Reading the Fire 3

Deliberate Practice

As discussed in my posts on Outstanding Performance and Reading the Fire improving proficiency requires sustained deliberate practice!

Application of the B-SAHF (Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, & Flame) organizing scheme for critical fire behavior indicators to photographs or video of structure fires provides an excellent opportunity to develop your knowledge of fire behavior and skill in reading the fire.

Residential Fire

Download and print the B-SAHF Worksheet and then view the first 45 seconds of the following video of conditions on Side C of a residential fire as the crew of Toronto Pumper 223 makes entry into a window on Floor 2, Side A to check for extension from a fire in the basement. First, describe what you observe in terms of the Building, Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame Indicators. Second, answer the following five questions:

  1. What additional information would you like to have> How could you obtain it?
  2. What state(s) of fire development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)? Remember that fire in adjacent compartments can be in a different stage of development?
  3. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel or ventilation controlled)?
  4. What conditions would you expect to find on Floor 2? Is the environment tenable for properly protected firefighters?
  5. Is it likely that the fire has extended to Floor 2? Why or why not?
  6. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes


Find more videos like this on firevideo.net

Back the video up to the beginning and then watch the first three minutes of the clip and consider the following questions:

  1. What changes in indicators did you observe prior to the egress of the crew of Pumper 223 from Floor 2?
  2. What changes in indicators did you observe following their egress from Floor 2?
  3. What might have caused the change in conditions while the crew of Pumper 223 was checking for extension
  4. Were there significant indicators of worsening fire behavior visible from the exterior prior to the egress of the members working on Floor 2?
  5. What indicators of changing conditions would you have expected on the interior of Floor 2?
  6. What tactical options might have reduced the probability of developing untenable conditions on Floor 2?
  7. Review your answers on the B-SAHF worksheet. Did any of your answers change based on the additional information provided by the second segment of the video clip? Did you successfully predict the fire behavior that occurred?

After completing the B-SAHF exercise, view the remainder of the video. Placement of the tip of the ladder above the window sill made egress from Floor 2 a bit more difficult. However, Captain Mark Fitzsimmons and Firefighters Geoff Mortimer and Mark Ashcroft from Toronto Pumper 223 escaped without serious harm because they recognized changing conditions and quickly made the decision to exit.

As noted in my earlier post on Flashover & Survival Skills it is essential to train on emergency procedures, but it is even more important to ensure that firefighters and officers are proficient at reading the fire and managing the fire environment to reduce the probability that emergency procedures will be required.

Master Your Craft

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Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

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