- What can you access from this street view of this building, it’s occupancy risks and structural and collapse profile?
- What type of strategies and tactics would you employ upon the first due with a report of a fire in the building?
Today’s evolving fireground demands greater adaptive insights and management with an amplified understanding of buildings, occupancy risk profiling (ORP) and building anatomy by all operating companies on the fireground; demanding greater skill sets and knowledge of building construction, architecture, engineering, fire dynamics and fire suppression methodologies.
The equation for success rests directly on Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety.
Don’t be complacent based on alarm type, building or occupancy type…expect fire, be prepared and understand the predictability of building performance. It should not be a surprise upon arrival of the first-due.
Some Training Aide Links from past Ten Minutes in the Streets
- Ten Minutes in the Street; Stretchin’ the line on the First-Due, HERE
- Ten Minutes in the Street; “But it’s only a Garage..!”, HERE
- Ten Minutes in the Street: “I Hear Ya Knockin’, But Nobody’s Home”
- Box 2752..Reported Fire in an Occupied Apartment Above Sammy’s Liquors
- The First-Due: Well Involved http://thecompanyofficer.com/2011/08/25/ten-minutes-in-the-street-the-first-due/
- Ten Minutes in the Street: “Three For One”
- Ten Minutes in the Street: On-scene, with Engine 21, Second Alarm…
- Ten Minutes in the Street: “Dispatch to Chief..You’ve got Two Working Fires…”
- Strip Stores: http://my.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/ten-minutes-in-the-street-5
- Ten Minutes in the Street: The Triple Decker with Fire in the Attic: http://my.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/ten-minutes-in-the-street-the-2?q=forum/topics/ten-minutes-in-the-street-the-2
- Laundry: http://my.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/first-due-arriving-with-a
- Ten Minutes in the Street: Read “through” the Smoke, HERE
- Ten Minutes in the Street; Pipin’ Hot First Due..30 Minutes or Less, HERE
- Ten Minutes in the Street; “Here’s lookin’ at You”, HERE
- Ten Minutes in the Street: Fire on the Number Two Floor-Doubtful
- Townhouse: http://my.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/ten-minutes-in-the-street-fire-1
- Ten Minutes in the Street: Report of Smoke in the Area
- Ten Minutes in the Street: Buildings Under Construction; FIRE
- Ten Minutes in the Street Scenario: On-scene, with Engine Company 13…..
- Ten Minutes in the Street: The Triple Decker with Fire in the Attic
- Ten Minutes in the Street: Stretchin’ the line on the First-Due
Operational Safety Considerations at Ordinary and Heavy Timber Constructed Occupancies
Building Type III and IV Training Materials for the Fire Service
This program was developed to support the case study information published within the 2009 Near-Miss Reporting Calendar for the Month of May, 2009 for the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System. If you’re not familiar with the NFFNMRS, go to their web site, HERE for insights on resources and timely operational and training information, data and resources. The National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System is a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive and secure reporting system with the goal of improving fire fighter safety.
The Near-Miss Reporting System Report Case Study #08-0099 provided various insights into operational and safety issues affecting incident operations within a complex of warehouses built within the late 1800’s.
The program objectives consist of;
- Increasing awareness of Type III and Type IV construction characteristics.
- Provide awareness of inherent building construction, stability, performance and collapse considerations.
- Provide a focus on Type III and Type IV building construction predominant in pre-1960 construction and occupancies.
- Although Type III and IV construction is utilized in a variety of present day construction projects, these areas are excluded due to production limitations and focus on the near-miss case study reporting correlations.
This program provides an awareness level perspective on selective construction, operational and safety issues affecting the fire service, and does not represent other numerous areas of considerations. Formal training courses within a number of related subject areas is encouraged to increase knowledge and skill sets necessary to further strategic and tactical firefighting operations and incident management.
NIOSH released it’s report on the August 24, 2009 three alarm fire at 1815 Genesee Street in Buffalo, New York that resulted in the LODD of Lt. Charles McCarthy and FF Jonathan Croom. On August 24, 2009, 45-year-old career Lieutenant Charles McCarthy died following a partial floor collapse into a basement fire, and 34-year-old career fire fighter Jonathan Croom was fatally injured while attempting to rescue the Lieutenant. The Buffalo Fire Department was dispatched for “an alarm of fire” with reported civilian(s) entrapment. Arriving units discovered a heavily secured mixed commercial/residential structure with smoke showing. Following failed initial attempts to locate an entry to the basement, crews located a door on Side 2 that provided access down a flight of stairs to a basement entry door. Repeated attempts were made to force open this basement door in order to search for trapped civilians, but crews had difficulty gaining access through this door because it was made of steel and locked and dead-bolted on both sides. Other crews on scene performed primary searches of the 1st and 2nd floors with no civilians found.
Approximately 30 minutes into the basement fire, command ordered all interior crews to exit the structure to regroup because crews were still unable to gain access into the basement from Side 2. Additional manpower was sent with special tools to assist in breaching the basement door on Side 2. Lieutenant Charles McCarthy and two fire fighters from his crew entered into the structure from Side 1 to verify all fire fighters had exited a 1st floor deli. Lt. McCarthy following a hoseline into the structure, was well ahead of the other two fire fighters when the 1st floor partially collapsed beneath him. McCarthy fell with the floor into the basement, exposing him to the basement fire. The other two fire fighters immediately exited the deli after fire conditions quickly changed and shelving and displays fell on them; they were unaware of what had just occurred. Lt. McCarthy made several Mayday calls from within the structure and activated his PASS device. Confusion erupted exteriorly on scene when trying to verify who was calling the Mayday, their exact location, and how they got into the basement.
The incident commander was aware that he had crews attempting to gain access into the basement from Side 2 but was unaware that there had been a floor collapse within the deli section of the structure. Simultaneously, FF Croom, a member of the fire fighter assistance and search team (FAST), was standing by outside Lieutenant McCarthy’s point of entry when the Mayday calls came out. It is believed that FF Croom knew where the Lt., was since he had gone in the structure with him earlier in the incident. FF Croom grabbed a tool, went on air, and rushed into the structure. The FAST and additional personnel on scene concentrated on Side 2 initially while other fire fighters followed an unmanned hoseline into the deli. Crews within the deli quickly discovered a floor collapse and reported hearing a PASS device alarming. Lt. McCarthy was immediately identified as missing during the first accountability check, but FF Croom was not accounted for as missing until the third accountability check, more than 50 minutes after Lt. McCarthy’s Mayday. After the fire was controlled, both victims were discovered side-by-side in the basement where the 1st floor had partially collapsed. They were found without their facepieces on and with SCBA bottles empty. the Lt’s. PASS device was still alarming. They were pronounced dead on scene. Four fire fighters and one lieutenant suffered minor injuries during the incident. No civilians were discovered within the structure.
Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include working above an uncontrolled, free-burning basement fire; interior condition reports not communicated to command; inadequate risk-versus-gain assessments; and, crew integrity not maintained.
NIOSH has concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:
- Ensure that all personnel are aware of the dangers of working above a fire, especially a basement fire, and develop, implement, and enforce a standard operating procedure (SOP) that addresses strategies and tactics for this type of fire.
- Ensure that the incident commander (IC) receives interior status reports and performs/continues evaluating risk-versus-gain.
- Ensure that crew integrity is maintained at all times on the fireground.
- Ensure that the incident commander (IC) receives accurate personnel accountability reports (PAR) so that he can account for all personnel operating at an incident.
- Ensure that a separate incident safety officer, independent from the incident commander, is appointed at each structure fire.
- Ensure that fire fighters use their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and are trained in SCBA emergency procedures.
Occupational injuries and fatalities are often the result of one or more contributing factors or key events in a larger sequence of events that ultimately result in the injury or fatality. NIOSH investigators identified the following items as key contributing factors in this incident that may have led to the fatalities:
- Working above an uncontrolled, free-burning basement fire.
- Interior condition reports not communicated to command.
- Inadequate risk-versus-gain assessments.
- Crew integrity not maintained.
Time Line from the Buffalo (NY) Fire Department Investigative Report
3:51 a.m. – fire crews were sent to 1815 Genesee Street in Buffalo. When they arrived, they were met by a resident who said he heard people trapped inside. Crews began searching the building, but were eventually ordered out as conditions deteriorated.
4:22 a.m. – Members of Rescue 1 entered the building to make sure all firefighters had evacuated the building. Less than two minutes later the floor in the rear of the building collapsed. Lt. McCarthy of Rescue 1 fell into the basement as the floor collapsed. according to the report, other members of Rescue 1 were unaware of the collapse and only reported hearing a loud noise. McCarthy began calling for help on his radio, but other members of Rescue 1 were unable to determine where the calls were coming from and left the building unaware that Lt. McCarthy was trapped.
4:23 a.m. – Firefighter Croom entered the building after hearing the calls for help. the report says he did not exit the building, apparently falling into the basement near Lt. McCarthy.
