Jerry Smith from Baltimore City (MD) Truck 15 sent in these photos of some easily to defeat window bars. Jerry and the crew of Truck 15 A Shift were out performing some building inspections and found these bars on a local apartment building. Taking the time to learn about this style of window bars ahead of time can save a significant amount of time on the fireground. Check out the supplemental page with detailed pictures and information on how to defeat these bars.
Mike Gurr from Pompano Beach (FL) sent in these pictures that were passed on from the off-going crew. The photos were taken by M. Callahan on a typical power line down call. On arrival, the crew encountered a downed power line onto a chain link fence. The crew decided to use the TIC to determine what was going on with the fence. as you can see from below, the fence was approximately 300 degrees, and clearly shows up on the TIC. Even more interesting, the power line was actually found to be touching the fence approximately 200 yards away from where the picture was taken.
The TIC can be used in much more than fire situations, and power line down calls are no exception. These situations can prove to be an excellent training opportunity for everyone on the crew. The interesting thing about this particular training opportunity is that an actual heat source is present. Many times, firehouse TIC training does not involve any heat sources and simply involves finding another member in a darkened room. This is in fact training, but it may be teaching the TIC operator bad habits. In the darkened firehouse room (without fireground heat sources) the person shows up as the heat signature in the room, exactly the opposite of what it would appear in real fireground situations. Everyone who has ever trained with a TIC should already know that, but unfortunately, that sometimes isn’t passed n during training.
TIC’s are an amazing tool, but its important to remember, just that… It is only a tool. It takes a skilled operator to use it effectively, and like most other tools, can actually be dangerous in the hands of an untrained operator. It is absolutely essential that we all know how to use a TIC, but it is even more essential that we never totally rely on a TIC.16 comments
Jerry Smith from Baltimore City Truck 15 sent in these photos of homemade supplemental lock. While the crew of Truck 15 was out doing some area familiarization they ran across this double door set-up at a local school. From the outside, the presence of a supplemental lock is obvious due to the tell-tale carriage bolts. But not so fast, take notice that there are only one set of carriage bolts per door, this should make you suspect something beyond a typical drop bar set-up. A quick peek in the window should also allow you to rule out a drop bar. However, the steel mesh on the windows and the set back of the lock from the windows, the likelihood of being able to inspect the lock from the outside in minimal. After asking some questions, and taking a peek inside, they determined the lock was home-brewed by the school’s building maintenance shop. As you can see in the pictures below there are two metal angles that insert into slots that are bolted on the door. The angles are secured in place by a pin that goes through a hole drilled in the mullion between the doors, and finally secured with a padlock. Forcing the door via traditional methods is certainly achievable, but may prove to be troublesome. A sideways V cut around the carriage bolts would certainly make quick work of the lock. This would allow the lock to remain in place, and the door to open freely.
A friend from North Carolina sent in these photos of an interesting find. At first glance, someone with tunnel vision would focus on the bars, and start cutting. But this one is so much easier than that. Look at the track on top, and the guides down below. Hopefully you already keyed in on those. Take a closer look. The lower right hand corner shows the simple solution to this one.
A single pin and padlock is all that hold this in the closed and locked position. A simple cut with the bolt cutters, or a single cut with the rotary saw and you’re in business. Actually, if none of those tools are handy, placing the fork of the halligan between the building and the bar assembly and prying to the left would separate the hasp assembly from the bars. One the lock is defeated, the entire assembly slides out of the way. As always slow down and identify what is actually securing whatever is standing in your way. We need to always work smarter not harder on the fireground.10 comments
Christopher Moe, AC from Bladensburg (MD) and FF with Montgomery County (MD) Engine 2 sent in these pictures taken in Elkridge (MD.) The picture shows a common townhouse occupancy with dormers. Dormers always prompt an interesting discussion. How do you know when they are real and lead to a occupied space, or how do you know when they are only decorative? One of the most common responses to that question in more than likely: “knowing your area.” Obviously knowing your area is your best chance of figuring out the dormer question (or any other building construction question), but it’s never an absolute. As you can see below, these dormers “almost” lead to a occupied space. they lead to a loft, but the loft is set back from the dormers. This was done to allow the dormers to allow light in the loft area, and additional light for the second floor below. This could lead to quite a surprise to someone performing VES. (This is way the floor should be sounded before dropping in)
Well here is the twist to this one. Christopher used to live a townhouse very similar to this one, and the dormers lead directly to the loft area, without the drop to the second floor. So in this particular case, relying only on “knowing your area” would have let you down. Knowing your area is an essential part of being prepared for the job… Learning the trends in your local building construction can provide you with a tremendous amount of valuable information on the fireground. Just as importantly, this example proves that we should never rely on one source of information. We should use our preincident knowledge to assist us in making better decisions on the fireground, without blinding us from what we see right in front of our eyes.16 comments
Clint Mass from the Red, White, and Blue Fire District (CO) Tower 4 sent in this great tool modification. The idea behind the modification is to allow the hook and halligan to be married together in a solid fashion.
The first part of the modification involves grinding a rounded notch in the 90 degree portion of the hook (pictured below, left.) This allows the pike end of the halligan to sit in the head of the hook in a more secure fashion. The second modification involves welding a chain link in the exact spot where the fork of the halligan lands on the hook (pictured below, right.) The combination of the notch and chain link allow for the tools to remain married, and easy to carry. This married hook and halligan combination is a great combination of tools for outside functions.
The chain link can also be used as an “attachment point” for a personal escape system. As you can see in the photo below, the chain link is actually more of a “keeper” for the carabineer; the actual handle of the hook is handling the load.
A quick each way to modify the tools to make things a bit easier.
Firefighter Plunkett, who has sent in a few submissions in the past, sent in this photo of a useful way to store utility rope. This simple, yet effective idea of using a bleach bottle to carry the rope is used heavily by FDNY. It involves 50 to 75ft of 3/8 or similar rope in an empty and thoroughly cleaned bleach bottle. A hole is cut into the bottle with a razor knife in order to insert a weight in the bottom to ensure proper deployment of the rope. A large washer and gorilla glue does the trick. The hole also facilitates the reloading of the rope. A snap link or carabineer finishes of the end of the rope to allow quick attachment of the end of the rope prior to deploying it. Carry the rope up, attach the end, and throw the bottle down. It’s a simple, cheap, and effective way to carry and deploy utility rope.21 comments
It’s that time of the year again, it’s hard to believe that time goes by so quickly. Today is VES’s Birthday! Five years ago this website was created as a neutral, unbiased and un-intimidating medium were we could share ideas, methods, and techniques of this great profession. We truly believe that Truck Company functions are an art, and have become The Lost Art of The Fire Service. It is imperative that we protect this art for generations to come. The fire service is changing right before our eyes, we need to take it back! The avenue to a safer fire service is by being proactive rather than reactive in both our training and our tactics. We need to bring back the aggressive yet safe attitude to the fire service, in order to continue to protect each other on the fire ground. This can only be accomplished through sharing the knowledge and educating each other.
We can honestly say this site has been much more of a success then we could have ever possibly imagined. This website was started with the intentions of sharing some information on the local level. Thanks to each of you, it quickly became so much more than that. We have gotten emails, comments, and material from people all over the world! The overwhelming success of this site would not be possible without each and every one of you. No amount of thanks could possibly be enough. It is because of you, our loyal readers, that this site is what it is!
We know the posts have slowed down quite a bit, but we’ll be picking up the pace again shortly. We have some big things in the works for the future. In the mean time, take an opportunity to look back at some of the great information in the archives. We have over 340 posts contained in there all the way back to day one. Thank you for your continued support an understanding as we continue to expand the site. Stay safe, and train hard!17 comments
Aaron Drake from Greenville (NC) Fire sent in a picture of something they have added to the tip of the aerial to help with ladder placement. A simple set of prussik cords were placed on the aerial by Jacob Valevich. The cords have a large knot tied in the end to give the end of the cord some weight. A monkey’s fist knot would work well in this application, and provide for a more finished look. The idea is that when you see the cords hit the wall, you can verify that the ladder is extended over the roof. Then, lowering the ladder until the cords just hit the roof ensures the proper clearance, allowing for ladder bounce and still providing an easy step onto the roof. While this idea may not be needed for a full time aerial operator, it may be good for relief drivers or someone simply training on aerial placement.27 comments
Flip Fierro from City of Raleigh (NC) Ladder 1 sent in a door he found that proves a very valuable forcible entry lesson. Forcing the door may be much simpler than you think. At first glance this door appears that it has two drop bars installed, as indicated by the carriage bolt heads. But as you can see from the photo below, the supplemental drop bar has been removed.
If you look close the photo below you can even see that the door has a significant bow in it where the drop bars used to be in place. This should be a good clue that the door needs to be further evaluated prior to selecting a forcible entry technique. Simply “gapping” the door with the irons (near the suspected supplemental lock) would verify whether or not the bars are installed. It would only take a second. Valuable time could certainly be lost trying to defeat a supplemental lock that in not in service.