[The Art of the FireGround] Firefighters, Can You Vent Enough?

Photo by Tim Olk

Chief Ed Hartin reviews more tactical implications regarding ventilation and fire behavior, answering the question, can you vent enough?

The influence of ventilation during tactical operations is vital, but not addressed enough. Whether the box (structure) is closed, partially opened, or completely opened is just as important as putting water on the fire. It’s all connected. Read all of Chief Hartin’s posts on ventilation for a thorough study not just on what works, but why.

Influence of Ventilation in Residential Structures: Tactical Implications Part 8

The eighth and tenth tactical implications identified in the Underwriters Laboratories study of the Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction (Kerber, 2011) are the answer to the question, can you vent enough and the influence of pre-existing openings or openings caused by fire effects on the speed of progression to flashover. Read more here.

What are your department’s procedures for ventilation? How does your department evaluate its ventilation capabilities?


HEAT Conference 2012 [Event]

I will be leading a roundtable discussion at the South Florida HEAT Conference 2012 on Rapid Intervention Realities.

Date:  Thursday, February 9, 2012

Time:  1:15 to 3:00 PM

EventSouth Florida HEAT Conference 2012

TopicRapid Intervention Reality Roundtable Discussion

SponsorTraining Officers of the Palm Beaches

Location:  Herman W. Brice Complex at Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, 405 Pike Road,   West Palm Beach, Florida

Registration:  Click here to register

More info:  Click here for more information

Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business [Book Review]

USAF Colonel John Boyd was constant explorer, thinker, and doer (some say he was a rogue, but he did get things done). He influenced the tactical thought and critical decision making process of fighter pilots to “outmaneuver the enemy” during air combat operations. Boyd’s ideas can apply to everything from routine fire department productivity to high-risk, complex fire ground operations. Can his body of ideas be used for everything? Never. But they can be applied to most complex and rapidly changing situations.

Chet Richards was a close associate of the late Colonel Boyd and a lecturer at the Air War College and the Army’s Command and General Staff College. In Certain to Win, he introduces Boyd’s philosophy of conflict by examining how it works in the military arena as well as the business world. He puts forward that organizations, including fire departments, work best when they have clear visions, well-practiced skills, and implicit trust. Richards uses examples from military minds of Sun Zu, Musashi, von Clausewitz, Rommel, Patton, and Boyd seasoned with the organizational accomplishments of Toyota and Southwest Airlines to show how commonly held goals allow each unit of the organization to make decisions that continuously moves them toward the goal.

Why the title, Certain to Win? Sun Zu answers that here: If a general who heeds my strategy is employed, he is certain to win.

This is an excellent read for anyone looking to expand their knowledge on situational awareness, communication, decision making, teamwork, or leadership.

Ventilation: The Missing Link

Photo by Tim Olk

Controlling fire has always been a topic of concern for the fire service, whether protecting exposures, containing a fire to a specific area, or creating a workable environment where people can be rescued.  Ventilation is key to both the development and control of fire, and every action that firefighters take on the fire ground influences the fire: how it grows and where it goes. Yet there remains considerable misunderstanding and misapplication of ventilation strategies and tactics. Many times, ventilation isn’t even addressed. Why is this happening in a modern fire service that has more technology and better educated firefighters?

It is crucial that fire departments recognize the importance of coordinated (timely) tactical ventilation. Firefighters must work more at understanding what ventilation is, how it impacts fire development and potential extreme fire behavior, and how ventilation strategies support incident objectives (remove civilians from danger and contain/control the incident). They have know the what, where, when and how of ventilation.

There are many different views on ventilation in the fire service. Not just international differences, but an assortment of approaches within a single fire department. A lack of knowledge and experience on the subject only encourages more disagreement and less proper application. That needs to change.

FireGroundWorks will explore the topic of ventilation by researching best practices from a variety of fields and locations from around the world. The goal is to offer a selection of thoughts and approaches to consider when addressing the selection and implementation of ventilation strategies and tactics.

* Side Note: FGW is currently researching and developing a program focusing on tactical and strategic decision-making during the fast-paced tempo of dangerous and stressful events. The program identifies the need for skill and experience, combined with a sense of timing (tempo) to solve complicated problems in a chaotic environment. Insights on timing and technique will be presented to offer practical, actionable advice for accomplishing tactical ventilation on the fire ground. The program is called: TEMPO: TIMING, TACTICS AND STRATEGY ON THE FIRE GROUND and it will be a part of my future FF-360 decision making column at FirefighterNation.com.

Tactical Ventilation Sources:

My first GO-TO place for all-things fire is Ed Hartin’s Compartment Fire Behavior Training (CFBT). Hartin is an international fire behavior consultant and trainer, and one of the authors of 3D Firefighting: Training, Techniques, and Tactics. CFBT began a series of blogs called the Influence of Ventilation in Residential Structures. Below are the links to Tactical Implications 1-7.

Influence of Ventilation in Residential Structures:

  1. Tactical Implications Part 1 begins by explaining the impact of fire behavior.
  2. Tactical Implications Part 2 focuses on timing and techniques for controlled entry and hose operations.
  3. Tactical Implications Part 3 addresses visual indicators (reading smoke) of fire development.
  4. Tactical Implications Part 4 conveys the importance of coordinating fire attack with (tactical) ventilation.
  5. Tactical Implications Part 5 explores the impact of the changing dynamics of residential fires as a result of changes in construction materials, building contents and building size over the last 50 years.
  6. Tactical Implications Part 6 identifies the potential hazards and risks related to the tactic of Vent Enter Search (VES).
  7. Tactical Implications Part 7 studies the influence of changes of ventilation on flow path (where is it going and why?).

Tactical ventilation is a valuable firefighting tool. When timed correctly and properly placed, ventilation can be the difference between operational failure and success. The fire service must get better at tactical ventilation. What do you think?

Suggested Reading: