First, let thank you all for the comments. There are no right or wrong answers, just great thoughts and ideas for us to all think about and learn from. Now, the rest of the story.
There is nothing earth shattering here, but I learned two valuable lessons on this fire.
When we pulled up on this fire, the first arriving engines were all two man cabs. We didn’t have jump seats in any of our trucks at the time. I did some digging and found out that this fire was in 1997.
The drive was narrow and we got hung up in the ditch, blocking the drive right off the bat. Luckily we had multiple trucks rolling at the dispatch and we had adequate personnel.
The first crew stretched a 1 3/4 inch line in through the side B door in the kitchen and advanced up the stairs. The first floor had no smoke or fire at this time. It became apparent fairly quickly that the initial attack was not making any progress.
We advanced a second line, a 2 1/2 inch stretch up the same stairs and made a very fast knock down. The importance of this is that we did this with less than 1000 gallons of water. Why do I stress this?
I have had debates about using large lines when water supplies are limited or late in developing. When asked about using a larger line the response is that they would not use one because they will run out of water too fast. My rebuttal is always that they may just get enough gpm on the fire to put it out before you run out of water. That is exactly what we did. Oh, and two guys handled the hose!
So, lesson 1 is big fire equals big water. If the fire is advanced enough that you will run out of water, it wont make any difference what size your line is. But, the larger line will put out more fire in that short amount of time.
While we were up stairs fighting fire, there was a crew in the living room doing some work. They had started salvage operations in the unaffected part of the house. Understand that we didn’t need extensive ventilation and we had adequate manpower. But, they stacked and covered everything in the living room and did the same in other rooms that were appropriate.
This ended up paying off big with the homeowner. As happy as they were about us putting out their fire, they were just as happy, or even more so, that we protected what had not been damaged by fire but would have been by the water. When they were interviewed by the paper they went on and on about our efforts to protect all of their property.
So, lesson number 2 is to take the time to perform salvage operations if manpower and conditions permit. It is something that is too often overlooked.
By the way, there was no basement here, but all of you are correct in assuming this until you know for sure. All of the responses were great and I really appreciate the time that you took to share.
Stay safe and be careful.