Flashlight Wedge

Having a wedge ready to go and easily accessible is simple an effective way to make your forcible entry more effective. The photo below are from Joe from Engine 32 (NJ.) He simply used some zip ties and a piece of heat shrink tubing to create a place to carry a wedge on the back of his flashlight. This method allows the wedge to easily accessed without fumbling through your pockets, and keeps the wedge off of your helmet. Obviously this particular setup only allows for one wedge to be carried, so others will still have to be carried in another manner. Remember, one wedge is never enough! Of course, this wedge could get lost at some point, but since they are not made of gold, and you always carry more than one, it shouldn’t be an issue.

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FDIC 2013

VentEnterSearch’s own Jimm Walsh will be presenting a class titled Aggressive Truck Functions for a Safer Fireground at FDIC 2013. The class will be on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @ 13:30 in room 136-137

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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Saw Bracket

Lieutenant Kevin Nay from Leyden (IL) Fire Protection District sent in this easy saw modification. They were looking for a simple way to secure the chainsaw when not in use while operating on a peaked roof. They fabricated a bracket from scrap plate aluminum found in the shop. The bracket simply uses the existing screw holes for attaching the bracket to the saw. The cost was under $2 for the longer screws.

This technique is useful for chainsaws that have the depth guard on the bar. Making this modification changes how the saw “sits” (as seen below) but will not change how the saw “feels.” Either way everyone should get hands on and train with the saw after this (or any) modification to become familiar with it.


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.