Fires from my perspective…
Just as Rescue, Firefighting, and many technical fields, the Art of the Fight in Firefighting is Who, Access, Timing and Luck. Luck to me is placing ones self in to the correct place at the correct time.
Training and skill retention are super important. The team of firefighters have to work , train and live the life together. Super talented but very individual folks will exist and excel but most times a good average crew that grows together will turn into the best performers.
Varying skills and personnel mixtures occur in any department. Volunteer departments are subject to development of like interests and having several or groups away from the response area for multiple days or weeks. This makes the membership and leadership more aware of the day to day activities of each other. Introduction of the paid or live in or shift volunteers makes the tight communications a little less stringent because of the skills of those at the stations 24 hours.
Now to the individuals… Both appointed leaders and Officers must assess the skills and actions and reactions of every member. Interior firefighters and those in training and then those in swan song of age with the knowledge and skill set but lacking the youth and stamina of youth are constantly evaluated by every training and every call. Each member must ask themselves, can I affect a Rescue of my own team, Can I expect those around me to be able to rescue me, and can I depend on the individuals to perform under some of the toughest conditions known to man.?
What prompted the writing is a couple of fires that show a transition occurring from the Old to the Youth of the Department. The youth had been up to this point OK with status Quo. Now there is some push for a leader to emerge or be appointed for this generation. The youth of the department need acknowledgment of their skill set and reward of their time.
Fires in question are lead and directed by the (OAAT) OLD AGE and Treachery, and the Youth and Skill were the muscle. Each time those in the fight and the interior crews had to depend on their skills and stamina. Still able to direct and use skills interior and exterior were some OAAT.
Training to develop skills and some heat pressure is essential. Neither will give the actual experience of the heat and smoke involved in the house fire. This was a old building, ordinary construction and on fire in several rooms and walls and attic involved or exposed. First crew in made access away from the fire and tried to locate the seat of the fire. The next crews in were two lines to the middle of the house for attic and search . Immediately the 3 crews met in the middle of a very packed house. 10 minutes into the fight and no water on the fire yet. Once the interior was cleaned out some a crew was sent up to the attic and the seat located and attacked. Attic had rooms on each side of stairs and fire behind the knee walls and in the attic space above. Heat took its toll on the attic crews and the fire attack crew. Reinforcements and additional crews were sent to each area. 2 OAAT stayed in during the transitions and checked on the fire attack and attic fight. Sometimes the transitions periods are where you get the best action. Attic access had been made and some fire knocked down but built up and was rocking. Perfect access to all void areas was available from the stair landing and was utilized with the mass application of wet stuff on the red stuff.
The next challenge is who has the stamina to overhaul and put all the left over fire in its place. Crews were reestablished with the folks that were freshest and knowledgeable about the respective fire areas. Investigation was consulted and all activities were suppression and overhaul.
1.5 hours for control and 2 more for the overhaul, A book in its self is the mobilization of the special circumstances and needs the victims require. Get the fire out and make sure we don’t come back. This is super hard and when you have been on the scene for 5 -6 hours there can be hidden fire and small voids that go undiscovered and many times need surveillance.
The actions of all were necessary for the successful control of this fire.