Louisville, Ladders, and Interior Firefighting..

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Progressive and Aggressive! Photo by: Captain Joe Williams, Louisville Fire Department

Two Civilians were killed and five others injured in an Apartment Fire in Louisville. One Firefighter was trapped on the second floor and rescued by other firefighters. Some civilians were forced to jump for survival.

Almost every city, county, town/community has some building that resembles the above. We have them all over Escambia County. I keep looking at this photo and thinking how I would command this incident as the only chief on-scene with half the staffing. America Burning was nearly 40 Years ago and America had nearly 10,000 civilians dying each year by fire.  It is 2015 and we still have nearly 3,000 dying by FIRE. The number is down because the American Fire Service was founded and is focused on SAVING CIVILIAN LIVES like in the above picture. This was not and is not a fire that exterior water will extinguish the fire. This is/was a FIRE that required the LFD to aggressively fight for the safety of the citizens they SWORE to PROTECT. This is/was a FIRE that required previous INTERIOR EXPERIENCE. I’m challenging you to study this photo and evaluate with your company/battalion on how you would deploy. What would your staffing be? What would a 1st Alarm, 2nd Alarm,  3rd Alarm, etc., get you?? It is GREAT to be ready for the Bread and Butter. But this is not your Bread and Butter Fire.

This is more than a Bread and Butter, even for the Louisville FD. Are you READY?

This Fire Service must stand its ground on Interior Operations. We are not dying from Interior Firefighting. We are dying because so many are focused on the wrong thing. Some are just looking for their next teaching gig and getting their name out there. I believe we have been on the right track for the last 30 years. I believe we have been doing it right. I believe we save a lot more lives than we lose because we are aggressive. Civilians are dying INSIDE.  We must continue to Fight Fires from the Interior when possible. We must SHUT DOWN the Keyboard experts that have very little if any fireground experience.  Interior Fire Attack and Vertical Ventilation is statistically safe. Check the numbers.

If you support Interior Fire Attack than share this, post AMEN, tell someone, Lets join together for the SAFETY of all Americans. Lets join together to keep property loss down.

Civilians Lives and Civilian Property still counts.

Have a Happy Fourth of July and remember what this Country stands for and how it was founded.

I Love this Job and everything about it. I’m Proud to be FIREFIGHTER!

Thanks-Curt Isakson

Click link below for more info on this fire.



Ground Ladders and Saving Lives

How many and what size do you carry?    Think back to your days in the fire academy, and learning about portable ladders.  We were taught the basic one and two person carries and raises.  We always fully extended the ladder on the side of the drill tower, and were told to place it at the exact same angle every time.  Class is over, you are now on the job, and you know how to use portable ladders, right??  Not so fast.  We weren’t taught to become fire ground effective, we simply just repeated the exact same process over and over. We need repetition to become proficient, but we must be able to adapt that proficiency to a variety of situations.  Today’s fire ground requires much more skill and thought to overcome the dynamic challenges we face.

Rather than place the tip of the ladder in a different location for different tasks, we should realize that with less staffing and more work to be done, we must work smarter, not harder.  Placing the tip of the ladder at the base of the window provides a means of entry and egress for firefighters working on upper floors.  We can actually use the tip of the ladder to begin ventilation efforts, and to assist in our ongoing size up of conditions. If we place the ladder at a more shallow angle, we can more easily complete the window vent with our hand tools, lessen the effort it takes to remove an unconscious or uncooperative victim, and have a safer exit platform for a quick headfirst escape. Being able to overcome obstacles, both overhead and on the ground, uneven terrain, and/or unique building features requires both training and experience.

How much weight will your ladder truly support, how many firefighters will be needed to safely and efficiently raise and position the ladder, and what length ladder will be need to reach your intended objective.  While bringing the ladder into position, we should already know ahead of time who is going to be extending the fly, who is climbing the ladder first, and who is heeling the ladder.  Estimating the amount of extension needed is no easy task on the fly, especially under stressful conditions.  Now add in smoke, and even darkness to obscure your vision, and any mistake can be compounded.  Come up short, and you’ll need to bring the ladder back off the objective to raise the fly. Go too high, and we may not have enough room to lessen the angle enough for proper positioning.  All this takes time, and most often, when time is our enemy.

Some of the common lengths of ladders are the 14′ roof, 24′ extension, 16′ and 18′ straight or roof ladders, and the 28′ and 35′ extension ladder.  Most of  these can be carried and raised by one firefighter, however, the 28′ and 35′ extension ladder require at a minimum 2 firefighters, and preferably 3 for the 35′.   What heights will each of these ladders reach?  Being able to estimate the height of your objective and know which ladder to use will save time and energy, both of which we will need to maximize to accomplish the task at hand.

How do you train on ground ladders?

How do you foot the ladder and why? What angle does your FD place ground ladders?

How do you foot the ladder and why? What angle does your FD place ladders?

Vent Enter Search “VES”


They did it and saved a life!

VES   Vent Enter Search

She was in that room of fire. If not for VES, she would be DEAD! The Fort Walton Beach FD, Saved her LIFE with VES Tactics. Was it worth it?

What does the term VES mean?  Can you properly perform the tasks required to VENT, ENTER, and SEARCH?  Does your department utilize this practice?  Training, Strong SOPs, and the Proper Mindset will allow for the best utilization of this aggressive search and rescue tactic.  While VES may not be performed at every fire, when used properly, it gives us a greater chance making a rescue or completing our primary search in a timely manner.

For instance, in a two story dwelling with fire on the first floor, extending upstairs, there is the possibility of occupants being trapped on the second floor (bedrooms) due to fire extension having cutting off their only exit, the unenclosed stairwell.  As a member of the four person truck company, we can deploy our resources into a two pronged search and rescue attempt.  The inside team will force entry and locate the fire with the engine company, and begin the primary search from the interior.  The outside team will search areas above and/or adjacent to the fire, utilizing VES tactics.  This means they will seek alternative entry points (windows on the backside or second floor), create a vent, make entry, and search a single room.

There are several important things to take into account to successfully carry out VES tactics.  You must have all of the necessary tools, you must perform a proper size up, and you must direct your efforts to the most endangered areas that are most likely occupied (usually bedrooms above or on the backside of the fire).  Once you have picked your target entry point, there can be no hesitation. Speed and efficiency, or the lack thereof, can make or break the VES operation.  This is why realistic training, proper technique, and aggressive SOPs are so important.

Interior primary searches are conducted every time we enter a structure to aggressively attack the seat of the fire.  However, firefighters searching for life using the tactic of Vent, Enter, and Search (VES) is much less common. The reasons for this include the lack of knowledge, the lack of training, and a lack of fundamentally sound fire ground SOPs or SOGs that support VES.  Additionally, many people feel that performing VES is just too dangerous.

Performing an aggressive primary search is both mentally and physically challenging.  But, we are taught and train on this technique from early on in our firefighting careers.  However, VES techniques are not taught as a primary means of search, and, therefore often get overlooked as a viable search option due to the aforementioned reasons.  Done properly, and based on a sound size up, and following departmental SOPs, VES can be a very SUCCESSFUL and SAFE operation performed on the fire ground.

VES is a TACTIC that requires Training and TEAM WORK. Do not just randomly perform. There was fire out multiple windows/door in the front. The first due Engine hit it with a 2.5

Have you properly trained?    Do you have VES assignments?                                                                Can you and one other perform second floor VES?               What tools do you need?

Thanks-Curt Isakson