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Monday, June 26, 2017

Live Burn

Fire comes through the door
on the front of the house,
referred  to as the A-Side.
The radio crackled with the message, “The fire has been knocked down.” The crew inside radioed they were starting to ventilate. In a few more minutes they made their way down the stairs and were outside. The bedroom fire that had been set for training had been put out.

The Savage Fire Department invited me to observe a live burn training at an old house that was scheduled for demolition. The amount of planning, preparation, and attention to safety was exemplary as Deputy Fire Chief John Babin delivered his briefing. He made sure to include that if a Mayday message was heard on the radio it would be a real emergency and not part of the training that night. Some areas of the house were not going to be used and were designated “out of bounds.” The training followed the National Fire Protection Agency standard #1403 for live burn training.

Multiple water sources were in place.

The preparation for the water supply included a main engine, a backup engine, a collapsible tank filled with water, and two tanker trucks standing by. Backup hose lines were in place, and each crew member entering the building was tracked and observed. Room temperatures were monitored for safety and to allow the instructors to stay ahead of a problem. This building was old, and they did not want any surprises.

Each crew that rotated in and out was quiet as they approached the building. They got down on their knees as they connected to their air supplies and double-checked their protective equipment. It was all business. It reminded me of the “Sterile Cockpit” concept used in aviation, where only mission-critical conversation takes place during takeoffs and landings.

A crew prepares to enter the house.
The training was carefully controlled with new firefighters getting a less intense fire before advancing to a higher level. Most crews would get to a window after they had knocked down the fire and would radio they were about to begin hydraulic ventilation. They sprayed a fog stream of water through the window, and the resulting “Venturi effect” created suction in the room and pulled smoke and heat out. Once the firefighters were back outside, the critique that followed included both the firefighters’ actions and the resulting behavior of the fire.

A crew member monitors the water supplies and hose lines.
As the last crew came out of the house the building was inspected for signs of residual heat or fire, as the house would be used again for training the following day. As the crews started their clean-up, the homeowners who had been watching the training brought them a tray of cheese and crackers. It was a nice touch.

A big thank you to Savage Fire Chief Joel McColl and Deputy Chief John Babin for allowing me to watch.

Up next: 2017 LMC Law Summaries

Stay safe,

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