief issued a Delegation of Authority to a Serious Accident Review Team (SART), authorizing an investigation into the incident. The Chief stated, “It is my hope that the lessons to be learned from this incident might benefit the entire fire service and result in a safer standard of operations for the entire industry.”

The SART timeline spanned a nine-month period, utilizing over 1,000 personnel hours. The process included the conducting of interviews, analysis of dispatch audios, CAD information, helmet camera footage, body camera footage, review of policies and procedures, research of laws, mandates, industry standards, and best practices, as well as regular meetings to comprehend, analyze, organize, and assemble the data into report form.

Early in the SART process, the team became aware that a significant number of potential factors were, once again, related to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fire Fighter Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) contributing factors of Firefighter line-of-duty deaths. Consistently the top ten contributing factors, as outlined in their most recent report, are:

1. Medical screening

2. Fitness and wellness program

3. Training

4. Medical clearance

5. Standard Operating Procedures/Standard Operating Guidelines (SOPs/SOGs)

6. Incident command

7. Strategy and tactics

8. Communications

9. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

10. Staffing

While each of the previously listed contributing factors are significant, and continue to remain a problem in the fire service, the following were the most prevalent during the Library Incident: Training, Standard Operating Procedures/Standard Operating Guidelines (SOPs/SOGs), Incident Command, Strategy and Tactics, Communications, and Staffing.

As the SART began to de-construct this tragedy, it became evident that other indirect factors were at play that all Fire Chiefs and Department Administrators should be perceptive to, so as to avoid long term systemic cultural and operational pitfalls. Vigilance in continual review and comparison to industry standards, policy updates, establishing relevant and realistic training programs, adjusting emergency deployment models, and strategically planning for organizational improvement, are some examples of preventive measures to avoid cultural complacency and creating an operational road map for the future.

This report is not intended to be unduly critical of the Porterville Fire Department or to place blame on any specific person(s). Unfortunately, these issues continue to be far too common across the country to simply focus on one organization. Until all Fire Service leaders begin to resist complacency and implement positive change, we will continue to lose our valiant Firefighters. Additionally, Fire Chiefs must continually educate appointed and elected officials on the importance of sufficient apparatus staffing. To their credit, the Porterville City Council is presently taking action to increase fire department staffing, even prior to the completion of this document.

62 Watts Street Manhattan FDNY – The Influence of Historical Fires

The influence of historical fires on modern fire operations allows firefighters an opportunity to learn from the past. A triple Line of Duty Death (LODD) fire event on March 28th, 1994, now known as “The Watts Street Fire” created several lessons learned opportunities that still apply to present-day fires. From their deaths, it is our obligation to learn from history, to prevent a recurrence of the past. After Watts Street, the FDNY made a significant operational update and overcame politics holding back necessary equipment. The fire reinforces the need for all firefighters to be combat-ready when going above the fire to perform any fire ground activities, recognize the warning signs of hostile or extreme fire events, and how actions taken in ventilation limited fires affect the whole fireground. Utilize the lessons learned by brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice to do your best to return home to your family.

Technical Data & Reports to Review

What Happened?

On Monday, March 28th, 1994 at 1936 hours, Engine 24, Engine 55, Engine 7, Ladder 5, Ladder 8, and Battalion 2 responded to Manhattan Box 308 for a telephone alarm reporting smoke on the top floor of 60 Watts Street. Following the FDNY’s standard operating procedures the inside team of the 1st due Truck (Ladder 8) operates in the fire apartment. They perform forcible entry for the Engine, and primary search in the fire apartment. The inside team of the 2nd due Truck (Ladder 5) searches the floor directly above the fire. Unknown to the first arriving companies the fire had been burning inside the fire apartment for over an hour creating a ventilation limited fire. Several updates to the building had occurred since its original construction in the late 1800s. Prior to the fire, the fire apartment had seen several updates to increase its overall energy efficiency that includes energy-efficient windows, extra thermal insulation, and new doors.

Upon arriving at 1940 hours, Ladder 8 noticed smoke from the first-floor apartment of 62 Watts Street and transmitted the 10-75. The roof firefighter from Ladder 8 entered the fire building thinking it was Exposure 4 of the dispatched address, 60 Watts Street, to get to the rear of the reported fire building. He later gained access to the roof by climbing to the roof of Exposure 4, crossing over to the fire building’s roof, and opened the scuttle above the open stairwell in the multiple dwelling to allow for the escape of heat and fire gases once the apartment door was opened.

Ladder 5 notified Ladder 8 they were going above the fire, and Ladder 8 started forcing the apartment door on floor one. Ladder 5 encountered a fortified door to the apartment on the second floor, and the additional entrance normally found in this building style had been removed by construction. Engine 55 laid out their uncharged hose line near the apartment entrance awaiting water. Ladder 8 forced the apartment door open, and smoke from the fire apartment initially pushed into the hallway and then pulled back inside. Ladder 8 was unable to enter the apartment due to high heat conditions and ordered the Ladder 8 OV to vent the front windows.

Upon taking the windows the fire began overtaking the first floor, filling the stairwell, and Ladder 5 transmitted an “URGENT”. Engine 55 began attacking the fire and the intensity had increased tremendously. The fire was filling the entire stairwell from the first-floor apartment to 10 to 15 feet above the roofline from the scuttle and skylight. Moments later Engine 55 and the Ladder 5’s tillerman discovered Ladder 5’s three-person inside team badly burned with one fatality. This hostile fire event occurred within the first 10 minutes on the scene. Firefighter James Young died on the day of the fire. Firefighter Chris Siedenburg died one day after the fire. Captain John Drennan died 40 days later from his third and fourth-degree burn injuries covering over 60% of his body.

The men of Ladder 5’s inside team experienced temperatures over 2,200 degrees for 6½ minutes based on NIST modeling that occurred as a result of a backdraft. Previous attempts to upgrade from boots and long coats to encapsulating bunker gear from Morning Pride were denied by the previous mayor (Dinkins) and the budget office as too costly. Political arguments about the survivability of Ladder 5’s crew had they been equipped with turnout gear ensued, and firefighters stood firm that their brothers may have still been injured, but survived. The newly seated mayor that took office three months prior to the fire said the city would find a way to afford the 10 million dollar expense. Mayor Guliani even took the budget office director that denied previous requests, to the hospital to see the burned firefighters and impress the need for this personal protective equipment. The goal was to provide bunker gear that would sustain a 17.5-second flashover. The FDNY also added the FAST Truck on the transmission of the 10-75.

What This Means For Firefighters Today

  • This event pushed lagging departments nationwide to move into Turnout Gear from long coat & hip boot configurations.
  • Going green, and energy efficiency building initiatives are not going away. Tighter homes will continue to increase the potential to produce hostile/extreme fire events in ventilation limited fires.
  • When operating above a fire, notify the Engine and Truck companies below where you are going. If time allows, establish an area of refuge prior to the companies operating under you opening up the fire apartment.
  • Know the location of other companies operating on the fireground, and understand the greater impact your tactical actions can have on other firefighters operating within a fire building.
  • Be prepared to protect the interior stairs in a single or multiple-family dwelling.
  • Have all your bunker gear on and buttoned up, SCBA on, and flowing air. Anticipate rapid changes in conditions when the fire apartment door is opened up, and with modern combustibles.
  • All firefighters need to understand fire behavior and reading smoke. Drivers are critical to keeping watch curbside even if an incident commander is present. If smoke conditions are not improving, hostile conditions may be imminent.
  • The Watts Street fire had a significant hostile fire and flow path event. Another significant flow path fire event killed Firefighter Mark Falkenhan, January 19th, 2011, in Baltimore County Maryland.
  • Fireground Commanders must be ready to deploy a rapid intervention team when crews are operating within the IDLH atmosphere and have an immediate plan if the first due unit is making an immediate rescue.
  • Recognize near-miss events as learning opportunities through tailboard talks and AAR’s.
  • Discuss this fire with your crew, and assess how you would operate in a similar fire situation.
  • Know the TPP rating of your PPE, know what it means, and utilize time delayed tactics if needed.

