Again we have a video that begins prior to fire department arrival, which gives us the unique chance to perform our own size up, and develop our own tactical plans without the distraction of operations already occurring. It also gives us the chance to see the effectiveness of a different (or same) plan.
Obviously we have an attached garage with extensive fire involvement. it appears from reading the smoke that the fire has not yet spread into the living area of the house, but some smoke is starting to make its way there and in what appears to be the common attic/void space (laminar smoke flow from side A front door area hard to tell if it’s coming from the roof eaves or the front door).
Once the engine company arrives they take a position in front of the drive way and stretch an 1 3/4 preconnected line. Once it’s charged they hit the fire head on in the garage and knock down a good majority of it. Overall not a bad job, however I think there are some things to point out that can improve operations on garage fires.
1. 360 Size Up: While the video is edited a bit and I will take that into consideration, I never saw anyone do a 360 size up of the structure. Fire showing or not a 360 should always be done. You may see something on the rear that could make or break the call (hidden fire, burglar bars, etc.). Bottom line is its important, most NIOSH reports indicate that people are not doing it and if they had several LODD’s could have been avoided.
2. Check the door: Most texts you read on this subject will tell you to take the first line interior to the door that attaches the garage to the house and maintain its integrity while the second line puts out the fire from the exterior garage doors. This is to ensure that the living portion of the occupancy is not compromised. While I agree with the logic of it, sometimes in smaller departments (and even in larger ones) with limited staffing waiting on the second line is not often practical. However if you elect to go with a frontal assault someone (preferably an officer or senior man) has to go interior to check the integrity of the attached door. If the door is in any way compromised an interior attack is the only option.
3. Line Selection: This is more of a personal preference than a rule but for me the 2 1/2 is the line for a garage fire. While the 1 3/4 did ok here it did not provide a massive knock down (do not get fooled by the color of the smoke, it is still leaving the structure with a lot of velocity, so there is still some serious heat somewhere in that garage), and left no room for error. Additionally we simply do not know what the contents of the garage are. It could be a simple wood working shop, a meth lab, or anything in between. The simple unknown factor makes me want to take the 2 1/2 with me.
4. Apparatus positioning: Its obvious this company positioned themselves for an easy stretch and not for the needs of the incident. They took the best spot away from the ladder company. While this is a one story occupancy if it did get away from them now the effectiveness of an elevated master stream would be diminished because of its reduces scrub area. Bottom line is that ladder is the same length every time, the engine can always stretch more hose. Pull past, or stop short to get a 3 sided look of the building on arrival and to leave the truck the front.
5. Water Supply: I do not know these guys policies and procedures so it is quite possible they have the second engine lay out for them. While I am not a fan of that http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/one-of-the-many-fire-service-debates-to-lay-in-or-not/ at least it is a plan of some sort. I will just offer this, we have an advanced fire, with the possibility of it involving the entire occupancy. Our water demand is going to be high, so any steps you can make on the front end to speed up your water supply is only going to help your efficiency.
6. Building Construction: This is a very common thing in California, but it is not something you see here. I am specifically talking about the Spanish Tile roofing material. While I am unfamiliar with the building codes out there, one thing I do know is that Spanish Tile are heavy. They add weight to the roof which is normally not a concern, that is until the roof support structure is challenged by fire. While there are no indicators of collapse on this fire it is something to be cognizant of during the operations especially once they are transitioned into an interior mode.
7. Show up ready to work: Call it “Combat Ready” call it ready to work, I do not care but you should show up on a scene ready to do your job. We should expect a fire on every run, and I am sure these guys knew they were going to work either from the smoke column or the multiple calls they got. When the first engine gets there they just show no sense of urgency, in fact it is not very clear but it appears that the officer does not even have is coat on yet. The rest of the video shows arriving fireman slowly making it to the fire and having to finished getting dressed prior to being put into action. Some might think this is good, and I agree a calm demeanor is paramount, however this looks like lack of preparation, or caring either way it’s not ok.
So what do you think? What would you and your crew do? If you have any feedback, or tips please leave them in the comments section, and as usual spread the word about the blog!