Fighting Fire in The Lion’s Den


A family had had to make for a quick exit when their van caught fire while touring the lion enclosure at a wild animal safari park.

The family was rescued by park rangers and the lions were moved (eventually) to another location.

What problems are created, and what tactical and Command solutions (strategies) must be applied?

Remembering The 750 Adams Fire, April 11, 1994

April 11, 1994: Two members of the Memphis Fire Department made the supreme sacrifice while operating at a residential high rise fire at 750 Adams Street.

Take some time to remember them by viewing the short video from the incident and reviewing the incident’s key issues.

Incident Key Issues:

  • Early command and control
  • Accountability
  • Crew integrity
  • Emergency survival actions
  • Communications
  • PASS devices

Where is the “750 Adams” in your area? What problems are created, and what tactical and Command solutions (strategies)  must be applied?

Fighting Fires in Half-Story Buildings

Buildings with half-stories over full-stories present special challenges for firefighters because of the knee walls that create confined spaces. These structures are usually single-family dwellings, but some larger structures may be renovated into multi-family dwellings.

Knee walls are vertical walls that stretch 3-4 feet internally from the floor toward the peak of the roof in the half-story part of the structure. A concealed space is created behind the knee wall and usually extends the length of the room and is most times used for storage or concealing plumbing or electrical wiring. These concealed spaces present an increased risk for rapid fire extension.

Half-story buildings can be found anywhere, even in South Florida (there are several in my battalion, especially in the older cities).

Apply Intentional Command to efficiently synchronize resources and effectively attack rapidly evolving, complex and severe problems.

Full Speed Size Up

What is the occupancy?
What is the life hazard?
Where are the occupants?
Where is the fire?
What is the fire doing to the building and where is it going?
What is the ventilation situation?

What problems are created, and what tactical and Command solutions (strategies) must be applied?

Key Things to Remember

The keys to fighting fires in half-story buildings:

  1. aggressive truck work on the fire floor and floor above
  2. timely advancement of hoselines on the fire floor and floor above
  3. adequate resources (firefighters, equipment, and water) to stretch and operate lines and open up concealed spaces

Row House Fire: Philadelphia

Video by: phillyfirenews. Video info: Row Home Fire in West Philadelphia on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The fire was located on the 1600 block of N. 60th Street. Video provided to PhillyFireNews.com by Fox29

Apply Intentional Command to efficiently synchronize resources and effectively attack rapidly evolving, complex and severe problems.

Full Speed Size Up

  1. What is the occupancy?
  2. What is the life hazard?
  3. Where are the occupants?
  4. Where is the fire?
  5. What is the fire doing to the building and where is it going?
  6. What is the ventilation situation?

What problems are created, and what tactical and Command solutions (strategies)  must be applied?

Midtown Manhattan High Rise Fire

Over 200 FDNY firefighters battled a fire on the 20th floor of a 40 story apartment fire yesterday.

One person was killed and another critically hurt after a large fire broke out in a midtown Manhattan high-rise Sunday morning, officials say.

More than 200 firefighters worked to put out the three-alarm blaze, which began on the 20th floor of the 40-story building at 500 West 43rd St., on 10th Avenue., according to the FDNY.

Crews were able to get to the scene quickly, within 5 minutes, but it took some time for firefighters to get to the upper floors, according to authorities.

Fighting a fire in a high-rise building requires a tremendous commitment of both personnel and supervision. Command must coordinate the operation into various divisions and groups as quickly as possible. Search and rescue operations have to be well-planned and strategically coordinated with handlines. Operational reaction time at a high-rise fire is much greater than for any other type of structure. Expect up to a 20 minute delay, even with a quick on scene time. Focused command coordination combined with preassigned tactical operations are required to safely and effectively control a high-rise fire.

Are you ready for a high-rise fire? Is your command staff trained and prepared to coordinate a high-rise fire operation? Do you have a tactical plan ready to battle the fireground factors involved with a high-rise fire?

[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?