It’s All About the Wheelbase

Everyone should agree that knowing the ins and outs of your assigned rig is extremely important. We must know all capabilities and limitations, but then again it doesn’t look like this rig has many limitations…


Poor Fox

Kirk Candan and the crew from FDNY Ladder Co. 129 came across this door while checking the surrounding properties at a manhole fire in Flushing, Queens. As you can see from the outside, you have a metal outward swinging door with the hinges exposed and a Fox Police Lock in its usual middle of the door position. There are no other bolts or locks visible from the street.


Once inside you can see that the Fox Police Lock is poorly mounted on two pieces of plywood.


Additionally four large slide-bolts, two on each side of the door, extend past the frame when locked.


In the above photo it appears there is a decent gap between the door and the frame, but when the door is properly closed and locked the gap tightens up. The crew from Ladder Co. 129 decided that using the forcible entry saw to cut through the slide bolts would be their approach after attempting conventional forcible entry.

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Expect the Unexpected

Senior Captain Tod A. Paget from Houston (TX) Ladder 46 sent in this photo of something they encountered while doing tactical evaluation/assessment plans in their area. When walking through a partially occupied warehouse they found this unique method of reinforcing a sheet rock wall.


Performing a wall breach for rapid egress of this particular room (or surrounding rooms) would be problematic at best. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way of identifying this ahead of time. The only indication of finding something this unique might be through noticing some other home-brewed ways to secure doors and windows as well. Unfortunately, we might not find out about this until its too late, and someone is trapped inside. The two best options would be the door (obvious) or simply attempting another wall in the same room. Often times fortification like this may be found on exterior wall or a wall that is shared with an adjoining occupancy. If you find fortification like this in one wall, don’t waste your time, try another wall.

Now take a look at this scenario from the eyes of the RIT team. If that door was not present, and you knew your brother was trapped in that room what would you do? Do you normally carry a rotary saw? Would it have the proper blade to defeat this? What is your “Plan B?” We’ll never be able to predict and plan for every single thing we could encounter on the fireground, but we must make sure we take every opportunity possible to discuss crazy finds like this. Remember to always expect the unexpected.




Fireground Leadership Class

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting a full day Leadership presentation titled Fireground Leadership in Colchester, Vermont on Saturday October 19, 2013. This class is another offering of Jimm’s popular leadership program that includes: From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat, and From the Firehouse to the Fireground.

This particular class is built on applying basic leadership strategies under the high stress situations encountered on the fireground. Some of the specific topics covered include:

  • How incident commanders are supposed to react and deal with high stress incidents and scenarios
  • Maintaining crew integrity and eliminating free-lancing on scene
  • Tactical leadership on and off the fireground

Please click here to download the flyer for additional information and registration information.




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Pocket Full of Daisies

In our recent post titled Can You Here Me Now?, we discovered that carrying your radio in a coat integrated radio pocket might not be the most desirable option. Whether it was a result from reading the post, or perhaps you already believed in using a radio strap, we’ll follow up with an idea of how to utilize the now empty pocket on your coat.

The radio pocket can be used to efficiently store different lengths of personal webbing. Most people agree that webbing is an extremely useful item to have available. We have posted many of its uses in the past, but before it can be utilized on the fireground, we first need a handy and easy accessible way to carry it. Nothing is worse than finding a situation when webbing is needed, and struggling to remove it from your pocket and untangle it.


The photo above shows a 15 foot length of webbing formed into a simple loop by a water knot. The loop is then daisy chained and finished with a carabiner on the end.


Place the carabiner on the ending bight, allowing it to deploy properly.


The daisy chained webbing is then placed into the pocket with the carabiner hanging out which is then ultimately secured by the pocket’s velcro closure . Not only does the carabiner increase the many ways the webbing can be utilized, it also makes it easier to remove with a gloved hand.


The webbing is then deployed by simply reaching for the carabiner and pulling. The daisy chain will unravel and webbing will deploy from the pocket tangle free.


This simple and effective method of carrying webbing ensures that is accessible and knot free whenever it is needed.


Can You Hear Me Now?

Almost 7 years ago we featured a post titled Under, Over, or Not At All? discussing the pros and cons and the ins and outs of wearing a radio strap on the fireground. The post generated a great discussion with well over 100 comments. Many of our readers certainly have their preferences and some had great justifications. Recently, Fairfax County (VA) did an extensive study and report on the topic. Click here for the report. The report makes some pretty startling discoveries, and should be reviewed by everyone in the fire service, from the guys crawling down the halls, and to the Chiefs behind the desk.

