Tactical Fire Problem – Attic Fire Ranch House

I am hoping that this week’s problem is an easy one, but we should still review it to see if it can be a refresher. This is an attic fire in a ranch house.

1,) Daytime fire, relatively low square footage dwelling, good open space with limited exposure problem. How many people do you respond with during the daytime, and what tasks need to be done here? (NFA fire flow formula) (NFPA STD – 17 personnel)

2.) The fire is directly under the roof deck so roof ventilation might be in order. The question is, in your department, can you get a ground ladder, a roof ladder, a two man crew and get there before burn through? Have you even considered the time it takes and use your limited manpower to do something else when you know there will be a vent? This is radical thinking! The fire will always vent at the highest point directly above itself. In this photo, how much time before we begin to have a burn through?

3.) In a small ranch house what is the access to the attic space? Small scuttle opening 2 x 2? A pull or drop down stairway? How substantial are those pull down stairs for 1 or 2 firefighters and a handline?

4.) What decision making process do you use before you have firefighters enter the attic area? (Read, confined space, IDLH, flammable toxic environment, with a restrictive single exit)…,…or do we just go, because that is what we always do?

5.) Other attic fire considerations…..does the attic floor have plywood down, or is it joists and insulation? What is the storage situation like? Is the attic space a narrow space surrounded by “stuff” packed right to the eaves? How does that affect overhaul?

Think about this, stay safe, and stay thinking!

Feedback and discussion welcome at pete@petelamb.com

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

Search and SCBA Training

This week I am asking for information as much as sharing information. The topic is basic firefighter search and rescue training. My question and ideas that I want to explore are pretty easy and straightforward as well as the questions that I am asking.

* About how many hours of actual SCBA training do your new firefighters receive before you allow them to become ‘interior”?

* What are you teaching them about “oriented search techniques” such as keeping a member in a stairwell or protected area, or such as using a person with a thermal imager to guide rescuers?

* What facilities or techniques are you using? Fire station with obstructions? An actual Maze or maze trailer? Acquired structures? Training facility building?

* Are you using live smoke, Roscoe machines with theatrical smoke? Blacked out masks?

* For obstructed masks there is black spray paint, crushed waxed paper, Nomex hood on backwards…and what else is out there that works and is effective?

* Have you done any experimentation with how much area a two person search team can search in about 15 minutes or one air bottle with escape time? What square footage can be searched? Is it different in a residential vs. a commercial?

* If you use search ropes what techniques are you using? Knotted rope? Un-Knotted rope? Knots every 20 feet? Knots every five feet? the one and two knot system? What guidelines are you using for when to use a rope search?

There are a lot of firefighters from a variety of departments that read these pages. I would hope if you have any questions you might email me and I answer any and all questions personally.

I hope I have made you think about some of these issues.

Stay Safe, & Stay Thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Hotel

This week we are taking an interior view. This simulation is broken into three logical parts and I encourage you to watch about 20 seconds, pause the video and make some decisions.
You are a four person crew and have just walked up from 2 flights below to get to this floor to investigate an odor of smoke, reported by someone from a room on that floor.
Take a look.


1.) The type of call here is strange because you are receiving a call before the detection system has sounded. Does this mean the caller could be in the room of origin or an immediate adjacent room. Think rescue!
2.) Is the building sprinklered and what impact will that have on your operation, and smoke spread.
3.) What suppression equipment do you take with you when investigating alarms of this type. Do you always carry a “can”?
4.) How will you handle taking the window in the fire room? Does the interior crew take it or can you properly direct a ladder company from the outside? Or a combination of both attempts at the same time?
5.) It is a four person crew operating in a well constructed modern building. When a member goes to low air, what do you do? Does everybody leave? Does the member leave by themself because of the construction of the building and possible safe areas of refuge? Do two members leave and two members make the push and knockdown into the room? Send you thoughts to Pete@petelamb.com
Stay safe! Stay thinking!
Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Apartment Fire floor 2

This week the tactical problem is a second floor apartment in a congested area. Take a look.

