Archive for the 'Outside Functions' Category

Look Close

Every day is a training day, and every call is a pre-fire plan… Captain Shawn Royall from Charlotte (NC) Ladder Company 23 sent in theses photos that prove this lesson. Have you gone to a medical call or public assist at a building like this in your first due? Did you just take care of the patient and leave, or did you take advantage of the time you were there? Did you position the rig like you wouls if the building was on fire? Did you at least discuss where and why you’d position like that on a fire call? Did you take the time to walk around the structure? If you did, this is what you’d find…

From the street entrance, what do you observe from your initial size up?

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Two floors, apartment building, pitched lightweight truss roof, daytime and cars in parking lot, ordinary construction, unimpeded access to the building and roof.

As you walk closer to the building down the right side, unseen from the street….

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You have three floors, with one being below grade….

And then things start to really develop as you walk to the rear….

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Now its 4 floors, a rear parking area with more cars, multiple units, and balcony’s with no egress and a business that could possibly have multiple occupants.

And finally….

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Access problems for apparatus due to grade incline and power lines.

As you can tell, this building is much more than it originally appeared. Discovering this for the first time on the fireground is not a situation we should ever find ourselves in. Nothing will ever replace the knowledge that pre-planning and knowing your first due will provide.

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Know When to Say When

Dan Rinaldi from Providence Fire Department sent in this door he recently had the pleasure of forcing on a run. Upon initial inspection, it appears to be a normal outward swinging metal door with no external hardware. Initially the door forced easy toward the top, but met some resistance down low.

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Upon closer inspection, the bottom edge of the door can be seen covered up to the hinge in asphalt. This obviously was preventing the door from swinging open. At this point, there are two main options, taking the hinge side, or finding another door. A quick peek inside made it clear which option they should choose. In this case, another door was located and forced without a problem. Like any good firefighter who is truly into the craft of firefighting, Dan had to go inspect the door closer after the call was complete. What he found inside validated that finding another entry point in this case was certainly the best option.

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From the inside it became clear why it didn’t matter to the building owner that the asphalt was preventing the door from swinging open; They obviously did not want this door to be used as an entry point. They welded a frame of one-inch rebar to the building behind the door.

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Sometimes the best decision we could make when forcing a door is to make the decision to stop forcing the door we are currently working on and finding a better option. This decision is extremely hard for many of us because we don’t want to let the first door “beat us.” We have to constantly keep our objective in mind. The objective is to gain entry in the fastest method possible. It is without a doubt that given enough time, we should be able to get through every door we ever come across. The truly disciplined firefighter knows when to say when, and abandon the first door and find a better option.

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Problem with that Pitch

Engineer Caleb Eiriksson from Fort Walton Beach (FL) Truck Co. 6 sent in some photos of how he and the Truck 6 crew recently spent an afternoon out in their first due. They wanted to come up with options of how they could utilize a roof ladder on a large steep pitched roof. Obviously, being able to get the truck into position would eliminate the need for these options, but they wanted to see what other options they could find.

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The first thing they tried was using a 24’ extension ladder and conjunction with a 16’ roof ladder. Which is traditionally their go-to option when dealing with most residential roofs in their area. Due to the pitch and height of the roof, this option was not able to reach the peak. This roof was too steep to walk on, and there were no valleys present to aide in the assent to the peak.

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The next option they tested was using the same 24′ extension and 16′ roof combo. This time they matched the angle of the roof pitch with the 24 footer and then made a transition to the 16’ roof ladder. As you can see from the photos, this option got them closer, but still came up short of the peak. This option would certainly work on a shorted height roof with this same pitch. It’s worth mentioning that the bed section of the ladder is facing out (up) and the fly section is lying flat on the roof. Using the ladder is this fashion eliminates the ladder bouncing as you ascend the ladder.

