In today’s modern-fueled environments, we are quickly discovering the interior fuels and structural components involved can quickly deteriorate a fire corridor (the area we initiate our assault) rendering our work environment untenable due to thermal insult or structural instability.
After completing a 360 of the structure. Prior to entering your “fire corridor” for the interior fire attack, does your crew take a moment to briefly assess the conditions of the hallway, floor, celing to assess for structural integrity through the use of a forcible entry tool or other method? What about using your TIC?
Yes another acronym… TAC-STAC. Tactical; Structural; Thermal Assessment & Conditioning.
Prior to engaging in an interior structural fire… we must ensure the environment we will be operating is structurally sound and thermally stable in order to reduce the risks to our crews from collapse and extreme fire events as my mentor Chief Joe Starnes of Kill the Flashover calls it.
Ask yourself…Is there a floor? Is there a ceiling? What are the range of temperatures in the corridor prior to entry? How will these influence our safety and effect the fire behavior or flow path of the fire? If we lose the floor or ceiling what can we expect the fire growth and behavior to do without intervention from a hoseline(s)?
One problem though… with today’s modern fuels, the smoke production is so intense we may,in most cases, never see the fire, nor the ability to see the structural layout. So, it is my opinion a thermal imager be assignned for every hoseline and search crew. What? A TIC for the fire attack? Why not? What about the search effort? Are we not searching on the fire attack, as well?
In addition to using our sense of sight, sound, feel and experience. This is another way for us to see what is truly going on in our fire corridor and provides us with an ability to keep our head on a swivel to know what is going on around us when our senses cannot be relied upon. No.. I am not suggesting we rely solely upon the TIC but as yet another tool in our toolbox.
If conditions are not acceptable for entry (Go…No..Go..), condition or cool the environment to reduce the high energy gas production through cooling the environment in order to provide our interior crews with a protected fire corridor that has been cooled to provide us time for escape if things go south quickly. This can be accomplished through surface gas cooling or the reset or transitional attack. What are your Go..No..Go conditions?
When we use our Combustible Gas Indicators (CGI) to measure for vapors in a haz-mat environment don’t we confirm the presence of a material through sampling with two CGI’s? Why are we not using multiple applications to ensure we have a structurally safe and thermally safe corridor? Simply relying on your ears through two protective layers will get you killed in todays fire world! Implement your TIC on the fire attack!
Resist the Resistance…Strive to Stay Alive!