Archive for August, 2011

The Lost Art of the Fire Service

For the more than five years that has been around, it has always had the tag line “The Lost Art of the Fire Service.” While most of you understand exactly what we are trying to get across with that tag line, we realize we have never addressed it directly. So here goes, below are a few of our thoughts on exactly what The Lost Art of the Fire Service means to us…

Truck company functions have quickly become the lost art of the fire service. Many firefighters are being trained how to perform tasks, but not why. This is preventing them from truly understanding the art behind many truck company functions. Truck company functions have become a lost art for a number of different reasons. One of the main reasons is a result of the decreasing level of actual fire ground experience among personnel. Unfortunately this is creating less situational awareness on the fire ground. While education can never replace actual experience, a firm understanding of why we perform each task is essential. Furthermore, truck functions need to be performed at every fire regardless if a truck company is present or not! Changes in building construction have had a significant effect on how we operate on the fire ground, and have made the need for effective truck functions more important than ever. The energy efficiency or tightness of modern buildings coupled with the increased fuel load make ventilation a necessary and critical time sensitive operation. In addition, the execution of effective and efficient search techniques is going to increase survivability of both firefighters and occupants! It is essential that everyone on the fire ground in the fire service understand the importance and the art of effective truck company functions.


Slide-in Supplemental Lock

Firefighter Dan Rinaldi from Providence (RI) Fire Department sent in pictures of a door from a triple deck structure. The door leads into a convenience store on the first floor. Apparently the store has had numerous break ins. As a result, the store owner did some homebrew modifications to the door. The existing door has been skinned both inside and out with 1/8” steel. The steel covers the entire door and is secured with multiple carriage bolts. The 1/8” steel would make gapping the door a bit more challenging than a traditional metal door. The door is still in a wood frame, so use of hydra ram will just destroy the stop. On the inside, you can see that the two supplemental bars slide in from the side instead of dropping in from the top. Of course since this is an inward swinging door, the supplemental bar brackets attach to the building, not the door leaving the telltale carriage bolts alerting us to its presence.

Interestingly, if you look at the first picture you can see a piece of plywood to the left of the door. This plywood is covering the hole that was apparently made during the most recent break in, that prompted the upgrade shown here. The thieves knocked a hole into the wall, and were able to real the single drop bar that had previously secured the door. This is apparently why the new supplemental lock was intentionally made with two slide-in bars, versus the single drop bar.


They Gotta Be Here Somewhere

Hidden access stairs can certainly cause some confusion on the fireground. They allow for unobstructed smoke and fire travel, and can make finding additional floors frustrating.

The first example was sent in by Derek Porter and the Engine 3 crew from Morgantown (WV.) In this example, a spiral staircase leading to the occupied basement is concealed behind a bi-fold closet door. The staircase was added by the homeowner once the basement was “finished” to prevent having to go outside to access the basement. The spiral staircase fit just perfectly into the existing closet, while maintaining the bi-fold doors.

The next example is from Ronny Findeisen from Stuttgart Fire Department in Germany and proves this is not just a problem found in the United States. In this situation you can see a set of sliding closet doors that is concealing two hidden stairs leading to both a floor above and below.

Neither of these situations are going to ruin our day, they are just going to make the primary search a bit more complicated and time consuming.