Archive for June, 2009

Vise Grip Clamp


Vise grips are a versatile tool for a number of different reasons. One of their many uses is to clamp a garage door open. When working in or around a garage it’s easy to open and keep open even after utilities have already been secured. From the inside, simply reach up and activate the emergency release mechanism, which frees the door from the automatic door opener (shown in the photo below.) Once the door is open, simply take the vise grips and clamp on the track to prevent to door from closing.

The door is much “safer” once it has been released from the door opener mechanism and clamped open. The automatic garage door opener no longer has an effect on the door. This was one of the speculations in a video we posted a few years ago, that radio interference caused the garage door opener to activate and close the door. (Which would not have happened if utilities were secured.) Another reason why the door is safer is because if heat builds up in the garage around the springs this will not cause the door to close since the track is blocked by the vise grips. (make sure the vise grips are clamped tight) The springs are normally located on the front wall above the door, or along side of the tracks. If heat builds up in this area, it could cause the springs to anneal, lose tension, and lower the door. The weakening of the spring was the other speculation in the video. A simple clamp on the door would prevent either situation from happening and prevents committing more useful tools to be used to prop the door open.

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Flashlight Mount


Jeff Daniels from Goodyear (AZ) Fire sent in a different method of securing a flashlight to your lid. This idea simply takes a thorn resistant bicycle tube and attaches it under the brim of the helmet. The thorn resistant tube is thicker than a standard tube and holds up better to the abuse. The tube expands to fit various size flashlights, and keeps them in place pretty effectively. Some people prefer to have the light mounted under the brim of the helmet to minimize a possible entanglement hazard. As you can see from the close-up picture the tube was secured using the shell retaining screws. Obviously this set-up will not work on all types of helmets, but it is a lightweight, cheap and effective way to secure your light if works on your style lid.

The thorn resistant bicycle tube could be used above the helmet as well. For those who have the large inter-tube that runs all the way around the helmet, the smaller thorn resistant tube could be zip tied to the larger helmet band to achieve similar results. This set-up would allow the allow this style of flashlight to be attached without using a “hard mount” bracket.

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Rebar Security


Michael Riley from St. Augustine (FL) Fire sent these photos of something interesting he found. Each of these windows had a homemade security device on them… On the inside. The bars are made from 5/8 and 3/4 rebar (some windows have different sizes.) The building owner actually painted most of the bars white to match the blinds behind them. This makes the bars somewhat difficult to find at first glance. Since the bars are on the inside, they may go totally un-noticed if the building was changed with smoke. The bars are imbedded into the window frame on each side. from these pictures it’s tough to know exactly how deep the bars are embedded, but they present a problem none the less.

On a related note, something should be mentioned on the radio to all units when bars are found on the structure. This could be done by the first arriving officer performing a 360, the Outside Truck team, or anyone else who may be first to run across them. Regardless of who transmits it, it’s an important piece of information that should be shared.

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Before and After


Matt Gilbert from Tukwila (WA) Fire Department Ladder 54 sent in these before and after photos of a commercial roof over under construction. These pictures serve as even more of a reason to get out in your area and check things out. If this was not observed during the renovation, this may have gone un-noticed to the crews.

Like in most roof over situations the old roofing material was not removed. Although you can’t see it in these pictures, the installers cut openings in the existing roof to access the newly formed void space. These access holes would make a perfect avenue for fire to travel into the combustible void space. When faced with a situation like this you cannot be afraid to open things up a bit to ensure that fire has not traveled into the space. It would suck to have a small second floor kitchen fire that extends into the void space and runs on you.

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Double Tall Double Wide


Capt. Dave Newman from Hernando County (FL) Fire Rescue sent in these pictures of an interesting residential structure. These types of structures are extremely popular in the numerous retirement communities throughout Florida. Discussion of this type of structure came up in some of the comments in the previous post, so it seems appropriate to follow up with this. If you haven’t guessed already, this is a double wide mobile home. Many people would not have expected that once they saw that it was a two story structure. Just like they have made advances (or set-backs for us) in the traditional building construction, the mobile home fabrication business is no different. Deceptive building construction can hurt us if we do not stay informed, simply another reason for us to get out and know our zone. So watch out for that trailer hitch on the 360, and report your findings on the radio.

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Residential Roof Over


Assistant Chief David Wolf from Cayuga Heights (NY) Fire Department sent in these photos of a friend’s house in Houston. The initial view from the scuttle opening makes it look like any other attic set-up we would expect to find, however that wouldn’t make for a good post. A closer look reveals the problem.

Not only do roof over’s make the ventilation process much more difficult, they may also allow the fire to burn undetected for quite some time. They are more common than we may originally expect and are something we should have a back-up plan to deal with. Sure, most codes won’t allow this, but we all know how that goes. Nothing worse than opening the vent only to find an attic full of $#!+, or better yet, another roof to deal with.

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Engine’s Point of View


Engineer Jeff Spinelli from Winter Park (FL) came up with an interesting thought. He wanted to know what the exact distance the Engine had to park away from the Truck “looked like” from the driver’s seat. What he found from his point of view (his engine, his seat location, etc) that if he couldn’t see the rear tires of the Truck he was too close and the ladders would not be able to be removed. Every rig and every person are going to be a little different. So go ask the Engineers of the other rigs what it looks like for them. If they don’t know for sure go out and check. It’s an interesting question and a quick little drill. While having the discussion it’s another good time to bring up the whole apparatus positioning discussion (ie: Truck gets the front, etc.) Obviously when in doubt have the Engine park with plenty of extra room, but this idea works well for the dialed-in Engineer when working on tight streets. Not bad for an “Engine” guy…

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