The video shows the example of a working fire, and 2 victims being removed. The company on scene did a great job, getting to and removing the victims. However even with their great efforts both victims died http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-local/34880-two-dead-following-fire-at-ash-street-cooperative.html .
What I want to focus on, is the fire and its effect on the victims. This is not a large fire, the smoke is not turbulent, three-dimensional, no signs of impending flash over, or even violent free burning within the structure. Almost all fire departments in the country would look at this as a bread and butter, one line fire. Most fire departments would even look at this and assume any victims inside would have a great chance of survival and aggressive search tactics should take place. I would even agree that an aggressive offensive approach to this fire should be launched into this occupancy, and that our searches if proved positive with locating victims the outcome would be positive.
Why where they not?
Captain Marsar from the FDNY has written several articles on “Survivability Profiling” and has been met with mixed reviews, mostly from old school purists who belive in searching anything anytime no matter conditions or information available. One of the thing Capt. Marsar talks about in his class and articles are the toxic levels of smoke, temperature within fire buildings and the human bodies ability to withstand these dynamic factors. Bottom line is the human body is fragile when it comes to high temperatures, and toxic, oxygen deprived environments.
So whats the point?
The point at least from my perspective is that in today’s fire service with minimal staffing, and the increase in toxic smoke from todays fire environment the emphasis on extinguishment rather than search needs to be placed back at the top of the priority list, and a self-evaluation of each fire departments individual capabilities needs to be conducted to establish how to do business. Speaking more plainly we need to decide how we are going to put water on the fire, as fast as possible, with our resource compliment. Andy Fredericks once stated that a properly placed hoseline has saved more victims that the best search teams. It seems we have gotten away from that.
While my experience with victim rescue is not as prominent as others, I have participated in several and of all the victims I have pulled out of fire buildings NONE of them had any thermal damage (burns), all of them died from SMOKE exposure not THERMAL exposure. The fire is what is producing the toxic killer, putting the fire out stops the production of toxic smoke, and can allow the survivability chances for anyone inside the structure to be increased. Take the post from the other day http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/what-would-you-do-4/ While this seems like a cut an dry scenario, we can not assume that the presenting victim is the only victim. While throwing a ladder will save him, extinguishing the fire will provide a chance for anyone still inside to be saved including the exterior presenting victim. Simply put the line offers the chance to save them all, the ladder only provided the chance to save one.
Engine operations are the backbone of everything we do, if you were going to start a fire department and could only buy 1 fire truck, you would buy an engine. While today’s engine companies are inundated with other seemingly important responsibilities we can not push fire scenario training to the back burner. The fire department, and specifically the engine company are the only ones who can do what we do, there is no back up plan for someone having a fire, so we have to be experts at getting water on the fire as rapidly as possible, utilizing multiple techniques and varying degrees of resources.
Thats all I have got for this time….
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!