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					                     10 STEP ACTION PLAN FOR A
               SAFER MORE EFFECTIVE INTERIOR ATTACK
                                    Part 2: Steps 6-7

                               By Timothy E. Sendelbach
In Part 1 of our three-part series, we addressed a few of the many developments
affecting today’s fireground environment, including: changes in firefighting gear and
equipment, the effects of building techniques and materials, and the regulatory
standards and guidelines that specifically deal with interior fire attack. Part 1 also
outlined the first five steps of our action plan, including: apparatus placement (and the
importance of worst-case planning), the first-arriving radio report, what to look for when
conducting a 360-degree size-up evaluation, the need to assemble the proper tools for
interior operations and the critical importance of proper fireground staffing.
         Steps 6 through 10 detail suggested courses of action for the attack crew and
those support personnel on the fireground who are assisting in the initial attack
operation. In Part 2, we will focus on the next two steps in our action plan to create a
safer, more effective interior fire attack. Step 6 concerns the selection and
advancement of hoseline, while Step 7 involves the evaluation of interior conditions
(i.e., risk assessment, and what efforts can be made to minimize the potential of risk).
STEP 6: HOSELINE SELECTION/ADVANCEMENT
Hoseline Selection: As a general rule of thumb, “GPMs > BTUs,” meaning that a flow
of water that provides a sufficient number of gallons per minute can usually overpower
a fire (as represented here by its British Thermal Units). However, we must be careful
as we approach our choice of hoseline. The selection of the correct attack line is a
decision that can prove less than forgiving, if figured carelessly. Let’s face it--as
firefighters we are creatures of habit. We have a general tendency to repeat past
actions that have previously worked out successfully--even though those actions may
actually have been rooted in mistakes.
        As it pertains to hoseline selection, the choice of the conventional 1.75-inch
cross lay--usually made because of its easy deployment--can and has led to tragedy on
the fireground. The fact is simple: If the GPMs you take with you during your initial
attack don’t absolutely overwhelm the BTUs exhibited by the fire you might face, you’re
destined for failure and could suffer potentially serious injury. The old saying “Big fire,
big water” has been repeated by many fire-service experts across the country.
Unfortunately, far too many of us continue to resort to our prior efforts, which may have
been less-than-safety-conscious in nature. And then when we factor in the rising threat
of rapid thermal insult due to the increasing use of synthetic fuels (such as gasoline in
its solid state) and the prevalence of “tight” construction zones that are overbuilt, we are
facing a greater chance for trouble than ever before.
        So what’s the solution? How do we select the right hose for the task at hand?
First, we must take the information we gathered during Step 3 (Size-up) and use it to
answer the following questions:
        1. What is the overall size of the structure? (Length x Width x Height)
        2. What type of occupancy are we dealing with? (If it’s a commercial
            occupancy, we need the “big water” provided by 2 to 2.5-inch hose. If it’s a
            residence where one to two rooms are involved, a 1.75-inch hose should
            suffice. If the affected residential area consists of more than two rooms, we
            need the same type of delivery required in commercial occupancies--a 2 to
            2.5-inch hose.)
      3. How does the building construction itself contribute to the spread of
         fire? (Wood frame construction leads to a rapid fire spread, while tilt-wall
         construction promotes a limited spread of fire, but a concentrated build-up of
         heat.)
      4. What is the actual fuel load of the occupancy? What are the common
         combustibles or other fuels that may support or enhance rapid fire spread? If
         the fire is located in a commercial or industrial occupancy, are there
         combustible liquids and/or pressurized vessels stored in the building?)
      5. What outward cues are visible in the smoke? (“Lazy” smoke indicates low
         heat and a slowly advancing fire, while “pushing” smoke indicates high heat
         and a rapid fire spread.)
      6. How much of the building is involved? Is it a “go” or “no go” situation? Is
         our course of action offensive or defensive? (If we can’t overwhelm the fire,
         we don’t “go”!)
Hoseline Advancement: Hoseline advancement is one of the most laborious and
frustrating tasks that we initiate on the fireground. We’ve all heard the following
statement and many of us have said it ourselves: “We need more hose!” This infamous
phrase--echoed across every fireground--is not only troubling, but also detrimental to
our efforts. To be effective, we must have a coordinated plan of attack that addresses
these three questions:
    Where are we going?
    How are we going to get there?
    Who’s doing what to help us accomplish this task?
 Where are we going? Our hasty approach to apply “first water” has established a
 fire-service tradition that 99 out of 100 fires are attacked from Side 1 (or Side A) of
 the occupancy. Although I have not conducted any scientific research to back my
 assumption, I would comfortably guess that this is not always in keeping with our
 long-standing rule of an “unburned-to-burned” fire attack. So why is it that we
 continue to stress to our members to initiate a fire attack from the unburned side,
 despite the fact that in reality we simply follow the path of least resistance (i.e., the
 front door)? It’s my belief that once again we resort back to the action-oriented, “fast-
 attack” mentality that has been instilled in our personnel over the years.
 Understandably, the path of least resistance plays a valuable role in boosting our
 efficiency, but if we capitalize on the information gathered in our 360-degree
 evaluation/size-up, we can undoubtedly initiate a fire attack that supports victim safety
 and property preservation (the two critical components of our mission).
       Using the size-up information, the company officer should lay out a plan for the
 fire attack. Typically, the choice will be the “unburned-to-burned” attack. While not
 every fire can be approached from the unburned side (because of obstructions,
 excessive forcible entry restrictions, exposure potential, etc.) this should be a general
 rule or guiding factor that we follow as we initiate our fire attack.
 How are we going to get there? This apparently simple question is considerably
 complex, based on four other questions: 1) What is the safest, most effective way to
 advance the hoseline? 2) Do we need to gain access via a ladder? 3) What
 obstructions must we overcome? and 4) Do we need to do a dry stretch or wet
 stretch?
  Dry Stretch While some may argue that we should not enter a burning
  occupancy without a charged hoseline, the contrary is actually true. An effective
  size-up, coupled with a proper risk assessment, can allow such an entrance to
  be made in a safe and effective manner--provided a few simple rules are
  followed:
          Dry hose lines should not be deployed to the fire floor without a barrier
            between the fire and the advancing crews--such as a wall or door.
          The company officer and crew must maintain constant awareness of
            the fire conditions and be able to forecast the fire’s advancement
            within the structure. (The worst-case scenario must always be
            considered.)
          Always maintain a clear means of egress away from the fire. Carefully
            plan for a secondary means of egress, in case the primary
            access/egress pathway becomes obstructed or overrun by fire.
          If smoke and/or heat conditions require you to crawl on the floor,
            you’re in too deep. At that point, you should back out, charge the line
            and then advance accordingly.
          Do not make entry to the fire area without first ensuring the attack line
            has been properly charged (check for water, pattern and pressure
            before advancing). Also, you should make sure that a sufficient
            amount of hose is available to advance. You should attempt to have
            one length of hose (50-feet worth) available for the attack. Typically,
            this is the rule that is ignored by overly aggressive firefighters who are
            bent and determined to put water on a fire. Failure to abide by this rule
            inevitably delays the suppression effort while simultaneously putting
            our members in a position of unnecessary risk.
         Advantages:
                Allows for a more rapid hose deployment.
                Minimizes the chance that the advancing crew will suffer pre-fire
                 attack fatigue.
                Hose positioning can be better accomplished with less effort by
                 allowing the advancing crew to deploy more hose to the fire-
                 attack area.
         Disadvantages:
                An increased potential for rapid-fire advancement without the
                 protection of immediate water.
                Unpredictable ventilation (such as that triggered by window
                 failure) can cause a crew to be overrun by a ventilation-driven
                 fire front.
                Mechanical failure (of a hose, nozzle, apparatus, or other
                 equipment) can cause a crew to be overrun by an advancing
                 fire, if that crew lacks the immediate protection of a hose
                 stream.
                Unforeseen kinks in the hose are possible, thus reducing the
                 water available for suppressing a fire, once the line is charged
SAFETY NOTE Dry stretches must be performed under the strict supervision
of an alert company officer and all personnel must maintain a constant
awareness of their surroundings, while being prepared to immediately retreat
if conditions change prior to the line being charged.
   Wet Stretch The wet stretch is the safest and most common method of fire
   attack. The wet stretch requires that the line be charged prior to making entry
   into the involved structure when immediate suppression efforts are necessary to
   advance.
         Advantages:
             Allows for immediate fire-attack capabilities.
             Established safety factor, which serves as a defense mechanism in
               the case of a rapidly advancing fire.
             Reduced kinking potential.
         Disadvantages:
             Labor-intensive deployment, requiring firefighters to pull the added
               weight of water to the fire-attack area.
             Crews are less likely to pull extra hose due to extra weight.
             Prolonged/delayed deployment, again due to the additional weight
             Requires crewmembers to standby at corners (i.e. door jams) to
               assist with deployment.
 Who’s doing what to help us accomplish this task? As we attack a fire, we
 must constantly remind ourselves that the successful outcome we seek is based
 on the actions or inactions of our crew (or crews). The failure of crews to work
 cooperatively and concurrently only further aggravates our fire-attack efforts. We
 must understand, despite our most modest (or not-so-modest) “war stories,” that
 only one member controls the nozzle of a given hand line. Each and every
 crewmember must perform his or her designated task in order for a safe and
 effective fire attack to be initiated. The company officer should provide each
 crewmember with an assigned task to support the hoseline deployment effort.
 Crew assignments may include:
  Nozzle Operator Ensure that the nozzle is set according to the type of fire attack
  being initiated. (A direct attack should warrant a straight-stream pattern. An
  indirect attack requires a 60-degree fog pattern, which is also used when
  initiating a combination attack.) Safely navigate to the point of fire attack, while
  considering the path of the hoseline and how it may affect the advancement
  effort. You should maintain a constant awareness of your surroundings (including
  factors such as smoke conditions, overhead fire development, building layout,
  etc.). Also: plan for a secondary means of escape if the need arises.
  Company Officer Evaluate the fire conditions while maintaining an awareness of
  the fire and the potential “pushing” actions of the advancing fire stream.
  (Caution: The pushing action of a fire stream--combined with the pressure
  differential of steam generation--can cause the fire to wrap around an advancing
  crew due to room configurations and open doorways.)
  Support Personnel Assist in advancing a sufficient amount of hose to the
  nozzle operator. Consider supplying one length of hose per floor to allow for
  advancement to the seat of the fire. Support personnel need to carry out several
  functions.
        Assist in advancing the hose around corners, doorways, and up
           advancing stairs.
             Consider how the building might assist in advancing hose. During multi-
              story operations, consider deploying the line up the stairs one floor above
              the fire to allow the downward gravitational force to assist with hose
              advancement.
             Follow the deployed hose line to the nozzle and provide back up for the
              fire attack.
Deployment Tip
When possible, attempt to form an “S” formation with the hose behind the
advancing crew to reduce the potential for kinks. This can be done on the floor of
operation or on the exterior of the structure, just outside the point of entry
(depending on the area of fire attack).
STEP 7: EVALUATION OF INTERIOR CONDITIONS
As a continuous means of ensuring the safety of fireground personnel, the company
officer should perform a quick interior-risk assessment, taking into account the following
factors:
     Smoke Conditions Forecast the potential effects of the advancing fire and
        smoke. (Thick black velvety smoke usually signals the presence of highly
        combustible gases, presenting an extremely volatile atmosphere. Pressurized
        smoke indicates a high-heat environment with the potential for rapid fire spread.
        In that instance, you should consider whether to “fight” the fire or take “flight.”)
     Visibility Evaluate the visible thermal layer. (Low visibility occurs in volatile
        environments that exhibit the potential for rapid-fire development.)
     Heat Conditions High-heat conditions with low visibility are indicative of highly
        volatile environments. Rapid cooling, coupled with a coordinated ventilation
        effort, is required.
     TIC Reading Evaluate the temperature reading, if one is available, as well as the
        gray scale differential. (Bright white areas typically signify high-heat conditions.
