Reading the Fire 11

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 an apartment fire.

Apartment Fire

The Alexandria, VA fire department was dispatched to an apartment fire at the Parkfairfax Complex in the 3700 block of Lyons Lane. First arriving companies observed a large volume of smoke from the attic of a four unit, townhouse style condominium building.

Download and the B-SAHF Worksheet.

Video Segment 1 is shot from Side A, towards the A/D corner. Watch the first 2 minutes of this video clip. 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 (on floor 2 and in the attic)?
  5. How would you expect the fire to develop over the next two to three minutes

Watch the remainder of Video Segment 1 and identify if, and how conditions change from the beginning of the clip.

  1. Did fire conditions progress as you anticipated?
  2. What influence did the failure of the roof sheathing over the unit on Side B have on fire conditions in the attic?
  3. What concerns would you have about working on the top floor of the unit on Side B (and possibly Exposure D1)?

Video Segments 2-5 illustrate fire conditions from several different perspectives and show fire development and the impact of tactical operations as the incident progresses. Note: These video clips will open in a new window.

While this incident had a positive outcome, it is important to recognize the potential for collapse of lightweight, engineered structural systems such as truss roof assemblies. Tactical success in one incident is not necessarily a predictor of future success should conditions be different (e.g., duration of fire impingement on structural members prior to arrival, burning regime, changes to the ventilation profile, etc.).

Master Your Craft

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO

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