Posts Tagged ‘Fire Behavior Training’

2010 Congreso Internacional Fuego y Rescate

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

At a formal dinner on 23 January 2010, Chief Ed Hartin was recognized as an honorary member of Company 1 “Germania” of the Valdivia, Chile Fire Department. In addition, he was awarded a commendation for supporting the ongoing professional development of the members of Company 1 “Germania” of the Valdivia, Chile Fire Department and encouraging them in their efforts to share their knowledge with Chile’s fire service.

Commendation for Support of Company 1 “Germania”


Left to Right: Teniente Juan Esteban Kunstmann, Chief Ed Hartin, Capitán Francisco Silva V.

On 24-27 January 2007, the Company 1 “Germania” of the Valdivia, Chile Fire Department hosted the first international fire service congress to be held in South America. Participants included over 150 firefighters and officers from Chile, Peru, Argentina, and the United States. The congress provided an opportunity to participate in both classroom and hands-on workshops on a wide range of fire service topics including fire behavior, ventilation, search, rapid intervention, technical rescue, and extrication. While topical areas were diverse, the congress had a substantive emphasis on compartment fire behavior with lectures presented by CFBT-US Chief Instructor Ed Hartin and Geraldo Crespo of Contraincendio in Buenos Aires, Argentina and practical training sessions conducted by Ed Hartin and Juan Esteban Kunstmann of the Valdivia Company 1 “Germania”.

Lecture Presentation


Lecture presentations by CFBT-US Chief Instructor Ed Hartin included (click on the links for a copies of the presentations):

CFBT practical skills sessions were held at the Valdivia Fire Department’s training center and focused on developing basic skill in nozzle technique and understanding fire development in a compartment.

This is My Nozzle! There are many like it, but this one is mine…


Center: Ed Hartin

Practicing Nozzle Techniques


Right: Teniente Juan Esteban Kunstmann

International Collaboration


Left to Right: Battalion Chief Danny Sheridan, FDNY and Capitán Giancarlo Passalacqua Cognoro, Lima, Pe?u Cuerpo General de Bomberos Voluntarios

Congratulations to the members of Company 1 “Germania” for their success with the first Congreso Internacional Fuego y Rescate! I look forward to working with these outstanding fire service professionals in their ongoing efforts to learn and share knowledge with the fire service throughout Chile, Latin America, and the World.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

Did You Ever Wonder?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

The ability to read the fire and predict likely fire behavior is a critical skill for both firefighters and fire officers. Previous posts have examined how to use the B-SAHF scheme to recognize critical fire behavior indicators and identify the stage of fire development, burning regime, and potential for extreme fire behavior such as flashover or backdraft. However, there is something missing!

Experience is critical to adapting standard procedures and practices to a complex and dynamic operational environment. However, learning about fire behavior and changes in fire conditions based on fireground observations are a bit like a black box test. Black box testing is a technique for testing computer software in which the internal workings of the item being tested are not known by the tester. This is not entirely true in the case of fire behavior, but there is much that we don’t know when assessing conditions on the fireground. How long has the fire been burning? What are the specific characteristics of the fuel? What sort of internal compartmentation is present? What exactly is the ventilation profile? Some of these factors can be determined during fire investigation and it is also possible to determine (with some degree of uncertainty) what influence these factors had on the outcome of the incident. Did you ever wonder how fire behavior would have changed if you had used different tactics? Unfortunately, in real life there are no “do overs”!

UL Tactical Ventilation Research Project

One of the people who has asked himself the question of what would have changed if different tactics were used is Underwriters Laboratories Fire Protection Engineer Steve Kerber.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has received a Firefighter Safety Research and Development Grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This research project will investigate and analyze the impact of natural horizontal ventilation on fire development and conditions in legacy (older, more highly compartmented) and contemporary (multi-level, open floor plan) residential structures.

Preliminary work has included review of literature related to horizontal ventilation and incidents in which ventilation had a significant influence on firefighter injuries and fatalities. In addition, UL has done preliminary work on the performance of various structural components such as single and multi-pane windows as preliminary input for design of full scale residential fire experiments.

In mid-December 2009, Steve Kerber met with the project advisory panel comprised of Captain Charles Bailey, Montgomery County (MD) Fire Department; Lieutenant John Ceriello New York City Fire Department, Firefighter James Dalton and Director of Training Richard Edgeworth, Chicago Fire Department, Chief Ed Hartin, Central Whidbey Island (WA) Fire & Rescue, Chief Otto Huber Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department, and Chief Mark Nolan, Northbrook (IL) Fire Department. In addition, the advisory panel includes Fire Protection Engineers Dan Madrzykowski from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Dr. Stefan Svensson, a research and development engineer from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

Figure 1. Defining Experiment Parameters for the Contemporary Structure


The main task presented to the advisory panel at the first meeting was to aid in defining the parameters for the experiment; including fire location, changes in ventilation profile, timing of these changes, and instrumentation to measure effects on fire development and conditions.

UL Large Fire Research Facility

The ventilation experiments will be conducted at the UL Large Fire Research Facility in Northbrook, IL. From the exterior, this facility simply looks like a large industrial building (see Figure 2). However, the interior of the structure includes a unique facility for fire research.

Figure 2. UL Large Fire Research Facility


One of the facilities inside this building is a 100’ x 120’ (30.48 m x 36.58 m) with a ceiling height that is adjustable up to 50’ (15.24 m) (see Figure 3). All of the smoke resulting from tests in this facility is exhausted through a system designed to oxidize unburned fuel and scrub hazardous products from the effluent prior to discharge to the atmosphere. Tests are monitored from a control room that overlooks the large burn room.

Figure 3. Large Burn Room


Over the next month, the two residential structures to be used for the ventilation experiments will be constructed inside the large burn room at the UL Large Fire Test Facility. After construction is complete, a series of 16 full scale fire experiments is planned to evaluate a range of different horizontal ventilation scenarios.

Research with the Fire Service

Steve Kerber has often stated that it is essential that scientists and engineers conduct research with, not for, the fire service. Engagement between researchers and firefighters on the street is essential in advancement of our profession. With this ventilation research project, Underwriters Laboratories is actively engaged in this process.

The outcome of this project will not simply be an academic paper (but there might be one or more of those as well). As part of the DHS grant, UL will be developing an on-line course to present the results of the experiments and their practical application on the fireground.

Happy Holidays,

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

Nozzle Techniques & Hose Handling: Part 4

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

The previous posts in this series, examined the importance of proficiency in use of the firefighters’ primary weapon in offensive firefighting operations, and outlined several drills that can be used to develop proficiency in basic nozzle operation and hose handling.

This post extends this examination of how to develop proficiency in nozzle operation and hose handling, presenting method or developing skill in working under conditions with poor visibility and application of indirect attack as an offensive firefighting tactic.

This is my nozzle, there are many like it but this one is mine. My nozzle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. Without me it is useless, without my nozzle I am useless.

I will use my nozzle effectively and efficiently to put water where it is needed. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, and its care. I will guard it against damage, keep it clean and ready. This I swear [adapted from the Rifleman’s Creed, United States Marine Corps].

Operating Without Visual Reference

Drills to this point have been under conditions of good visibility where firefighters can observe nozzle pattern and fire stream effects. However, on the fireground it is critical that these skills can be used effectively under conditions of low or no visibility.

Sometimes it is necessary to go backward in order to move forward. One way to begin the process of developing the ability to work effectively with limited visibility is to go back to Nozzle Technique and Hose Handling Drills 1 & 2 and repeat these exercises with the firefighter’s breathing apparatus facepieces covered (unlike working in the dark, this makes it much easier for the instructors to observe and provide feedback). While this seems like an extremely slow and incremental process, it is likely to build a higher level of skill and require less time to develop proficiency than simply fumbling about in the dark!

Door Entry and Gas Cooling

In Nozzle Technique and Hose Handling: Part 3, door entry was illustrated at an exterior door. However, this method should be used anytime that firefighters encounter a closed door that may have hot gases or fire behind it. This becomes even more important when operating in a smoke (fuel) filled environment.

Smoke is fuel! The upper (hot gas) layer may contain a substantial mass of fuel that is ready to ignite. Flames exiting from a compartment door can ignite this fuel, resulting in rapid fire progression through the upper layer and into adjacent compartments. This phenomenon is demonstrated by CFBT-US Senior Instructor Trainer Matt Leech (LT Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue) in Figures 1 through 3. While this demonstration involves use of a single compartment doll’s house and “porch roof”, the same phenomena can occur on a larger scale in any type of structure.

Figure 1. Accumulation of Fuel Overhead


Figure 2. Extension of Flames and Ignition of Fuel Overhead


Figure 3. Transition to Flaming Combustion Overhead


This simple demonstration illustrates the hazards presented by smoke overhead, the importance of gas cooling, and good door entry technique. While often overlooked, recognition of this hazard is not new. “Smoke contains unburned fuel and when mixed with air in the proper proportion becomes a flammable mixture” (Layman, 1955).

When working under conditions of limited visibility, other sensory feedback becomes even more important to the nozzle operator. It is essential that firefighters become familiar with audible indicators of stream performance. Think about the sound of a straight stream hitting the ceiling or a wall versus the sound of a fog pattern applied into the hot gas layer (without significant contact with compartment linings). Would you be attuned to the difference in sound? This is important when you can’t see the pattern being discharged. Changes in temperature can also be an important indicator. However, it is important to remember that perceived temperature is also influenced by moisture. Excess steam production (from water hitting hot compartment linings) may make it seem like the temperature is rising, when this is due to increased moisture content in the smoke and air. If it seems like it is getting hotter, it is important to recognize if this is due to worsening fire conditions, or inappropriate water application.

Drill 6-Operating Without Visual Reference: This drill integrates door entry, hose handling, and nozzle techniques (pulsing and painting) under conditions with limited visibility. The drill can be conducted with the facepiece covered, in darkness, or using cold smoke (e.g., from a smoke machine). Learners should begin by using good door entry technique on an exterior door and then move through several compartments (preferably of different sizes), encountering several doors (some of which should be closed) along the way to the seat of the “fire”. Alternately, this drill can be used to practice hose handling and nozzle technique in the context of primary search with a hoseline (or in support of crews performing search).

Hose Handling & Nozzle Technique Drill 6 Instructional Plan

Indirect Attack

Indirect attack is a commonly misunderstood firefighting tactic. Common misconceptions include:

  • Indirect attack is only performed from the exterior of the building.
  • Indirect attack will push fire throughout the building.
  • Indirect attack involves banking water off the ceiling to reach burning fuel that is inaccessible to direct application of water (see Figure 4).
  • Indirect attack and gas cooling is the same thing.

These statements are absolutely incorrect!

Figure 4. What Indirect Attack is NOT.


Several years ago I had a company officer that I worked with tell me that he had learned about a “new” fire control technique called the indirect attack at strategies and tactics class. I loaned him a small blue book titled Attacking and Extinguishing Interior Fires (Layman, 1955) and observed that this was not exactly a “new” idea.

The concept of the indirect attack was an outgrowth of extensive study of fuel oil fires within confined spaces conducted by the instructor staff of the US Coast Guard Firefighting School at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during World War II (Layman, 1955). The term indirect, referred to application of water into a hot compartment, but not directly onto the burning fuel. Conversion of water to steam absorbed a tremendous amount of energy and the expansion of steam filled the compartment (and potentially adjacent compartments which may also have been involved in fire).

In 1947, Lloyd Layman completed his service with the US Coast Guard and returned to duty as Fire Chief with the Parkersburg West Virginia Fire Department. Over the next two years, Layman and the members of his department worked to implement the concept of indirect attack for structural firefighting. In 1950 Chief Layman delivered a presentation titled Little Drops of Water (Layman, 1950) which outlined the adaptation of indirect attack for structural firefighting. In 1952 he completed Attacking and Extinguishing Interior Fires (Layman, 1955), a textbook that provided a more comprehensive look at indirect attack including several case studies based on incidents in Parkersburg where this approach had been used successfully in dealing with both residential and commercial fires.

As presented by Layman, the indirect attack was generally performed from the exterior of the building. However, it is important to recognize historical context. In the late 1940’s respiratory protection (when it was used) was often limited to All Service Masks, which used a filter mechanism to remove toxic products of combustion (to some extent), but could not be used in significantly oxygen deficient atmospheres.

