Reading the Fire 8

As discussed in prior Reading the Fire posts and the ongoing series examining fire behavior indicators (FBI) using the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) organizing scheme, developing proficiency requires practice. This post provides an opportunity to exercise your skills using three video segments shot during a commercial fire. In addition to practicing your skill in reading the fire, use these video clips to help develop or refine your smoke indicators concept map (see Reading the Fire: Smoke Indicators).

Commercial Fire

The Safety Harbor (FL) Fire Department responded to a commercial fire at Matrix Group Limited sporting goods warehouse and office building. First arriving crews initiated offensive operations but developing fire conditions required a shift to a defensive strategy. The 13,500 ft2 (1,254 m2) warehouse was destroyed resulting in an estimated 1.5 million dollars in damage. One firefighter experienced a back injury during firefighting operations.

Download and print two copies of the B-SAHF Worksheet. Watch the first 60 seconds of Video Segment 1. Consider the information provided in this segment of the video clip. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators and 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?

Video Segment 1

Give some thought to how building factors might be influencing fire behavior and the way in which other FBI might be presenting (see Reading the Fire: Building Factors Part 3), specifically:

What is the height of the building (and more importantly the interior compartments)? What is the likely impact on fire behavior and presentation of FBI?

  1. What is the building construction classification? Does this have an impact?
  2. This is a sporting goods warehouse and office occupancy. What type of contents (fuel ) would you anticipate (think about heat of combustion, heat release rate, mass of fuel, fuel geometry)?

Go back to Video Segment 1, examine conditions from 3:15 to 4:15, and consider the answers to the five standard questions on the B-SAHF worksheet.

  1. How have conditions changed?
  2. Would you change the answers to the five standard questions based on your current observations?

Watch the remainder of Video Segment 1 and continue your assessment of current conditions and fire behavior prediction.

  1. How do conditions change?
  2. What impact are tactical operations having on the fire? How does this influence the FBI?

Watch the first 1:30 of the Video Segment 2. Consider the information provided in this segment of the video clip. How have conditions changed from those observed at the start of Video Segment 1?

Using the second copy of the B-SAHF Worksheet, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators and 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?

Video Segment 2

Watch the remainder of Video Segment 2 and continue your assessment of current conditions and fire behavior prediction.

  1. How do conditions change?
  2. What impact are tactical operations having on the fire? How does this influence the FBI?

What smoke indicators did you identify during these two B-SAHF exercises? Were these identified on your Smoke Indicators Concept Map? If not, take a minute to update the map (or place them in the staging area for future consideration).

Watch the last video segment and see if there are any other smoke indicators that you might want to add to the map.

Video Segment 3

Master Your Craft

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

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