Here we have the fire found in "every firefighter in America's" district: the two-story, peak-roof private-dwelling fire. None of us should ever look at a picture of someone else's fire without massaging it into lessons for ourselves without, it is hoped, criticizing operations.
What do we see here that is positive? It looks like great peak-roof access and tactical preparation for vertical ventilation. Twenty-four or twenty-eight foot extension to the eaves high enough to see it and then a roof (hook) ladder over the ridge pole at or near the center of the roof. One of these firefighters must have the "tool of choice" to be able to cut a roof like this at this time. I am assuming that the second firefighter has that chain saw that may have been necessary on another building.
Why another building? Well, the fire has vented itself. The opening is made from the burning fuel to the outside of the building before you get there. Your ventilation job is done, at least for now. With our manning situation today, this size-up should be recognized; and the two firefighters should move on to Operation Two.
Let's look at the building. The fire condition on the second floor inside the dormered window is nil. What does that indicate? This is probably a building of balloon construction! The fire has passed this second floor location from another perhaps below and through the walls to the attic space and through the roof.
Another reason for these firefighters to "do something else" is this: the roof deck of a private dwelling with a pitched surface is the flimsiest construction in America. The roof sheathing is allowed to be the smallest dimension of all sheathings in building codes and if the fire is within the space under it and exposing it to fire, then it is usually too dangerous to be operating upon! But the basic rule here is that the fire vented vertically for us do something else.
If this were an occupied structure, the two ladders that are used for this roof operation are best for the second-floor window entry, search, and vent operations, providing alternate entry and removal. As a matter of fact, judging from the fire condition inside the window in the photograph, perhaps the fire-fight tactic should be to get inside and pull the ceiling and put this fire out from below. If the entire picture shows a structure in probable collapse, then outside streams are in order and an aggressive tower ladder should be at this window sill to "blow" down the ceiling and extinguish the attic fire in short order.
Queen Anne, Victorian, and Balloon are synonymous terms! All describe a type of construction in America's private dwellings through the early quarter of the last century. Dangers are rapid-fire travel horizontally in bays of 16 inches to open-wall voids that extend, using one piece of vertical stud from the cellar to the attic. These fires are explosive and can fool you easily. I have seen them in remote lower floor areas and explode out of walls in other locations at the other side of the house.
One primary tactic to stem the horizontal spread of fire within the building is to get a fast hole cut in the roof at the highest ridge pole accessible! This takes the pressure off the interior horizontal and vertical voids and provides a rapid path for the fire. If this picture were of a building erected with platform construction, it is another matter for another day.