Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fire from the outside in.

In the wake of the Chicago LODD last week (Herbert Johnson) there was a flurry of articles about flashover and attic fires.

All of these were great stuff and right on point. I wanted to take an opportunity while we were talking about these topics to talk about fires that start on the outside, climb and penetrate the building sheathing and wall covering and then we get the call.

There have been many circumstances where this type of situation has occurred, not the least of which was the Kyle Wilson incident.

My comments and thoughts below are not about any specific fire but just about these types of fires in general.

How do they start?

There are a variety of ways these fires can start. A gas grill fire that extends, grass and brush and mulch fires in contact with wood siding, careless disposal of smoking materials, external electrical (decorative lights cord) and many, many others.

In many if not all of the circumstances I will be referencing will be TYPE V wood frame construction.

Fire will generally enter an attic space through the small overhang of the roof line. This fire entering the soffit can rapidly find fuel (exposed wood Andorra attic storage) and rapidly spread. There is clearly an upward draft which exists and usually more than enough air to sustain free burning and fire growth.

There is generally little or no detection in uninhabitable attic spaces.

If occupants are home, they hear no alarms, see no smoke, and feel little or no heat . The fire continues to develop until it actually burns through or generates enough smoke that might be seen by a neighbor.

We arrive and have a well developed fire in a building void apace. Usually our best access (at least here in the northeast) will be a small 2 x 2 scuttle hole or attic hatch , with or without a ladder.

I have previously described and painted a pretty good picture of the conditions in the attic, now lets add some air from underneath. If the fire has free burned through the roof and venting well, things might be ok. If the fire has started to burn through but not quite, there is a tremendous amount of built up heat, products of combustion (read flammable gases) which might very well be forced down upon the scuttle opening with explosive force.

In addition certainly in wood frame construction there will be some drop fire down wooden petitions etc. balloon frame construction should be considered depending upon the age of the structure.

The bullet points or take aways from this quick post should be this:

Fires that spread from the outside in will generally have a pretty god head start.

After arrival of the FD we have a couple of tasks….search for life and search for the source of the fire. If interior companies are having trouble locating the source of the fire consider void space fires.

Exterior conditions might give the incident commander a better picture, because interior crews may not see and feel much from the inside.

Use EXTREME caution if you suspect lightweight roof construction. Consider the length of burning time and the fact these structural members are ready to fail.

Fire attack with simultaneous ventilation is always the solution to these problems, but more and more small suburban departments may not have the personnel immediately on scene to accomplish this. I am currently working on an article which discusses what we could do in the cases. Do I deploy all of my resources at the ventilation task while delaying attack, or do I start a cautious attack, knowing that my ability to advance might be limited, until ventilation occurs? (More on that later on)

Think about what we have discussed here today. Basement fires with extension, balloon frame construction issues etc, all present a similar circumstance, but when it comes from the outside in there are some different considerations.

Take a minute this week to review any case histories you know about, and talk its up around the kitchen table about any of these fires you might have responded Tao and operated at.

Stay safe!

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact

Is There An App For That? -This week Emerald Timestamp

This week we are talking about an IOS application called Emerald Time Stamp that can be found in the App Store. I am not sure if this is available for Android but you can check that out yourself.

The app is just plain and simple, but has a couple of great features that I believe have a direct emergency services use.

Lets look at the main screen.

Pretty simple, huh? Whenever you want to timestamp something you touch the green bar. In some cases the green bar is yellow when it has not say he’d exactly with the atomic clock and could be off by several milliseconds.
Yes I said milliseconds on a fire service blog, sort of a contradiction in terms I know.

Once you tap the bar it inserts the time in a format you have previously set up. You can then tap on the time just inserted and go to a second screen.

This screen allows you to type a specific note concerning the time stamp. I. This case I have just typed…type whatever you want on the line. This screen also allows you to email a single time and note or all events.

One of the last features I like the best. There is an options button in the bottom center of the main screen which allows you to “pre configure” some buttons. In the screen shot below you see that I have created ON SCENE, RESOURCE ORDERED and TASK COMPLETED buttons. They replace the main green bar.

Now if you have repetitive known times that you will be recording you can hit the right button, it automatically labels it and you move to the next item. You can still add a note if you need to or want to.

Who can use this?

How about this on an IPHONE in the incident commanders hands as he indicates some benchmarks? How about a paramedic recording treatment and medication administration ? How about in dispatch for a bunch of reasons. Using this software in an emergency operations center as a log of events.

How about fire investigators, fire inspectors, police officers and others.

The bottom line is that it is an inexpensive time stamping device in your pocket that has its uses only limited by the imagination of the user.

I would love to hear any other uses you might have, so drop an email if you like and we can chat.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact

Marine Corps

(Image from the Internet , unknown source)

Thank you to all have served proudly in the marines and on this Veteran’s Day weekend, thank you to all of our veterans.

We have all that we have because of you! NEVER FORGET!

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact

Qualifications? Or Qualifiers?

There were a couple of things that crossed my desk last week and a couple of conversations that I had that lead me to this quick thought for the week.

One of the articles I read on The Backstep Firefighter was written by Ron Ayotte , Deputy Chief in Marlborough Massachusetts. In the article he speaks about “The job” and hinges like personal pride etc..

My thought is pretty specific and I want you to ask yourself as you go to your next shift or if you are a call or volunteer person, think about it the next time you go to the station.

When you go to the station bring all of your qualifications with you. That is remember and practice all of the skills and things you have been taught. All of that old firefighter I and II stuff and officer I or what ever training you have. Don’t do the job half way.(Those that know me real well were not expecting the word way after the word half!)

Qualification are a good thing to bring to the station, work, and “The Job”.

So what is a qualifier, then?

Qualifiers are what all human beings bring with them all day long. It is part of their everyday carry items.

” I am not going to do house duties today, because the other shift did not do it yesterday”.

“I am not going to train today because Captain XYZ does make his shift train, I worked there the other day and they don’t do anything”

“I am going to do as little as I can today because the city doesn’t care about the firefighters”

“I am not going to be nice to anybody today because……(and you can fill in the blanks here, because each of you now know what I am talking about)

I will do my job with all of these extra qualifiers which determine how well and how effective I am going to be.

I have a simple message for all firefighters and it is similar to the article I referenced earlier or a recent fire engineering article by Assistant Chief Tom Warren on a similar subject.

The fire service is the best job in the world, everyday we may be called upon to play the Super Bowl , handling an incident we never dreamed of, everyday we are thrust into people’s lives on the worst day the have ever had…..there is no room for qualifiers.

I am guilty of this same thing at many points in my career so I am certainly not without fault. I am trying to help folks not make similar mistakes that I have made in the past.

When you go on duty, bring and use all of your qualifications, but leave the qualifiers in storage where they belong!

Stay Safe and have a great week!

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact

Is there an app for that? This week SIMSUSHARE.

For the past couple of years I have been presenting a program called “Is There An App For That?” I thought I would take a few of these individually and use them as posts here in the blog.

Many of the apps are for IOS and Android, and we will also discuss desktop apps as well for Windows or MacOS.

The first app I am looking at is called SIMSUSHARE and it is from Commandsim.

This app is for just about any and all platforms, IOS, Android, Windows desktop, MAC OS and even Windows 8

What is it?
SIMSUSHARE allows users to either take a photo, or use an existing photo and create realistic looking simulations using an IPAD, IPHONE, or any of the devices listed including laptops and desktops.

The interface is extremely simple and I have included some screenshots to show you what I mean.

The main screen gives you three choices, start a new simulation, edit an existing one, or simply play one that is already built.

After you import an image or take an image, you get the following screen.

Wen you hit the + button in the top right you get a list of all of the things that can be added to the sim. A click on any of these reveals another sub menu.

I have opened the smoke simulation choices just as an example.

You just drag and drop the effect that you want, where you want it. You can then resize it, change and manipulate smoke color, choose when the animation comes in, choose if it pops in or fades in, how to layer things etc..

This is not intended to be a complete tutorial but merely an idea or what I think about it, and how to use it.

Who is it for?

Certainly a great value for fire instructors everywhere.

Great for a public educator to create some interior shots, stove fires, etc. you could have your iPad with you and be able to deliver simple safety messages wherever you are.

Great for company officers to use for kitchen table talks. Go out in the district and preplan “the big one” we all talk about.

Use pictures of your last “job” and replay with fire and smoke.

All firefighters who are students of the trade.

Bottom line

This is a great app and it is available from Command Sim and I recommend it highly for its ease of use, and value.

I am in now way affiliated with these folks, but I would be happy to help anyone that purchases the software and needs some help to get started. Their website has plenty of ways to get support and help as well.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact

Chicago LODD

Chicago Fire Captain Herbert Johnson LODD at a working structure fire. RIP

May he not be forgotten.

When we say the words “NEVER FORGET” we must remember,

His family, his coworkers, what he taught us as members and as people, the circumstances of how he died, and we must personally do something always to remember him even in some small way, by some small action.

See Firegeezer for more information, or Dave Statter at Statter911 for more details.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact

Time to come back…

It has been a long absence for me, but I am now back to the world of blogging for the fire service. My original website started back in 2000-2001.

I updated regularly each and every week about a variety of fire service topics including tactics, strategy, leadership, general opinion and commentary etc..

Due to some personal and professional issues I shut down the blog in June 2009 and have been dormant since then.

I want to welcome everyone back and I look forward to building up my subscriber base back to where it was.

I have continued to teach, train, and lecture wherever I can and I am available to provide classes, lectures, training a, examination prep classes, and actual examinations for departments that request them. Contact me a for more information. I am also continuing to provide training classes that can be used as fund raisers for departments. The department sponsors a training and they use funds received for their organizational needs.

Our format will be roughly the same with weekly posts and more frequently if I can or as circumstances warrant it.

Come in, look around, go to the Main webpage and look at some of our past articles and see what you might want to use for your own department.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact