Tactical Fire Problem – Fast food restaurants

This week we look at a well advanced fire in a fast food restaurant. In addition to our normal questions we ask you need to so some “homework” or “research” on previous fires in these type of facilities and the fact that we have had LODDs in these establishments.

1.) Are the conditions different from the first floor and the roof? What should an IC do when evaluating conflicting information?

2.) What do you know about the roof construction in these type of structures? What is the roof load and how is it distributed?

3.) What are your first actions and what will you be investigating when entering or initially responding?

4.) Why is what you have showing different from a fire in the ductwork system? Or is it?

5.) Using your department’s first alarm resources, develop your plan. Where are you deploying apparatus, personnel and lines? What size lines and where?

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

What Can I do?

There is always a question asked by folks for lots of different reasons. We ask when we vote in a national election, “Does my vote count?”, what can I do to make a difference?

How often have we individually said, “Nah, why bother it won’t matter.”.

Well, I have written lots of commentaries on lots of subjects, and several training bulletins as well, and while I always try to provoke thought and discussion, sometimes folks are looking for hard and fast answers.

Well if you are looking for absolute answers, you are probably on the wrong website! You should be at a much higher level than me if you get my meaning.

I did however have some thoughts about how each individual firefighter could make a personal difference in changing the fire service into a better place.

Some of these are safety things, some of these are people things and they are in no particular order, they are just meant to be my suggestions on how a single individual can make things go a little better.

Always wear your gear fully and properly at every response. We do not know what might go wrong when. You are in direct control of how and when you wear your stuff.

Always wear your seatbelt when you are responding in your POV or in the apparatus. You are in direct control of wearing your seatbelt.

Try to attend and seek out as much training as you can get in a variety of subject. You are in direct control of how much training you need.

Be acceptance of other firefighters particular quirks and traits. Your reaction to them in the firehouse is yours and you have direct control over how you feel. That one is clearly tougher than wearing your gear or seatbelt !

Always be fair and honest with others. Nobody tells you to hide info or not give proper info about any subject, so you can decide and have direct control over how you deal with others.

Always at least give your best effort. Your results may not always come out as intended, your best effort and the amount of effort is in your direct control.

Never let your guard down. Even after the fire is knocked down, even while companies are picking up, even when investigating “smells and bells” calls, do not ever let yourself lapse until you are safely back at the station. This is very difficult to do as we become complacent when responding to the same types of calls over and over again. It is within our direct control and it takes great discipline.

Almost like the one above is….prepare for sudden changes in conditions always. As you handle and respond to incidents, play the “what if” game over and over in your head and develop a personal plan for what your actions might be if the “stuff” hits the fan.

Do not ever be on the emergency scene alone for any reason. Always have a partner able to help you and that you are able to help.

See a doctor and take care of your personal health.

Do something about your current level of fitness.

Rest, relax, de-stress a little and make yourself mentally ready to deal with all that the job and life throws at you. Sometimes we do not recharge enough. You are in direct control of that too.

These are just some little things that I have thrown together, but I would hope as you have read them you did realize two simple things: You are clearly in control of all of them, and if everyone practiced them, wouldn’t things sometimes go a little better in this job?

You don’t need an SOP, a general order, a company bylaw, a provision in the contract or any of the standard things that usually get us to react in some way.

You can make a difference if you choose.

Stay safe and take care.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

Firefighter Training Podcast – Cyanide in Smoke – An interview with Tom Warren Assistant Chief PFD (Retired)

This week we revisit a 2006 incident which led to a comprehensive study on the effects of cyanide in smoke at structural fires. This interview from one of the folks involved in the development of the study, will shed light on this problem, and give tips for things you can do within your own department to handle it.

The link to the study is here:



Tactical Fire Problem – Fire in an Auto Salvage Scrapyard

Take a look and think about the challenges you might face in handling this problem. These can be small remote sites in small towns, or they can be sophisticated automated facilities.

As we discuss each week, get out and take a look at your facilities in your response area?

1.) How large in area is the facility? How long is the hose stretch and where is the water supply?

2.) Think about what material is burning here? Tires, seats, oils, ???

3.) How often do you train with using heavy equipment and loaders in conjunction with suppression operations? How do you protect the civilian operator if you use them?

4.) What impact will heavy streams be on the stability of stacked autos? Will the runoff have to be collected as in a hazmat situation?

5.) What are the additional personnel hazards that might be present in this scenario? List a bunch for yourself and describe how you would mitigate them.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

Some Thoughts on traffic Control

What do we really know about traffic control, and who taught us?

For this week ‘s training topic I have decided to work on a couple of small drills that involve our personal safety at to protect us while operating at the scene.

Just review a few of these with the troops and review your own department SOPs on this issue to get everyone on your piece or your station on the same page.

If your apparatus has warning lights or directional arrow LED bars is everyone using them and familiar with them?

How far should traffic cones be placed behind your rig? Do you realize it depends upon the size of the cone, the amount of reflective material on the cones, and the normal expected speed of the traffic on the roadway you are operating on.

These same rules apply to our apparatus that we use for blocking. When blocking with a piece of apparatus, place the rig far enough back that if it were to be hit by a tractor trailer unit you would have time to get out of the way before you were struck while operating at the scene. Most of us do not do this because we want equipment from that unit and it is too far away. Make a better plan! If you are going to use the rig, maybe you need another one.

Are your personnel on or off the rig when it is used as the blocking piece? I have heard discussion about both of these practices.

What reflective clothing are you wearing while working. The scotchlite or reflexite on a turnout coat is not nearly sufficient. ANSI makes standards on type I, II, II reflectivity of material for operating on different speed roadways. These lightweight vests can be worn over turnouts if necessary.

Do you angle apparatus so the pump operator is protected?

Are all of your personnel trained to look in mirrors of check traffic before dismounting the rig?

You can drill with these concepts in real life and have some personnel spot apparatus in a large open parking lot to set up a traffic pattern, or you can make a scale mock up of this using “Matchbox” vehicles. If the Matchbox are to scale if you will then remember to make that scale apply to how far they are placed apart….that is 3-4 truck lengths behind the accident.

Take a look at respondersafety.com for further information or contact your local police department and obtain some of the training they get for their officers in controlling roadway construction blocking.

Take care and stay safe!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014