4:31 a.m. – An emergency head count was ordered to determine the identity of the missing firefighter. Lt. McCarthy was reported missing at that time, but FF Croom was not. Firefighters in the front of the store reported hearing a pass alarm, but could not reach it due to extreme fire conditions, a weakened floor and continuing collapse.
4:48 a.m. – all crews were ordered out of the building because it had become unsafe.
Later, concerns began to arise that FF Croom was missing. the report says he was erroneously reported in a remote area.
5:46 a.m. – On scene personal realize FF Croom is missing and likely inside the building.
6:10 a.m. – Another head count is taken and FF Croom is reported missing.
9:18 a.m. – the Recovery Group reports that the two missing firefighters had been located in the basement, covered in fallen debris.
9:32 a.m. – the debris is cleared and Recovery Group firefighters reach Lt. McCarthy and FF Croom.
Buffalo (NY) Fire Department Investigative Report, issued December 2, 2009, HERE
For a comprehensive Power Point Program on Operational Safety at Heavy Timber and Ordinary Construction Occupancys that you can down load, go to the National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting Web Site HERE.
I produced an informational training PPT program and support information that aligned with a previoulsy reported Near Miss Event Report. You can download the PPT Training Program HERE and the PDF File HERE
NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigative Report 2009-23, HERE
Our buildings have changed; the structural systems of support, the degree of compartmentation, the characteristics of materials and the magnitude of fire loading. The structural anatomy, predictability of building performance under fire conditions, structural integrity and the extreme fire behavior; accelerated growth rate and intensively levels typically encountered in buildings of modern construction during initial and sustained fire suppression have given new meaning to the term combat fire engagement.
The rules for combat structural fire suppression have changed, but we have yet to write the rule book from which the new games plans must be derived. We seek the elusive “Rosetta stone” that aligns and interprets the emerging and traditionalist acumen related to fire stream effectiveness, flow rates, cooling capacity, extreme fire behavior and fire dynamics, compartment fire theory, propagation and cooling capacity and tactical deployment all relate towards defining an engineering approach to firefighting tactics versus the manual, labor-driven tactics of line deployment and rudiment placement of water on a fuel source within the fire compartment (room).
It’s no longer just brute force and sheer physical determination that defines structural fire suppression operations. It begs to suggest that many of today’s incident commanders, company officers and firefighters lack the clarity of understanding and comprehension that correlate to the inherent characteristics of today’s buildings, construction and occupancies and the need for refined engine company operations within the modern building construction setting. We assume that the routiness or successes of our operations and incident responses equates with predictability and diminished risk to our firefighting personnel.
The work of such notable suppression theory pioneers as P. Grimwood, E. Hartin, S. Särdqvist and S. Svennson and the concepts surrounding 3D firefighting, B-SAHF and other emerging research from the NIST and UL are areas that today’s discerning and progressive fire officer and commanders must become well-informed and conversant. The quantitative scientific data and emerging concepts from continuing research and testing such as the NIST’s Wind Drive Fire Studies and UL’s The Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber in Fire Conditions are providing enlightenment on fire development, fuel controlled and ventilation controlled fire development, operational time-duration parameters and degradation and failure mechanisms related to compromise and structural collapse in occupancies.
Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past conventional construction, therefore risk assessment, strategies and tactics must change to address these new rules of combat structural fire engagement.
- Building Construction Systems
The fundamental compartment that comprised a typical room configuration in terms of area (square footage), volume (height/Width), furnishings (fire load package) and materials of construction (structural anatomy) found within conventional, legacy or heritage construction provided predictability in terms of fire suppression, fire behavior, operational time and survivability (civilian/firefighter). The dramatic changes since the early 1980’s in the evolution of modern building construction and the institutionalization of engineered structural systems (ESS) have created compartment (room) areas in excess 500 SF, volumes that are open and spaciously interconnected to other habitable space, fire load packages that create extreme fire behavior, compromising structural stability in shorter time spans creating decreasing interior operational time and requiring increasing fire flow rates and volume to sustain requisite extinguishment demands.
Commanders and Company Offices need to gain new insights and knowledge related to the modern building occupancy and to modify and adjust operating profiles in order to safe guard companies, personnel and team compositions. Strategies and tactics must be based on occupancy risk not occupancy type and must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and nozzle appliances orchestrated in a manner that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy profile and accounts for presumed fire behavior. Today’s engine company operations and fire suppression theory has to progress beyond the pragmatic approaches to fire suppression such as “Big Fire-Big Water principle.
When we look at various buildings and occupancies, past operational experiences; those that were successful, and those that were not, give us experiences that define and determine how we access, react and expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm in the future. Naturalistic (or recognition-primed) decision-making forms much of this basis. We predicate certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined (predictable) manner that fire will hold within a room and compartment for a predictable given duration of time; that the fire load and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy, structural system; in addition to having an appropriately trained and skilled staff to perform the requisite evolutions.
