Reading the Fire 15

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”. 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 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

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