Fire Science 101. Manpower and more.

Fire can travel in any direction. Up , sideways or even down in what is known as “drop down fire”.  In the business of firefighting you have to understand how fire travels and the type of building that it is traveling in.

There are 5 different building types that we study. The one in the pic is called Type III Ordinary. When you have a fire in this type of building you have to call in multiple alarms and begin several operations immediately.  You need at least two engine companies to join up and get a hose line to the seat of the fire. You need two ladder companies (another term is truck company) , one to go to the fire floor and one to go to the floor above to conduct search & rescue,forcible entry and ventilation. You then need another truck company to go to the roof to conduct topside ventilation, the hole in the roof of this pic was done by truck companies. Chances are pretty good that more than one truck crew opened up that hole because the first company would have exhausted themselves during the process.

Outside of departments in your bigger cities or towns most fire departments are drastically under manned if they were to encounter a fire in this kind of building. Some departments have three men including their captain!  This simply is not enough manpower to fulfill the 3 Fireground Priorities of life safety,incident stabilization and property conservation. Quite simply, if a life hazard presents itself this three man team will be wholly committed to rescue while the other necessary  functions will have to be put on hold. By the time they complete the rescue the team is wiped out tired and the fire has doubled in size!

This could mean total loss of property and the loss of the occupants personal possessions. Also , if this three man team is searching for and rescuing victims then they are not keeping the fire at check which can lead to firefighter entrapment……not good as you can imagine.

If you see a lot of firemen at a fire there is a real good reason.

I work on a department where we can use aggressive interior attack to fulfill the 3 fire ground priorities. The reason why we can do this is because we have the manpower. We have enough personnel hitting the fire that we can perform rescue, protect exposures, locate ,confine, extinguish, horizontal & vertical ventilation, overhaul, provide ladders to windows and roof, shut down the electric and gas, and perform triage,treatment and transport of any victims or injured firefighters. We know that reinforcements are coming so we can push hard against rapid fire spread and the results are nothing more than stellar!

We have managed to keep buildings standing and easily repaired ,allowing families to go back home sooner than later. And of course we have helped people out of dangerous life threatening conditions and not to mention a few pets too.

I’m not one for stories but I’ll tell this one.

We had a late night fire in a motor lodge on the highway. When we arrived there was a good fire condition with thick black smoke billowing out the front door of the motel room. Now this is not a complicated fire for anyone at all. Just hit the fire from the doorway and you are done. But here is the key… Because of the proper staffing of manpower we made the quick attack and actually saved a lot of these people’s possessions. They were actually living in that room and everything they owned was in there. So the stuff we saved was very important to them. The thing that I will never forget is how sad the woman was just sitting there. I saw one of the senior guys go over to her and speak with her. He then reached into his own pocket and handed her some money. Hopefully that helped them during that trying time.

When it comes to protecting your families and your home  the fire service is by far one of your more valuable assets. If you live in a small community where they have 3 or 4 guys on the job you may want to speak to the mayor or town council to see if this is adequate protection.

Remember to put CO and smoke detectors in your home and check them to make sure they work at least once a month and keep new batteries in them! Also keep 2 or 3 extinguishers on hand and know how to use them.

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3 thoughts on “Fire Science 101. Manpower and more.

  1. Other then living in a cement home, is there anything a person can due to slow down a fire without adding to the risk that a fire fighter takes?

    • Well in your typical wood frame house fire can spread very quickly. The best thing that a homeowner can do is install smoke detectors and make sure hazardous products like propane and gasoline are stored outside. Then make sure your family knows how to get out of the house and have a meeting spot, that way when the fire dept arrives you can say that no one is in the house my family is accounted for. That way the FD can concentrate on knocking out the fire!

  2. Pingback: Firefighters in slow motion and what goes on inside the fire attack! |

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