1.) Did you even notice the smoke hanging low under the balcony porch area before it broke out? Rewind and play it again. This is the reason that when you are approaching a scene you should be traveling slowly and observing on approach. (There are a bunch of YouTube videos out there that show apparatus arriving on scenes and going 30 MPH on approach, I will discuss that in a separate post later on)

2.) Look at the building features particularly on side D (Side 4 for my NY folks!). How are those windows for entry and/ or rescue?

3.) How about working room in the street for ground ladders apparatus and other foreground operations ?

4.) Can the incident commander get a wide enough vantage point to see what is going on? (More on that one in a separate post as well)

5.) think about the three basic question, What have I got?, Where is it going?, what do I need to control it?

Thanks and stay safe!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Aerial Ladder Consideration

In major cities, this problem is less prevalent then in small departments that might have minimal manpower and less fire duty and don’t use their aerial as much as others.

This is not an aerial ladder program by any means but just some random thoughts for a small training on aerial use.

Make sure all drivers and operators are specially trained and re-trained as necessary on a regular basis.

Do not overload or use beyond design strength or performance ratings.

Inspect after each use completely and document and report deficiencies.

Make sure that ladder and all ground ladders are tested annually.

Use extreme caution on any uneven surfaces and steep hills.

Ladder will have less load carrying at lower angles.

Ladder will have less load carrying at greater extension.

Use caution with loose gear around the turntable area.

Operators should be attentive to inclinometer during use.

Always be aware of overhead obstructions, wires, overhangs, etc.

Keep the tip visible and lit well during night operations.

Maintain hydraulic system constantly. Take precautions in extreme cold weather.

Operate within the manufacturer’s instructions and or specifications.

In general get the rig out and have operators perform certain designated tasks, such as placement drills, speed of set up (safely!), and smoothness in operation of controls.

Do not trust that an operator with only limited operating experience will be able to use this vital piece of equipment when needed.

Train with nightime operations as well!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Personnel Accountability

Just a small reminder that the rules of accountability state that you should be within VOICE, VISUAL, or TOUCH with your partner and crew.

The next time you have an incident or a drill, try and do that and see how
really difficult it is. Practice this when you are on the simple “smells and bells” calls.

At your next call or training drill have someone see how many times this rules gets violated

This is a real chore and can be a pain in the neck.

As conditions change and the area becomes filled with smoke, the visual goes away.
Move closer!

The voice becomes muffled by a mask and you now have to be much closer than you were.
Move closer!

Smoke banked to the floor and high heat….you must be in touch contact in case something goes wrong, you can assist your crew members.

At your next five incidents try to maintain this level of accountability.

E-Mail back and tell us how difficult that really is.

It’s hard work to stay safe….but really give it a shot, you and your family are worth it!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Furniture Store

This week the tactical problem involves an extremely significant fire problem. This is an older building, taxpayer style, with a furniture store on floor 1. Lets take a look.

1.) It is always a great size up feature when the age of the building is right on the front! Lets look at the height of the building above the second story window tops. What does that indicate?

2.) What types of problems do the two vehicles create for the stretch? What is your pre-connect length and how will that be affected by pulling up “on the curb”?

3.) Fire showing floor 1 on the A/B corner and the storefront window has blown. Based upon previous fire history and study, with a load of modern furnishings and this increase in air at a low level, how much time do you have to make a stretch with a big line?

4.) Conditions on floor 2 are relatively clear but it looks like the cockloft is roaring. How big is your crew, how much help do you have, and get you react and operate on the floor above, with a significant void space fire?

5.) Preplan any of these buildings that you might have in your area. Also this might be the time to remember the old adage ” Go Big, or Go Home!”

Send feedback and answers to info@petelamb.com , and I will discuss your thoughts on this problem.

Stay Safe!

Pete Lamb

"Changing the fire service, one mind at a time"