Firefighter Jared Lloyd, Deepest Sympathies, Heroic Life-Saving Actions for Them

The County Fire Tactics family recognizes Firefighter Jared Lloyd’s heroic life-saving actions in the overnight hours of March 23rd, 2021. We express our deepest sympathies for his loss of life in the line of duty to his family, fire family, friends, and coworkers.

A statement from Columbian Engine Co. #1 stated that “Firefighter Lloyd was in the process of searching for and rescuing trapped residents and is credited with saving multiple victims.”

Firefighter Lloyd answered the 12:58 am call for an odor of something burning inside the Evergreen Court Home for Adults, at 65 Lafayette Street in Spring Valley, NY. Soon after Police on the scene reported smoke in the building to dispatch. Firefighter Lloyd was one of the first to arrive on the scene and without hesitation, he placed the lives of these residents above his own as he searched through smoke and flames for residents in need of rescue. An exemplary number of rescues were made by firefighters in the facility housing 112 residents with space for up 200 residents.

The Colombian Engine Co. #1 has established a fund to benefit the family of Firefighter Lloyd. According to multiple sources, this is the only “Officially Sanctioned Columbian Engine Company Fundraiser for the Lloyd family.”

Throughout this time of healing may all who read and remember Firefighter Lloyd recognize his sacrifice and utilize the power of family, their faith, and professional assistance to cope with his untimely passing. Please take a moment of pause and remember Firefighter Lloyd with the readings below.

Firefighters Prayer

When I am called to duty, God wherever flames may rage,
give me strength to save a life, whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child before it’s too late,
or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert to hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,
to guard my neighbor and protect his property.
And if according to your will I have to lose my life,
bless with your protecting hand my loving family from strife.

John 15:13, The Vine and the Branches

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Matthew 7:13-14, The Narrow and Wide Gates

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

May these words of faith, scripture, and prayer guide you through this time of grief and loss as we mourn and remember Firefighter Jared Lloyd for his actions and ultimate sacrifice.

Death on the Nozzle, Boarded Up, Trust Your Gut, Nozzle Firefighter, Coordinated Attack

A coordinated fire attack is essential in our modern fire environment where fires are burning hotter and faster than ever with our synthetic home furnishings. Civilian lives are depending on the synchronized actions of firefighters to remove heat and improve their oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Together the fire conditions and civilian lives present tremendous challenges for the incident commander and the nozzle firefighter that at times will require you to listen to that voice inside called gut instinct.

Oscar Armstrong

County Fire Tactics asks you to take a moment of pause while reading this article to remember the loss of Firefighter Oscar Armstrong II 18 years ago today, March 21st, 2003. In March 2003, Firefighter Armstrong was assigned to the nozzle position when his life suddenly ended in a flashover during a residential fire at 1131 Laidlaw Avenue in the Bond Hill section of Cincinnati Ohio. At the time of his death, he was 25 years old and left behind two children, and a fiance expecting the birth of another child.

 

When the incident commander arrives on the scene, regardless of rank or vehicle style, the framework for the overall success of the fire begins with the scene size-up, selection of the tactics that will put out the fire based on manpower available, and the tempo at which the tactics are carried out. The photo shows smoke coming from a one-story wood frame with a central hallway leading from the front to the rear. This older home is sealed up tight, boarded up windows, and a damaged roof tarped with furring strips. A gut instinct by the IC drove a slightly slower tempo in recognizing the potential for extreme fire conditions upon opening up this oxygen or ventilation limited fire.

