Basic Tactical Considerations

This post is just a simple challenge of tactical considerations.  The photos that are posted show a single-family house that had fire venting from the C/D corner when first units arrived.  The first in crews could not make the entire hallway on the first push do to intense heat and smoke.

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The smoke was banked almost to the floor even with the fire venting from that corner bedroom.

What are some considerations that must be looked at with this fire?  What would be your next plan of action?  Why ist there so much heat and smoke with the fire venting the exterior?  What is your size up?

Share your thoughts and answers with everyone and use this as discussion with your crew.  

As always, train hard and stay safe,



  • D. Werner says:

    My considerations would be status of occupancy, possible exposure issues, ventilation options, use of PPV, line placement, and development of a move to defensive strategies if needed. With the first line advancement being pushed back I would move to utilize some form of ventilation. I would get someone up to the roof to decide if it was stable enough for crews to get a hole made. At the same time I would be getting windows on the backside of the house opened up to speed up the exit of the smoke and heat. With the exact location and amount of fire not known, it would be too dangerous to use PPV to locate the seat. Once we got a handle on some ventilation I would attempt to get a line moved into C/D corner again. As soon as possible I would have crews pulling ceilings to deal with the fire that is burning in the overhead. As soon as it was safe I would get PPV set up to get as much smoke cleared out as possible to make the search for extension easier. I expect that we are dealing with a well sealed house with a high fire load that is causing the high levels of smoke and heat.

  • Seems like a good candidate for a Positive Pressure Attack,  This is a concepts we are being introduced to here in FL.  Compartmentalized fires are great for this type of attack and the description of the scene seems to fit it well.  First arriving officer does a 360 and opens a vent hole of significant size in the fire room (like the windows).  A fan is brought to the entry door and started.  When ordered, direct the fan in the door and allow it to charge the structure for 30-60 seconds before sending the attack crew in.  Visibility increased, temperature decreased, better overall working opportunity for the crews working.  We had a fire that we used this strategy on shortly after an initial training on it, and there was a measureable difference in the conditions.
    There is a great YouTube video on a burn conducted by Chicago Fire.

  • b shultz says:

    I would have to argue that this is not a compartmentalized fire.  Granted, we know the origin, the c/d corner, but based on the pictures and the accounts of not being able to make the hallway due to smoke and heat to the floor, this thing is moving (at least the flammable gases and heat are).  PPV could have drastic negative effects.  We already know that we have unburned fuel throughout (smoke to the floor and pushing from the roof line and garage) and we have a high likelyhood of being at or very near ignition temperature (couldn't make the hallway due to heat)… all this is missing is the proper amount of oxygen, which we introduce with PPV.  I'm glad Mark pointed out that he would start the fan before sending in the attack team, but the fact is that introducing that fresh air may take this from a single room and partial attic fire to fully involved.  I'd say this single story, easily laddered builiding needs vertical ventilation… take the heat and fuel up and out where it doesn't matter if it receieves oxygen and lights off above the roof.  PPV works… in very select situations… so select that many departments are chaning SOPs to reflect that concern and using PPV solely for post-control/ overhaul situations.  Look into Chief Garcia and Kauffman's info. out of Salt Lake City FD.  Initially two of the biggest proponents to PPV when it was introduced.  After some very dangerous outcomes they changed their tune.  While they are both still big proponents, they have created a very strict set of rules and circumstances for it's use.  In addition, google the PPV incident that Sandy Creek FD in Utah experienced.  

  • Jim Wilk says:

    After looking at the pictures, I would be thinking a few things.  First, what is the wind direction and speed. Second is the door to that bedroom open.  Since there isn't so much heat and smoke venting with the fire I would say the wind is blowing from the D side to the B side.  The door to the room is open and this is pushing the heat and smoke through out the rest of the house.
    My next plan of action would be vertical ventilation if possible.  This will help prevent the spread of the fire, that looks like it might be in the attic already.  We will need people in the house pulling ceiling after the vertical ventilation.  If they start to pull before vertical ventilation, the oxygen may cause the conditions to change rapidly in the attic making things a lot worse.  We also need to make sure that the horizontal ventilation is kept to a minimum here until the fire is knocked down.  If we can not vertically vent this fire, we may need to hit it from the outside through the C/D windows for about 10 seconds.  Although I am not a big proponent of this, it is going to make heat conditions a lot better.
    Did this fire end up going through the roof?  I couldn't tell by the pictures.

  • Ed Hartin says:

    One or two windows with fire showing may be (most often is) a ventilation controlled fire, additional ventilation (such as making entry) increases oxygen to the fire and increases heat release rate. As shown in the recent UL Study on horizontal ventilation, application of water directly into the fire compartment from the exterior only makes things better (throughout the building). As Jim Wilk says, a short application from the exterior will likely improve conditions signficantly. It is important for us to keep both context and our purpose in mind. If our purpose is to quickly control the fire a transitional attack from exterior to interior that speeds fire control and would allow the attack team to quickly make the room with lower risk is a positive outcome.
    If (a bit IF) adequate exhaust openings can be provided (2-3 times the size of the inlet), PPV may be an acceptable option, but as noted by b shultz, this must be a carefully considered decision and not simply the default option. As the fire becomes more ventilation controlled, PPV may be a bit more problematic, but the key is adequate exhaust and positive control of the blower (if things start to go sidewys, shut it off).

  • DaveH says:

    I'm curious when picture 2 was taken compared with picture 7.   Picture 7 shows heavy smoke from the B/C side that is missing from Picture 2.  My first question was why the smoke was pushing so hard from the garage but not from the kitchen windows on the B/C.  I could be mislead based on the timeline of the pictures though.
    If the fire has already breached the C/D windows and that part of the roof at the time of arrival then I don't see a problem with a quick exterior hit while the interior crew is getting ready.

  • dc802 says:

    Picture 2 was after picture 7. Hope that helps. You are all giving great information and providing a learning environment.  Everybody sees something a little different, and that's real world.  Some great education going on here. Keep it up and thanks.


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