Question #2010-01: Roof Teams & SCBA Use

Brothers & Sisters,

A brother posted on our Facebook wall the following question for a research paper. Please respond with your answers. There is an answer from one of our Brotherhood Instructors, LLC guys (an FDNY member) below. I don’t think that they answer has to be as elaborate as the one below, but any information will help. Please jump in and help him out. He will collect the answers via this blog.

Please realize that this is NOT a CRITIQUE on how things SHOULD be done, so refrain from adding commentary to the responses about
how YOU think THEY should operate. There are no right or wrong answers here!

The question is as follows:

Which municipalities have their Roof Firefighter(s) wear their SCBA to and/or while operating on the roof?

One answer from one of the Brotherhood Instructors, LLC./FDNY firefighters is here:

Jeff, I know in NYC we are required to wear our packs to the roof, and I agree with the procedure, and here is why:

We do not cut peaked roofs as an initial operation (meaning no one from the first two truck companies go to the roof as a com…mon practice). At peaked-roof private dwelling fires, our Roof FF will team up with the OV, and VES the bedrooms opposite the fire. I would say that 99% of the peaked-roof private dwelling fires are extinguished without opening the roof.

For flat-roof operations, we are required to wear them because after completing our primary roof duties (one of which include sweeping the heavily charged stairway bulkhead for victims), we are required to team up with the 2nd due Roof FF and drop down the fire escape to VES each apartment above the fire floor from the top down.

I have also had to mask-up at several top floor and cockloft jobs where we were working close to the hole, cutting and extending the primary roof cut. All of the guys at those jobs that decided to drop their masks, were driven away from the hole and either unwilling or unable to assist.

Hope that helps, anyone else with any thoughts? We have firefighters from all over the world here, jump in!

If you have any operational or tactical questions, feel free to contact us to be posted on our wall. With over 6,200 Facebook users and already 3,000 hits on this blog, we can get some answers for you!

Stay Safe!


  • Michael Tucci says:

    In OKC we pack up on all roof operations. It depends on extent and location if we actually use horizontal ventilation. Often we opt to go with horizontal vent on residential fires, but we do vertical on them if needed or desired by the officer.

  • Koy Wilson says:

    In Stockton (CA), I wear my pack to the roof. I turn on my bottle at the rig, then if I'm on the roof and things get nasty I just throw on my mask real quick. Also, like Nate said, if we (the roof team) transition to search whether it is down he bulkhead or VES through above ground windows your all set. Ive seen guys not mask up during heavy roof work and make themselves very ineffective.

  • Kelly Wingert says:

    In Nevada, MO, we wear our packs on the roof. As a small department (12 guys), every firefighter will receive multiple assignments on the fireground. I may be first in but have to open the roof and then pull the line into the door. Wearing our packs is a necessity; our first due assignment is always dictated by what we find upon arrival. We have to be prepared for any assignment the Chief gives us without running back to the truck to retrieve something.

  • Michial Compton says:

    Elkhart IN. Yes we are required to wear our packs on the roof. We break our truck up in two groups of 2. Officer and the seated position behind him do primary search, The driver and seated position behind him set ladders and ventilate. We don’t do VES that often. Probably because most of our fires are single family dwelling and primary does in excellent job. While on the roof we are still have the potential to be exposed to the toxic gas that the fire is producing. Let’s face it if you’re not wearing your SCBA on the roof you should be. Today we are better trained and better educated than ever before, let’s continue to try and be safer than ever before. Safety comes down to the individual but making sure every one goes home is everybody’s job.

  • Larry Glover says:

    Shelby, NC. Yes. We wear our packs when we go to the roof also. We break up our ladder company (very similar to Michael's company does above) into 2 teams also. The Capt and the FF behind the Capt are assigned forcible entry and primary search. The Engineer and the FF behind him are assigned utilities and outside ventilation. We also have to mask up before we hit the roof too. Like mentioned earlier, we too are a small dept (16 per shift–4 companies/ 1 Batt Chief) and will have mulitiple assignments.

  • Bluffton, SC. We wear SCBA for all roof ops. However, I have worked in an a different area of the country where they traditionally DID NOT wear their SCBA on the roof. When I asked about this, the response was if the conditions on the roof required a SCBA, they didn't need to be on the roof.

    I have mixed feelings about this. Logical yes, if you are sure what you've got (but we rarely are). More comfortable, absolutely, but we don't "hang out" on the roof after we're done. We do what we need to and move on to the next task. My current FD only has one Truck Co. so we WORK.

    Better safe than sorry. Today's construction is too questionable and today's smoke is too nasty to breathe needlessly. Be safe.

  • SFD FF says:

    Southaven MS. We wear SCBA masked up for roof operations or working off ladders. Lets face it, now days you never know what is contained in the structure you are working in, on or around. I would use meth labs as an example. You open a roof from the windward side but there is a shift of wind direction and you are to an extent subjected to the same environment the attack team is. I am with SAFE firefighter, Safety should be our first priority….even for truckies.jk

  • W Benner says:

    We always wear our packs however this does not mean were on air. I agree with the peaked roof answer by the BHI (FDNY member). In most cases the fire is knocked down before roof is opened up. Im a fan of cutting the hole and getting off the roof unless its a large area flat roof and mulitple cuts are needed and the conditions warrent going on air. But all members will have a pack on.

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