Archive for the ‘B-SAHF Exercises’ Category

Reading the Fire 18

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

It has been a busy six weeks since my last post with several trips to Chile and around the United States delivering seminars on Practical Fire Dynamics and Reading the Fire along with finalizing the fire district’s budget for 2014. Spending a full-day on B-SAHF and reading the fire at the Springfield Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 333 professional development seminar and working with our fire district’s members on our adaptation of First Due Questions (see FDQ on Facebook and First Due Tactics on the web) provided inspiration to get back to the Reading the Fire series of blog posts.

spfld_oh_practical_fire
Photo by John Shafer, The Green Maltese

Fireground photos and video can be used to aid in developing and maintaining proficiency in reading the Fire using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme for fire behavior indicators. This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using a video segment shot during a live fire training. While live fire training is a considerably different context than an actual incident, this video provides an opportunity to focus on each of the elements of B-SAHF somewhat more closely than in typical incident video.

In this exercise, the focus will be on identifying specific indicators related to stages of fire development and burning regime (rather than anticipating fire development).

In this video, the fire has been ignited in a room (likely a bedroom) on the Bravo/Charlie corner of the building and the video is being taken from the exterior on the same corner. The ventilation profile is uncertain, but there is likely an opening/entry point on Side Alpha.

  1. As you watch the first 0:43 of the video, identify the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) indicators that can be observed and how they change over time.
  2. What are the first visible indicators?
  3. What indicators are visible on and through the window between 0:43 and 0:56? How do condensation of water or pyrolysis products on window glazing aid in determining burning regime and stages of fire development? How might these indicators differ at locations more remote from the fire?
  4. How do the B-SAHF indicators change between 0:56 and 2:40? Why might this be the case?
  5. After 2:40 flaming combustion appears to increase. What might have influenced this change?
  6. By 3:37, the window on the Bravo/Charlie corner is dark and little flaming combustion can be observed. What might this indicate about burning regime and stages of fire development?
  7. At approximately 3:41, how do smoke and air track indicators change. What might this indicate? If there is no change in ventilation profile, how might the smoke and air track indicators change next?
  8. At 4:10 crews on Side Alpha report fire in a front (Side Alpha) room. Why might fire conditions be significantly different on this side of the building than in the original fire compartment? How might extinguishment of the fire in a room on Side Alpha influence fire development in the original fire compartment (Bravo/Charlie corner)?
  9. The lower portion of a window in the fire compartment on the Bravo/Charlie corner is broken out at 4:24. How does this change the B-SAHF indicators observed from this location? What may be inferred from these observations?
  10. Immediately after the lower portion of the window is broken out, a narrow fog stream is applied in a rotating manner through the window. What effect does this have on fire conditions in the room? How did smoke and air track indicators change during the brief water application? What did these changes indicate?
  11. How did smoke and air track indicators change after the brief application of water into the fire compartment?
  12. After the brief application of water through the window, how long did it take for the fire to resume significant growth in the fire compartment (crews operating from Side Alpha delayed fire attack intentionally).
  13. At 7:09, the upper portion of the window on the Bravo/Charlie corner is removed. How does this change in ventilation influence visible B-SAHF indicators and fire behavior?
  14. How do the B-SAHF indicators change as interior crews begin fire attack?
  15. How might taking the glass in the window(s) on the Charlie side of the building have influenced visible B-SAHF indicators and fire behavior?
  16. Had the window in the fire compartment located on Side Charlie (Charlie/Bravo Corner) failed first, what impact would this have had on flow path? How might this have influenced conditions encountered by the fire attack crew entering from Side Alpha?
  17. At approximately 8:40, interior crews begin hydraulic (negative pressure) ventilation through a window in the fire compartment on the Charlie/Bravo corner. How does this tactic integrate with the natural pressure differences created by the wind? What might be a more effective alternative?

Developing world class knowledge and skill takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. This equates to almost three hours every day, 365 days per year, for 10 years. If you only practice every third day achieving 10,000 hours in 10 years would require just over eight hours per day and if you only spend 2 hours every third day, it would take over 40 hours to achieve 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

How are you coming on your 10,000 hours? Keep at it!

Master Your Craft

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO

Smoke is Fuel: Recognizing the Hazard

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

There has been an increasing awareness that smoke is fuel and that hot smoke overhead results in thermal insult (due to radiant heat transfer) and potential for ignition. However, the hazard presented by smoke as gas phase fuel can extend a considerable distance from the current area of fire involvement.

Reading the Fire

Print a copy of the B-SAHF Worksheet. Use the worksheet to document observed fire behavior indicators as you watch the first six minutes of the following video of an apartment fire that occurred on May 10, 2013 at the corner of Park Creek Lane and Hill Park Court in Churchville, NY. In particular, focus on fire behavior indicators that may point to changes in conditions. Don’t focus too much on the flame indicators presenting from the area involved, but pay particular attention to Building, Smoke, and Air Track indicators.

The following satellite photo and view of the Alpha/Delta Corner prior to the fire are provided to help orient you to the incident location. You can also go to Google Maps Street View and do a walk around on Sides Alpha (Hill Park Court) and Delta (Park Creek Lane) to view all four sides of the building.

satellite_photo_parklands

alpha_delta_parklands

The following time sequence from the video of this incident illustrates the conditions immediately prior to and during the explosion. The extremely rapid increase in heat release rate during the explosion was not sustained (a transient event) as evidenced by conditions illustrated at 06:25.

time_sequence_parklands_annotated

Building Factors

This building is of Type V construction with a wood truss roof system. In a large apartment building such as this, the trussloft is typically subdivided with draft stops comprised of gypsum board applied to one (or both) sides of a truss to stop rapid spread of fire within the trussloft. Draft stops should be thought of as speed bumps rather than a barrier (such as a firewall that extends through the roofline). While draft stops slow fire and smoke spread, they do not stop it completely and it is common for smoke to spread beyond the fire area despite the presence of draft stops.

draft_stop

The small dimension framing materials used in truss construction have a high surface to mass ratio, increasing the speed with which they can be heated and increasing pyrolysis products in the smoke when heated under ventilation limited conditions.

plot_parklands

Note: The possible location of the draft stops is speculative as specific information regarding the construction of this building was not available at the time of this post. However, draft stops may be provided between the trussloft between units or based on the size of the trussloft without regard to the location of walls between units. Preplan inspections provide an opportunity to examine building factors that may be critical during an incident!

Smoke and Air Track Indicators

An important air track indicator in this incident was the strong wind blowing from the Alpha/Bravo Corner towards the Charlie/Delta Corner. The wind may have had some influence on ventilation in the trussloft above Exposures Bravo and Bravo 2, and definitively influenced other Smoke and Air Track indicators.

From the start of the video light colored smoke is visible at the peak of the roof above Exposure Bravo and Bravo 2, indicating that smoke had infiltrated areas of the trussloft that had not yet become involved in fire. Smoke that is light in color may be comprised of pyrolysis products and air and may be to lean or too rich to burn or it may be explosive See the video Smoke on the Firegear website for a good discussion of the characteristics of smoke (note that this video is currently undergoing validation).

The volume and color (smoke indicators), velocity and direction (air track indicators) above exposure Bravo 2 vary considerably from the start of the video until shortly before the explosion that occurred at 06:12 in the video. At 02:52 a firefighter entered Exposure Bravo 2 and a short time later at 03:47 a hoseline (dry) was stretched into this exposure and charged. It is unknown from watching the video if the firefighters on this line advanced to Floor 2 or if they took any action to change the ventilation profile (other than opening the door on Floor 1, Side Alpha). The exited after the explosion, but without haste, so it is likely that they were not on Floor 2 at the time of the explosion.

Smoke Explosion

Smoke explosion is described in a number of fire dynamics texts including Enclosure Fire Dynamics (Karlsson and Quintiere) and An Introduction to Fire Dynamics (Drysdale). However, Enclosure Fires by Swedish Fire Protection Engineer Lars-Göran Bengtsson (2001) provides the most detailed explanation of this phenomenon. Paraphrasing this explanation:

A smoke or fire gas explosion occurs when unburned pyrolysis products and flammable products of combustion accumulate and mix with air, forming a flammable mixture and introduction of a source of ignition results in a violent explosion of the pre-mixed fuel gases and air. This phenomenon generally occurs remote from the fire (as in an attached exposure) or after fire control.

In some cases, the fire serves as a source of ignition as it extends into the void or compartment containing the flammable mixture of smoke (fuel) and air.

Conditions Required for a Smoke Explosion

The risk of a smoke explosion is greatest in compartments or void spaces adjacent to, but not yet involved in fire. Infiltration of smoke through void spaces or other conduits can result in a well-mixed volume of smoke (fuel) and air. Smoke explosion creates a significant overpressure as the fuel and air are premixed and ignition results in a very large energy release. Several factors influence the violence of this type of explosion:

  • The degree of confinement (more confinement results in increased overpressure)
  • Mass of premixed fuel and air within the flammable range (more premixed fuel results in a larger energy release)
  • How close the mixture is to a stoichiometric concentration (the closer to an ideal mixture the faster the deflagration)

Potential Smoke Explosion Indicators

It is very difficult to predict a smoke explosion. However, the following indicators point to the potential for this phenomenon to occur:

  • Ventilation controlled fire (inefficient combustion producing substantial amounts of unburned pyrolysis products and flammable products of incomplete combustion)
  • Relatively cool (generally less than 600o C or 1112o F) smoke
  • Presence of void spaces, particularly if they are interconnected
  • Combustible structural elements
  • Infiltration of significant amounts of smoke into uninvolved compartments in the fire building or into exposures

Preventing a Smoke Explosion

As it is difficult to predict a smoke explosion, there are challenges to preventing their occurrence as well. However, general strategies would include 1) preventing smoke from accumulating in uninvolved spaces or 2) removing smoke that has accumulated remote from the fire (e.g., in attached exposures), or 3) a combination of the first two approaches.

Tactics to implement these strategies may include:

  • Pressurizing uninvolved spaces with a blower to prevent infiltration of smoke. This involves use of a blower for anti-ventilation by applying pressure without creating an exhaust, similar to what is done to pressurize a highrise stairwell. It is essential to check for extension prior to implementing this tactic!.
  • Horizontal ventilation of attached exposures to remove smoke, checking for extension, and then pressurization with a blower to prevent continued infiltration of smoke. If fire extension is found, pressurization without an exhaust opening must not be implemented!

Additional Resources

The following previous posts on the CFBT-US Blog may also be of interest in exploring the smoke explosion phenomena.

References

Bengtsson, L. (2001). Enclosure Fires. Retrieved May 12, 2013 from https://www.msb.se/RibData/Filer/pdf/20782.pdf .

 

Explosions During Structural Firefighting

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Video of several incidents involving explosions during structural firefighting operations have been posted to YouTube in the last several weeks. Two of these videos, one from New Chicago, IN and the other from Olathe, KS involve residential fires. The other is of a commercial fire in Wichita, KS.

When a video shows some sort of spectacular fire behavior there is generally a great deal of speculation amongst the viewers about what happened. Was it a smoke (fire gas) explosion, backdraft, flashover, or did something else happen? Such speculation is useful if placed in the framework of the conditions required for these phenomena to occur and the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame (B-SAHF) indicators that provide cues of to current fire conditions and potential fire behavior.

Occasionally, what happened is fairly obvious such as flashover resulting from increased ventilation under ventilation controlled conditions. However, the phenomena and its causal factors are often much more of a puzzle.

Download and print three copies of the read more B-SAHF Worksheet.

Residential Fire-Olathe, KS

Limited information was posted along with this pre-arrival video of a residential fire in Olathe, KS. The home was unoccupied when the fire occurred.

Watch the thirty seconds (0:30) of the video. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators; then answer the following five standard questions (based only on what you observe during the first thirty seconds of the video)?

  1. What additional information would you like to have? How could you obtain it?
  2. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
  3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel controlled or ventilation controlled)?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

Watch remainder of the video and consider the following questions:

  1. Did fire conditions progress as you anticipated?
  2. What changes in the B-SAHF indicators did you observe?
  3. What may have caused the explosion (consider all of the possibilities)?
  4. Were there any indications that may have given warning of this change in conditions?

Residential Fire-New Chicago, IN

Companies from New Chicago and Hobart were dispatched to a reported house fire at 402 Madison in New Chicago, IN on February 17, 2012.

Watch the thirty seconds (0:30) of the video. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators; then answer the following five standard questions (based only on what you observe during the first thirty seconds of the video)?

  1. What additional information would you like to have? How could you obtain it?
  2. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
  3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel controlled or ventilation controlled)?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

Watch remainder of the video and consider the following questions:

  1. Did fire conditions progress as you anticipated?
  2. What changes in the B-SAHF indicators did you observe?
  3. What may have caused the explosion (consider all of the possibilities)?
  4. Were there any indications that may have given warning of this change in conditions?

Commercial Fire-Wichita, KS

Wichita Fire Department on scene of a working building fire in large, non-combustible commercial building. Extreme heat and fire conditions cause an unknown cylinder to explode.

Keep in mind that gas cylinders and other closed containers can result in explosions during structural firefighting operations. Unlike backdraft and smoke explosion, the only clue may be building factors related to occupancy (and this may not be a good indicator when operating at a residential fire).

Wichita Fire Department on scene of a working building fire in a large metal structure. Extreme heat and fire conditions cause an unknown cylinder to explode. If you listen close, you can hear it vent before it goes off. Concussion actually cuts out my audio for just a couple seconds. No one was injured.

Video by Sean Black Photography http://seanblackphotography.smugmug.com/

Firefighter Safety

Potential for explosions related to extreme fire behavior such as backdraft and smoke explosion may be recognized based on assessment and understanding the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) indicators. Other types of explosions such as those resulting from failure of closed containers (e.g., containing liquids or gases) may be a bit more difficult as this potential is likely to be present in most types of occupancies. However, commercial and industrial occupancies present greater risks.

Recognizing that even with sound experienced judgment, there may be undetected hazards on the fireground. Managing the risk requires developing a solid knowledge base and skills and operating within sound rules of engagement such as the IAFC Rules of Engagement for Structural Firefighting. However, considering the hazards presented by rapid fire progression and potential for changes in conditions following explosive events, I would add the following:

  • Base your strategies and tactics on current and anticipated fire behavior and structural stability.
  • Ensure that members correctly wear complete structural firefighting clothing and SCBA when working in the hazard zone and practice good air management. Buddy check before entry!
  • Crews operating on the interior should have a hoseline or be directly supported by a crew with a hoseline. If conditions deteriorate, a hoseline allows self-protection and provides a defined egress path.
  • Have well practiced battle drills for tactical withdrawal and abandoning the building (depending on conditions). See Battle Drill, Battle Drill Part 2, and Battle Drill Part 3.

Next…

My next post will address the impact of a closed door on tenability during a residential fire as the ninth tactical implication identified in the UL study on the Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction.

Subsequent posts will come back to the Olathe, KS and New Chicago, IN residential fires to examine potential impacts on fire behavior and explosions that resulted during these incidents.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO

Reading the Fire 16

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Residential Fire

This post examines fire development during a residential fire in Lyons, New York.

Download and the navigate here B-SAHF Worksheet.

Watch the first minute and thirty seconds (1:30) of the video. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators; then answer the following five standard questions?

  1. What additional information would you like to have? How could you obtain it?
  2. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
  3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel controlled or ventilation controlled)?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

In addition, consider how the answers to these questions impact your assessment of the potential for survival of possible occupants.

Now watch the video clip from 1:30 until 2:00. Now answer the following questions:

  1. Did fire conditions progress as you anticipated?
  2. What changes in the B-SAHF indicators did you observe?
  3. What indications of fire stream effectiveness did you observe?
  4. What potential avenues of fire extension would you consider based on the type of construction and building design?

As you watch the remainder of the video, consider the changes in observed conditions and what information this might provide the Incident Commander. What information should interior crews report to Command during this stage of incident operations.

More on Reading the Fire

See the following posts for more information on reading the fire:

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

 

Reading the Fire 15

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Developing and maintaining proficiency in reading the Fire using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme for fire behavior indicators, requires practice. This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using a video segment shot during a commercial fire.

Residential Fire

This post examines fire development during a residential fire in New Chicago, Indiana.

Download and the http://viagraachat.org/ le contenu utile B-SAHF Worksheet.

Watch the first 30 seconds (0:30) of the video. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators; then answer the following five standard questions?

  1. What additional information would you like to have? How could you obtain it?
  2. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
  3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel controlled or ventilation controlled)?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

In addition, consider how the answers to these questions impact your assessment of the potential for survival of possible occupants.

Now watch the video clip from 0:30 until firefighters make entry at 3:05. Now answer the following questions:

  1. Did fire conditions progress as you anticipated?
  2. What changes in the B-SAHF indicators did you observe?
  3. How do you think that the stage(s) of fire development and burning regime will change over the next few minutes?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building now?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

The crews working in this video appeared to achieve fire control fairly quickly and without incident. However, consider the following tactical and task related questions:

  1. It did not appear that any member of the first arriving companies performed a 360o recon and size-up (they may have, but this was not visible in the video). Why might this be a critical step in size-up at a residential fire?
  2. It appeared that two lines were run simultaneously (the first line to the door ended up as the back-up line, possibly due to a slight delay in charging the line). How should fire attack and backup roles be coordinated?
  3. Fire attack was initiated from the interior (unburned side). What would have been the impact of the first line darkening the fire from the exterior (prior to entry)?
  4. Were there any indicators of potential collapse (partial) of the roof? How would you manage this risk when working in a lightweight wood frame residence with observed extension into the trussloft? What factors would influence your decision-making and actions?

Reading the Fire

See the following posts for more information on reading the fire:

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

Reading the Fire 15

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Greetings from Peru! I am writing this post in the kitchen of Station #100 in San Isidro, which is one of the districts in Lima. I am in Lima to speak on the concepts of practical fire dynamics and 3D Firefighting at a fire and rescue conference later in the week.

I would like to extend special thanks the Station Chief Paul Zarak and the members of Station 100 for making me welcome in their house. Paul and my friend Daniel Bacigalupo of Lima Station 4 picked me up at the airport and provided me with a great welcome to the Peru and the City of Lima.

Reading the Fire-The Journey Continues

Developing and maintaining proficiency in reading the Fire using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme for fire behavior indicators, requires practice. This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using a video segment shot during a fire in a detached garage. While a fairly simple incident, remember that the description of many tragic events begin with the words “it appeared to be a routine incident”. http://viagraachat.org/acheter-cialis-generique/index.html acheter cialis generique There are no routine incidents

This post examines fire development during a fire in a detached garage with an exposed dwelling on Side C which occurred in Lake Station, Indiana. The video begins prior to the start of firefighting operations.

Download and the cheap viagra online canadian pharmacy B-SAHF Worksheet.

Watch the first 25 seconds (0:25) of the video. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators; then answer the following five standard questions?

  1. What additional information would you like to have? How could you obtain it?
  2. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
  3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel controlled or ventilation controlled)?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

watch the next 20 seconds (from 0:25 to 0:40). How do the B-SAHF indicators change? Why might this be the case?

Watch 20 seconds the video showing conditions at the doorway on Side B starting 50 seconds (0:50 to 1:10). Are the indicators visible from this vantage point similar to those on Side A? Why or why not?

Now watch the video up until the arrival of the first engine company (at 1:25). How do you think fire conditions are changing inside the garage? Is the heat release increasing, decreasing, or remaining relatively constant? Why?

Continue watching the video until 3 minutes 45 seconds (3:20). How do the smoke and air track indicators change (both before and after the overhead door on Side A was opened)?

At approximately 4:18 flames become visible from a window on Side C? Is this surprising? Why or why not?

How is a fire in a garage different than a fire in the living areas of a dwelling? How might these differences influence fire behavior and impact on firefighter safety?

Reading the Fire

See the following posts for more information on reading the fire:

Next Post

At breakfast this morning, I met Commander Oscar Ruiz member at Lima Station 4 and former Chief of Station 100. In 1997, Oscar was injured as the result of a backdraft while operating in the basket of an aerial platform at a commercial fire in the Victoria district of Lima. My next post will examine this incident and important lessons learned.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO

Gas Cooling: Part 4

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Reading the Fire

Before returning to discussion of the science underlying gas cooling as a fire control technique, I wanted to share a video of an industrial fire in Maidencreek Township, Pennsylvania that provides an excellent illustration of smoke and air track indicators. Watch the first minute (1:00) of the video and answer the following questions:

  • Consider how you would read the smoke and air track indicators (particularly the level of the neutral plane and velocity) if this was a single family dwelling. How is air track indicators are different in a large building (with multiple ventilation openings) such as was the case in this incident?
  • What stage of development (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay) and burning regime (fuel or ventilation controlled) is this fire in?
  • Watch the remainder of the video and examine the effectiveness of the master stream application? Are the streams effective? Why or why not? What could be done to increase the effectiveness of application?

For additional information on reading the fire, see the following posts:

Gas Laws

Paraphrasing Albert Einstein, British science writer Simon Singh stated that, “Science has nothing to do with common sense. Common sense is a set of prejudices” (Capps, 2010, p. 115). One of the challenges faced by firefighters engaging with the science of their craft is the common sense understanding of the fire environment and firefighting practices. This post continues examination of gas cooling as a fire control technique, by peeling off a few more layers and digging deeper into the underlying science related to the behavior of gases.

Readers who have worked through Gas Cooling Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 have a reasonable idea how a small volume of water can reduce the temperature of the upper layer in a compartment and also reduce the volume of the upper layer (raising the level of the lower boundary of the layer). In addition, readers are likely to also understand the limitations of the simple explanation provided in prior posts.

In Water and Other Extinguishing Agents (Särdqvist,2002), Dr. Stefan Särdqvist provides a fairly detailed explanation of volume changes during smoke cooling and examines how the percentage of water vaporizing in the upper layer influences these changes. Understanding Stefan’s explanation requires a good understanding of the ideal gas law and a willingness to work through the math.

Gas Laws

The introduction to the gas laws and overview of Charles’s Law was provided in Gas Cooling: Part 3. This content has been repeated in this post, to save you from going back to the previous post.

While gases have different characteristics and properties, the behavior of gases can be described in general terms using the ideal gas law. This physical law describes the relationship between absolute temperature, volume, and pressure of a given amount of an ideal gas.

Figure 1. Temperature, Volume, Pressure & Amount

The concept of an ideal gas is based on the following assumptions:

  • Gases consist of molecules in random motion
  • The volume of the molecules is negligible in comparison to the total volume occupied by the gas
  • Intermolecular forces (i.e., attractive forces between molecules) are negligible
  • Pressure is the result of gas molecules colliding with the walls of its container

The ideal gas law is actually a synthesis of several other physical laws that each describes a single characteristic of the behavior of gases in a closed system (enclosed in some type of container).

Charles’s Law: In the 1780s, French scientist Jacques Charles studied the effect of temperature on a sample of gas at a constant pressure. Charles found that as the gas was heated, the volume increased. As the gas was cooled, the volume decreased. This finding gave rise to Charles’s Law which states that at a constant pressure the volume of a given amount (mass or number of molecules) of an ideal gas increases or decreases in direct proportion with its absolute (thermodynamic) temperature. The symbol  is used to express a proportional relationship (much the same as = is used to express equality), so this relationship can be expressed as:

Where:

V=Volume

T=Temperature

When two values (such as volume and temperature in Charles’s Law) are proportional, one is a consistent multiple of the other. For example If one value was consistently eight times the other, the values would also be proportional. In the case of Charles’s Law when the absolute temperature of a gas doubles, the pressure doubles. Figure 2 illustrates the relationship between absolute temperature in Kelvins (K) and volume in cubic millimeters (mm3).

Figure 2. Charles’s Law

This relationship can also be stated using the following equation:

Where

V=Volume

T=Temperature

Subscript of 1 refers to initial conditions

Subscript of 2 refers to final conditions

Gay-Lussac’s Law: When Jacques Charles discovered the relationship between temperature and volume, he also discovered a similar relationship between temperature and pressure. However, Charles never published this discovery. Charles’s work on temperature and pressure was recreated by French chemist Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac. Gay Lussac’s Law states that if the volume of an ideal gas is held constant, the pressure of a given amount (mass or number of molecules) of an ideal gas increases or decreases proportionally with its absolute temperature. As with Charles’s Law, Gay-Lussac’s law can be expressed mathematically as:

Where

V=Volume

P=Pressure

Figure 3. Gay-Lussac’s Law

Boyle’s Law: in the 1660s, Irish physicist Robert Boyle studied the relationship of pressure and volume of gases. Boyle discovered that as pressure on a gas was increased, its volume decreased. Boyle’s Law states that if the temperature of an ideal gas is held constant, the pressure and volume of a given amount (mass or number of molecules) of an ideal gas are inversely proportional, as pressure increases, the volume occupied by the gas decreases. Boyle’s Law can be expressed mathematically as:

Where:

V=Volume

P=Pressure

Figure 4. Boyle’s Law

General Gas Law: The General Gas Law simply integrates Charles’s, Gay-Lussac’s, and Boyle’s Laws to state that the volume of an ideal gas is proportional to the amount (number of molecules) and absolute temperature and inversely proportional to pressure. The General Gas Law can be expressed mathematically as:

Where:

V=Volume

n=Mole (mol)

T=Temperature

P=Pressure

The General Gas Law defines the amount of gas in terms of the number of molecules, measured in moles (which has nothing to do with the animal having the same name).

Mole: While related to Avogadro’s Law, the term mole as a unit of measure was conceived by German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald in 1893. Unlike liters or grams, a mole is not a unit of volume or mass, but a counting unit. A mole is defined as the quantity of anything that has the same number of particles found in 12 grams of carbon-12. As atoms and molecules are extremely small, a mole is a large number of molecules. Specifically a mole contains 602,510,000,000,000,000,000,000 (more commonly written 6.0251 x 1023 in scientific notation) molecules of a substance. The number of moles of a substance is denoted by the letter n. In SI units, a kilogram mole (Kmol) is often used instead of the mole. A Kmol is 1000 mol or 6.0251 x 1026 molecules of a substance.

It may seem that using the mole to measure an amount of a substance makes this more complicated. After all, why not use a measure of volume such as liters or cubic meters or mass such as grams or kilograms? Chemical formula (such as H2O for water) describes the makeup of a chemical compound in terms of the numbers of atoms of each element comprising a single molecule of the substance.

While not a unit of mass, moles can be related to mass (just as you can determine the mass of a dozen eggs of a given size, by multiplying the mass of one of the eggs by 12).

Molar Mass: The molar mass of a compound is the mass of 1.0 moles of the substance in grams. Molar mass is determined by the sum of the standard atomic weights of the atoms which form the compound multiplied by the molar mass constant (Mu) of 1 g/mol. Figure 5 illustrates how the molar mass of water is calculated.

Figure 5. Molar Mass of Water

Molar mass can also be calculated for mixtures of substances. When dealing with mixtures, the molar mass of each constituent is calculated and applied proportionately on the basis of the percentage of that substance in the mixture. For example air is comprised of 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and 1% of other gases such as Argon (Ar) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Nitrogen (N2) and Oxygen (O2) molecules are each comprised of two atoms (and are referred to as diatomic molecules). This means that the molar mass of Nitrogen and Oxygen molecules is twice the atomic mass.

Figure 6. Molar Mass of Air

Hopefully how the concepts of the mole and molar mass can be applied will become clear after examining the expansion of water when turned to steam and application of the gas laws to integrate steam expansion and changes in volume of the upper layer during gas cooling under a variety of circumstances.

Avogadro’s Law: In 1811, Italian physicist and mathematician Amedeo Avogadro published a theory regarding the relationship of the number of molecules in a gas if temperature, pressure, and volume are held constant. Avogadro’s Law states that samples of ideal gasses, at the same absolute temperature, pressure and volume, contain the same number of molecules regardless of their chemical nature and physical properties. More specifically, at a temperature of 273 K (0oC) and absolute pressure of 101300 Pa, 22.41 L (0.001 m3) of an ideal gas contains 6.0251 x 1023 molecules (1.0 mol)

Ideal Gas Law: This gas law integrates Avogadro’s law with the Combined Gas Law. If the number of molecules in a specific volume of an ideal gas at a consistent temperature and pressure (273 K and 101300 Pa) is always the same, then the proportional relationship between pressure, volume, temperature, and amount can be defined as having a constant value (Universal Gas Constant).

Where:

P=Pressure (Pa)

V= Volume (m3)

T=Temperature (K)

n=Moles

Ru=Universal Gas Constant (8.3145 J/mol K)

Universal Gas Constant (Ru): This physical constant identifies the internal kinetic energy per mole of an ideal gas for each Kelvin of temperature (J/mol K). As it is universal this constant is the same for all gases that demonstrate the properties of an ideal gas.

If the pressure, volume, and temperature of an ideal gas can be observed and Avogadro’s Law is accepted as being true (making the amount of gas also known), the value of the Universal Gas Constant can be determined empirically (based on observation) by solving the ideal gas law equation for Ru.

Where:

V=Volume

Ru=Universal Gas Constant

n=Moles

T=Temperature

P=Pressure

Figure 7 illustrates each of the gas laws and how they are integrated into the Ideal Gas Law.

Figure 7. Gas Laws

Application-Steam Expansion

As stated in Gas Cooling: Part 3, the 5th Edition of the Essentials of Firefighting (IFSTA, 2008) states that the volume of water expands 1700 times when it is converted to steam at 100o C (212o F). However, this information is presented as a fact to be memorized and no explanation is provided as to why this is the case or that if temperature is increased further, that the volume of steam will continue to expand. In the previous post, I asked the reader to accept this assumption with assurance that an explanation would follow. Application of the ideal gas law to expansion of steam provides an excellent opportunity to exercise your understanding of the gas laws and other scientific concepts presented in this post.

What we know:

  • Molecular Mass of Water: 18 g/mol
  • Boiling Point of Water at Atmospheric Pressure: 100o C (373.15 K)
  • Density of Water at 20o C (293.15 K): 1000000 g/m3
  • Atmospheric Pressure: 101325 Pa
  • Ideal Gas Constant (Ru): 8.3145 J/mol K

What we need to find out:

  1. What is the volume of 1 mole of steam
  2. What is the density (mass per unit volume) of steam at 100o C
  3. What is the ratio between the density of water and the density of steam at 100o C

The volume of 1 mole of pure steam can be calculated by solving the ideal gas equation for V.

As 1 mole of water (in the liquid or gaseous phase) contains the same number of molecules, it’s molar mass will be the same. 1 mole of water has a mass of 18 grams. Density is calculated by dividing mass by volume, so the density of steam at 100o C can be calculated as follows:

Dividing the density of water by the density of steam at 100o C determines the expansion ratio when a specific mass of water is vaporized into steam at this temperature.

This means that if a specific mass of water is vaporized into steam at 100o C, its volume will expand 1700 times. So the 5th Edition of the Essentials of Firefighting (IFSTA, 2008) is correct, but now you know why. However, what would happen if the steam continued to absorb energy from the upper layer and its temperature increased from 100o C to 300o C, the mass of the steam would remain the same, but what would happen to the volume? You can use the Ideal Gas Law to solve this question as well.

The Next Step

Just as the Ideal Gas Law can be used to determine the expiation ratio of steam, it can also be used to calculate contraction of the upper layer as it is cooled. The next post will examine how Dr. Stefan Särdqvist integrates these two calculations to determine changes in the volume of the upper layer under a variety of conditions.

New Book

Greg Gorbett and Jim Phar of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) have written a textbook titled Fire Dynamics focused on meeting the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) curriculum requirements for Fire Behavior and Combustion. I just received my copy and at first glance it appears to be an excellent work (as I would expect from these outstanding fire service educators). One useful feature of the text is a basic review of math, chemistry, and physics as it relates to the content of the course. I will be dong a more detailed review of the book in a subsequent post, but wanted to give readers of the CFBT-US Blog a heads up that it had been released.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

References

International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA). (2008). Essentials of firefighting (5th ed). Stillwater, OK: Fire Protection Publications.

Särdqvist, S. (2002) Water and other extinguishing agents. Karlstad, Sweden: Räddnings Verket

Reading the Fire 14

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Developing and maintaining proficiency in reading the Fire using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme for fire behavior indicators, requires practice. This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using a video segment shot during a commercial fire.

Commercial Fire

This post examines fire development during a fire in an agricultural facility in Spain. First arriving firefighters observed a small amount of light gray smoke issuing from roof ventilators and doorways with low velocity.

Download and the B-SAHF Worksheet.

Watch the first 50 seconds (0:50) of the video. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators; then answer the following five standard questions?

  1. What additional information would you like to have? How could you obtain it?
  2. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
  3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel controlled or ventilation controlled)?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

Now watch the next 20 seconds (1:10) of the video clip and answer the following questions:

  1. Did fire conditions progress as you anticipated?
  2. What changes in the B-SAHF indicators did you observe?
  3. How do you think that the stage(s) of fire development and burning regime will change over the next few minutes?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building now?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

    Watch the remainder of the video. If you were the Incident Commander and had crews working inside the building, what information would you communicate to them as conditions change?

    Reading the Fire

    See the following posts for more information on reading the fire:

    Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO

    Reading the Fire 14

    Monday, April 19th, 2010

    It has been a number of months since the last Reading the Fire post. It is essential to continue the process of deliberate practice in order to continue to improve and refine skill in Reading the Fire.

    As we start the New Year it is a good time to reaffirm our commitment to mastering our craft. Developing and maintaining proficiency in reading the Fire using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme for fire behavior indicators, requires practice. This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using a video segment shot during a residential fire.

    Residential Fire

    In mid-January 2010, the Gary, Indiana Fire Department was dispatched to a residential fire on Massachusetts Street at East 24th Avenue, on arrival Battalion 4 advised of a working fire in a 2 story dwelling. While the first arriving engine was laying a supply line from a nearby hydrant, the first in truck forced entry.

    Download and the B-SAHF Worksheet.

    Watch the first 35 seconds (0:35) of the video. This segment was shot from Side A. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators; then answer the following five standard questions?

    1. What additional information would you like to have? How could you obtain it?
    2. What stage(s) of development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
    3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel controlled or ventilation controlled)?
    4. What conditions would you expect to find inside this building? If presented with persons reported (as the first arriving companies were) how would you assess potential for victim survival?
    5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

    Now watch the remainder of the video clip and answer the following questions:

    1. Did fire conditions progress as you anticipated?
    2. A voice heard in the video states that this was a backdraft. Do you agree? Why or why not?

    It is likely that the first in truck company in this incident made entry to search for occupants and to locate the fire. Regardless of your perspective on search with or without a hoseline, this video clip provides lessons.

    • It is essential to read the fire, recognize the stage(s) of fire development and burning regime(s) in the involved compartments.
    • In addition to reading current conditions, anticipate likely fire development and potential for extreme fire behavior.
    • Making entry (and leaving the door fully open) creates a ventilation opening (inlet, exhaust, or both). Recognize the potential influence of changes to the ventilation profile on fire behavior.
    • To borrow a phrase from a number of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Death in the Line of Duty reports; Ventilation and fire attack must be closely coordinated. One key element in this coordination is that charged lines must be in place before completion of ventilation openings. This is critical when dealing with a ventilation controlled fire.

    Master Your Craft

    Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO

    Chicago Extreme Fire Behavior
    Analysis of Fire Behavior Indicators

    Monday, March 15th, 2010

    Quick Review

    The previous post in this series presented a video clip of an incident on the afternoon of February 18, 2010 that injured four Chicago firefighters during operations at a residential fire at 4855 S. Paulina Street.

    First arriving companies discovered a fire in the basement of a 1-1/2 story, wood frame, single family dwelling and initiated fire attack and horizontal ventilation of the floors above the fire. Based on news accounts, the company assigned to fire attack was in the stairwell and another firefighter was performing horizontal ventilation of the floors above the fire on Side C when a backdraft or smoke explosion occurred. Two firefighters on the interior, on at the doorway and the firefighter on the ladder on Side C were injured and were transported to local hospitals for burns and possible airway injuries.

    In analyzing the video clip shot from inside a nearby building, we have several advantages over the firefighters involved in this incident.

    Time: We are not under pressure to make a decision or take action.

    Reduced Cognitive Workload: Unlike the firefighters who needed to not only read the fire, but also to attend to their assigned tactics and tasks, our only focus is analysis of the fire behavior indicators to determine what (if any) clues to the potential for extreme fire behavior may have been present.

    Repetition: Real life does not have time outs or instant replay. However, our analysis of the video can take advantage of our ability to pause, and replay key segments, or the entire clip as necessary.

    Perspective: Since the field of view in the video clip is limited by the window and the fidelity of the recording is less than that seen in real life, it presents a considerably different field of view than that of the firefighters observed in operation and does not allow observation of fire behavior indicators and tactical operations on Sides A, B, and D.

    Initial Size-Up

    What B-SAHF indicators could be observed on Side C up to the point where firefighters began to force entry and ventilate the basement (approximately 02:05)?

    Figure 1. Conditions at 01:57 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Building: The structure is a 1-1/2 story, wood frame, dwelling with a daylight basement. The apparent age of the structure makes balloon frame construction likely, and the half story on the second floor is likely to have knee walls, resulting in significant void spaces on either side and a smaller void space above the ceiling on Floor 2. One window to the left of the door on Side C appears to be covered with plywood (or similar material). Given the location of the door (and door on Side A illustrated in the previous post in this series), it is likely that the stairway to the basement is just inside the door in Side C and a stairway to Floor 2 is just inside the door on Side A.

    Smoke: A moderate volume of dark gray smoke is visible from the Basement windows and windows and door on Floor 1 as well as a larger volume from above the roofline on Side B. While dark, smoke on Side C does not appear to be thick (optically dense), possibly due to limited volume and concentration while smoke above the roofline on Side B appears to be thicker. However smoke on Side C thickens as time progresses, particularly in the area of the door on Floor 1. The buoyancy of smoke is somewhat variable with low buoyancy on Side C and greater buoyancy on Side B. However, smoke from the area of the door on Floor 1 Side C intermittently has increased buoyancy.

    Air Track: Smoke on Side C appears to have a faintly pulsing air track with low velocity which is masked to some extent by the effects of the wind (swirling smoke due to changes in low level wind conditions). Smoke rising above the roofline on Side B appears to be moving with slightly greater velocity (likely due to buoyancy).

    Heat: The only significant heat indicators are limited velocity of smoke discharge and variations in buoyancy of smoke visible from Sides B and C. Low velocity smoke discharge and low buoyancy of the smoke on Side C points to relatively low temperatures inside the building. The greater buoyancy and velocity of smoke observed above the roofline on Side B indicates a higher temperature in the area from where this smoke is discharging (likely a basement window on Side B).

    Flame: No flames are visible.

    Initial Fire Behavior Prediction

    Based on assessment of conditions to this point, what stage(s) of development and burning regime(s) is the fire likely to be in?

    Dark smoke with a pulsing air track points to a ventilation controlled, decay stage fire.

    What conditions would you expect to find inside the building?

    Floors 1 and 2 are likely to be fully smoke logged (ceiling to floor) with fairly low temperature. The basement is likely to have a higher temperature, but is also likely to be fully smoke logged with limited flaming combustion.

    How would you expect the fire to develop over the next few minutes?

    As ventilation is increased (tactical ventilation and entry for fire control), the fire in the basement will likely remain ventilation controlled, but will return to the growth stage as the heat release rate increases. Smoke thickness and level (to floor level) along with a pulsing air track points to potential for some type of ventilation induced extreme fire behavior such as ventilation induced flashover (most likely) or backdraft (less likely). Another possibility, would be a smoke explosion; ignition of premixed gas phase fuel (smoke) and air that is within its flammable range (less likely than some type of ventilation induced extreme fire behavior)

    Ongoing Assessment

    What indicators could be observed while the firefighter was forcing entry and ventilating the daylight basement on Side C (02:05-02:49)?

    There are few changes to the fire behavior indicators during this segment of the video. Building, Heat, and Flame indicators are essentially unchanged. Smoke above the roofline appears to lighten (at least briefly) and smoke on Side C continues to show limited buoyancy with a slightly pulsing air track at the first floor doorway.

    What B-SAHF indicators can be observed at the door on Side C prior to forced entry (02:49-03:13)?

    Figure 2. Conditions at 03:06 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Figure 3. Conditions at 03:08 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Building, Smoke, Heat and Flame indicators remain the same, but several more pulsations (03:05-03:13) providing a continuing, and more significant indication of ventilation controlled, decay stage fire conditions.

    What indicators can be observed at the door while the firefighter attempts to remove the covering over the window adjacent to the door on Floor 1 (03:13-13:44)?

    No significant change in Building, Heat, or Flame Indicators. However, smoke from the doorway has darkened considerably and there is a pronounced pulsation as the firefighter on the ladder climbs to Floor 2 (03:26). It is important to note that some of the smoke movement observed in the video clip is fire induced, but that exterior movement is also significantly influenced by wind.

    What B-SHAF indicators do you observe at the window on Floor 2 prior to breaking the glass (03:44)?

    Figure 4. Conditions at 03:43 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    The window on Floor 2 is intact and appears to be tight as there is no smoke visible on the exterior. It is difficult to tell due to the angle from which the video was shot (and reflection from daylight), but it would be likely that the firefighter on the ladder could observe condensed pyrolizate on the window and smoke logging on Floor 2. It is interesting to note limited smoke discharge from the top of the door and window on Floor 1 in the brief period immediately prior to breaking the window on Floor 2.

    What indicators are observed at the window on Floor 2 immediately after breaking the glass (03:44-03:55)?

    Figure 5. Conditions at 03:52 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    No significant changes in Building, Heat, or Flame indicators. Dark gray smoke with no buoyancy issues from the window on Floor 2 with low to moderate velocity immediately after the window is broken.

    What B-SAHF indicators were present after the ventilation of the window on Floor 2 Side C was completed and 04:08 in the video clip (03:44-04:08)?

    Buoyancy and velocity both increase and a slight pulsing air track develops within approximately 10 seconds. In addition, the air track at the door on Floor 1 shifts from predominantly outward with slight pulsations to predominantly inward, but with continued pulsation (possibly due to the limited size of the window opening on Floor 2, Side C.

    Anticipating Potential Fire Behavior

    Unlike the firefighters in Chicago who were operating at this incident, we can hit the pause button and consider the indicators observed to this point. Think about what fire behavior indicators are present (and also consider those that are not!).

    Initial observations indicated a ventilation controlled decay stage fire and predicted fire behavior is an increase in heat release rate with potential for some type of extreme fire behavior. Possibilities include ventilation induced flashover (most likely) or backdraft (less likely), or smoke explosion (less likely than some type of ventilation induced extreme fire behavior).

    Take a minute to review the indicators of ventilation controlled, decay stage fires as illustrated in Table 1.

    Table 1. Key Fire Behavior Indicators-Ventilation Controlled, Decay Stage Fires

    vent_controlled_decay

    Which of these indicators were present on Side C of 4855 S. Paulina Street?

    Building: The building appeared to be unremarkable, a typical single family dwelling. However, most residential structures have more than enough of a fuel load to develop the conditions necessary for a variety of extreme fire behavior phenomena.

    Smoke: The dark smoke with increasing thickness (optical density) is a reasonably good indicator of ventilation controlled conditions (particularly when combined with air track indicators). Lack of buoyancy indicated fairly low temperature smoke, which could be an indicator of incipient or decay stage conditions or simply distance from the origin of the fire. However, combined with smoke color, thickness, and air track indicators, this lack of buoyancy at all levels on Side C is likely an indicator of dropping temperature under decay stage conditions. This conclusion is reinforced by the increase in buoyancy after ventilation of the window on Floor 2 (increased ventilation precipitated increased heat release rate and increasing temperature).

    Air Track: Pulsing air track, while at times quite subtle and masked by swirling smoke as a result of wind, is one of the strongest indications of ventilation controlled decay stage conditions. While often associated with backdraft, this indicator may also be present prior to development of a sufficient concentration of gas phase fuel (smoke) to result in a backdraft.

    Heat: Velocity of smoke discharge (air track) and buoyancy (smoke) are the only two heat indicators visible in this video clip. As discussed in conjunction with smoke indicators, low velocity and initial lack of buoyancy which increases after ventilation is indicative of ventilation controlled, decay stage conditions.

    Flame: Lack of visible flame is often associated with ventilation controlled decay and backdraft conditions. However, there are a number of incidents in which flames were visible prior to occurrence of a backdraft (in another compartment within the structure). Lack of flames must be considered in conjunction with the rest of the fire behavior indicators. In this incident, lack of visible flames may be related to the stage of fire development, but more likely is a result of the location of the fire, as there is no indication that flames were present on Side C prior to the start of the video clip.

    What Happened?

    Firefighters had entered the building for fire attack while as illustrated in the video clip, others were ventilating windows on Side C. It is difficult to determine from the video if a window or door at the basement level on Side C was opened, but efforts were made to do so. A window on Floor 2 had been opened and firefighters were in the process of removing the covering (plywood) from a window immediately adjacent to the door on Floor 1. At 04:12, an explosion occurred, injuring two firefighters on the interior as well as the two firefighters engaged in ventilation operations on Side C.

    Starting at approximately 03:59, velocity of smoke discharge from the window on Floor 2 Side C increases dramatically. At 04:08 discharge of smoke begins to form a spherical pattern as discharged from the window. This pattern becomes more pronounced as the sphere of smoke is pushed away from the window by increasing velocity of smoke discharge at 04:12, immediately prior to the explosion. Velocity of smoke discharge at the door increases between 03:59 and -4:12 as well, but as the opening is larger, this change is less noticeable. As pressure increases rapidly during the explosion a whooshing sound can be heard. After the explosion, there was no noticeable increase in fire growth.

    Figure 6. Conditions at 04:08 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Figure 7. Conditions at 04:09 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Figure 8. Conditions at 04:10 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Figure 9. Conditions at 04:11 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Figure 10. Conditions at 04:12 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Figure 11. Conditions at 04:13 Minutes Elapsed Time in the Video Clip

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    Based on observation of fire behavior indicators visible in the video clip, we know that a transient extreme fire behavior event occurred while a crew was advancing a hoseline on the interior and ventilation operations were being conducted on Side C. What we dont know is what firefighting operations were occurring on the other sides of the building or in the interior. In addition, we do not have substantive information from the fire investigation that occurred after the fire was extinguished.

    The Ontology of Extreme Fire Behavior presented in an earlier post classifies these types of phenomena on the basis of outcome and conditions. As a transient and explosive event, this was likely a backdraft or smoke explosion. In that this occurred following entry and during ongoing ventilation operations, I am inclined to suspect that it was a backdraft.

    Indicators visible on Side C provided a subtle warning of potential for some type of ventilation induced extreme fire behavior, but were likely not substantially different from conditions observed at many fires where extreme fire behavior did not occur.

    As the title of the wildland firefighting course S133 states; Look Up, Look Down, Look Around! Anticipation of fire development and extreme fire behavior requires not only recognition of key indicators, but that these indicators be viewed from a holistic perspective. Firefighters and/or officers performing a single task or tactical assignment may only see part of the picture. It is essential that key indicators be communicated to allow a more complete picture of what is occurring and what may occur as incident operations progress.

    Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO