Archive for July, 2014

This is MY Aerial…


This post is not at all meant to throw stones at the recent news of multiple aerial failures. It’s also not meant to make any accusations of responsibility; rather it is just a great time to ask this question:

Who performs the preventative maintenance and inspections of your aerial device?


Is it the departmental or municipal garage? Is it an outside vendor? Or is it you and your crews? Look back at those choices, only one group’s life is on the line… Why would the crews whose life safety depends on the aerial not perform their own lubrication and inspections of the aerial? We understand that some department’s administration may not “allow” for this to happen, but they cannot (and should not) prevent us from at least performing our own DETAILED inspection. We are not talking about simply operating the aerial on a daily/weekly check, we are talking about REALLY checking it out. When was the last time you looked at every single surface of the aerial including but not limited to: wear plates, wire rope, pulleys, hydraulic cylinders and hoses?


Every apparatus manufacture provides detailed documentation on the lubrication process. This list also itemizes each different lube that is required for each surface and component. How do you think you mechanics learned how to do it? They read about it and were maybe shown the process by someone else. Why don’t you have them teach you how to do the same thing? Even if they wont let you take over the lubrication of the aerial, have them teach you how to PROPERLY inspect it. Ask what every simple component does; watch how the pulleys and wire rope move when the aerial is in operation. Make sure you understand everything you possibly can about this piece of equipment that rely on.


This is my aerial. There are many like it but this one is mine. My aerial is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.


From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat on July 31, 2014 at the Third Annual Mickel Begg Leadership and Safety Conference. The conference is being held in honor and reverence to the memories of Lieutenant John Mickel and Firefighter Dallas Begg. The conference will be held in Celebration Florida from July 29 – 31 and will also include presentations by Curt Isakson, Michael Ciampo. The conference is hosted by Osceola County Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 3284, and the Central Florida FOOLS. All proceeds from the conference benefit the Mickel-Begg Scholarship Fund. Please click here to download the flyer for additional information and registration information.

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Roof Over


Jamil Hudson and Brian Falls sent in this write-up and photos of something Charlotte Fire Department (NC) Engine 11 B shift recently came across during an area survey of their first due. Construction crews were in the process of remodeling both the interior and exterior of the home when E-11 noticed an obvious change of the roof structure. They stopped and spoke with a construction crew member to ask for permission to take some photos. As you can see in the photos, a second roof is being built on top of the existing roof. This construction practice is becoming increasingly popular today to modify older homes in order to reduce the costs for the homeowner or seller and to give the home a more modern and appealing look. The original roof was built on a 4/12 pitch and the newly added roof was built on an 8/12 pitch. There are several reasons why this type of roof construction can have a negative impact during normal fire ground operations. These are a few examples:

  • A false indication of possibly a second floor or an additional room despite the small window (Size-up)
  • Truck Co. operations (Vertical Ventilation) efforts may be hindered or delayed due to the double roof.
  • Initial vertical ventilation could be ineffective for interior crews during fire attack and search operations if the fire has not vented through the original roof.
  • Difficulty in locating and extinguishing hidden fire in void spaces. (Overhaul)
  • Confusion between interior crews and the outside vent crew when attempting coordinated efforts (fire attack and vertical ventilation).



In addition, keep in mind the dimensions of lumber used, the type of roof construction and how it varies from the 1950’s to today. This particular home, the original roof joists were constructed of 2×6’s, while the new roof addition is light weight construction composed of 2×4’s. If fire has progressed rapidly, has vented itself through the original roof but has not shown itself from the new roof addition and has been burning for an extensive amount of time, what is the possibility of a collapse? If so, which of the two roof types may pose a danger of collapse, both, or maybe one before the other? What other issues could occur during a fire if this house is in your first due?


It is imperative as the individual fire fighter and as a company, we continue to be familiar with our response areas. Learning and knowing our territories and our buildings, from the single family dwellings, the large commercial/industrial buildings, to the high rises, etc. Building construction is ever changing, when the bell sounds at 3:00 am, the everyday house fire may just be the one fire that has us scratching our heads afterwards.


FireHouse Expo 2014

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting at FireHouse Expo on Thursday, July 17, 2014 in Baltimore (MD.) Jimm will have the pleasure of co-presenting a class titled Smell of Smoke with District Chief Walter Lewis from Orlando (FL) FD.


Here is a short description of the class:

Commonly, dispatched structure fires turn out to be an odor of smoke called in by a homeowner or occupant. This program is designed to help firefighters, prospective officers or inexperienced officers determine the cause from a laundry-list of potential sources by discussing a decision-making tactic and the various sources, room-by-room in residential structures.

We’ll be in room 318 on Thursday July 17th from 08:30-10:00. We hope to see you there.


Multi-Function Prop


Christopher Benson from Greeley (CO) Engine 4 sent in this low cost multi-function prop. The prop is made mostly from 4×4 and 2×4 lumber that was scavenged from around the station. The prop features a forcible entry door, window bar props, a window sash, and a wall section.


The door can be forced as an inward or outward facing door. It also features a padlock and hasp to practice defeating them as well. One of the window door props is just for observation and discussion of bars and their attachment methods, and the other can actually be forced by defeating pieces of furring strips. (Chris wanted to be sure to thank Brian Brush from West Metro (CO) for the window prop idea.) The window sash has a replaceable piece of wood as the sash so it can be defeated prior to the entering the window.


Below that, the wall studs are placed 16 inch on center to practice SCBA low profile maneuvers. The rope simulates an entanglement from electrical wires and adds to learning opportunities. Real segments of electrical wire can also be strung through the prop to allow for cutting of the wire as an option to free from the entanglement. Since most of the materials were scavenged, this low cost prop can provide a number of different quick drills without even leaving the firehouse.