|A PIPE STREAM
Lets talk some more about photos of firefighters in action. Remember, if you dont take the opportunity and have the imagination to view these instants in time, as if the fire action was in your own response district and realm of probability, you are only wasting time looking at someone elses fire.
Now, for this set of photographs of a warehouse that appears to be fully involved and venting with updraft vertically through the roof, lets pose some questions for our kitchen drill.
In what stage is this fire?
Defensive is correct outside operations with emphasis on safety and collapse probabilities. Command must plan for collapse of this structure and receive data from all four sides of the building. Logistics must be accounted for and out of the vertical and horizontal collapse zone, which, in this case, is at least as wide as the standing structure and more than the height of the building (bouncing bricks kill firefighters too).
What are the exposures?
None apparent, you say. Look at the products of combustion of the structure and contents (a marine supply warehouse). Where is the smoke going? In a more urban setting, problems could exist with air handling intakes and therefore contaminate interior air supply for many unknown occupants.
Is there a better position for this outside stream (ladder pipe)?
I guess that, in the scenario depicted in this photo, you may say anywhere is okay. But ... beginning an outside and defensive attack does not always mean collapse is eminent. Large-caliber streams can be aggressive and effective. If collapse is NOT a factor, aerial streams should be maneuverable and be applied on the side that affords the most horizontal openings to the fire area.
Apparatus is NOT nailed to the original position chosen on arrival. Plan for its movement to a new advantageous position in the DEFENSIVE game.
Streams should be directed into openings that begin at the LOWEST involved floor and work upwards. This is a distinct advantage of aerial platforms over ladders. Ladders are slower and restricted by height and angle of the bed ladder while tower ladders can dance all over the scrub area at will including sidewalk levels and below.
If this were a noncollapse problem, there would surely be a more effective position for this aerial, and that is at the side with the most openings.
Directing ladder streams from above structures at most outside operations is either effective if there is a flying, flaming brand problem or an immediate exposure problem. Otherwise, it is an exercise in frustration. The fire venting through a roof area is trying to restrict its horizontal, ferocious spread inside. Streams from above make this impossible and increase the interior pressures. The newer fuel that is burning is as of yet under the roof boards that have not burned; get it from below.
Are there any fire-scene safety considerations here?
Sure: the guy at the end of the aerial handling the pipe! What is he doing? He is replacing two ropes known as halyards that are affixed to the portable handle and the collar of the stream straightener.
Some of you may argue, He is there for pinpoint accuracy.
I argue, You should have thought of that 25 minutes ago!
This structure, because of the switch in strategic concepts to defensive tactics, is declared to be a piece of junk. There is no longer anything to save, and we are trying to put this out and get out of here. As a matter of fact, if this were my problem, I would assure collapse safety for my people, my apparatus, logistics, and my exposures and then pray fiercely to the pagan god of collapse to reduce my problem.
Back to the firefighter at the end of the ladder...
This is (in my opinion) the dumbest and most unsafe act that can go on at any fireground mostly because the act is reversible by all of the would-be incident commanders on the scene since they are all outside now. There is no need for this firefighter to be up there. Portable ladder pipes are the most ill-maintained logistics on the fire truck. Too many have come apart under use.
Slips and falls and sprains and strains are partners with this position.
The ladder pipe is now less effective than it should be for the following reasons:
Get the halyards out at the set up time. Keep the personnel off the ladder and go for sandwiches.
Oh, the electric power lines. Well, they appear to be a good distance away from the heat source in this group of photos. But be sure to account for them. Remember, they can burn through at a remote location now that we are outside and cause plenty of havoc in command posts and grounded equipment that is too close and certainly to standby firefighters that are known to wander back into the collapse zone as time goes on.