Reading the Fire 4

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. As you complete this Reading the Fire exercise, think about what you saw and what you did not see. Did you recognize developing conditions, what might you have missed? Watch the video several times. Remember that deliberate practice is focused on continuous improvement and requires repetition of critical skills.

Residential Fire

Download and print the B-SAHF Worksheet and then view the first 25 seconds of the following video of conditions on Side A of a residential fire. 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. Where do you think the fire is located?
  3. What stage(s) of fire development is the fire likely to be in (incipient, growth, fully developed, or decay)?
  4. What burning regime is the fire in (fuel or ventilation controlled)?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes?

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Back the video up to the beginning and then watch the first 45 seconds of the clip. Consider the following questions:

  1. What changes in in fire behavior did you observe?
  2. What fire behavior phenomena occured? What changes in conditions were the likely cause?
  3. How could the crew on the hoseline have mitigated the hazards presented by this change in fire behavior?

After completing the B-SAHF exercise, view the remainder of the video. Safe and effective fireground operations require that firefighters and officers are proficient at reading the fire and managing the fire environment. Developing proficiency requires ongoing deliberate practice.

Master Your Craft

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

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2 Responses to “Reading the Fire 4”

  1. Matt Leech Says:

    This is a great video, there were lots of FBI that show a basement fire from the “A” and “D” sides. This is a classic example of what happens (in the wrong situation) when tactical venting is too far ahead of fire attack for what ever reason. The HRR increased the fire became bigger, once water was applied it stopped the flaming combustion fairly quick.

    The front window was a great picture when the upper half was broken and flaming combustion started at the ceiling level.

    I believe that this fire was in the growth stage when it became vent controlled and then went in to decay. The change in vent profile (front door, “A” side window, basement windows being opened) allowed the fire to return to growth and quickly move to fully developed in the basement. the first floor was still in growth (the upper end of growth). There was a lot of fuel mass in the gas phase (during decay) which allowed the fire to quickly move to the advanced phases (once air was added).

    What do you guys think?


  2. Justin Tishendorf Says:

    It comes down to training. Knowing that you need to cool the environment before you vent is key in a fire like this. It may have been a communication breakdown? The interior crew should make sure that a charged hoseline is in place and preferrably in service before venting. I would be willing to bet that if that happened that the structure would never have reached flashover.

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