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The next option they tested ended up being the winner for this particular roof: a 35’ extension and a 16’ roof ladder. By matching the angle of the roof, they essentially made the individual ladders into one long ladder. This combination proved to be a very stable working platform. Again, as mentioned earlier, the bed section of the ladder is facing in (resting on the roof) and the fly section is facing out to minimize the ladder bounce. They found the best way to get the ladder in place was to rest the beam on the roof, extend the ladder, then rotate into the bed down position on the roof. Once the 35′ is in position, simply ascend the 35′, and place the 16′ to the peak to get the job done.

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While this might not be an everyday roof tactic, it got the crews out into their first due, and they worked trough a challenge together. They worked through the challenge in a non-emergency situation, and would now be better prepared to deploy it for real if the need arose.

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A special thanks to Engineer Eiriksson and the Truck 6 crew (Captain Mosley, Firefighter Corrigan, Firefighter Dowd, and Firefighter Shalduha) for thinking out of the box and taking the time to share what they found.

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Emergency Roof Bail-Outs

Engineer Caleb Eiriksson from Fort Walton Beach (FL) Truck 6 sent in these photos of some recent emergency roof bail outs he and the rest of C watch trained on. The idea here is simple, if you are on a roof and cut off from your means of egress and had to get off the roof in a hurry, how would you do it? Obviously we hope to never find ourselves in this situation, but it’s something worth considering. Even if any of these techniques are not something you’d be comfortable with, you should at least have a plan of how you plan on getting off a roof in a hurry without a ladder. It’s important to point out that in these photos, they were doing a simple body wrap with the escape rope simulating that no harness or other personal escape system was available to the trapped member.

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The first method pictured is a NY roof hook and a rope bag with a carabineer attached. You could pull a ridge vent and exposing the decking/trusses, tongue-and-groove boards or make a purchase point in the plywood. Next, you insert the 45 degree angle of the hook as an anchor. Then place the carabineer over the working end of the roof hook. Finally, a half hitch is placed towards the middle of the hook. The half hitch will keep the hook pulled down towards the roof decking during the decent.

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The next method utilizes a roof ladder. If you had a roof ladder with the hooks deployed over the ridge, simply pull out your rope, wrap around a rung and hook the carabineer back on itself. Of course if the roof ladder was long enough, you could just lower it over the side and climb down the ladder. Let’s not over think this…

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Another option uses the halligan. Simply tie a figure eight on a bight or use a carabineer. Slide your figure eight on a bight or carabineer over one of the side of the fork. Next, run the rope around the pike and back on its self. Now place a half hitch towards the middle or lower portion of the shaft towards the shoulder. Once the rope is secured to the tool, drive the halligan into the roof .

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You could simplify it even further and just tie a clove hitch around the shaft of the halligan just above the shoulder of the forks.

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Caleb and the crew wanted to point out they didn’t come up with these techniques, they just wanted to share their photos and highlight the training they did. There are an almost endless amount of ways to quickly egress from a roof if the situation ever arises. Take the opportunity to discuss it with your crew and come up with your company’s plan. If nothing else, take the time to talk about how you would prevent ever having to egress from the roof. A special thanks to Caleb, FF Corrigan, FF Dowd, Engineer Kempf, Captain Morgan and FF Shalduha for sharing the photos.

***The safety police just called and wanted us to remind you to always use a belay when training, the belay was not shown in these photos to simplify the visual.

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Free Prop

Lieutenant Jordan Samson from Englewood (OH) submitted this simple and cheap (ie: free) thru-the-lock prop. He and Andy Zumberger put it together in less than one hour. It was made with a scrap 2×6 and a bunch of donated locks from local hardware stores. The purpose of the prop is to demonstrate the inner workings of various locking mechanisms. Labels were created to make sure everyone knew the proper names for each style of lock.

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This simple and free prop is useful when reviewing or introducing thru-the-lock techniques to new or inexperienced members.

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Cancel the Engine

We are sure this video is going to make its rounds on the Internet. At this point we don’t know much about it other than it’s from Bellerose Terrace NY. Judging by the names on the coats, we are guessing it’s Floral Park FD. We already know that many people have taken exception to the lack of SCBA use during entry. We could also make an argument to leave the building sealed up until the water can was ready to go. However, we are not here to throw stones, lets use this video to discuss the effectiveness of the water can. In this instance it appears that the Truck Company (without water) arrived ahead of the Engine Company. This could happen in any city in the world. Even if your Truck Company carries water, it could have been a Chief’s buggy that arrived on scene first. For that very reason, EVERY VEHICLE THAT HAS FIRE DEPARTMENT MARKINGS SHOULD HAVE A WATER CAN! We can show up on scene and do nothing, or we can at least slow the forward progress of the fire. We are the fire department and that’s what people expect, regardless of the vehicle we show up in!

As demonstrated in the video, the water can works! Every firefighter should be Properly Trained on how to efficiently and effectively use the water can. We are professionals and should know more about this essential piece of Fire Department equipment… It’s a lot more than just P.A.S.S.

We have always been advocates of the water can. In the hands of a well trained firefighter, the can will put out a tremendous amount of fire.

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Keyed Vise Grips

Engineer Brandon Daniel from Kannapolis (NC) Fire Department send in these photos of his modified vise grips. As you can see from the photo, he made two simple modifications to the vise grips that make the tool more versatile.

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The first is replacing the set screw with a threaded eye bolt. This modification not only makes the eye bolt easier to manipulate with a gloved hand, it also serves as an attachment point for webbing when using the vise grips to stabilize a padlock when cutting with the rotary saw. The other modification was welding a key tool to the handle of the vise grips. This ensures that the key tool is always readily available when utilizing thru-the-lock techniques. Its worth mentioning that may be beneficial to make the tip of the key tool a bit more slender about 3/16″ or so to ensure it fits inside the lock sufficiently to manipulate the mechanism.

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Carrying Tools

We have always been advocates of riding assignments and tool assignments. It’s one of the easiest ways to improve your company’s efficiency and effectiveness on the fireground. Even if your department doesn’t believe in tool assignments, you probably find yourself carrying the same tools on most occasions. How much thought have you put into how you carry your tools? Do you carry them the same way every time? Are you truly maximizing how you carry them, and making it easier on yourself?

Below are some photos of an efficient method of carrying the tools assigned to the outside team on the Truck Company. In these photos you’ll see that the firefighter is carrying the most often needed tools for the outside team: ladder, hook, halligan, light, TIC, and saw.

Below is a photo of a tool assignment for a residential structure. You’ll notice this method allows for a “free hand” to utilize a TIC for additional recon. The TIC is extremely helpful for the outside team to read the building and determine the fires location if its not already vented from a window.

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Below are photos of a tool assignment for a commercial structure. In this case the “free hand” is taken up carrying the saw. The TIC is still available for recon since its clipped on the air pack, but obviously the saw would need to be lowered to the ground first.

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The trick with this particular carry method is how the halligan and hook are laid inside the beam of the ladder. This allows one hand to “clamp” the tools to the ladder, and essentially allows you to carry three tools in one hand. The beauty of this method is that once you get to the area where the ladder will be deployed, the hook and halligan can easily be dropped without fumbling around. Allowing the ladder to be thrown from the carry position without being lowered to the ground. Dropping the tools in the area of where the butt of the ladder will be once the ladder is in position will prevent you losing them in high grass situations. Keep in mind that the utilization of straps or clips to secure the tool would make this option a little more time consuming.

It is worth mentioning that this method works best with ladders that are stored on beam. This allows you to partially remove the ladder, place your tools on the inside of the beam, and then get your shoulder in position before taking on the weight of the ladder. Specifying your rig correctly also increases your fireground efficiency, but we’ll get into those specifics in a future post.

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Even if this is not your choice of tools for your assignment, take the time to come up with the most efficient way to carry your tools. Keep in mind that having a free hand whenever possible gives you the most versatility for the unexpected situation or occasional need for a specific tool. We’d love to see (and show off) some of your tool carrying setups, email us at staff@vententersearch.com with some photos and details.

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Expose the Gap

In this video we demonstrate one way of gaining entry into an outward swinging double door. Before we get into the post we want to get something out of the way… Yes, we recognize this is a glass door and our plan “A” should simply be to take out the 6×8 inch glass, reach in and unlock the door. What if during your plan “A” efforts you reach in and realize the lock is keyed on the inside as well? This additional security measure is typical when glass is located near the lock. For the purpose of this post, we are simulating that plan “A” is not an option and we are going to force entry using conventional techniques.

One firefighter forces are not as difficult as they may seem. With a little practice, one man forcible entry is a very efficient use of man power on the fireground. With a quick size-up of the door in the video we notice it is an outward swinging double door with a slam latch married with a dead-bolt. With this particular occupancy being a hotel, we can strongly suspect some type of chain or bar latch towards eye level of the door (which can be easily defeated). Again, your plan “A” could be to take a glass panel, reach in and unlock the door, but we are moving on to plan “B”.

When dealing with outward swinging double doors we typically wouldn’t have any type of door stop, making it even easier for a one firefighter force. However, what we will typically find is some type of steel or aluminum strip placed over the space between the primary and secondary doors. If this piece (as shown in the video) can be removed, attack its connection points and force it off. If it’s part of the primary door then attempt to pry it away to expose the gap.

After we expose the gap, we can enlarge the gap with the use of an aluminum wedge or an axe. This makes setting the Halligan a lot easier for one firefighter to perform the force. Because this is an outward swinging double door we can simply drive the adze straight in without having to “steer” the Halligan around a door stop. Once the Halligan is set, it’s time to make the force, BE DYNAMIC! You are by yourself, remember force is multiplied the harder and faster you pry the Halligan! Like always get out and see what’s in your first due and train on real doors when you have the opportunity.

In this video we are using the ForceWedge from Daniel Troxell of TroxFire. The “ForceWedge” is a 5.5 inch by 1.5 inch high strength aluminum wedge that allows a firefighter to easily capture or wedge any gapping progress made during a forcible entry operation. Daniel is a solid brother that makes many other tools and forcible entry related props at a very affordable price. Check out his ForceWedge at www.TroxFire.com

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Blocked Door

 

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Seeing these signs on the rear of a commercial occupancy can tell you a few important things. The most obvious is that the door may actually be blocked. But how blocked is it? Is there an actual wall on the other side of the door? Is it fully blocked by high rack storage? Or is it just partially blocked by something less significant like a partial or rolling rack storage?

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What else can this sign tell us? It more than likely indicates that one large business occupies multiple tenant build out spaces. When the building was designed they simply built a shell, with no particular tenant in mind. This is becoming a more popular construction method because it keeps the developers options open in regards to potential tenants.

As you can see from the Alpha side this is one large occupancy that occupies multiple tenant build out spaces.

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On the Charlie side, you can see that three of the doors are blocked, leaving only one potentially clear. We say potentially because these rear storage areas are often overloaded and doors quickly become blocked with merchandise. This is particularly a problem during the holidays when stores are overstocking to keep up with demand.

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When operating at the rear of a commercial occupancy it would be important to transmit this finding over the radio. It may help command appreciate the size of the occupancy if it not already obvious, and it may help interior crews understand that they may not have easily accessible secondary means of egress. From a RIT perspective, the RIT team should certainly make their way to the Charlie side to evaluate these doors themselves. Their presence may make the RIT team re-evaluate their potential rescue plan in case things go bad. Depending on time, and conditions, it may be worth forcing the door anyway to truly evaluate how blocked it is, and how it may be used to support operations.

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