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Enclosed Structure Dangers A New Approach for Firefighter Life Safety


Information presented in this program was largely obtained from research ... Fire Marshal with the City of Arkansas City. Retired Fire Marshal for City of Winfield ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Enclosed Structure Dangers A New Approach for Firefighter Life Safety

Enclosed Structure Dangers A New
Approach for Firefighter Life Safety
  • By
  • Chief Gary Bowker
  • Kansas EGH Advocate
  • Information presented in this program was largely
    obtained from research conducted by Fire Captain
    William R. Mora (Ret)
  • San Antonio Fire Department

  • Fire Marshal with the City of Arkansas City
  • Retired Fire Marshal for City of Winfield
  • Retired Fire Chief with U.S. Air Force (McConnell
  • Past Fire Chief for Sumner County Dist. 10
  • Lead Kansas Advocate for Everyone Goes Home
  • Associate Instructor with KU Fire Rescue
    Training Institute
  • Certified as Fire Officer II, Inspector II,
    Instructor II, and Certified Fire Explosion

Course Overview
  • The Firefighter LODD problem
  • Lessons learned about Enclosed Structures
  • The Firefighter Disorientation Sequence
  • Proposed Risk Management Solutions

This class meets 7 of the 16 Firefighter Life
Safety Initiatives1,2,3,4,8,9, 11
The Problem
  • US Firefighter LODDs continue to increase
    despite national efforts starting in 2004 with
    the introduction of the 16 Firefighter Life
    Safety Initiatives developed at the Firefighter
    Life Safety Summit .

LODDs To Date_____
US LODDs Past Decade
Top 3 Killers of Firefighters
  • 1 Cardiac/Stress/Over-exertion (Approx 48)
  • 2 Traffic AccidentsResponding to and returning
    from alarmsexcessive speed, lack of seatbelt
    use, failure to stop at controlled intersections.
    (Approx 31)
  • 3 Failure to know or react to hostile fire
    events .i.e., Approaching flashover or backdraft
    conditions, Collapse, Failure to understand
    changing fire conditionssmoke resulting in
    Firefighter Disorientation. (Approx 21)

Top 3 Firefighter Killers
A culture change is needed
  • Complacency
  • Competency
  • Cockiness

Things will not get better until there is a
culture change
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  • Open vs. Enclosed Structure An enclosed
    structure is a structure where there is an
    absence of useable doors and windows of
    sufficient size and number to provide prompt
    ventilation and emergency evacuationThis include
    s basements.
  • Enclosed structures are highly prone to produce
    life threatening hazards are directly linked to
  • These structures exist in tremendous numbers, in
    every community, and can be of any size, type,
    age, and occupancy. They can be occupied,
    unoccupied or vacant.

What type of structure do we fight most of our
fires in?
Open Residential Structures
Enclosed Structures can be any size, any age, or
any occupancy and theyre found in all
The Enclosed Structure is a specific and
extremely dangerous type of structure and is
killing firefighters at a disproportionate rate
in multiple ways
  • Floor/Roof Collapse
  • Falls through fire-weakened floors
  • Disorientation
  • Depletion of Air Supply
  • Flashover
  • Backdraft

12/99 Worcester, MA 6 Firefighters Killed
Charleston 6/18/079 Firefighters Killed
Why is this continuing to happen?
The problem
  • One common problem cited in firefighter fatality
    investigations is
  • Failure to Follow or Adopt Standard Operating

The Problem
  • The US Firefighter Disorientation Study
    published in 2003 (Mora) found that many of the
    SOPs in use at the time of the LODD were
    actually ineffective, unsafe, or needed
    operational revision.

  • Prolonged Zero Visibility Heavy smoke conditions
    lasting longer than 15 minutes.
  • Why 15 Minutes?
  • Do you know your air consumption rate?

Lessons Learned
  • Moras 2003 US Firefighter Disorientation Study
    spanned 22 years of LODD data from 1979-2001
    included 17 case studies.
  • The study found
  • Enclosed Structures are directly linked to
    Firefighter Disorientation
  • In 100 of the cases studied when a fast,
    aggressive interior attack was used at enclosed
    structures, firefighter disorientation occurred
    100 of the time in which a LODD or serious F/F
    injuries were involved.

Lessons Learned
  • Moras 2nd Study-The Analysis of Structural
    Firefighter Fatality Database 2007 (1990-2006)
  • 444 LODD occurred 176 were structure fires
  • 77 occurred in Enclosed Structures where a fast
    aggressive interior attack was utilized

The Disorientation Sequence
Why is this being repeated?

A few of the lesson learned from Charleston
  • Culture Change needed
  • Competency, complacency
  • Risk Assessment
  • Construction type dangers
  • Enclosed structure dangers
  • Code Enforcement
  • Preplanning
  • Utilize latest technology

Lessons Learned
  • The fire services lack of knowledge about the
    extreme dangers posed by the enclosed structure
    and the disorientation sequence.
  • Add to this the failure to recognize or react to
    the dangers of lightweight construction,
    pre-flashover backdraft warning
    signsMisinterpreting size-up
  • Failure to Manage the Risk

Lessons Learned
  • When the downed Firefighter is not quickly
    located serious injury or death results.
  • RIC on scene ready?
  • Minimum of 90 seconds before RIC can enter
  • Trapped firefighter usually not found until 3rd
    or 4th attempt.
  • Do you have adequate staffing on-scene?
  • Do you know your Air Consumption Rate?

