Archive for the 'Inside Functions' Category
John Douglass sent in something he found while detailed over to DC Truck 15. This scuttle has a homebrewed method of being secured with 2×4’s. Regardless if you are opening this from the roof, or the interior, almost any hand tool should be able to defeat it. If this was a ghetto fabulous plywood skylight replacement that you were removing from the roof, it might give some unexpected resistance. But the nails or screws that are holding it together would more than likely be the weak point, and pull right through the plywood. When removing from below, a quick strike from a hook or halligan should do the trick. Even when operating on a “nothing call” like a fire alarm, it is essential to be ready for anything and be prepared with tools in hand. It would certainly be embarrassing to encounter this and have to head back out to the rig to retrieve a tool to defeat it.1 comment
Technician Jeff Billingsley from Denver (CO) Tower 1 sent in these photos of something they recently ran into on a fire alarm. The building was an old church that had a recent addition of an office and classroom building with modern construction techniques.
In order to separate the old portion of the building form the new building, they utilized roll down fire doors to achieve building separation from a fire code point of view.
As you can see in the photos both doors have a fusible link on either side to allow the doors to roll down into place in the event of a heat condition on either side of the door. The crew was able to manually pull the door down to inspect and take a photo. These style doors typically have a counter weight or spring mechanism that allows them to automatically roll into the down position when the fusible link lets go.
Below is a photo of the smaller door that was found in place of an average 33”-36” door way.
Below is a photo of the larger door that spanned about a 12’ wide hallway.
Because of the potential issues these could create on the fireground, we should try to be aware of this type of door in any of our buildings. These doors could operate behind us potentially cutting off our primary means of egress. It could also come down on the engine company’s umbilical cord and compromise their water flow.5 comments
Nate Quartier from Ormond Beach (FL) Quint 92 “B” sent in something they recently ran across in a local church. Crewmember Jim Peters noticed an odd looking piece of metal sitting on a table.
Upon giving it a closer look, they noticed it was actually a little drop bar for an exterior door. After some investigating they noticed all of the other exterior doors had they installed as well. The mini-bar (no, not that kind of mini-bar) simply drops into place on the lower knob-side corner of the door, and holds onto the inside of the frame.
The exterior of the door did reveal 2 small rivet heads for the bracket, however they might go unnoticed in the dark. They crew dropped the bar into place and began lightly “testing the door” and found it to be much more sturdy than it appears. Anyone good with the irons will still be able to get this door fairly easily, but it’ll put up some good resistance at the bottom. Removing the rivets by punching them through with the pike of the halligan might be a viable option.
Another thing to consider is if a crewmember encounters this supplemental lock from the inside while trying to make an escape of the building. What if the drop bar was padlocked to the bracket? Placing the halligan just to the right of the bracket and to the left of the “hook” that goes to the door, a clockwise twist should shear the bolts and defeat the lock. Or perhaps placing the halligan in the same spot and simply pulling back, using the halligan as a lever might be another viable option. We need to expect supplemental locks on every door, and be able to identify and visualize how to remove and defeat them, both from the outside and the inside. Just another reason why secondary means of egress should be established early in the incident, before they are ever needed.6 comments
Strong work from Columbus (OH) Ladder 23! They had a fire at a “Vacant” structure… They searched the structure and found a 8 year old boy inside, who probably would have not made it if it wasn’t for their actions. Reports are the ladder was first on scene and kept the fire in check with a few water cans.
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Captain Tony Carroll from DC Truck Co. No. 9 sent in this detailed write-up on security bars that Rescue Co. No. 2 recently found on an apartment building. Finding bars on the ground floor of an apartment building is not uncommon, however these bars are located inside the window. We have shown interior security bars before on the site, but Captain Carroll has a detailed analysis of this particular setup that we wanted to share. Click here to download the file.No comments
Kyle Rice from Christiana (DE) Station 12 sent in this interesting picture found on a non-fire related website.
Seeing this from the outside while performing a VES might be slightly confusing, and possibly dangerous. If the doors to the bed are closed, it could possibly prevent “reading” the conditions in the room prior to entering from the window. Taking the window would more than likely allow minimal smoke to escape, giving the appearance that there is little smoke present in the room. Fortunately, it should be quite obvious from the ladder that the bed in just inside the window opening, and that the bed is surrounded by this enclosure.
Finding this from the inside might also pose a few challenges, namely egress and search. If the doors were closed, and moderate smoke conditions present in the room, the window could go unnoticed as an emergency egress. It could also be confusing since an inside team might expect to see a window as soon as they make entry into the bedroom. Unfortunately a sloppy search team might miss the bed entirely if the doors were in the closed position.
Going into a search you should have some expectations in mind. You should “trust but verify” these expectations, but don’t get vapor locked on them. When you encounter something out of the norm, you should quickly determine what it is, what if any impact it may have on your operations, and continue the task at hand.2 comments
Chris Bauchle from Indianapolis International Airport (and USAF TSgt, judging from the finely pressed uniforms…) sent in these pictures of his apartment building. From the hallway, it appears to be a standard center-hall style apartment building. But, since you know your area, you’d know that this building was previously a school. When the building was converted into the apartments, two classrooms were combined into one apartment. As a result, The “second door” actually leads into a closet inside the apartment. You’d probably figure it out after forcing the first one, or taking the time to notice the apartment numbers on the door if smoke conditions permit. Either way, it could waste some precious time.
During the conversion, the “second door” was secured from the inside with standard hinges. The original door hardware was left in place for aesthetics.
Whenever a building is being re-purposed in your area, take the time to walk though and ask the construction crew some questions. It is amazing what you’ll learn, and more importantly, what they’ll tell you if you just ask! A special thanks goes out to Chris and his Brothers from the Indy Airport for protecting us all as we fly into IND for FDIC in a few weeks!2 comments
Justin Oliva from the Indiana Fire Association sent in this interesting find. It is a new style of door lock and handle combination. As you can see from the photo, the actual door knob recesses into the lock assembly. The lock utilizes an electronic key (slot below the handle) that allows the door knob to move. The unique feature of the recessing knob may allow this door to go undetected in low visibility situations if the search team is relying on “sweeping” the wall for knobs in order to locate doors.
It’s also worth mentioning that electronic locks have an internal battery pack that powers the lock. These locks do not require building power to operate. They do however require a charge on the internal battery to operate. In addition, it appears that this lock assembly utilizes a traditional lock throw, so standard forcible entry techniques will force the door with ease. The absence of the knob (when recessed) makes it more difficult to attach something to allow for control of the door during the force.
Sgt Ryan Blizek from Mechanicsville (MD) Station 2 sent in these pictures that are a good reminder of the importance of reading windows. Reading windows is an essential skill for everyone on the truck, practically the outside team. Windows can tell us where we need to VES and where we don’t. Windows can also show the inside team where the staircases are located in a multi story building. In this case however the off-set windows for the stair case are a little unusual. The first and second floors are what we’d expect to see when a building has a return style staircase. The mid-floor windows signify where the mid-landing or return of the staircase are located. This in important for everyone (truck, engine, etc.) operating in the building to know. The stairwells can always be used as a area of refuge, and most of the time, lead to an area of safe haven. However, whats going on on the third floor? Look at the picture below.
You can see that the stair case (and return) are still present, but it leads to a pretty interesting drop. The drop from that third floor stairwell window down to the return is about ten feet. Not something you’d want to discover if that window was being used for entry (for what ever reason.) The moral of the story… know how to read windows, know what to expect, and sound the floor before entering any window.5 comments
Rex Orcutt from East Pierce Fire and Rescue in Pierce County (WA) sent in these photos of something they recently ran into at a residential fire. The house was equipped with metal rolling shutters. Prior to entering the structure, the shutters were in the open position. While operating inside, the crew heard a loud bang, and the window went dark. The shutters had automatically lowered themselves into the closed position. Some quick work with the rotary saw took care of the issue. After the fire they started to determine how the shutters operated.
As you can see from the photo below, the shutters are operated from the inside by a hand crank mechanism that is attached to the shutters by a nylon strap. The heat from the fire melted the strap causing the shutters to lower into position.
When the shutters are stored in the open position, they maintain a low profile, and can easily go unnoticed prior to making entry.
Obviously having the shutters close during our operations can cause a number of issues. Having a crew ready to defeat them once the lower may be a viable option, but is far from ideal. Preventing them from lowering in the first place is key to making this a successful operation. One simple solution could be a simple pair of vise grips secured to the track from the outside to prevent the shutter from being able to lower.6 comments