Reading the Fire 14

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

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One Response to “Reading the Fire 14”

  1. hartin Says:

    Ahmed, Absolutely. Please use the information and diagrams as needed in your training. Cheers, Ed

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