257 Elm Street Atlanta Georgia

This fire occurred less than six months after Firefighter Steven Solomon lost his life in a fire that occurred on November 23rd, 2006 at 257 Elm Street in Atlanta Georgia. Chief Isakson attended Firefighter Solomon’s funeral and received a first-hand account from an Atlanta Fire Chief regarding the initial conditions and operations where Steven lost his life. Isakson’s gut instinct to slow the tempo and open up before letting his firefighters advance was based on the fire behavior similarities that the two fires presented.

Steven Solomon

The unedited house fire video below shows in real-time how the nozzle firefighter is challenged more than ever to read smoke, understand fire behavior, and prevent rapidly changing fire conditions through the proper application of water with a gallons per second mindset. Gallons Per Second is a firefighter’s primary weapon to level the playing field and defeats the enemy by controlling and reducing the heat, also known as the third leg of the fire triangle. The video also captures the actions of both firefighters and the driver operator confirming proper stretch of the attack lines, proper operational pump discharge pressure, and adequate fire flow to get water on the fire in the right gallons per second.

 

 

The time-delayed tactics employed during the operation included utilizing the booster backup concept from the second due unit, and utilizing the third due unit for a sustained water supply. The fire was controlled with only about 1,500 gallons of tank water from the first two engines on scene. Employing actions like these place people before water in support of incident priorities on the modern fire ground.

During the initial fire attack, the ongoing size up revealed a separate one-bedroom apartment only accessible from the Charlie side of the structure. The line going down the Bravo side continued the interior fire attack in this section of the converted single-family home. Direct water application through interior fire attack allows firefighters to rapidly remove heat, and replace it with oxygen through our fire ground tactics. Water creates and maintains survivable space giving trapped civilians the highest probability of survival. View a related article titled “Gallons Per Second, Creates Survivable Space, 2.50″ Smooth Bore Attack, Water On The Fire”.

As referenced above, from the Nozzle Firefighter to the Fireground Commander, knowledge and understanding of fire behavior and fire dynamics is more important than ever before. By studying ALL of the UL studies we can continue to operate as an aggressive fire service utilizing scientific facts to occupy interior space and improve incident outcomes for civilians and firefighters. Part of this knowledge must include the opportunity for more than one flashover event.

Maurice Bartholomew

While the first room may flash in as little as three minutes and twenty seconds (00:03:20), other compartments within the structure will continue to heat and await additional oxygen as seen in this ventilation limited fire. UL has conducted tremendous fire behavior research in real structures over the past decade. UL’s scientific research indicates the first flashover in a structure occurs between 00:03:20 and 00:04:50 during four experiments under similar conditions from 2009 to 2020. View the newly produced UL fire video.

Fire conditions rapidly evolve and as professionals, we must continue to educate our peers, and superiors on the need for training, proper fire flows, and nozzles capable of punching the fire in the throat. Train and mentor your brother and sister firefighters. This article is written in memory of Maurice Bartholomew, Steven Solomon, Oscar Armstrong, and all firefighters who have died on the nozzle.

3 Truck Still Heading Up

“This is 3 Truck,”

Leadership & Tactics Seminar May 9 Pensacola Beach

Leadership Seminar

Pensacola Beach at the Hilton Gulf Front

First Floor Coral Reef Room over looking the Gulf of Mexico

Hilton

Full Day Seminar on Leadership & Tactics

Battalion Chief Todd Edwards, Atlanta Fire

1) Atlanta Fire Line Of Duty Death: The Steven Solomon Case
This course provides the students a true insight into the how and why this firefighter lost his life. During this course students will hear the radio traffic from the incident, view pictures of the entire scene and come to understand how easy it is to loose a fellow a firefighter. Students will learn what went wrong, how to prevent these types of incidents, and learn some very valuable safety lessons.
2) Real Leadership : It’s not complicated!
There are hundreds of books, theories and articles about leadership. Our firefighters and officers are overwhelmed with information and in the end never learn any practical applications. This no non-sense course was designed from experience, trial & error, and numerous interviews of both firefighters and fire service leaders. Students will learn it’s not that complicated.
Battalion Chief Curt Isakson, Escambia County Fire Rescue
3) Front Yard Leadership
Providing Tactical Direction for success on and off the Fire Ground. Understanding where to focus your attention for overall success. Leading with Passion and Vision.
Pensacola Beach Hilton
May 9
08:30-16:30 Hours
Register at this Pay Pal link:

Leadership Seminar

May 9, 2014

Pensacola Beach

0830-1630 Hours

 

 

This will be a full day of Fire Service Leadership and understanding how to lead and SURVIVE in the Firehouse and on the Fire Ground. Chief Edwards spoke in Fort Walton last year and was enjoyed by all.  We were requested to bring him back to Northwest Florida for another day of Leadership and learning from the death of a fellow brother.

There will be 50 Seats available at a cost of $50.

Register at www.countyfiretactics.com under Leadership Seminar page.

 

1) Atlanta Fire Line of Duty Death: The Steven Solomon Case

This course provides the students a true insight into the how and why this firefighter lost his life. During this course students will hear the radio traffic from the incident, view pictures of the entire scene and come to understand how easy it is to lose a fellow a firefighter. Students will learn what went wrong, how to prevent these types of incidents, and learn some very valuable safety lessons.

2) Real Leadership: It’s not complicated!

There are hundreds of books, theories and articles about leadership. Our firefighters and officers are overwhelmed with information and in the end never learn any practical applications. This no non-sense course was designed from experience, trial & error, and numerous interviews of both firefighters and fire service leaders. Students will learn it’s not that complicated.

Robert “Todd” Edwards

 Battalion Chief, Atlanta Fire-Rescue Department

Chief Edwards has been an active firefighter, leader and trainer for over 30 years in the American Fire Service.  For the past 25 years, he has moved his way rapidly up the ranks within the Atlanta Fire-Rescue Department, and continues to serve the department as an established leader who has consistently worked at the some of the busiest companies in the United States.   He is currently assigned to the Atlanta 5th Battalion in the capacity of Battalion Chief.  In addition, Chief Edwards serves as the Chairman of the Atlanta Fire-Rescue Department Operations Committee, and operates as the Lead Instructor for the Acting Officer Strategies and Tactics training.   Chief Edwards has also developed numerous in-service training programs, has written the department‘s “Rules of Engagement”, and authors and administers a large portfolio (both in-class and hands-on/live) of department-wide trainings.

Death On The Nozzle “Engine LODD”

Could the Nozzle position be more dangerous than 20 or 30 years ago? Why does it seem more firefighters are getting burned and killed with a nozzle in their hands? Did you have an Instructor tell you, no water on smoke?

Please Share your Nozzle Position Close Call and/or Death.

Don’t Hesitate to share links. Looking for Big Input and Shared Experiences.. Look under Close Calls on Home Page for more Pics and Video of another Close Call here in Northwest Florida.The Nozzle Firefighter was burned while making entry through front door of small house. He was burned from Vent Point Ignition.. Video under Close Calls on Home Page..

Mask starting to fail. Short period of flame contact made it impossible to see through lens.

Firefighter burned and transported. Close call of Firefighter assigned to nozzle.
How long will your gear protect you? Have you inspected your gear lately? What kind of hood do you wear? What is the rating on your gear? Do you wear your ear flaps pulled down?

ECFR Firefighter Suffers Facial Burns-Lessons Learned click here

Our Next Generation of LODDs from Live Fire Training

Kevin Story Captain

 

Who are they: They are all around you and they are graduating from academy’s every day.

What are they: They are our next generation and the future of the fire service. If you are a Company Officer, they are riding behind you. If you are a Chief, they are the Troops you had coffee with this morning.

Why are they going to be LODDs: Because what live fire training is today, is ill preparing them for what they will face once they are riding on the apparatus.

But we have NFPA 1403: Which is part of the problem, as it has watered down fire training (pun intended) to something unrealistic, to the real world of rapidly growing fire conditions we now face.

There was a definitive need for NFPA 1403: that was plainly seen by some of the training events which left you saying that favorite three letter acronym that also works for, Well Trained Firefighters. Training evolutions that were not thought out all the way through no doubt. They were not planned with intent to do bodily harm but had tragic results. But these same departments go to real world fires without killing their Troops.

There is often a more lax command and accountability at a live burn event because, “It’s just a training burn”.  As if the fire and smoke are training fire cooler or smoke training toxic level. That apathetic attitude will most definitely get someone hurt or worse. So to combat this we have tamed our burns down but our fires in the streets are doing the complete opposite. Basically like training and equipping the Troops to fight in the desert and shipping them to the North Pole to fight and hoping for a good outcome.

Today our fire attack is more enhanced than ever before. We have more technical and laboratory information produced than ever before. With all this what we are teaching sometimes does not match our enhancements and the information we have gained. Now it has been awhile since I was on the military training grounds but, even back then we were not taught, go till you feel bullets hitting you and then start shooting.  Still we have firefighters that think you need to feel your ears burn so you do not get to deep. But this is a myth because every time you burn your ears and they heal up they lose feeling. So the next time you will be deeper yet, because you are deadening them every time you burn them.

The “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes” has long since went away. But we teach exactly that by saying do not open the nozzle till you see fire. The smoke we are passing through to get to that glow is a bullet just waiting for the right conditions to cap the primer. The intensity which it lights will also light fuel behind us there by causing more problems.  Better gear and thermal imaging now enables us to literally fly to the seat of the fire compared to the days of inching forward blindly by brail and feeling that heat at a slower pace. As Newton said “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction”. So here is ours, you fly to the seat of the fire and the reaction is it burns your gear off or melts your mask. This is probably not what we are hoping to accomplish.

But we routinely drag our underlings in right up to the fire and open up. This works great in a concrete room, with pallets or hay, but not in room full of hydrocarbon based products with a means for the fire to travel. I have not been to too many residential fires where I found a stack of pallets or hay burning in the middle of the living room or bedroom, excluding acquired structures.

 What I have found is overly stuffed BTU producing rooms that produce extreme fire conditions when the conditions are right. There is a ton of articles with huge amounts of BTU production rates and Heat Rise Rates. All this data is extremely informative and relevant but it boils down to these few things. Attack with as much water as you can be effective with and you have trained with. If you do not train with 2 ½ inch line you are probably not going to have great results pulling 2 ½ on a large volume of fire. Eventually your experience/training might catch up but you will lose a few buildings before you get there and maybe a firefighter or two. I remember reading a report chastising the use of 2 ½ at a residential fire. The reason stated you couldn’t move 2 ½ and be effective. Really, whoever wrote this has not seen some of the firefighters that I have seen move a 2 ½. But I have seen those that cannot advance a 1 ½ either.

When our armed forces are faced with a target a little bigger than they want to deal with up close with a small force, they prep the target from a distance. We can do exactly that, it is called reach of stream! The problem evolving from how we are training in burn building is, flowing water while advancing the line is becoming a lost art form instead of a basic skill.

Awhile back some of my Mentors where blamed for why bad events where taking place. So I went back and looked at videos of those “horrible guys”. I did not see them going in without water or wading in till they just could not stand it anymore and jerking the bail open and hoping the fire went out. These guys worked in busy houses their whole career and never retired until they went to the house the last time. They fought fire aggressively and they were the solution not the problem. They all went home too, because many are all enjoying retirement. Their mentored firefighters are not killing people off at an alarming rate now either. There is too much “Let’s run in and get some of that” mentality instead of “Let’s push aggressively and get all of it”.

Engine companies have to be changing the conditions to better, not just sitting inside and letting conditions simply get worse around them. From the Incident Commanders position, if crews are in the building and conditions are worsening, the I.C. has no choice but to pull the crews out. Put yourself in the I.C boots, they have 2-3 lines capable of 200 G.P.M. each inside a burning structure and conditions are getting worse, you have to wonder. If an Incident Commander or Division officer that can actually see the fire calls me for a progress report at a single family structure, I take that as a clue we are not moving or being effective. The progress of an attacking hose line should be visible from the outside in most structures.

So where is the problem? Better gear, Thermal Imagers, radios in every firefighters coat and people are still getting in trouble and the fires are not going out. The problem is one of the smaller pieces of equipment on the fire ground, the nozzle handle. It is not being opened and the line is not being advanced while flowing. Reach of the stream is not being used. We teach sounding the floor with tools during search. Why not teach structural stability with the stream? A 1 ¾ hand line producing 200 G.P.M. is a 1666 pound a minute hammer. Use the stream and look for kill you structure damage when the stream hits. Think past the moment of the fire going out. When things are heated they expand, when cooled the contract. A heavily involved room has a lot of expanding going on that when you apply a sufficient G.P.M. fire stream you should be causing an immediate switch to things cooling and now contracting in an instant. This is not breaking news to you, I am sure, but when we have trained our Firefighters to always be right up and personal with the burning material in the burn building. So in the streets they get in the room before causing the reversal.

The fire is producing more BTUs than ever before so bigger flow hand lines are being carried by almost every department so what gives. All that flow is worthless if Firefighters do not react according to the situation they face. But how can you expect a firefighter to operate accordingly during an extreme fire event if they have never seen a extreme fire event or applied water during an extreme event. Now given the faster temperature rise of our hotter fires you certainly cannot expect a good outcome if they are scared to death because they have never felt significant heat beyond their own body heat in gear.

Does every live fire training need to be flashover hot, absolutely not. Do we need to put trainees into flashover chambers to operate no, that would get really expensive in gear and S.C.B.A. But a firefighter’s first encounter with Walmart heat should not be at a Walmart fire. It should be in a controlled environment. A Walmart fire is not referring to a fire in a Walmart store. This is a fire that makes you question why you did not go to work at Walmart instead of the hot, black nasty one; I think we may die environment you are currently in. Firefighters need to be trained in this environment enough to know that they can survive. How bad would the U.S. Navy Seals performance be if they trained at the neighborhood heated pool?  Long durations are not needed either. A little goes a long ways because when you encounter that heat you basically have 3 options. Flow water, ventilate if not already done, get out, or combination of the three. Trainees need that seasoned Instructor to say, “Okay when it feels like this, here are your options and if you do not exercise one of these, it will get much worse.” Will trainees get their needed experience at the Academy, no but they should be well trained enough that the Company Officer does not have to tackle them or kneel on them to maintain crew integrity.

Let No Man Say his training let him down. This is a very often repeated statement which is on many Fire Academy walls and in training material. So why when live fire instructors can routinely be heard to tell students, “This is not like the real thing” are we allowing their training to let them down? We often jump on the newest thing, because it is new it has got to be better. Did we try it under those real conditions or close to real? Probably not or that whole left for life and driving all that heat down on us and pity on anyone near but not under the might fog might not have been such a great savior. Attacking the gas is not the root of the problem

No one is going to the fires they used, not exactly breaking news. So where is the experience going to come, realistic training not make believe almost like a fire training.

Many will scream where the safety is if we burn hot. Where is the ability to keep the trainee safe from crawling into the fire and just burning their untrained selves up?

  • Staffed back up lines in place where they will make a difference. Staffed by Firefighters who will say uncle and open them to make a difference.
  • Facilities constructed to produce the desired result of producing a fire to flow water onto with barriers to keep the student out.
  • Burn rooms that have light debris that actually fly’s around producing some of the effect a 200 GPM stream makes happen. Remember the first time you hit sheetrock ceiling with water and it fell. That wasn’t seen in training was it? Probably got your attention though. Eventually you got used to it would have been nice if it was not such a big surprise. Or the fact that when we drive those streams against a solid wall it comes back on you. You can no longer see just from your own water. But you will not learn that in a two or three second blast from a nozzle.