Basement fire random thoughts…

* After locating any victims that might be threatened by fire, locate the source of the main body of fire. If this fire is in the basement the entire structure is exposed and threatened.

* If this is a new residential structure immediately suspect lightweight construction of either truss or wooden “I” beam. This will fail extremely rapidly and firefighters can be dropped into infernos underneath them during initial advance and entry.

* If this is a commercial basement then consider large stockpiles of material, narrow or limited access. Also consider that with a significant fire load as described heavy large streams may be needed.

* Always expect high heat conditions and extremely limited ventilation options.

* In older residential and in many commercial basements be extremely suspicious and suspect of shaky wooden stairways that can easily fail under the weight of a firefighter and hoseline.

* In warmer temperatures, smoke coming from a chimney can be an indicator of a basement fire.

* Smoke universally on all floors can be an indicator of a basement fire.

* Basement fires can present challenges for initial attack. The first hoseline should generally protect interior stairways.

* Basement fires can present Rapid Intervention challenges, rescue of a firefighter up stairs, out of a basement window, and rescue from holes in the floors with and without fire.

* Basement 1/3 of height above ground. Cellar is less than 1/3 above ground. Small casement type windows as opposed to a full window.

* Learn how to open, force, and cut, steel bulkhead doors.

* Do not forget the use of cellar nozzles, baker nozzles, bresnan distributors as a last resort.

* During initial advance get to the base of stairs as quickly as possible….do not remain in the chimney! Have a backup line cover the stairway and your means of egress.

* If operating in the basement be aware of collapse of floor above that can trap you and block way out.

* Beware of rapid fire extension to upper floors and attic and loft spaces in older structures.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com