Layman’s Error: Chief Layman made a number of extremely important and astute observations, particularly with regards to the tremendous cooling capacity of water when it is not only heated to its boiling point, but also converted to steam. However, one of the major assumptions related to indirect attack was in error. Layman states: “The injection of water into a highly heated atmosphere results in rapid generation of steam…[increasing] the atmospheric pressure within the space (p. 36-37). This points to the Chief’s assumption that steam produced as water was evaporated in the hot gas layer added to the total volume of gas and vapor within the space (i.e., the volume of steam was added to the volume of smoke and hot gases in the compartment). As discussed in Estimating Required Fire Flow: The Iowa Formula [LINK]; this is incorrect, water vaporized as it passes through the hot gas layer actually reduces total volume (due to cooling of the hot gases). On the other hand, water that is vaporized in contact with hot surfaces (that did not significantly cool the gases as it passed through the hot gas layer) adds to total volume as expanding steam is added to the volume of hot gases within the compartment. The difference between indirect attack and gas cooling will be explored in detail in my next post on Fire Stream Effectiveness and Efficiency.

Figure 5. Indirect Attack


Drill 7-Indirect Attack from the Door: When faced with a fully developed fire in an enclosed area or a severely ventilation controlled fire (decay phase) that presents potential for a ventilation induced flashover or backdraft. Indirect attack may be an effective option for fire control. However, this tactic is not limited to exterior operations. Indirect attack can be initiated as part of the door entry procedure (exterior or interior doorway). If dynamic risk assessment indicates that entry is not viable due to fire conditions, the nozzle operator can use long pulses from the doorway (while the other member of the hose team controls the door) to apply water to hot surfaces, producing steam to gain control of conditions within the compartment prior to entry. This fire control method should be integrated with effective tactical ventilation (think planned, systematic, and coordinated).

Hose Handling & Nozzle Technique Drill 7 Instructional Plan

This approach can be extremely useful when the door to the fire compartment can be controlled and the hose team is presented with multiple priorities (persons reported and the need to control the fire to maintain the safety of interior operations). Figure 6 illustrates an example of how an indirect attack may be used when operating from the interior. In this scenario, the first arriving engine observes a fully developed fire in the bedroom on the A/D corner of a single family dwelling and receives information that an occupant is in the bedroom on the C/D corner. Rapidly developing fire conditions require immediate fire control. The crew makes entry from Side A, cools the hot gases overhead as they proceed to the fire compartment. As it is necessary to control the fire before proceeding past the involved compartment, they control the door, implement an indirect attack, and then extend an oriented search to locate the occupant while the nozzle operator protects the means of egress and maintains orientation for the firefighter performing the search in the adjacent compartments.

Figure 6. Application of Interior Indirect Attack.


While there are other tactical approaches that could be taken in this situation, use of an indirect attack allows the hose team to address both life safety (firefighters and occupants) and fire control tactical priorities.

Master Your Craft

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO


Layman, L. (1955). Attacking and extinguishing interior fires. Boston, MA: National Fire Protection Association.

Layman, L. (1950). Little drops of water. Unpublished paper, presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), Memphis, TN.

Effective and Efficient Fire Streams

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

It is often stated and commonly believed that it takes gpm to overcome Btu. While I suspect that firefighters understand the underlying intent of this statement, it is actually incorrect as it is comparing apples and oranges. Flow rate is expressed in terms of volume and time (gal/m or l/m). However, Btu (or Joules) is a measure of quantity (more like volume than flow rate).

You can say that it takes gallons (or liters) to overcome Btu (or Joules), But the rate at which energy is absorbed by a fire stream must overcome heat release rate (energy released/unit of time). This concept points to the need for a higher flow rate when the heat release rate from a fire is larger. This leads to another common fire service saying: “Big Fire, Big Water”. While this is not completely incorrect, it is a bit misleading as it does not account for the efficiency of the fire stream in absorbing energy. Not all of the water that leaves the nozzle absorbs the same amount of energy.

Theoretical Cooling Capacity

Water is an excellent extinguishing agent because it has a high specific heat (energy required to raise its temperature) and high latent heat of vaporization (energy required to change it from water to steam). As illustrated in Figure 1, conversion of water to steam is most significant as it absorbs 7.5 times more energy than heating water from 20o C (68o F) to its boiling point.

Figure 1. Theoretical Cooling Capacity


However, this only tells us the theoretical cooling capacity of a single kilogram of water at 20o C (68o F) if it is raised to 100o C (212o F) and completely vaporized. Examining theoretical cooling capacity in terms of flow rate requires a bit more work.

Flow is defined in terms of gallons per minute (gal/m) or liters per minute (l/m) and theoretical cooling capacity of water was defined in terms of energy absorbed per second per unit mass (MJ/kg) we need to work through conversion to common units of measure.

While SI units are simpler to work with, I have worked cooling capacity out in both liters per minute (LPM) and gallons per minute (GPM). However, in that specific heat and latent heat of vaporization are applied to mass rather than volume and Watts are joules per second, it is first necessary to covert flow rate into kg/s

Figure 2. Flow Rate and Theoretical Cooling Capacity


This example assumes instantaneous heat transfer and 100% efficiency in conversion of water to the gas phase. Neither of which is possible in the real world!

Factors influencing effectiveness and efficiency of heat transfer (Svennson, 2002) include:

  • Diameter (in the gas layer and on surfaces)
  • Temperature (in the gas layer and on surfaces)
  • Velocity (in the gas layer)
  • Film formation (on surfaces)
  • Temperature of the gas layer
  • Surface temperature

Fire Stream Efficiency

The firefighter’s power is not simply related to flow rate, but flow rate effectively applied to transfer heat from hot gases and surfaces by changing its phase from liquid (water) to gas (steam). Extinguishing a compartment fire generally involves converting a sufficient flow (gal/m or l/m) of water to steam. So while the “steam” itself does not generally extinguish the fire, the energy absorbed in turning the water to steam has the greatest impact on fire extinguishment.

Experimental data (Hadjisophocleous & Richardson, 2005; Särdqvist, S., 1996) has shown that the cooling efficiency of water in both laboratory experiments and actual firefighting operations ranges from 0.2 to 0.6. Särdqvist (1996) suggests that an efficiency factor of 0.2 be used for interior fog nozzles. Based on my personal observations (but no experimental data), I think that Särdqvist’s efficiency factor of 0.2 might be just a bit on the low side. Barnett (as cited in Grimwood,2005) suggests that an efficiency factor of 0.5 be used for solid or straight stream application and 0.75 for fog application. The following table takes a slightly more conservative approach, using 0.6 as an average efficiency factor.

Figure 3. Flow Rate and Adjusted Cooling Capacity


Figure 3 is provided to illustrate the impact of efficiency (or lack thereof) on fire stream cooling capability. The key point is that actual cooling capability is considerably less than the theoretical cooling capacity. Another complication is that in addition to nozzle performance characteristics, nozzle efficiency is also dependent on the skill of the nozzle operator, the manner in which water is applied (straight stream, narrow fog pattern, wide fog pattern), the configuration of the space, and fire conditions. Unfortunately, there is no standardized test with specified conditions that permits comparison of different nozzles and/or methods.

However, the concept of efficiency gives rise to an interesting question. Does a nozzle flowing 100 gpm with an efficiency factor of 0.6 have the same extinguishing capability as 200 gpm nozzle with an efficiency factor of 0.3. This is simple math! The cooling capacity would be identical. While the practical application is more complex (as we do not really know the efficiency factors for the two nozzles and manner in which they are being used), this is worth thinking about.

Flow Rate or Heat Absorption Capacity

CFBT-US Senior Instructor Trainer Matt Leech (LT Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue) proposed (half in jest) that nozzles should be labeled with their potential cooling capacity rather than flow rate. While this idea did not get significant traction, it is important for firefighters to recognize that flow rate and fire stream characteristics have a significant impact on potential cooling capacity.

Fire Stream Effectiveness

Safe, effective and efficient fire control requires:

  • Water application to control the fire environment as well as direct attack on the fire
  • Appropriate flow rate for the tactical application (cooling hot, but unignited gases may be accomplished at a lower flow rate than direct attack on the fire)
  • Direct attack to exceed the critical flow rate based on the fire’s heat release rate
  • Sufficient reserve (flow rate) be available to control potential increases in heat release rate that may result from changes in ventilation
  • Water application in a form appropriate to cool its intended target (i.e., small droplets to cool hot gases or to cover hot surfaces with a thin film of water)
  • Water to reach its intended target (fog stream to place water into the hot gas layer and a straight or solid stream to pass through hot gases and flames and reach hot surfaces)
  • Control of the fire without excessive use of water

Accomplishing this requires different stream characteristics at different times. The characteristics that are optimal for gas cooling are likely quite different than for cooling hot surfaces, particularly when dealing with fully developed fire conditions in a large compartment.


As regular readers have likely noted my posting schedule has been a bit off of late. My responsibilities as the new Fire Chief with Central Whidbey Island Fire & Rescue preclude the necessary research and writing necessary to constantly post twice weekly. I will be scaling back to a single post on Thursday for the next few months while I get a handle on my new job and get my family moved to Whidbey Island.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFIreE, CFO


Grimwood, P. (2005) Firefighting Flow Rate: Barnett (NZ) – Grimwood (UK) Formulae. Retrieved January 26, 2008 from

Hadjisophocleous, G.V. & Richardson, J.K. (2005). Water flow demands for firefighting. Fire Technology 41, p. 173-191.

Särdqvist, S. (1996) An Engineering Approach To Fire-Fighting Tactics Sweden, Lund University, Department of Fire Safety Engineering

Svennson, S. (2002). The operational problem of fire control (Report LUTVDG/TVBB-1025-SE). Sweden, Lund University, Department of Fire Safety Engineering.

Nozzle Techniques & Hose Handling: Part 3

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

The previous posts in this series, examined the importance of proficiency in use of the firefighters’ primary weapon in offensive firefighting operations, and outlined several drills that can be used to develop proficiency in basic nozzle operation and hose handling.

Developing proficiency in nozzle use is somewhat like building skill with a rifle. Understanding what end of the rifle the bullet comes out of and that the rifle is fired by pulling the trigger is the easy part, learning to consistently hit what you are aiming at over varied distances requires considerably more effort.

This is my nozzle, there are many like it but this one is mine. My nozzle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. Without me it is useless, without my nozzle I am useless.

I will use my nozzle effectively and efficiently to put water where it is needed. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, and its care. I will guard it against damage, keep it clean and ready. This I swear [adapted from the Rifleman’s Creed, United States Marine Corps].

In the first three nozzle drills learners develop basic proficiency in basic nozzle use (fixed position), integrating nozzle use while moving a hoseline forward and back, and use of the nozzle while moving the hoseline through varied size compartments. This post will provide an overview of door entry procedures.

Door Entry Concepts

For many firefighters, door entry is simply a process of remembering to “try before you pry” and then figuring out how to force the door if it is locked. For others it is simply kicking the door in! Often overlooked is the fact that the entry point is a ventilation opening; sometimes an inlet, sometimes an outlet, and often both. When the fire is ventilation controlled, opening the door and increasing air flow to the fire will result in increased heat release rate. Depending on the stage of fire development and conditions within the compartment or structure, this may result in extreme fire behavior such as a ventilation induced flashover or backdraft (see Fuel & Ventilation).

As illustrated in Figure 1, firefighters often encounter rapidly changing conditions after making entry. In this incident, flashover occurred less than 60 seconds after firefighters opened the door and made entry (see Situational Awareness is Critical for additional information on this incident)

Figure 1. Rapidly Changing Conditions


Note: Photos by Probationary Firefighter Tony George, Prince Georges County Fire Department.

Safe and effective firefighting operations depend on effectively reading the fire and recognizing potential stages of fire development and burning regime (see previous posts on Reading the Fire) and effective tactical operations to take control of the fire environment. Door entry is an important element in this process.

Door Entry Procedure

As you review this door entry procedure, you may find that it makes sense to you exactly as presented. On the other hand, you may find that some elements (e.g., size-up and dynamic risk assessment) make sense, but other components (e.g., cooling overhead prior to opening the door) require a bit more of a leap. The elements of the door entry process reinforce one another, adopt the elements that make sense to you, but consider the value of the procedure as an integrated process. The process outlined is not followed in a lock-step manner, it is important for the hose team to take action based on observed conditions.

Size-Up: Door entry begins with a focused size-up as you approach the building. Assessment of conditions is not only the incident commander or officer’s job. Each member entering the building should perform a personal size-up and predict likely conditions. When making entry, size-up becomes more closely focused on conditions observed at or near the door and includes an assessment of potential forcible entry requirements as well as B-SAHF (Building-Smoke, Air Track, Heat, and Flame) indicators. If available, a thermal imaging camera (TIC) can be useful, but remember that temperature conditions may be masked by the thermal characteristics of the building. If a thermal imaging camera is not available, application of a small amount of water to the door may indicate temperature and the level of the hot gas layer (water will vaporize on contact with a hot door).