The photo above shows the least ideal, but unfortunately the most common way to carry a radio, a coat integrated radio pocket. Signal loss, the actual closure of the pocket failing to keep the radio contained and exposing the radio to a greater level of thermal insult are all likely scenarios with this method of carry. The worst case scenario would be radio failure that could potentially lock up the tactical channel, having a negative impact to everyone of the fire ground.


Besides the obvious added entanglement hazard, carrying the radio on the exterior of a coat also exposes it to the negative conditions found on the fireground. The strap outside the coat also puts the radio at a higher risk for failure due to thermal and moisture issues.


Carrying the radio with a strap under the coat, but hanging low enough to have the antenna outside and away from the body (see photo below) is the most ideal and gives the user the best operational reliability.


So after reading the detailed report, has anyone have a change of heart? Is anyone going to start to carry the radio differently based on this report? Do any of your departments MANDATE a particular method of carry? We suggest printing the report and leaving it on the kitchen table for everyone to review and discuss. One of the most important findings in the report is that the failure of a single radio on the fireground could potentially put everyone else at risk by tying up the fireground tactical channel. A special thanks goes out to the Communication Section Of Fairfax County Fire for their commitment to this research and sharing of this report.



About a year ago the FDNY, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) did a study on ventilation and what effect it has on a fire. Here is a great 2 minute video about VES and the effects of closing the bedroom door and not closing the bedroom door. It’s a great visualization of conditions when someone leaves the door open and does not isolate the bedroom. Even thought we feel you shouldn’t have to add the “I” and corrupt the acronym VES, the isolation step is in fact one of the most important components of performing VES. Click here if the video is not showing up below.


FDIC 2014

We just got notice that VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting his class titled Aggressive Truck Functions for a Safer Fireground again next year at FDIC 2014. We’ll post more specifics about the exact date and time when the details become available.

Here is a short description of the class:

Many people associate the term aggressive with unsafe, particularly when it
comes to truck company functions. The fireground can actually be made safer
through the timely execution of truck company functions. This presentation will
stress the importance of aggressive truck functions on the fireground and their
positive impact on fireground safety. Due to the limited staffing that most
departments are currently facing, we must improve our efficiency on the fire
ground. Many departments are cutting staffing or eliminating truck companies
all together. Aggressive truck functions will allow everyone on the fireground
to work in a safer and more efficient manner. This presentation will expand,
and give valuable insight on the understanding of aggressive yet safe truck
company skills, and the value of training. Class participants will gain valuable
tips on how to increase the efficiently and effectiveness of their truck
company functions. In addition, participants will better understand the
necessity of truck company functions on every fire. Most importantly,
participants will better understand how aggressive truck company functions
can be utilized to create a safer fireground.

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Two Bed Garage

David Wolf from Cy-Fair (TX) found another reason why we should always expect the unexpected. He found this garage converted to two bedrooms on a house fire. They needed to make entry to the garage, but found the garage door locked. They cut the door with a rotary saw, only to find wood studs and drywall behind it. They cut the studs, breached the drywall, and found two bedrooms in the garage space.


Here are a few things to think about while doing an interior search: Typically there will be a 4″ drop from the interior floor level to the garage floor level. Many laundry rooms are between the interior of a residence and the garage, meaning to get from inside the house to the garage you commonly have to walk through the laundry room. While preforming a search if you turn towards side “A” you may be heading towards a garage. Also garages tend to lack windows and secondary egresses. Signs like these could give you good clues that you may be searching a “two bed garage.”

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Third Time is a Charm

Lieutenant Chris Wells from Dunn’s Corners (RI) sent in this photo of something they recently ran into on a single story seaside residential structure fire. Upon arrival crews found the building heavily involved, but were able to knock it down within 10 minutes. The truck crew quickly went to work on the roof, opening up a vertical vent (shown by red arrow). When they tried punching through, they found a flat membrane roof underneath (shown by yellow arrow). The second roof was close enough to also be cut with the saw. Once the second roof was opened, the crew tried pushing through again to find ANOTHER separate asphalt flat roof (shown by green arrow.) They already had moderate smoke coming rom the hole, and decided to abandon the vent. Within minutes of abandoning the roof, fire was visible from the vent hole. Once the fire was out, it was found that the fire had gained access between roofs three and two, creating a cockloft effect. Crews were able to knock this fire down by making an attack from the gable end of the roof.

Another interesting part of this story is that the fire was started by POT on the stove. The occupant was cooking 4lbs of butter and mixing in marijuana buds. He passed out in his bedroom, and another occupant awoke to find the fire on the stove. While trying to remove the flaming POT from the stove, the occupant caught the living room on fire and received second and third degree burns on approximately 50% of his body.

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