Proposed Risk Management Solutions
  • Firefighters must be warned about the extreme
    dangers enclosed structures present and that an
    aggressive interior attack immediately upon
    arrival may be ineffective and unsafe in many
  • SOP/SOGs must be re-written adopting new tactics
    and strategies for enclosed structures,
    lightweight construction, basement fires, etc.

  • The SOP/SOG must call for the utilization of a
    Cautious Interior Assessment (CIA) instead of the
    traditional quick hit.
  • Quick Access Pre-Fire Plans must be developed for
    high-risk structures
  • Officers must routinely integrate risk management
    into operations

Officers must Integrate Risk Management by
  • Using sound officer judgment at every structure
    fire to include
  • Conduct Risk vs. Benefit Analysis
  • SOG/SOPs must include a Defensive Fire Attack
    policy on structures that are fully involved, or
    where there is nothing left to save. Similarly, a
    primary search is not initiated.
  • This policy must include abandoned, vacant, or
    dilapidated structures that are either partially
    or well involved.

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Risk Management Techniques
  • Routinely assign Incident Scene Safety Officer at
    all enclosed structures
  • Determine if basement is involved
  • Utilize Thermal Imager
  • Cut inspection holes in floor if needed
  • Communicate information to crews
  • Attack fire from safe positions
  • Conduct Cautious Interior Assessment (CIA) at
    enclosed structures

Cautious Interior Assessment
  • The CIA is a process whereby
  • First arriving engine company enters the
    structure with
  • a. Thermal Imager
  • b. Charged handline (w/ an established
    water supply)
  • c. Backup crew
  • To look into the structure and locate the
    seat of the fire.

Cautious Interior Assessment
  • 2. After the seat of the fire is located the
    officer makes the decision to
  • a. Make an aggressive interior attack and
    call for additional resources, or
  • b. Make a Short Interior Attack (SIA) or
  • c. Go Defensive

Short Interior Attack
  • An SIA involves advancing handlines to the seat
    of the fire via the shortest distance possible by
    using existing windows, doors, or by breaching

Benefits of the SIA
  • Increases Firefighter Safety by minimizing the
    distance between the outside and the seat of the
  • It maximizes Firefighters Air Supply
  • Prevents handline separation disorientation
  • Helps avoid exposure to flashover/backdraft and
    collapse conditions.

More Solutions.
  • A Disorientation course must be provided to all
  • Officers must be able to quickly identify an
    enclosed structure upon arrival and implement an
    Enclosed Structure SOP

More Solutions
  • Fire Departments must be advised that live fire
    training in acquired structures that are enclosed
    must be avoided.
  • FD Inspections must insure the operational status
    of sprinkler and other suppression and detection
    systems in enclosed buildings.

More Solutions
  • Fire Departments should develop a list of
    Enclosed Structures in their communities with the
  • This information should then be provided to the
    dispatch center for immediate dissemination in
    the event of an alarm that address via CAD to
    Mobile Data Terminals in responding fire
    apparatus or via radio traffic.

Not for a piece of property
  • Firefighters traditionally serve our
    communities exceedingly well and save lives and
    structures that can be saved. However,
    firefighters can no longer needlessly place their
    lives in extreme danger for a piece of property.

Closing Thoughts
  • The firefighters who have died in enclosed
    structures over the past decades did precisely
    what they were trained, ordered, and expected to
    dothey implemented widely accepted tactics and
    strategies that have worked for them throughout
    their careers
  • However, as long as we continue to fight
    fires in enclosed structures the traditional way,
    with complete confidence, by the book, from the
    unburned side, using a fast and aggressive
    interior attackwe will continue to die.

The Times They are a Changin
  • If your department routinely implements a fast
    aggressive interior attack without following a
    risk management statement and is not aware of the
    dangers associated with enclosed, abandoned,
    vacant, or dilapidated structures or maintained
    structures that cannot be saved, your
    firefighters run a high risk of serious injury or
  • In the future, the high percentage of firefighter
    LODDs will only be reduced if local, progressive
    leadership institutes tactical changes more
    appropriate to managing todays risk.

It takes a Tactical Cultural Change to Prevent
  • What were trying to do is change the culture of
    the fire service. Its no longer acceptable to
    put your life on the line for a piece of
    property. Yes, were going to save lives and
    were going to put our lives on the line to save
    someone else. But stop and think what your doing
    before you go into a burning building
  • David Paulison, Former USFA
  • To prevent the tragic loss of firefighters the
    safety culture must change. In this effort,
    Firefighters must understand that they are not
    required to sacrifice their lives to save any
    structure, regardless the type of occupancy
    encountered including residences, churches,
    restaurants, and even high rise buildings.
  • Captain
    William Mora (Ret)
  • San
    Antonio Fire Department

  • Stay together
  • Avoid complacency
  • Be a Leader
  • Educate yourself and continue to do so
  • If you see a problem take action to fix it
  • Take ownership of this culture and change it
  • Have the courage to be safe
  • Stay Fit
  • Drive Safe
  • Tactics-Tactics-Tactics
  • Make everyday a training day
  • Your 1 PriorityGo home at the end of the day

Fire Officers
  • Your 1 Job is to insure Everyone Goes Home
  • You must be an effective competent leader
  • You must be prepared accountable
  • You must be a good decision maker
  • You must be an enforcer of policies and
  • You must be a good role model
  • Nothing less than your crews life depends on

Let me challenge you with this final thought..
  • Firefighters-What are you doing both personally
    and professionally to avoid becoming a LODD
  • Fire Officers-What is your department doing to
    avoid experiencing a LODD?

For More Information
  • Everyonegoeshome.com
  • Firefighterclosecalls.com
  • Firerescue1.com

Thank You and Stay Safe
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