        Rippling waveforms are indicative of radiant heat, and/or flames overhead.)
     Time How long has the fire been burning? And what effect has the fire had on
        the structural integrity of the building?
     Gut Feeling What does your gut tell you based on your experience, previously
        obtained size-up information, and crewmember reports? Is the fight worth the
        risk?
   “FIGHT OR FLIGHT” ACTIONS
   The decision to either “fight or flight” must be decided immediately upon the
   recognition of rapid or advanced fire development (signaling an impending flashover
   situation). Any delayed action or inaction will undoubtedly result in the injury or quite
   possibly the death of those firefighters in the immediate area.
       Fight This option requires you make an immediate decision to take an offensive
       posture, in an effort to prevent an impending flashover or rapid-fire development.
       Three techniques are at your disposal:
            60-degree Semi-fog in the Overhead Employ short burst(s) of water
              using a 60-degree fog pattern applied to the combustible gases in the
              overhead areas, in an effort to push the flames and associated gases
              back away from the nozzle crew, while immediately reducing the
              temperature of the superheated gases, dropping their intensity to
              temperatures below their ignition temperature.
SAFETY NOTE: Too much water applied in the overhead can cause thermal
imbalance, decreased visibility, and excessive steam production.
             Penciling/Pulsing Direct short straight stream bursts in the overhead
              area. Short- duration bursts, using a straight stream in the room’s upper
              corners (including along the walls) will help reduce the temperatures of the
              combustible gases in the overhead, lowering them to temperatures below
              their ignition temperature, thereby preventing a flashover from occurring.
              (Note: The direct application of water to the base of the fire will be
              necessary to achieve final knockdown.)
SAFETY NOTE: This technique should be used to prevent a flashover, but not as
a primary means of fire attack/suppression.
             Direct Application to the Base of the Fire Final knockdown and the
              ultimate means of fire suppression is achieved by the proper application
              of an effective stream to the base of the materials that are burning.
       Flight This is the immediate decision to evacuate/retreat to an area of safe
  refuge.
            Evacuation Immediately exit from the super-heated environment via a
              primary or secondary means of egress (such as stairs, windows, ladders,
              etc.).
            Retreat Immediately make a lateral movement to a position of
              isolation/safety (such as a wall breach, or some point of isolation behind a
              closed door or barrier).
SAFETY NOTE: Keep in mind the “Point-Of-No-Return” theory: 2 seconds =
approximately 5 feet of safe evacuation/retreat.
PART 3
In Part 3, we will conclude our series by outlining the final three topics, discussing the
coordination of ventilation efforts, fire-stream management and progress
reporting...plus a review of our entire 10-step plan for creating smarter and safer interior
attacks.
AUTHOR: Tim is an 18 – year student and educator of the fire & emergency services
currently working as the Chief of Fire Training for Savannah Fire & Emergency
Services, Georgia. Tim formerly served as Assistant Fire Chief for Missouri City Fire &
Rescue Services, Texas and as a Firefighter/Paramedic with the Kansas City, Kansas
Fire Department. Tim has earned B.S. degrees in Fire Administration, Arson and an
A.S. degree in Emergency Medical Care from Eastern Kentucky University.
Tim is a contributing editor to numerous publications including the International Society
of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) monthly publication The Voice, Firehouse.com
Members Zone, and the Fire & Emergency Television Network (FETN) in which he is
the writer/developer of the featured “SURVIVAL!” program.
In July 2002, Tim was awarded the prestigious Innovator of the Year Award from the
International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) for his innovative training ideas
and concepts in the area of firefighter safety & survival. In 2001, Tim was awarded the
George Hughes Award from the Texas Association of Fire Educators for his
accomplishments as a speaker and trainer in the state of Texas.
Tim is currently the President of the ISFSI, and a student of the National Fire
Academy’s Executive Fire Officer (EFO) Program.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
TES² - Training & Education Services, 1110 Trafford Lane, Savannah, Georgia 31410,
E-mail: tesendelbach@msn.com.

				
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