Original Post found at: http://www.firehouse.com/article/12218570/orange-county-fire-rescue-applies-ul-nist-studies-to-live-fire-firefighter-training?utm_source=FH+Training+%26+Tactics&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS160614014
Orange County Fire Rescue is a nationally-accredited department that services the Central Florida area with 1 million residents and 66 million visitors annually. The coverage area expands over 760 square miles. There are 41 current fire stations, with three new stations being designed, and more than 1,000 operational field personnel that handle nearly 115,000 fire and EMS calls annually. So when it comes to practical training for a department this size, it becomes a daunting task to deliver current training trends and apply those trends to practical scenarios.
In October 2015, the department began a comprehensive Live Fire Burn training for the department that covered the latest data gathered by both the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Underwriters Laboratories-Firefighter Safety Research Institute (UL-FSRI), which would align our department’s emergency operating procedures with these studies. These concepts were developed through review of actual fire incidents, fire behavior and live fire exercises. The plan was laid out in two phases:
- A two-hour, web-based Introduction to Size-Up, Locate the Fire, Isolate the Flow Path, Cool from a Safe Distance, Extinguish the Fire, Rescue and Salvage (SLICE-RS) and Fire Suppression Tactics
- An eight-hour Practical Application Class composed from the web-based training:
- A two-hour, web-based lecture component on neutral plane, flow paths and transitional attack
- A six-hour module of practical scenarios during live burns
As any department knows, when training initiatives are developed and brought forward to their personnel, it is vital that a descriptive plan of the training is in place with dates, topics and requirements so structured, consistent training sessions take place.
The planning component
Under the guidance of Battalion Chief Darion Butler, the initial phase of the web-based training was designed to begin the initial introduction of the information and data compiled from UL. The training targeted flow path, transitional attack and neutral plane and how we at Orange County Fire Rescue could utilize this information for future fireground operations.
Once all the operations personnel received the introductory training, our training section under the guidance of lieutenants Greg Hubbard and Ralph Astarita, began the second phase of training with the advent of an eight-hour practical application class. The department committed four suppression units, two rescues, a captain and a battalion chief to the daily training sessions, which for the most part was a total of 15 students for every training session. This ran from October through December for a total of 49 days and 6,000 hours of hands-on training.
The training section often supplied personnel from both on-duty training staff and the hiring of adjunct instructors. While the hiring of overtime was substantial, it was needed to meet the necessary requirements for NFPA 1403 for live burns.
Due to the unpredictable nature of fireground environments that we encounter, our department knew that this undertaking was vital for the knowledge base development of our chief officers, company officers, and firefighters. Our priority was gaining the understanding and then implementing procedures that broaden our strategic and tactical approaches to fire scenes in order to control chaos and make these environments safer.
The learning objectives
Now that we had the plan in place, the learning objectives encompassed the following:
- Enhance firefighter safety
- Reintroducing the anatomy of fire behavior
- Concepts of reading smoke
- Developing strategies and employing sound tactics
- Incorporating SLICE-RS into our practical procedures
- Improve victim survivability
- Reduce property damage
The intent of this article is not to go back over flow paths/transitional attack/SLICE-RS and how to utilize that information, but more to explain what we did as a department to get a better understanding of fire behavior and applications, and how we would apply it.
Executing the planning component
All personnel were required to access our department’s training computer database to begin the first phase. Here the introduction to SLICE-RS, flow path and transitional attack were delivered by both PowerPoint and video descriptions of each component. The video portions were testimonies from a range of our department’s driver/operators to senior chief officers based on the NIST/UL studies.
Each section introduced the information provided by the study. For example, SLICE-RS broke down each part of the acronym so the firefighter and both company and chief officers understood the concept and utilized the learned material on the fireground. Showing them studies on how reducing the temperatures inside structures prior to crew entry made a significant impact on firefighter safety in the extinguishment and rescue phases of the operation.
Also in the first phase was a video on transitional attack which explained, the what, when, why and how we implement this coordinated effort between the crew and the incident commander.
As shown in the video, the importance of improving interior conditions for the crew, thus reducing possible injury and potential flashover conditions, were highlighted.
The second phase of the training was the eight-hour session including the two-hour lecture component. In the afternoon, the six-hour session of live burns at the Central Florida Fire Institute (CFFI) training facility commenced.
The lecture session took a more in-depth review of the transitional attack and its relation to creating flow paths and how to look for the neutral plane. The discussion points centered on water application from the exterior of the structure to quickly cool the temperatures inside and control fire spread. Crews were instructed on how to coordinate through the incident commander an interior fire attack to extinguish the fire and facilitate a better atmosphere for search and rescue operations. Other key training points included:
- Transitional attack does not mean the fire will be put out from the exterior of the structure.
- Reducing the interior temperatures are vital prior to entry and how it assists in locating the seat of the fire.
- Getting water into heated spaces as soon as possible can enhance victim survivability and firefighter safety. This can’t be emphasized enough!
- With limited manpower positive results can be achieved on the fireground. Utilize the thermal imaging camera during the 360-degree initial size-up.
- Factors to be considered in smoke reading at residential and large commercial structures, including the signs of both heat-driven and pressure-driven smoke conditions.
- How citizens can potentially reduce flow paths by shutting interior doors as well as exterior doors. These discussions can be made during public relations events when discussing Exit Drills in the Home (E.D.I.T.H).
The practical scenario portion of the class consisted of three different live burns:
- Class A burn demonstrating how to look for the neutral plane and using door control—The Class A fire was demonstrated in the burn room where the instructors could show the development of the temperatures (800-1,000 degrees) within the room, and the crews could see the neutral plane being developed. The instructors were also able to illustrate how door control during this burn had a direct influence on flow path. The crews were astonished to see how opening one door had impacted heat development to higher temperatures within the room, and how a 20- to 30-second blast of water from a straight stream to the ceiling reversed that heating process. The progression of these events and the visualization were invaluable lessons learned by our personnel. Watch Video 2 to see what the crews experienced.
- A single-story residential room and contents fire—The main focus of this burn was for the first arriving engine company to encounter a single room and contents fire and begin the recognition of a transitional attack. The company officer needed to implement his/her Incident Action Plan (IAP) for hoseline deployment strategies, resource allocation, smoke reading and coordination of the transitional attack.
- A two-story residential room and contents fire on the second floor—This scenario had the same emphasis as the single-story residential, but now the fire was located on the second floor. The incident commander now had to look at potential ladder placement for initial attack as well as the lessons learned from the single-story burn. The realization of the importance of how timing and the speed of getting the tasks completed would impact the incident commander’s IAP was a valuable lesson learned.
Research shows us how fire behavior dynamics in structure fires has changed since the days when legacy fuel-based fires were the norm. The modern-day fuel fires present all departments with many challenges, and understanding those dynamics is crucial for successful outcomes on the fireground. Based on our application of NIST/UL research, we were able to take away the following:
- How wind impacted interior conditions by opening doors and changing flow path.
- By opening a door or window to a pressurized structure, it will create a flow path to that vent point and make conditions worse instead of better.
- The impact of a straight stream into heated fuel gases cools down the fire and makes the interior conditions better for a few minutes and allows a better atmosphere for the interior crews.
- Coordination of the transition to an interior attack must go through the incident commander.
- Recognition by interior crews of a low neutral plane and the danger it can represent is vital to firefighter safety.
- The training sessions were NOT always the same. Wind and weather conditions could change the scenarios within minutes and change flow paths from burn scenario to burn scenario. This allowed the students to actually see fire behavior changes that will impact their fireground operations.
- Utilization of limited personnel on the first-arriving units can have a positive impact on the outcome of the operation by water application from the exterior prior to making entry.
In reviewing the performance of our crews during the Live Fire Burn, we saw an opportunity to create the next multi-company drill series. We based the next major department drill on Ventilate, Enter, Isolate, Search (VEIS) components of our tactics along with “back-to-basics” training for all ranks within the department.
Orange County Fire Rescue will continue to partner with UL-FSRI for future training projects. It is the intention of this partnership to place our training on their website to allow other departments to see what we accomplished and some of the videos we produced. By sharing training initiatives from one department to another, we enable each other to apply lessons learned to our own policies and procedures. By doing so, we can all become stronger firefighters and more effective leaders. By achieving those goals, we enhance our ability to protect our communities and save lives.
J. BRIAN MORROW is an assistant chief of operations with Orange County, FL, Fire Rescue where he has served for 28 years. Morrow began his career in the fire service in 1976 with the Royersford, PA, Fire Department. He has extensive experience as a command officer and is a lead instructor and coordinator for the department’s incident command and strategy and tactics classes. He has been a working member of IFSTA for 10 years, serving on the validation committee for multiple instructional manuals and as the chairman for the Strategy and Tactics manual. Morrow also served the Central Florida area as program director for the driver/operator program at the Central Florida Fire Academy and is a member of the Central Florida Fire Chief’s Association. Morrow holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Lock Haven University and an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science from Valencia College.