The Cultural Divide “HROC 2015”

The Cultural Divide
“It’s Worth The Risk”

Chief Isakson will deliver a motivational speech on how history proves that AGGRESSIVE INTERIOR operations saves more civilian lives than firefighter lives lost. Civilians are being saved 1,000 plus to 1 because of a culture of risking our LIVES to save theirs. This Cultural Divide must be neutralized for the long standing support of the citizens we swore to protect. The American Fire Service must understand our culture is the foundation of how were viewed by fellow Americans. The Fire Service is the insurance company for so many that can not afford it and what they have is not insured. Property still counts and it can not always be replaced. You will not want to miss this inspirational speech on it’s worth the RISK!

Harlem Rescue

Roof Operations and Spray Foam Insulation

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?

P st FIRE venting windowsP st FIRE line in front doorP st Fire axe haligan always startP st FIRE B2 watching roof OPSP st fire 8 guys out frontP st FIRE  ATTACK CREW 14

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.

Lakeview Fire Fire ventingDSCF7574 DSCF7577DSCF7580

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.

photo (1)


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.

Curt Isakson

Chainsaw and the fire service (keep it simple)

Chainsaw and the fire service, keep it simple.

When I worked at the Oakland Fire department, we used a large power head, a Stihl 044 and/or MS 440 chain (No special saw… fire service design etc or special fire service chain). Saws were equipped with carbide tip chains using a 404-7 sprocket and .404” 20-inch bar. This set-up is for structure fires only(See below). We bought the Oregon generic carbide tooth semi chisel design in a large roll and made up our own chain. It worked great.

This way we could replace broken teeth and have a chain with a full set of teeth for every fire.  We also sharpened the teeth with a carbide tooth sharpening jig.  They were the saw of choice on every pitched roof op. The OFD regularly does vertically vent roof ops because of a large quantity of balloon frame housing stock.

 Chain of choice (Below)


Bar of choice for the OFD (Below)


Most of the small engine 2-cycle problems are from new blended ethanol gasoline (never had a saw not start or run well when taken care of).  Any saw exposed to an air lean environment like heavy smoke will not run perfMake sure to understand the problem with modern gasoline blends.  Buy non-ethanol blend gasoline for your small power tools, as ethanol attracts water.  Damage to your equipment will result without quick use of ethanol blend fuel both in the saws’ tanks and in storage fuel cans.  This is a major problem for the fire service with limited rapid use of mixed fuel and prolonged storage.  By the way, you can get straight gasoline at most marine gasoline pumps; this is because the water absorption issue is a well known problem in the marine boating community.


Can Ethanol-Free Fuel Save Small Engines?

Any chainsaw chain design, that protects the tooth too much, limits its cutting ability. Most fire service specific designed chain has this problem. You do not need a chain that cuts slow at the cost of preserving teeth. The bullet type chain is in my opinion the worst, almost none of the tooth is exposed the rake is huge and making the tooth almost useless. Sure it will last, but at the cost of functional operation.


Above: Note not only the very large rake but the small amount of cutting edge exposed on the tooth

Think of a chopper blade on a cir-saw, it has a deep gullet to provide both rapid removal of debris and full tooth exposure. Fire service chain saw chain does the opposite of that, there was nothing wrong with generic carbide tooth semi chisel design chain. You can even file the rake down a bit to make it even cut faster.

Please- GO OUT AND TRY IT- buy a generic carbide tooth semi chisel design chain you will be shocked it how it out performs fire service special chain.  I recommend Oregon Chain and make sure not to buy their special fire service chain either.  With increased price and expense does not always come increase performance.  Fire service employees need to know the general physics regarding how tools work as well as proper care and maintenance of equipment.  Only this knowledge will lead to the best and proper tool selection.

Captain Dennis Legear Oakland (CA) Fire Department

 Positive Pressure Ventilation



Positive Pressure Ventilation

The Title is that; Ventilation. To effectively attack a fire requires multiple tactics performed by trained firefighters. Extinguishment requires water on the burning solid fuels. To support this so crucial fire ground function, we let the products of combustion out by horizontally or vertically, making use of an existing opening or creating one. Coupled with proper timing, the heated fire gases will rapidly release to the outside. Forcing theses gases out by means of a high pressure can, and will intensify the fire’s growth. If the opening is too small, a back pressure will be created.   The fire will be forced back on the advancing attack team. This back pressure can also force fire into other areas of the fire building. If we can get the attack team in rapidly to apply water on the fire; we can then provide positive pressure ventilation to remove residual smoke without the concern of feeding/pushing the fire into unwanted areas of the fire building. The individual assigned to place the fan at whatever entry point should and could be used to assist getting the attack line in place quicker; to possibly eliminate the flashover event. Question when the fan is in place before water has been applied to the burning solid fuels. Why would you provide a working fire with high pressure oxygen?

Once the fire has been knocked down, you can then consider positive pressure ventilation to remove the residual smoke. The fan should only be placed into service when it has been confirmed the attack line is still manned for any possible flare ups or hidden fire that will show itself. The fan should also be manned with a firefighter monitoring the attack channel for orders to shut off the fan.

Remember that hot dry smoke naturally wants to take the path of least resistance to the open atmosphere. There really is not a need to force it out before water has been applied. If ventilation is required to make the push; utilize decades of proven ventilation tactics. When opening the door for entry of the attack team; consider if this will be the path of least resistance for the fire and the products of combustion that have been created. If so, vent in close proximity to where you believe the majority of fire has occupied the structure before entry. Once the door and/or vent opening has been created you only have a short time to eliminate the enemy. There are no time outs.

AVS Attack, Vent, Search.

VAS Vent, Attack, Search

Study Top Photo and then Bottom. Compare the two and what changes have transpired.

Photos by: Phil Cohen, Camden NJ


Direct Water Application “The Transitional Attack”

Direct Water Application Escambia

Why does this not push FIRE? Why is it ok that FIREFIGHTERS are inside? Is this an aggressive attack?

Crew is inside making the push.

This is the Back Up Line Assisting the Interior Crew make the push on FOUR ROOMS OF FIRE.

Firefighters are inside pulling and Flowing while they open the roof. Do you think the above picture is showing an aggressive TACTIC?

Transitional Attack Taking Place in a Large City! It worked. Great call by the Battalion Chief...

Fire Out! They HIT it HARD with Engine mounted Deck Gun while opening up and making access for interior attack lines. Transitional : passage from one state, place, stage, or subject to another : CHANGE!!! Photo by: Pat Grace