Tactical Fire Problem – Apartment Fire

This week we take a look at a fire in an apartment complex.

1.) Estimate what you believe to be the amount of interior involvement in this scenario. What do you determine by the black smoke along the eave line?

2.) This appears to be a daytime scenario. Do the old rules of maybe nobody home daytime apply? Many more people working from home, moms doing babysitting to raise additional money, people out of work?

3.) Looking at the layout, what room is that fire room most likely, and why?

4.) Does the construction of this building (and buildings like it) present any additional tactical considerations as related to fire spread and exposures?

5.) What is the definition of a “firewall”? Look up the definition, then check your building codes, then go out and actually take a look at 5/8 sheet rock on both sides that may or may not be staggered and properly taped, and that also has utility penetrations through it. Also consider the age of construction, is I full dimensional lumber on the roof or lightweight truss construction?

After using this scenario, go out and take a look in your response area and find a similar building and come up with a plan.

Stay safe!

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

Tactical Fire Problem – Haz Mat

This week the scenario is an unknown vapor cloud from an industrial facility.
As always you can pause the scenario to review before it expands.

Some thoughts:

1.) One would hope that at a facility of this size there would be some sort of planning document available, maybe even with a tactical or operational pre-plan.

2.) At a facility with a large number of tanks there could be a variety of substances on site. The first rule of Haz mat is to identify the substance. What steps and methods and sources of information will you use to identify the product?

3.) Haz mats come in solids liquids and gases. The most difficult to mange is probably a gas because of the large volume and area it might cover. Solids can be contained, leaks can be plugged and patched, dammed and diked. A vapor leak will tend to travel. Using your departments resources and mutual aid, what is your course of action in this incident?(After identification of course)

4 ) On a sheet of paper, identify the agencies that might be called or might be involved in this incident.

5.) Based upon the video, how long will you be operating at this event and what does that mean for additional resources that might have to be called in?

If you do not have an industrial facility such as this in your area do you have one in the mutual aid area? How much do you know about it in advance? Have you trained with mutual aid in a field exercise or even a tabletop drill?

Think about, today might be the day to plan and review basic Haz mat concepts.

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

Water Thief Drill

Just a quick little discussion this week on the use of the water thief. Most folks are familiar with this term and usually relate to LDH and supply lines. Here is the device I am talking about.


I actually like this particular model because of the reinforced leather carrying handle and its lighter weight construction. (There are plenty of old gigantic brass ones kicking around firehouses) as you can see you have a 2 1/2″ line in and out controlled by a valve and 2 1 3/4″ lines out controlled by valves.

It is my belief that these should be on every engine company and on a ladder company to be used in conjunction with high rise packs. Just some random thoughts in no particular order about the water thief.

It gives a great advantage when making a stretch into a large Commericial structure. You lead in by pulling the 2 1/2″ pre connected line, remove the nozzle and leave it at the gate and then follow up with 2 high rise packs. My thought is you should probably just continue with the big line but if you feel you can do it with inch and three quarters you have the option.

If the situation escalates you have the nozzle for the big line there you just bring in more big line to complete the stretch and you are ready to go.

In the reverse situation the thief can be used when you have completed knocking down the fire with the big line you can reduce to the smaller lines and still have the piece of mine that the big line is there.

Having a shut off inside the building can be an advantage. (There are also some risks to this but that is the topic for another blog post. These valves can be kicked or snagged and accidentally shut off if not monitored .)

The thief can be used to obviously split directions if need be and remain as a single point of escape and return by following the big line back out.

Some thoughts for training:

Practice pulling your 2 1/2″ pure connect and attaching the thief and extending a high rise pack off of that. Time the drill.

Do the drill wearing blackout masks under air.

Call for additional 100 feet of big line and make the extension stretch.

Talk with your pump operators about how to pump this appliance and check your flows with flow meters to see what it does.

I think the device is under utilized in the service today. In my mind the fire scene has always been about versatility and options and the water thief certainly gives you some choices. I know of departments today where these devices were purchased to be kept attached on a big line for a stretch into commercials and company officers who did to understand the concepts cast them aside into a compartment, never to be seen again.

Remember, not all thiefs are bad thiefs!

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

Tactical Fire Problem – Vacant Factory

This week we are talking about an abandoned run down industrial property that could be found anywhere in the country.

Lets take a look.