Size-up begins as you exit the apparatus and approach the building, but continues at the door and after you make entry!

At the door, pay close attention to air track and heat (door temperature) indicators as these can provide important clues to conditions immediately inside the building!

Control the Door: If the door is open, close it. If it is closed, don’t open it until you are ready. Heat release requires oxygen, controlling the air supply to the fire controls heat release rate. If you force the door in preparation for making entry, make sure you maintain control of it.

Gas Cool Above the Door and Assess, and Control Interior Conditions: When you open the door to assess conditions inside, hot smoke will likely exit at the top of the door. If it is hot enough it may auto-ignite. The hazard presented by the exiting smoke can be reduced by applying two short pulses above the door just as it is opened (the firefighter controlling the door should crack the door as the first pulse is applied).

The door should be opened sufficiently to allow the nozzle operator to visualize interior conditions, but not so much that a large amount of air is introduced (no magic number on how far to open, “it depends”). If hot smoke is present, the nozzle operator should cool the gases inside the compartment from the doorway. This may involve a short pulse or two or it may involve a longer pulse, depending on the size of the compartment and conditions (again, this requires the nozzle operator to think!).

Close the Door: While there is often a sense of urgency to make entry (due to developing fire conditions, persons reported, etc.), this step is important as it provides an opportunity for a focused risk assessment.

Risk Assessment: Is it safe to make entry (or to make entry through this opening)? Fully developed fire conditions inside the door or a pulsing air track (indicating potential for vent induced flashover or backdraft) may indicate a need to consider alternative tactics).

Entry: If it is safe to make entry, the process of cooling above the door as it is opened is repeated and hot gases inside the compartment are cooled as the hose team makes entry.

Figure 2. Door Entry Procedure


Note: Adapted from video clip 00000010 on the 3D Firefighting: Training, Techniques and Tactics Resource DVD.

Remember: The purpose of door entry procedures is to reduce risk of extreme fire behavior during and immediately after entry! Door entry procedures should be used any time that hot smoke or flames may be on the other side of the door. These procedures are used at exterior doors when making entry and on closed doors encountered inside the building.

Drill 4-Door Entry-Inward Opening Doors: Many doors (particularly interior and exterior residential) open inward (away from the nozzle team), door entry requires that the hose team integrate forcible entry, door control, and nozzle operation. Practicing door entry procedures with a variety of inward opening door configurations (location of the door in relation to walls and with varied size compartments) is critical in developing proficiency.

Drill 5-Door Entry-Outward Opening Doors: Commercial doors (and some interior doors) will open outward (towards the hose team). Outward opening doors require a somewhat different position when performing door entry. Firefighters must develop skill in performing door entry with both inward and outward opening doors.

Hose Handling & Nozzle Technique Drill 4 & 5 Instructional Plan

These two drills can be conducted using any door where water can be applied. However, a free-standing door entry prop (see Figure 3) provides a simple and effective aid to developing door entry proficiency.

Figure 3. Door Entry Prop


Note: Photo by Inspector John McDonough, ASFM, New South Wales Fire Brigades.

Alternately, a forcible entry prop could be used to integrate the forcible entry component of the door entry process.


As discussed in Nozzle Techniques and Hose Handling: Part 2 [LINK], it is essential for firefighters to have the ability to react immediately to deteriorating conditions. While battle drills will be discussed in depth in a subsequent post, consider how this concept might apply during door entry. What action should the hose team take if they encounter strong indicators of backdraft conditions at the doorway (e.g. pulsing air track, thick (optically dense) smoke)? How should the hose team react if, despite following good practice, conditions worsen immediately after entry?

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO


Grimwood, P., Hartin, E. McDonough, J. & Raffel, S. (2005). 3D firefighting: Training, techniques, and tactics. Stillwater, OK: Fire Protection Publications.

Nozzle Techniques & Hose Handling: Part 2

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Prior posts in this series, My Nozzle and Basic Nozzle Techniques & Hose Handling, examined the importance of proficiency in use of the firefighters’ primary weapon in offensive firefighting operations.

This is my nozzle, there are many like it but this one is mine. My nozzle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. Without me it is useless, without my nozzle I am useless.

I will use my nozzle effectively and efficiently to put water where it is needed. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, and its care. I will guard it against damage, keep it clean and ready. This I swear [adapted from the Riflemans Creed, United States Marine Corps].

It is critical that firefighters have both a sound understanding of nozzle performance and skill in the use of their primary weapon. In Figure 1, Assistant Superintendent Mohamed Roslan Bin Zakaria, Bomba dan Penylamat, Malaysia examines stream characteristics from an Akron Turbojet. Note the change in droplet size as the nozzle is closed (droplet size increases as pressure drops). In a short pulse opening and closing the nozzle quickly minimizes production of large droplets that are unlikely to vaporize in the hot gas layer. In long pulses, closing the nozzle slowly increases the percentage of large droplets, but this is a necessary tradeoff to prevent excessive water hammer.

Figure 1. Determining Stream Characteristics


Note: Photo by Shan Raffel, ASFM, CMIFireE, EngTech.

This post continues with a discussion of training methods that can be used to develop proficiency in nozzle techniques and hose handling while deploying hoselines and in compartments having varied configurations. Continuing with our military metaphor, we will be practicing fire and maneuver.

Instructional Concepts

As discussed in Basic Nozzle Techniques and Hose Handling this sequence of drills is designed using the Simplifying Conditions Method (Reigeluth, 1999). This approach moves from simple to complex, beginning with the simplest version of the task that represents the whole and moves to progressively more complex versions until the desired level of complexity is reached. In the case of nozzle technique and hose handling, this involves moving from basic, individual skills, to team skills, and on to integration of physical skills and decision-making.

While modeling a specific technique (such as the short pulse) can be helpful in aiding the learners in developing basic skill, there is a danger. Technique is often mimicked without thought to why it is performed in a particular manner under specific circumstances. Demonstration of a short pulse with a 40o fog pattern (which might be appropriate in a small room) becomes “that is how all short pulses must be performed”. As the learners complete Hose and Nozzle Technique Drills 2 and 3, it is critical to provide changing conditions and encourage the learners to adapt their technique based on conditions.

Drill 2-Hose Handling and Nozzle Operation: Firefighters often lose focus on nozzle technique and operation when they are moving. This drill provides an opportunity for the firefighter with the nozzle and backup firefighter to develop a coordinated approach to movement and operation.

Hose Handling & Nozzle Technique Drill 2 Instructional Plan

Drill 3-Nozzle Operation Inside Compartments: Deployment of hoselines inside a building requires a somewhat different set of skills than simply moving forward and backward. Movement of hoselines around corners and adjustment of nozzle pattern to cool gases in hallways and varied size compartments are important additions to the firefighters’ skill set and provide the next step in developing proficiency in nozzle use.

Hose Handling & Nozzle Technique Drill 3 Instructional Plan

Battle Drills

Analysis of firefighter line-of-duty deaths (LODD) during structural firefighting operations points to the need for highly disciplined, immediate, and appropriate response to rapidly deteriorating conditions. In terms of military small unit tactics, battle drills provide a standardized, collective action rapidly executed without application of a deliberate decision making process (US Army, 1992).

Adapted to firefighting operations, Battle Drills:

  • Require minimal leader orders to accomplish and are standard throughout the department
  • Are sequential actions vital to success in firefighting operations or critical to preserving life
  • Apply to individual companies or teams
  • Are trained responses to changing conditions or leader’s orders
  • Represent mental steps followed for actions followed in training and firefighting operations

As a starting point for discussing this concept, give some thought to what situations might require a pre-planned and trained set of actions during offensive firefighting operations. For example, this might apply to locating a victim while deploying a hoseline for fire attack, rapidly deteriorating conditions, breathing apparatus malfunction, etc. Also consider how hose handling and nozzle techniques might apply in each of these situations.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO


Reigeluth, C. (1999). Elaboration theory: Guidance for scope and sequence decisions. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.) Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory volume II. Mawah, NH: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

United States (US) Army. (1992). FM 7-8 Infantry rifle platoon and squad. Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army

My Nozzle

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Warfare is often used as a metaphor for firefighting with fire being the enemy and the building the ground on which we fight. Extending warfare as a metaphor, handline nozzles are firefighters’ principle weapon in offensive firefighting operations.


In the early 1940s Major General William H. Rupertus, United States Marine Corps (USMC), wrote the Rifleman’s Creed (also known as My Rifle). The creed is part of Marine doctrine that emphasizes that regardless of specialty or assignment, all Marines are riflemen. The Rifleman’s creed emphasizes the criticality of caring for and mastering the use of the Marine’s individual weapon. How many firefighters have the same commitment to care and mastery of their nozzle?

All too often, firefighters consider the nozzle to be a simple device requiring little practice to master and seldom thought of until needed. Take a minute and think about the nozzle(s) that you use!

Nozzle Knowledge

These 20 questions focus on some of the fundamental knowledge that firefighters must have if they are truly going to master their primary weapon in offensive firefighting operations.

  1. What kind of nozzle(s) are on your preconnected hoseline (combination or solid stream)?
  2. What type of nozzles are they (i.e., fixed flow, variable flow, automatic, or single tip, stacked tips)?
  3. What flow rate, rates, or range do they have?
  4. If flow rate can be varied, how is this accomplished? Does the mechanism used to change flow operate freely?
  5. If you change the flow without a corresponding change in line pressure at the pump, what happens to the nozzle pressure?
  6. What is their designed operating pressure or pressures (for dual pressure nozzles)?
  7. For combination nozzles, what is the impact of nozzle pressure on droplet size? Can you operate the nozzle at more than one nozzle pressure?
  8. If a variable flow or automatic combination nozzle, does droplet size change with flow rate? Why might this be significant?
  9. What is the maximum effective reach of the nozzle?
  10. Can you flush debris from the nozzle? If so, how?
  11. What type of coupling is the nozzle equipped with (e.g., if threaded, is it National Standard Hose, Iron Pipe, or some other thread)?
  12. What type of valve is the nozzle equipped with (ball or slide valve) and what difference does it make?
  13. If it is a combination nozzle, does it have fixed or spinning teeth? Why would this matter?
  14. If the nozzle is equipped with spinning teeth, does the turbine spin freely?
  15. Do your nozzles open and close easily when under pressure?
  16. Are your nozzles clean (inside and out)? How should they be cleaned?
  17. Do your nozzles require lubrication to ensure free movement of their operating mechanism? If so, when was the last time that they were lubricated?
  18. If a combination nozzle, how to you adjust the nozzle to a wide angle fog pattern?
  19. For combination nozzles, what is the maximum angle of the wide fog pattern?
  20. If a combination nozzle, how far from straight stream or wide angle fog does the pattern control need to be turned to produced a 40o (medium) fog pattern?

While knowing the answers to these questions, is necessary, it alone is not sufficient. In addition to knowledge of operating characteristics and maintenance procedures, firefighters must be skilled in nozzle operation in order to be able to accurately put water where it is needed.

Nozzle Skills

In some respects a nozzle is a fairly simple device designed to increase the velocity of water and provide a useful stream for firefighting operations. However, can you consistently:

  1. Adjust a fog pattern to the desired angle without visual reference, before opening the nozzle to check the pattern?
  2. Apply a short or long pulse of water fog so that the droplets evaporate in the hot gas layer, minimizing water contact with compartment linings (i.e. walls and ceiling)?
  3. Apply a fog pattern to fill the maximum volume of a compartment without excessive water hitting the compartment linings?
  4. Apply water gently in the form of a straight stream so that it flows onto a hot surface, maximizing cooling and minimizing runoff?
  5. Recognize audible indicators of fire stream impact on compartment linings?
  6. Adjust flow rate based on conditions and tactical application (i.e. gas cooling, indirect attack, direct attack)?
  7. Maximize both effectiveness (in controlling the fire) and efficiency (by minimizing water use)?

These questions are obviously focused on combination nozzles. If you more commonly use solid stream nozzles, ability to cool hot gases is limited by the form in which water is applied. While limited in gas cooling effectiveness, what techniques can you use to have some impact on the threat presented by the hot gas layer?

As with knowledge of your nozzle, these skills are necessary, but not sufficient. Firefighters must be able to integrate physical skill with situational awareness and team based tactical skill.

My Nozzle

With due credit to General Rupertus and the USMC; I have adapted The Rifleman’s Creed:

This is my nozzle, there are many like it but this one is mine. My nozzle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. Without me it is useless, without my nozzle I am useless.

I will use my nozzle effectively and efficiently to put water where it is needed. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, and its care. I will guard it against damage, keep it clean and ready. This I swear.

Developing Skill

During structural firefighting operations firefighters are faced with dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which situational awareness is critical. Basic skills in the use of personal protective equipment and the tools of the firefighters’ craft must have reached the autonomous stage of performance to allow focus on critical decisions and tasks.

Habit hardens the body for great exertions, strengthens the heart in great peril, and fortifies the judgment against first impressions. Habit breeds that priceless quality, calm, which passing from hussar and rifleman up to the general himself, will lighten the commanders task. (Von Clausewitz, p. 122)

Colonel B.P. McCoy, USMC (2007) drew on Clausewitz’s wisdom in identifying combat marksmanship as a critical habit. “Anybody, even in the middle of a phobic response to the violence of combat can yank on a trigger and spray rounds in the general direction of the enemy, ‘spray and pray'” (p. 25). How many firefighters have the same response in the fire environment? “Combat marksmanship is the hallmark of the infantryman. Nothing nurtures confidence like the knowledge that one can hit what one is shooting at” (McCoy, 2007, p. 25). Firefighters require the same skill in nozzle use as Colonel McCoy’s Marines required in the use of their rifles.

During offensive firefighting operations firefighters apply water for one of two purposes. 1) to cool hot gases or 2) to cool hot surfaces (Grimwood, Hartin, McDonough, & Raffel, 2005). Each of these tasks requires a different method to put water where it is needed in a form that will accomplish the intended outcome.

Gas Cooling: In general water application to cool hot gases should be based on the following requirements:

  • Most of the water applied must vaporize in the hot gas layer (not on surfaces)
  • Nozzle pattern should maximize the volume of hot gases cooled.

The challenge to the nozzle operator is that there is not one single approach to meeting these requirements. In general, smaller droplets work better than large droplets, but nozzle pattern (wide, medium, or narrow fog) is dependent on the size of the space and temperature of the flames and/or hot, unignited gases.

Surface Cooling: The requirement for cooling hot surfaces is different than those required for gas cooling, but is equally simple.

Most of the water applied must vaporize on contact with hot surfaces (not in the hot gas layer)

As with gas cooling there is not a single approach to meeting these requirements. In general, effective surface cooling requires a thin layer of water on the hot surface. If the surface is extremely hot, water application must be continued until the temperature is reduced sufficiently to slow and stop pyrolysis.

Important! Water on the floor after extinguishment is completed did not do significant work. Far more energy is required for water to change phase into steam than to simply raise its temperature. Water application must be effective (in achieving fire control), but should also be efficient (in minimizing the water used and limiting fire control damage).

Effective and efficient fire control requires that firefighters be skilled at putting water in the right form where it is needed (in the hot gases or on hot surfaces). Development of autonomous (habitual) skill in nozzle use requires deliberate practice. This is not simply repetition of our current skills, but continuing to stretch just beyond our current abilities. Deliberate practice is designed specifically to improve sharply defined elements of performance.

The next several posts in this series will examine how research in sport psychology regarding motor learning and performance can be used to enhance our ability to develop proficiency in nozzle use (as well as other physical firefighting skills).

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO


US Army (1992). Field manual 7-8 infantry Rifle platoon and squad. Washington, DC: Headquarters, Dept. of the Army.

Clausewitz, C. (1984) On war. (M. Howard & P. Paret, Trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

McCoy, B. (2007). The passion of command. Quantico, VA: The Marine Corps Association.

Grimwood, P., Hartin, E., McDonough, J, & Raffel, S. (2005) 3D firefighting: Training, techniques, and tactics. Stillwater, OK: Fire Protection Publications.

CFBT Seminar-MSB Sandö

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

On 12-16 October 2009 a group of compartment fire behavior training (CFBT) instructors representing six nations gathered for a seminar at the Myndigheten för Samhällsskydd och Beredskap (MSB) (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency) College in Sandö, Sweden. This was a unique event in that the group had the opportunity to learn the history of Swedish fire behavior training from Mats Rosander, Marcos Dominquez, and Nils Bergström, three pioneers in fire control methods and training.

Figure 1. Mats Rosander and Nils Bergström


(Left to Right) Mats Rosander, Ed Hartin, & Nils Bergström

In addition to presentations on the history and evolution of Swedish fire behavior training and fire control methods, workshop participants participated in representative examples of fire behavior classroom instruction laboratory exercises and practical evolutions conducted at Sandö.

Figure 2. Practical Exercises


The MSB College at Sandö has extensive live fire training facilities with demonstration, attack, window, and large volume cells as well as a variety of multi-compartment live fire training props.

Figure 3. Mats, Marcos, & Nisse Preparing the Aquarium


Figure 3. Backdraft Demonstration in the Classroom


Seminar Presentations

On Thursday morning, Shan Raffel, Peter McBride, John McDonough, and Ed Hartin delivered short presentations on Reading the Fire, Role of the Incident Safety Officer, Firefighter Behavior (transfer of training to incident operations), and Live Fire Training as Simulation: The Role of Fidelity in Effective Training. This segment of the workshop was open to college staff, students attending courses at the college, and local fire service personnel.

Figure 4. Seminar Presentation


Download Live Fire Training as Simulation: The Role of Fidelity in Effective Training.

So What?

Seminar participants all recognized this seminar as an extremely significant event. On the surface, it appears to be an ordinary seminar, but in reality it was really quite different. Great strides have been made in developing relationships between compartment fire behavior training practitioners around the world through the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) Compartment Firefighting Special Interest Group (SIG) International Fire Instructors Workshops held in Revenge, Sweden (2008) and Sydney, Australia (2009). However, this event was unique in that it provided a bridge back into history. Unfortunately, leaders and pioneers in many fields are not recognized during their lifetime, limiting researchers and students to often meager written records of their contributions. This workshop provided the participants with the opportunity to make a direct connection to the origins of many innovative concepts and developments in fire behavior and fire control theory.

Fire Behavior Pioneers Honored

Yesterday morning, Acting Inspector Shan Raffel, ASFM, CMIFireE, EngTec, presented certificates of recognition to Mats Rosander, Nils Bergström, Marcos Dominguez, and Krister Giselsson (posthumously) on behalf of the Institution IFE and fire services around the world for their pioneering work in fire behavior training and firefighting operations.

Special Thanks

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Roy Reyes, his colleague David Flatebö, and the staff of the MSB College at Sandö in facilitating this important seminar. This was an important step in forging a stronger network of fire service leaders committed to ensuring that firefighters have the knowledge and skills necessary to operate safely and effectively in an ever changing built environment.

What’s Next?

It will take some time to digest the tremendous amount of information from the Sandö Workshop. However, I look forward to sharing what I have learned and providing a bit of historical context for much of what we are doing in fire behavior training today.

My next post will return to examination of fire behavior indicators related to fires in the fully developed stage along with variations in conditions when fire conditions impact on multiple compartments (as is usually the case).

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

Upcoming Events and Information

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Open Enrollment CFBT Level I & Instructor Courses

CFBT-US, LLC and the Northwest Association of Fire Trainers (NAFT) will be offering CFBT Level I and Instructor Courses at the Clackamas County (OR) Fire District I CFBT facility.

CFBT Level I
7-9 November 2009
Course Fee: $335

CFBT Instructor
9-13 November 2009
Course Fee: $915

Instructor course participants receive a copy of 3D Firefighting: Training, Techniques, & Tactics and an extensive 2-DVD library of CFBT resources including the CFBT Level I curriculum. For information on these courses download a NAFT CFBT Brochure and the CFBT Level I and CFBT Instructor Course Information Sheets.

CFBT Workshop in Sandö, Sweden

From 12-16 October 2009, I will be participating in a CFBT workshop in Sandö, Sweden along with a small group of instructors from around the world. We will be studying the compartment fire behavior curriculum at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap (MSB)) College in Sandö.

Figure 1. Fire Behavior Training in Sandö


In January of 2009 MSB replaced the Swedish Rescue Services Agency, the Swedish Emergency Management Agency, and the Swedish National Board of Psychological Defense. The MSB maintains two fire service colleges, one in Sandö (see Figure 2) and the other in Revinge.

Figure 2. MSB College in Sandö


The International Conference of Fire and Rescue, Valdivia – Chile 2010 CIFR

My brothers with Company 1 “Germania” of the Valdivia, Chile Fire Department have taken on a tremendous task with delivery of the first International Conference of Fire & Rescue in Valdivia. The conference will be held 23-27 January 2010.

Conference presenters include a diverse cadre of instructors from around the world. I will be presenting a series of seminars on fire behavior as well as a hands-on CFBT workshop. Presentations will be simultaneously translated into English and Spanish (as applicable). Have a look at the Conference Web Site for more information on this tremendous learning opportunity.

NIOSH Death in the Line of Duty F2007-02

On November 23, 2006, Firefighter Steven Solomon, a 33-year-old career fire fighter was seriously injured during a ventilation induced flashover or related fire behavior event in an abandoned single story duplex in Atlanta, GA; he died as a result of these injuries 6 days later.

NOSH Report F2007-02 provides an excellent description of fire behavior indicators observed prior to the occurrence of extreme fire behavior and correctly identifies that increased ventilation without coordinated fire attack resulted in worsening fire conditions.

Several conclusions in the report were based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling using the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Fire Dynamics Simulator software. As discussed in a previous post computer modeling is an excellent tool, but it is important to understand both its capabilities and limitations (see Townhouse Fire-Washington, DC: Computer Modeling)

It is crucial to bear in mind that fire models do not provide a reconstruction of the reality of an event. They are simplified representation of reality that will always suffer from a certain lack of accuracy and precision. Under the condition that the user is fully aware of this status and has an extensive knowledge of the principles of the models, their functioning, their limitations and the significance attributed to their results, fire modeling becomes a very powerful tool (Dele´mont & Martin, J., 2007, p. 134).

Review NIOSH Report F2007-02 and see if you agree or disagree with the conclusions regarding the type of extreme fire behavior phenomena involved in this incident.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

Compartment Fire Behavior Blog Anniversary!

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Just over a year ago I had the idea to develop a blog focused on compartment fire behavior and firefighting. A bit of work on the technology side and I made my introductory post on 8 August 2008. That month the CFBT-US web site had 2900 page views, this past July the page view count was in excess of 24,000 with 4400 unique readers. While this is not a huge readership in terms of the total number of firefighters in the world who have English as a language, it shows significant growth.


At the start of this adventure, I set a goal to post twice weekly (Monday and Thursday mornings) and for the most part have managed to keep this schedule. Dominant themes have included:

  • Reviews of books, training programs, magazine/journal articles, and conference presentations
  • Case studies based on National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and agency reports on significant incidents, injuries, and fatalities
  • An ongoing series of posts examining the B-SAHF (building, smoke, air track, heat, and flame) organizing scheme for fire behavior indicators and reading the fire
  • B-SAHF video and photo based exercises in reading and interpreting B-SAHF indicators to predict likely fire behavior and the impact of tactical operations
  • Examination of extreme fire behavior phenomena such as flashover, backdraft, smoke explosion, and flash fire with an emphasis on understanding the underlying causes and influence of tactical operations on fire dynamics
  • Discussion of research on positive pressure ventilation and wind driven fires conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology
  • Identification of the potential learning opportunity presented by systematic investigation of near miss, injury, and fatality incidents
  • Discussion of the importance of deliberate practice and the concept of the need for 10,000 hours to master your craft

Hopefully you have found these posts useful in developing your understanding of compartment fire behavior or have motivated you to take action and share your knowledge of our profession with others. I have benefited greatly from the thought process and effort of writing on a regular and systematic basis.

As a reference, I have prepared a printer friendly Compartment Fire Behavior Blog Index in portable document format (PDF) which includes the date, title, URL, and brief synopsis of post content.

I Need Your Help

Your comments and feedback are important to making the Compartment Fire Behavior Blog better. If I write something that you do not agree with or think that a concept could be expressed more clearly, please comment or question!

The Way Forward

I am currently working on a loose editorial calendar to help guide my writing over the next year. Several important themes will continue:

  • Case studies and lessons learned
  • Reading the fire and B-SAHF exercises
  • Practical fire dynamics
  • Review of books, magazine/journal articles
  • Fire control and tactical ventilation

If there are topics you think should be on the list, please provide your input as a comment on this post.

My next several posts will get back to study of the B-SAHF scheme with a look at Heat Indicators and continuing examination of flashover. As I have been looking back over the last year, I find that I have taken two distinctly different approaches to sequencing posts. Some topics have been addressed in successive posts (e.g., case studies and discussion of wind driven fires) and others have alternated between several different topics (e.g., B-SAHF and flashover). From my perspective, each has its advantages and disadvantages. If you have a preference or opinion, please let me know!

Thanks for your readership and participation,

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO