Captain Scott Allison, of Tower 1 in Harrisonburg (VA) sent in these pictures of something they recently encountered on an odor investigation call at a cell phone store. Take a look at the pictures and we’ll talk about it below.
You might not expect to find this level of security on a fully interior room. As we mentioned in the intro this was found in a cell phone store. These stores have been subject to a significant amount of after-hours break in’s due to the high value and small size of the product. As a result, the stores are going to extreme measures to secure the product.
Obviously roll down doors are not frequently found in a small mercantile occupancies like this. In addition to the roll down, the spilt barn door offers two fox style-locking mechanisms. From the outside the presence of the centered key-way and straps should alert you to the fox style locks.
Obviously the likelihood of this door being fully secure with someone inside is not high, but it’s not impossible either. If encountered in a working fire after hours, this room would certainly need to be accessed and investigated. While to door itself is quite secure, odds are the wall around the door would typically be the weakest link. However if you look closely, in this case, it looks like the walls inside the room are lined with painted plywood. Making the wall breach option a little slower than usual.
Something else to consider making the job a bit easier would be to pull the fire alarm if it is not already sounding. In this case you can see that the fox style locks are activated electronically via a proximity card reader. Typically supplemental electric locks like this are opened when the fire alarm is sounding. It’s not a foolproof method by any means, but it if it works all you’re faced with after the rollup is defeated is the traditional deadbolt and slam latch.
Like in many cases, a well thought out traditional force would most likely would be the quickest option. Identifying and visualizing what locking mechanisms are present and attacking the door in a calculated fashion would certainly get you in. The lower door has the fewest locking mechanisms (one slam latch and two bars) so it should be the primary objective.1 comment
Captain Shawn Royall from Charlotte Ladder Co. 23 sent in this idea to make sharing air in a RIT situation a bit easier. When training with their new packs they noticed that the pouches that contained the EBSS hose were a bit difficult to open with a gloved hand. They tried out a few ideas to solve the problem; two pictured here are a simple prussic loop, and a golf ball on a prussic.
The nice thing about these designs is that they not only allow for the holster snaps to be opened quickly, but it also provides for positive contact with the working end of the hose from the beginning of the operation. It prevents the potential of opening the holster, the hose falling out and having to search for the working end.
Certainly one potential draw back to this design could be the potential snag or entanglement with the additional handle. As with anything, training with the new setup would be the key. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for others, but you must train on what you have. Sometimes an out of the box idea may solve the problem at hand. This idea could certainly be adapted to the hoses on the RIT bag as well. The prussic set up and pictures courtesy of FF Deany Phillips of Rescue Co. 10-B and the golf ball design from Ladder Co. 23-A.5 comments
In some of our recent posts we have been discussing a handful of important aspects of 360’s. The first one about not being able to complete a 360 can be found here and the second one about 360’s on Automatic Fire Alarms can be found here. We started discussing the importance of utilizing the aerial during AFA’s. So now we have to ask: Do you bother using your aerial device during AFA’s?Â Â If not, you may be missing out on aÂ valuableÂ streetÂ training opportunity.
As we mentioned, oneÂ of the greatest benefits found when using aerial devices during automatic fire alarms is the tremendous training it provides crews (when staffing and timeÂ permits). It is much better to practice during â€œinsignificant callsâ€ when adrenaline is not clouding our minds. The most important training opportunity this provides is aerial placement and set up. A majority of the time, the AFAâ€™s from commercial buildings are unintentionally set off during normal business hours. The cause of the alarm is frequently due to brunt food in the break room or HVAC malfunctions. These AFA’s during business hours allow for us to practice positioning the ladder truck in crowded and tight streets or parking areas. Once the alarm has been handled, and the occupants allowed to return to the building is when the real training opportunity begins. The entire crew can meet back up at the rig (which is left set up) to discuss placement, reaches, scrub areas, victim rescues, etc. It can also be a great time to discuss apparatus placement with the Engine company crew as well.
We all know that outriggers can be one of the biggest challenges we run into when setting the truck up on crowded or small streets and parking lots. If you are assigned to a ladder truck that allows for short jacking, you may have a few options to overcome these challenges. For example, the truck shown here allows for short jacking. When setting up on a narrow street the tractor operator pulls to the opposite side of the street adjacent to the incident building. The tractor operator will exit the truck and place the short outrigger, often called the off side, straight down. This leaves room for the opposite outrigger, often called the working side, to be fully extended. The truck is now fully stabilized (on the building side) and ready to have the aerial placed in service. Doing this over and over creates good muscle memory for the “real emergency” when ladder placement is crucial and must be done right the first time.
Another benefit found when utilizing aerials during AFAâ€™s is simply practicing getting off and back on the tip of aerial. Unfortunately there have been many LODDâ€™s due to firefighters falling while getting off or on a roof from an aerial. Since AFA’s are low emergency calls, is a great time to build muscle memory at a slower pace to practice safe access to real roofs from aerials.
So whether it be during AFAâ€™s or just drilling, get those ladder trucks out of the bay and set them up in your first due! Youâ€™ll never know the capabilities and limitations of your rig unless you use it. You may even surprise yourself on what you can learn from a non-emergency call like an AFA. Every call is a training opportunity.
Photo credit: Dennis Stevens, www.dennissphotography.com3 comments
In our last post we discussed situations when a 360 of the fire building may be delayed or unable to be completed at all. That post can be found by clicking here.
Now we will ask some additional questions: Do you even bother to perform a 360? If so, what types of calls do you perform them on?
Most people would probably lean toward doing them more often than not, but those were really just the primer questions. The real question is this: Do you take the time to perform a 360 on â€œnothing showingâ€ or â€œautomatic fire alarms?â€
If your staffing situations allow, it should be a part of your SOGâ€™s to have a 360 done on these seemingly insignificant calls as well. For example, Winter Park has the Outside Truck crew perform a 360 on all automatic fire alarm activations. It is signified as being complete by a simple radio transition: â€œOutside Truck to Command, 360 all clear, standing by utilities.â€ Itâ€™s a great training opportunity for everyone, not just the ones tasked with completing it, but for everyone listening as well. Itâ€™s a simple way to keep the 360 on everyone’s mind.
It is important to mention that the 360 on these seemingly â€œinsignificant callsâ€ may be abandoned (or modified) if other tasks are required of the Outside Truck crew. For example, most buildings in Winter Park require the aerial ladder to be extended to access and investigate roof top air conditioning units (which are often to blame for our Fire Alarm activations.) Often times in this situation the 2 man Outside Team will split up, The Tractor Operator will set-up and extend the aerial for roof access, while the Tillerman performs the 360. After the 360 is complete (and announced on the radio) the Tillerman will join up with the Tractor Operator and access the roof.
Again, these recent discussions of the importance of 360â€™s are not being shared to delay initial operations. We are simply trying to demonstrate their importance and increase understanding of times when they should, and times when they shouldnâ€™t (or canâ€™t) be completed. Taking the time to standardize how and when they are completed will help set you up for success on the fireground. Also, taking the time to practice them on â€œinsignificant callsâ€ will help them become standard practice and part of everyone expectations.
Photo credit: Dennis Stevens,Â DennissPhotography.comNo comments
A 360 of the involved structure can provide some very important information while operating on the fireground. However sometimes the 360 may not be possible. We must remember that the simple fact that you cannot complete a 360 may be just as important as what youâ€™d see if you could. There may be any number of reasons that the 360 might not be achievable, some more prevalent ones may be:
Size of structure
Block wall fences
Immediate need for rescue (ie: victims in windows)
The simple radio transmission â€œUnable to Complete 360â€ tells the other incoming units an important fact. It lets everyone know that we may be forced to operate without potentially valuable information. Depending the amount of radio traffic, you could even state the reason why the 360 was not able to be completed: â€œdue to size of structureâ€ â€œdue to water on the Charlie and Delta sidesâ€ â€œdue to obstructions.â€
Just because the first arriving unit cannot complete the initial 360, doesnâ€™t mean it shouldnâ€™t be completed at all. The second arriving Chief Officer, or Safety Officer may need to be detailed complete the delayed 360. Of course, whenever possible, the RIT team should complete their own 360 to come up with the rescue plan.
The 360 can provide us with extremely valuable information. We must have a plan in place for how and when the initial 360 will be completed and announced, and more importantly, have a plan for when it canâ€™t be done.2 comments
Captain Chris Garniewicz from Bluffton Township (SC) Truck 375 sent in this cut and force prop that they recently put together. The idea was to create a compact prop that could be kept in the bay to used on rainy days and still be easily transported to be used at the burn building. The post is made from 6â€ x 6â€ x 6â€™ lumber and attached to a 4â€™ x 4â€™ base. The post can easily be removed to facilitate moving and storing the prop. Each side of the post contains a different skill station. Side one is a rebar cut tree: Side two for padlocks and chains; Side three is for cylinder pulling; and Side four is for hinge pulling.
The lock pulling side (side three) contains custom milled bronze cylinders. Bronze was chosen to prevent damaging the lock pulling tools. The hinge pulling side (side four) contains homemade hinges made from flat steel and rebar. As you can see both the lock pulling and the hinge pulling props use wooden dowels for frangible resistance. In addition, both sides also have plate steel to protect the post.
Are dormers a prevalent component of building construction in your area? If they are, are they real dormers or faux-dormers? Knowing the answer to this question is critical because they act very differently during fire situations and have totally different tactical priorities.
The presence of real dormers indicates a potentially occupied area of the structure. This area absolutely needs to be searched for potential victims. This upper floor of the structure will typically contain bedrooms, which should be very high on your search priority list. The other question that needs to be answered in this scenario is whether or not the structure is balloon frame construction as well. That certainly adds to the need to search this area immediately with an effort to open it up looking for fire that has traveled to the top floor. Finally, real dormers frequently have knee walls that can hide a tremendous amount of fire that can catch us off guard if we are not extremely familiar with the intricacies of this construction style.
Faux dormers have a totally different set of tactical concerns. Faux dormers are installed on homes to make the roof line more “interesting” and make the house look more grand. Frequently these faux dormers are built on top of the actual roof and have sheeting underneath and don’t even open into the actual attic space.
Know your area! Take the time to look around and be familiar with the construction styles found in your first due. Look for the tell tale signs of real dormers: steep roof pitch and windows in the gable ends. Smoke issuing from a real dormer potentially indicates a fire in an occupied area of the building that typically contains bedrooms. This situation requires an immediate search for life. Smoke issuing from a faux dormer potentially indicates an fire in an unoccupied area of the structure, the attic. This presents a much different situation, but it requires an immediate search for fire.
Building construction can have a dramatic impact on fire and smoke travel in a structure. We must know how two things that look so similar can behave so differently during fire conditions.1 comment
We are very excited to release our newest T-shirt design. This design is a collaboration with Hook and Irons Co.
Hook and Irons Co. is a firefighter owned apparel company devoted to celebrating the traditions and the history of the fire service. Their designs truly reflect all of the beauty and history of our job that result in items that we should all be proud to wear and own. We are truly humbled to have the opportunity to work on this awesome design with them. When talking about the shirt we decided to create a design that was simple and original–a badge for those who believe seconds make a difference.
The VES shirt was hand drawn, then hand painted with water color to create a faded, weathered look that can’t be duplicated using digital processes. The screen print for the shirt was created using that same water color painting. The design is printed on a lightweight tri-blend antique navy shirt.
The shirt is fitted. If you are in between two sizes, order one up.
Thank you for your continued support!No comments
â€œFergâ€ from Sacramento City (CA) Truck 2 sent in this awesome idea on how to create a simple J-tool for non-destructive forcible entry. It even gets some bonus points for being â€œgreenâ€ since it almost counts as recycling or reusing. This idea utilizes the leftover political signs that can be found in every dumpster this time of year. The two most common types of signs have an â€œHâ€ shape, and a â€œUâ€ shaped galvanized wire frame. The easiest to use for this purpose are the U shape since it already has one of the required bends, but an H shaped one can also be utilized with some additional work.
Rather than throwing that “U” shaped one in the trash, tear the sign off, and take that frame over to the workbench. Place the frame in the vice, and begin bending it into shape. Before you commit to the exact size, you may want to consider what will fit in your bunker pant pocket. Use a hacksaw or saws-all to cut the excess material off. You may even want to file the edges down to make it real pro, your gear quartermaster will thank youâ€¦.
The completed tool will look like the photo below. For the discussion, we will consider the side with the extra bend the â€œworking end.â€ This tool is designed for use on a double door with panic hardware. For the traditional panic bar style, you use the working end to “hook” the bar of the locking device. It simply opens by pulling the bar toward you.
Rotating the tool into place and placing the working end on the locking mechanism can also be used to manipulate the push pad style of panic hardware. Again, once the tool is in place, pulling on the tool will simulate someone pushing the pad from the inside and open the door.
A wood wedge makes a nice companion for the tool to widen the gap between some doors, or even just to keep the weather striping out of your way. While youâ€™re out hunting for signs, keep the rest of the crew in mind. Make enough for everyone, and throw a few extras on the rig for good measure.
Like with many other non-destructive methods of forcible entry, this probably wonâ€™t be your go-to method on a working fire. However, options like this can simplify your life when chasing down sell-of-smoke type calls, and automatic fire alarm activations. With some practice, youâ€™d be surprised how many different types of locking mechanisms can be manipulated and defeated with this tool. You simply need to take the time to Identify and Visualize what you are trying to defeat, and outsmart the locking mechanism.3 comments
Often times we find ourselves needing to make access into a home in a quick yet non-destructive manner. This may be for well-being checks or public assist type calls. Most non-destructive methods of forcible entry simply require some creativity and a little knowledge of how a variety of different doors and locks are secured. This technique is no different, but involves a door we typically don’t take the time to defeat, the garage door.
In this video we demonstrate how to use the Keyless Garage Door Entry Tool to manipulate the emergency release rope on the automatic garage doors. This release rope is typically installed to allow the homeowner to open the door manually during a loss of power. Once we visualize how it works and know where to find it, it may be a viable option for non-destructive entry.
The tool is inserted into the gap at the top of the garage door and maneuvered into place to grab the emergency release rope. While keeping tension on the release rope, the garage door can simply be manually raised from the outside.
The one potential flaw in this method of forcible entry is if the door leading from the garage into the house is locked. Even if that is the case, and you end up having to use a traditional through the lock technique on it, once the call is over the garage door can be lowered and home can be secured.
With a little practice you can become quite proficient in using this non-destructive “forcible entry” technique.8 comments