From the Street

William Hardy, Jr. from Newport (NH) Fire sent in these photos of something we will probably all begin to see more of in the near future. Take a look from the street and think about what you see…

With any moderate smoke this would totally be concealed…

The installation of PhotoVoltaic Modules (PV Modules) is becoming common place everywhere. If you are not aware of these in your first due it’s for one of two reasons:

1.) They are currently being installed (or will be in the VERY near future)
2.) You just haven’t found them yet!

We featured a supplemental page awhile ago with some additional information on PV Modules and their characteristics. Click Here for that info and take a moment to think about trying to vent that roof. Keep in mind, you can’t always see them from the street.


Hallway Closet

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!


Flush Knob

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.



Washington D.C. Truck Company 12 sent in this photo of their window/motor vehicle accident kit. Their particular kit includes the ‘‘Big Easy Kit’’ for opening a locked car (child locked in), padded board splints, c-collars, head blocks, Dewalt corded sawzall with spare blades, hand saw, foam blankets for covering patients, various hand tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, socket sets, pry bar, utility knives, pliers, slip joint pliers, trauma shears, seat belt cutter, mini hot stick duct tape, medical tape, and a kit of padded splinting devices.

MVA kits are a handy way to have all of the random small items needed during an extrication. We have all had to get the job done without some of these simple tools, but having them in an easy accessible place makes a difference. Having all of the commonly used items pre designated, and prepackaged makes the job much easier.

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Snow Loads

Since it was a frigid 40 degrees this morning in Florida, we realized that our brothers elsewhere in the world must be still dealing with quite a bit of snow. Snow loading is something we had never even heard of, let alone considered on any fireground down here. As a result, we are going to turn this post over to some folks who obviously know much more about this they we ever could: Deputy Chief Sean Toomey and Bill Greenwood. A special thanks goes out to them for allowing us to share this information.

Click here for an article written by Lt. Bill Greenwood from Keene (NH) Fire and FETC Services regarding roof snow loads. It discusses some tactical implications of operating under a snow loaded roof, and even explains the differences between warm and cold roofs.

Click here for an info sheet used by Concord (NH) Fire that includes instruction on how to assess and calculate a roof loads to determine collapse potential. This simple sampling and assessment process was developed by Concord’s Deputy Chief Sean Toomey, who happens to be a fire protection engineer.

The video below shows exactly how much of a hazard snow loads can be on the fireground.


Stay safe (and warm) out there in the snow brothers!


When Shortjacking is not an Option

FDNY Ladder 45 showing that sometimes shortjacking is not an option. This is better than a supply line through the window any day!

It’s 04:00… Battalion arrives on scene of a working fire in a multi-family dwelling, people hanging from windows…What would you have done?

We know these pictures are already all over the internet, but we couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, we don’t know who to give proper photo credit to. We will however, be glad to buy the next few rounds for the Chauffeur of Ladder 45!


Transform Your Plan

Lieutenant Landon Harris from Chesterfield County (VA) Truck 14 sent in these pictures of something he saw while visiting Cumberland, MD. As you can see from the photo, the building has transformers mounted directly to the building, just over a loading dock. This particular installation may pose some issues if we were operating in this building. For example, if fire were venting out of the bay door a significant hazard could exist. The proximity of the transformers to the loading dock may eliminate this area as an assess point into the structure. Ground ladders may also not be a viable option if they were needed on this side of the building. Finding this issue ahead of time, noting it on your pre-plans, and coming up with a plan of attack will be the key to a successful operation in this structure.


Cut Here

The increasing popularity of hybrids was accompanied by an increased amount of information provided to firefighters on how to deal with them when they have been involved in an accident. A quick internet search on anything hybrid related with provide a large amount of information geared toward firefighters. One interesting thing is that for the first time the automobile manufactures started to labeled things for us on the vehicle, particularly, what not to cut in an emergency. They have since taken this idea of providing information to firefighters one step further… The manufactures have now started to include information of where we should cut. These labels are now being utilized on non-hybrid vehicles as well. For instance, the pictures used in this post were taken on a full sized, four door, diesel pick-up truck.

Chevy, for example, calls these labels “First Responder Tags” and “Cable Cut Tags.” They install the “First Responder Tag” (shown above) near the hood opening directing to the proximity of the cut tags, and the “Cable Cut Tags” (shown below) are located on a cable near the under hood fuse panel. In this case, this truck (being a diesel) has two batteries. As shown in the photos, there is only one cut tag, leading us to belive that making one quick cut will disable the entire electrical system. So take it for what it’s worth. the manufactures are showing us exactly where to cut in order to remove the electrical hazards, or we could go old school and do traditional cable cuts near the battery, it’s up to you.


Rung Plate

Tillerman Eric Wheaton from Winter Park Truck 61 sent in his “twist” on carrying a hook and ladder. This particular method allows the hook to not only remain in place on the fly section as it is extended, but also allows for the hook to remain in place if the ladder is rolled into a new position along the building. Rolling the ladder like shown in the video is an extremely fast way to move a ladder from one window to another when performing a VES operation.

In this method the hook is simply “hooked” onto the rung plate of the fly section on the inside of the beam. Eric has determined that hooking onto the 3rd rung plate from the tip seems to be the best location to ensure the hook remains in place while rolling the ladder. This method has been tested with a variety of different styles of hooks, and seems to work just as well regardless of hook preference.

Adding a small zip tie to the bottom of the hook may be an option to further secure it to the ladder if so desired. The idea behind the zip tie over a velcro or snapping strap is that a small zip tie will simply break away when the hook is tugged when being placed in operation. Another nice feature about this method of carrying a hook is that depending on the orientation of the ladder compartment on the rig, the hook may be able to remain stored in place all of the time since the hook rides on the inside of the beam against the rungs.



Free Tiller Webinar

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be co-presenting a webinar with Lt. Steve Crothers from Seattle Fire titled The Well-Choreographed Tiller Operation on Wednesday November 14, 2012 at 1pm EST. This free webinar is being hosted by FireRescue Magazine and Details for signing up for the webinar can be found by clicking here.

Here is a short description of the class:

Tillers are some of the most exciting apparatus to watch, but a smooth, safe, effective tiller operation requires an immense amount of training and coordination. Bringing your firefighters to a high skill level can be a significant challenge. Tractor-drawn aerials are extremely unique pieces of apparatus that requires formal training; the days of “on-the-job training” should be the way of the past. This presentation identifies the principles, concepts and dynamics of driving and tillering a tractor-drawn aerial and will prepare you to overcome the common pitfalls that tractor-drawn aerial operators encounter. You’ll have the opportunity to view unique perspectives that illustrate superior and standard tractor-drawn aerial fundamentals.

You’ll learn:

• Pros and cons of tractor-drawn aerial apparatus
• Key issues for maneuvering tractor-drawn aerial apparatus and how to overcome common placement obstacles such as narrow streets, overhead power lines, hills, etc.
• Common driving mistakes made by tiller operators and tips for improved communication between tiller operator and driver
• Factors to consider when spec’ing a tiller

Now that the webinar has past you can still click here to see the archived version, simply complete the registration information and it will bring you to the archive.