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Command & Leadership, Firefighting, Rescue, Uncategorized

Small fire, small water. Big fire…

Well, did you finish the statement?

Did you finish it the same way most do? “Big fire big water”?

Is that really the right answer?

I think it is the wrong answer.

Pumping high volumes of water into the 7th floor office complex isn’t going to help us if we haven’t trained with the tools used to knock that fire down. Yes having larger amounts of water on the fire floor will help us, but we must remember the layout of our commercial sites. They are commonly open with organized furnishings, and heavy on false walls and highly flammable file cabinets, records etc.

Training needs to include coordinating multiple lines, finding the seat of the fire, and knocking it down. Sounds simple and straight forward, but when all you hear is, big fire, big water, then train residential and not commercial, things can get tricky.  But even in a multi-residential situation, we need to get our water to the fire, otherwise it will ricochet off the ceiling, fall to the floor and run into the street.  All that big water right down the drain and the fire is still burning.

I prefer to say “Big fire, SMART water.”

Get in there with the large line but use it appropriately. Get your fog nozzle off and gain the distance from a smooth bore nozzle. That will give you a chance to get closer to the seat of the fire, find it and effect a knockdown to facilitate a search.  Defensive fires are no different.  Shooting a line from the street and aiming for the ridge line will direct all that water up and over the fire, not into it.  If you don’t have fire to hit, why are you training a line there?  Use that water to your advantage.  Collapse an issue?  Then get the lines up and out of the collapse zone with aerial pipes and platforms but don’t just “surround and drown.”  Aim for areas of heavy fire.  You won’t be “pushing it” somewhere else, it’s already going there, knock down the bulk of it’s heat and support and it will slow it’s advance.

When it is commercial and you’re trying your best to get as many large lines as you can into the office building, what are we doing?  Each of those lines needs 2 persons on the nozzle, an officer and then a member at each corner feeding line.  That exceeds even the best staffing models I’ve seen.  Take that first line and make a difference with it.  Keep it dry until you absolutely need water, then your layout person and other companies can help you stretch as you go.  Charge that 2 1/2″ line with 2 people at the door and all it will be good for is holding the front door open.You’ll need help getting it where it needs to be, but once there and trained on the seat of the fire, conditions will improve and smaller lines can chase the fire back as you advance, knocking down a lot of fire.  All because of SMART application of water.

Think I’m wrong?  Know I’m wrong?  Show me.

These are my observations and do not reflect the standards and practices of my employer.  Nor is the Department in the image used being singled out, nor were they the inspiration for this post, just a nice shot of an outside defensive line and an officer who appears to REALLY love that tree.

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  1. The Public Servant January 12, 2010 4:26 pm

    I wholeheartedly can agree with your account here. Following the discussion we had recently about the use of the phrase “Big fire, big water” I was wondering when I would get to see this from you, and am not let down. In today's fundamentals classes to use that phrase is second nature.

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