The questions this week are not so much about individual tactics but more about strategies, and bigger picture thoughts.

1.) What is your department response to this facility? How many personnel will be needed?

2.) How well have you determined or preplan need your water supply issues for this building and others? We often handle so many 1-2 line fires, what is the experience level of our pump operators when we really need to flow large amounts of water? Ask your crew when the last time they were the operator for 3-4 big lines or ladder pipe operations. Set up a drill.

3.) What is your department plan for rehab and crew rotations?

4.) What is your plan for flying embers and brands?

I know of some Nw England cities that would look at this scenario and yawn, because they have handled so many large mill building fires like this, but the scenario this week is really a test for the small suburban department across middle America that does not have these every year.

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

My Friend Jack


Many of my readers that follow any of the large blogs and websites will have heard of the passing this week of a well known fire instructor, Jack Peltier.

Jack was a lot of things to lots of people, to some a mentor and a teacher, to some the largest thorn in their side!

Jack was my friend. Jack helped my in some personal and professional ways, always behind the scenes. Jack stood by me and supported me through some very difficult times and did not care if he took an unpopular view or a difficult stance.

I will miss him for all he did for me, and for the curmudgeon that he could be.

We laid Jack to rest yesterday, may he rest in peace.

(I am sure heaven will be redesigned and no one there will again rest in peace, but heck that is Jack)

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

Newtown Connecticut

As a fire and emergency service blogger I am still unsure what to write some 48 hours after the events of Friday.

Unimaginable is the word that comes to mind first.

My thoughts and prayers are with this families that have lost loved ones at this festive and usually joyous time of year.

My thoughts also go out to the firefighters, EMS workers and police officers who have had to respond to this horrific event. Their lives have now been changed forever. I have often said that firefighters and police officers who get paid and are full time, and our nations volunteer fire and EMS responders should not be paid and recognized for what they do…….they should be recognized for what they have agreed and they are willing to do. They have agreed to serve their community regardless of pay or not and they have agreed to handle anything that comes along.

New town is a small town. I am sure that the police, fire and EMS may have known children or may have even had children of their own in that school as they responded. They were there and agreed to protect all of the children of that community.

How much these responders in Connecticut have given us on Friday and through the many hours even to today.

Local governments sometimes do not appreciate the value that a strong prepared emergency service organization brings, until we react to event such as these.

As we all move forward, and we must move forward it is the only direction we have, please keep the families that lost loved ones and small children and other family members in our prayers, thoughts and hearts.

But as first responders, lets us remember our police and fire and EMS brothers and sisters who gave some much of themselves both physically, mentally and spiritually to help others.

We owe it to one another. If ever there was a time for the word Brotherhood, or Sisterhood, it is today.

When this incident unwinds over the next weeks we should think of things we can do to support them.

God Bless the community of Newtown Connecticut.

God Bless Cops, Firemen, and EMTS, and Medics.

God Bless us, everyone.

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

Some SCBA questions for review.

I am using the Essentials of Firefighting Manual 4th Edition and I will pose the following questions. If you can answer them fine, but the point is, you should use these as the basis for a drill for your people. We will do some detailed SCBA training in other posts but this is a little thought primer and review.

How much variation is accepted as a difference between a remote gauge and the cylinder gauge? Do you always check cylinder gauge before donning?

Name one situation where you should use the purge valve? ( And its not to clear your mask either!)

Approximately how many seconds does it take for a PASS device to activate?

How often are you supposed to retrain on the use of PASS devices? When was the last time you were trained on yours?

Can you manually operate your PASS device with a gloved hand without looking? ( Sounds like a good company drill to me, have everyone line up and see who is the quickest)

What percentage of cylinder capacity is considered full? What is the psi?

How often should scba be inspected? Have you read NFPA 1500 and 1404?

How do you clean and dry a facepiece?

How often do composite air cylinders have to be tested? What are the hydrostatic test dates on your cylinders?

How long should it take you to don an SCBA and be fully dressed in turnout gear ready to go? How long does it actually take?

Take these questions have a company drill, and review all of the answers with your personnel. It adds some flavor to the donning and doffing drills that become mundane.

When you are beginning the drill empty and lower the air pressure in a couple of spares before hand so as the drill progresses you can see if people are actually checking the cylinder gauge or are the just verbalizing it and not really checking.

Be sure all packs and cylinders are checked and ready to go at the completion of the drill.

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

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