Executing tactical plans based upon faulted or inaccurate strategic insights and indicators has proven to be a common apparent cause in numerous case studies, after action reports and LODD reports. Our years of predictable fireground experience have ultimately embedded and clouded our ability to predict, assess, plan and implement incident action plans and ultimately deploy our companies-based upon the predictable performance expected of modern construction and especially those with engineered structural systems.
If you don’t fully understand how a building truly performs or reacts under fire conditions and the variables that can influence its stability and degradation, movement of fire and products of combustion and the resource requirements for fire suppression in terms of staffing, apparatus and required fire flows, then you will be functioning and operating in a reactionary manner, that is no longer acceptable within many of our modern building types, occupancies and structures. This places higher risk to your personnel and lessens the likelihood for effective, efficient and safe operations. You’re just not doing your job effectively and you’re at RISK. These risks can equate into insurmountable operational challenges and could lead to adverse incident outcomes. Someone could get hurt, someone could die, it’s that simple; it’s that obvious.
Considerations for changing fire flow rates, the sizing of hose line and the adequacies for fire flow demand and application rates, staffing needs for safe operations, considerations for defensive positioning and defensive operating postures must be considered, and it warrants repeating again; Reckless-Aggressive firefighting must be redefined in the built environment and associated with goal oriented tactical operations that are defined by risk assessed and analyzed tasks that are executed under battle plans that promote the best in safety practices and survivability within known hostile structural fire environments- with determined, effective and proactive firefighting
- Doctrine of Combat Fire Engagement
- Predictive Strategic Process
- Tactical Deployment Model
- Dynamic Tactical Deployment
- Performance Indicators and Street Aides
- Fire Dynamics
- Structural Systems
- Occupancy Hazard Profiles
The traditional attitudes and beliefs of equating aggressive firefighting operations in all occupancy types coupled with the correlating, established and pragmatic operational strategies and tactics must not only be questioned, they need to be adjusted and modified; risk assessment, risk-benefit analysis, safety and survivability profiling, operational value and firefighter injury and LODD reduction must be further institutionalized to become a recognized part of modern firefighting operations.
Aggressive firefighting must be redefined and aligned to the built environment and associated with goal oriented tactical operations that are defined by risk assessed and analyzed tasks that are executed under battle plans that promote the best in safety practices and survivability within known hostile structural fire environments.
Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past conventional or legacy construction and occupancies;
- Risk assessment, strategies and tactics must change to address these new rules of structural fire engagement.
- You need to gain the knowledge and insights and to change and adjust your operating profile in order to safe guard your companies, personnel and team compositions.
- Again strategic firefighting operations; Strategies and tactics must be based on occupancy risk not occupancy type.
The following are quotes from Fire Chief Anthony Aiellos (ret) Hackensack (NJ) Fire Department, Fire Chief during the Hackensack Ford Fire, July, 1988…
“If you don’t fully understand how a building truly performs or reacts under fire conditions and the variables that can influence its stability and degradation, movement of fire and products of combustion and the resource requirements for fire suppression in terms of staffing, apparatus and required fire flows, then you will be functioning and operating in a reactionary manner. This places higher risk to your personnel and lessens the likelihood for effective, efficient and safe operations. You’re just not doing your job effectively and you’re at RISK. These risks can equate into insurmountable operational challenges and could lead to adverse incident outcomes”.
When we look at various buildings and occupancies, past operational experiences; those that were successful, and those that were not, give us experiences that define and determine how we access, react and expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm in the future. Naturalistic (or recognition-primed) decision-making forms much of this basis.
We predicate certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined (predictable) manner that fire will hold within a room and compartment for a given duration of time, that the fire load and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy, structural system. That may be true for conventional or legacy structures, but what about modern construction and engineered structural systems? Same expectations?…….
What do you think?
Take at look the at this residential fire and interior attack that injured a number of Maryland Firefighters HERE
Take a moment to look back at an incident: On December 18, 1998, Three FDNY Firefighters died in-the line of duty while conducting suppression and rescue operations at fire on the tenth floor of 10-story high-rise apartment building for the elderly. This wind-driven fire event and the lessons-learned contributed directly to the current body of research and new insights on emerging strategies and tactics. NIOSH Report HERE. NIST References HERE
Take the time to remember FDNY Lt. Joseph Cavaleiri, FF Christopher Bopp and Firefighter James Bohan from Ladder 170