01/06/14 703 W - + 2 - 2 Firehouse Forum Topic - Have You Changed Your Tactics?

This Firehouse.com forum thread titled Have You Changed Your Tactics? was started on December 28 by the user Dickey, who asked this question:

I am wondering, doing a poll if you will, of departments who have changed their tactics or operations since the FDNY/UL Labs information came out.

How many departments have changed what they do and if you did, what did you change?

On December 29, the user captnjak posted this succinct summary of the FDNY/UL Labs studies:

I have also seen the information presented by UL, NIST and the FDNY personnel directly involved in the research. Several times actually. That's a good thing because there is a staggering amount of data. FDNY has changed some tactics as a result. Most of the changes involve ventilation and it's effect on flow path.

The research proved that hose lines don't "push" fire. Not from the outside to the inside and not from one inside area to another. Many a crusty old dog refuse to believe this, as it was long held fire service mantra that hoselines could push fire. IMO, this dates back to when a member would go in a window with subpar (or non-existent PPE) and begin a search opposite the line. This would be pre-flashover while the fire was still developing. He would be operating below the worst heat layer. The line would open up and the area would fill with steam from floor to ceiling. Even though the overall area was cooled, there would be steam at the lowest level. The level that the unprotected firefighter was at. The steam would burn that firefighter. He would then conclude that "they pushed the fire at me".

Heat sensors were placed throughout entire houses. They revealed that any water applied from just about anywhere cooled the immediate fire area along with all other areas of the house. So it was proven that transitional attack not only did not push fire, but it also cooled all areas of the house significantly. The heat sensors also revealed that temperatures were extremely high not only at the seat of the fire but throughout the house. Sometimes approaching 1800-2000 degrees. IMO, this is evidence that the old mantra of not opening up the line until we are at the seat of the fire is no longer a hard and fast rule.

The studies were not directed at transitional attack. The information concerning that was almost a byproduct of the research. Many of you did not need to be told that transitional attack can be quite effective. FDNY did need to be told this. Some still fight it.

The FDNY goal was to study the behavior of the fire itself and the results of ventilation on these fires. It logically followed the research that had been done on wind driven fires in high rise buildings.

We now often arrive at a fire that is ventilation limited. There is plenty of heat and fuel but available air has been used up by the fire. The heat and airborne fuel (smoke) will spread to any area that is open to the original fire area. Any opening we make will provide air to the mixture and could result in flashover conditions. A firefighter in such an area can only be saved by immediate withdrawal (seconds) or immediate application of water. PPE will not be sufficient protection.

He continues with some comments about his department's tactical changes, then concludes:

Fast water on the fire is still the best answer for any fire condition we meet. This should be the highest priority for available staffing. Ventilation prior to a charged hoseline being in place is counter-productive. Search w/o benefit of a charged line is very risky. There isn't much point in getting to victims if fire conditions subsequently prevent us from removing victims.

In the grand scheme of things, implementing some tactical changes based on this research is not a big deal and doesn't substantially change fire ground operations. We're still firefighters. We're still interior. We're still aggressive. We're just a little bit (a lot?) safer while we do it.

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