When Should Command Be Expanded – Before or After the Mayday is Called?

Photo by Tim Olk

My article for the Firefighter/EMT Safety, Health & Survival Section of  the May 2012 issue of IAFC On Scene: Expanding Command Ahead of Demand.

If a mayday operation requires rapid, concise decisions and actions to increase firefighter survivability, then when should command be expanded—before or after the mayday is called?

We know that our work on the fireground is complex, dangerous and chaotic. We know that building and maintaining effective command and control is essential for successful and safe operations. We also know that fireground operations demand that we have a heightened sense of awareness, the ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and the skill and will to make critical decisions, and do so fast.

But how do we accomplish that, especially during a mayday situation, with limited or no command staff?

Read the entire article here.

Do you have adequate staffing and resources to handle a Mayday operation? Is your command staff ready to manage the risk and make the decisions to successfully control a Mayday incident?

Figuring Out What a Fire is About To Do Isn't Easy

A report just released by San Fransisco fire officials on Friday said that flashover, not procedural errors, was cited in two San Fransisco firefighter LODDs last year.

Two San Francisco firefighters died in a house fire last year because a window blew out and turned a minor blaze into a 700-degree inferno that overcame the men within minutes, an eight-month Fire Department investigation has concluded.

Read the entire article from FirefighterNation.com here.

A flare-up fueled by a broken window caused the deaths of two firefighters in a Diamond Heights house fire last year, and not procedural errors, San Francisco fire officials said Friday.

An internal safety investigation on the June 2, 2011, fire at 133 Berkeley Way indicates that firefighters Lt. Vincent A. Perez and Firefighter Paramedic Anthony M. Valerio were killed by extremely high temperatures of up to 700 degrees caused by a sudden flare up, known as a flashover.

Read the entire article from Firehouse.com here.

R.I.P Lt. Perez and FF Valerio.

Firefighters must continue to study and learn about hostile fire events

A sudden opening in the “box” (structure), whether triggered by the intense heat from the fire or created through fire-control (ventilation), lets in a rush of oxygen that can cause an intense fire event, a flashover. Flashover happens more often today, so figuring out what a fire is about to do before committing to an environment is not easy. Because firefighters have limited control over unexpected events, such as flashover, they must continue to study and learn the proactive warning signs of a hostile fire event to avoid being caught off guard.

Firefighting is complex and dangerous, and it’s never easy. Here’s more related sources on hostile fire events.

Chief Ed Hartin at Compartment Fire Behavior Training (CFBT) talks about flashover.