Reading the Fire 13

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

Early on the morning of December 23, 2009, the Cheektowaga Police department was dispatched to 305 Highland Drive in Cheektowaga to investigate a 911 call for an unknown type problem. The female caller was screaming, but the dispatcher was unable to determine the nature of the emergency. The first arriving police unit discovered a residential fire with persons trapped, and requested fire response. The police officers rescued a male victim from just inside the door, but fire and smoke conditions prevented them from assisting the other occupants.

The Hy-View Volunteer Fire Company responded with a first alarm assignment and observed flames showing on Side C.

Download and the B-SAHF Worksheet.

Watch the first 1 minute 10 seconds (1:10) of the video. This segment was shot from Side B at the B/C Corner.  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?

Hy-View Volunteer Fire Company personnel recovered two female civilian victims from the residents. However, all three victims died as a result of smoke inhalation.

Master Your Craft

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO

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