Newark, New Jersey: Aggressive Engine Company Operations – By Nate DeMarse

Youtube User Allhandsgoingtowork continues to catch and document outstanding work in New Jersey.  Below is some great early arriving footage of aggressive and professional fireground operations.  We are often asked why we don’t post more “engine stuff”.  I think the main reason is due to the lack of first-arriving or simultaneous arriving video cameras with the first due companies, and of the first-due footage that is available only a fraction of it is usable for teaching aggressive engine operations.  This video is obviously useful to discuss several points, and is an excellent example of an aggressive interior attack.

(for whatever reason, the “embed option” was disabled by the Youtube user.  The photo above is now a link to the Youtube video that will open up in a new window)

The video begins with a coordinated ventilation operation.  The door has been forced and the line is charged and ready to advance on the fire.  We are aware that the member that took the windows is not in full PPE.  Is this correct? Probably not.  Does it happen? It does.  That’s all of the discussion that we will have regarding the lack of PPE in this video.  Any further comments only pertaining to “lack of PPE” will not be posted.  There are plenty more points that were done correctly, and much more can be discussed and learned from those points.

The nozzle firefighter opens the line, and hits the exterior of the house before entry.  This is a very effective tactic for knocking down EXTERIOR FIRE ONLY, especially in the presence of “gasoline siding” or asphalt siding.  Fire can quickly extend to upper floors or expose other buildings when asphalt siding is present.  Keep in mind that asphalt siding may be present under vinyl or aluminum siding, and is just as much of a problem.  Again, it is not a bad move to knock down rapidly extending fire before making entry if the fire is ON THE EXTERIOR.  When the line gets placed inside the window, it defeats the purpose of coordinated ventilation.  Judging by the very brief duration that the nozzle was allowed to flow into the room, I think that it was an error that the stream was aimed in the window.  A firefighter (assuming the engine boss) appears to tell the nozzle firefighter to shut down and move into the building at the 00:12 mark, and the nozzle firefighter follows him in.

This was an OUTSTANDING example of an aggressive interior attack.  As the nozzle team moves into the building, take a look at the fire inside the building.  I was always taught (and we always teach) that just before making entry to put your face to the floor and look for a couple of seconds.  This video allows us to get a glimpse of what we may be looking for.  At 00:14 look under the smoke through the entry door.  You can see the location of the main body of fire, and the most direct route to access it.  You may also see room, hallway or furniture layouts or a victim laying on the floor.  All of these things are incredibly important in their own right, but you cannot see that if you are not on your knees or you don’t take a look.  At 00:30-00:35, the nozzle team makes the fire room, knocking down the main body of fire.  An OUTSTANDING JOB by a very aggressive and professional engine company.

Also take a look at what appears to be an outside vent firefighter taking a look on the 4(d) side around the same time.  He will be noting fire and smoke conditions, possible victims, the presence (or lack thereof) of fire escapes and the routes to VES the fire floor or floors above.  A simple transmission from the OV firefighter, “Engine 1, you still have fire out one window in the rear!” will tell engine 1 that their job is not yet done, and they may have fire behind them at this point.  Remember to communicate your findings.  It appears that the same firefighter comes back to the front of the building, entering the fence to go around to the 2(b) side.  Also note that a second line has been stretched dry to the front of the building for potential use on the second floor or to back-up the first line.  It is a very common practice in this area to the country to stretch a dry line to the front, even if it may not be needed.  This saves tremendous amounts of time over stretching a line from a rig down the street when the line is needed on the second floor NOW!   If it isn’t needed, we’ll repack it!  It’s ok…it’s hose!  It is meant to be pulled and repacked multiple times, even if it won’t be used.  Again, a sign of a professional operation.

A quick side-note:  If for some reason this first floor fire cannot be controlled, and searching firefighters have advanced past the doorway that we see glowing inside the building, the nozzle team CANNOT LEAVE this doorway regardless of conditions until the searching firefighters have either gotten down the stairs or found another way out.  This is where the nozzle team earns it’s respect.  Abandoning this position and withdrawing outside will spell disaster for the members operating above.  Fire will travel out of this doorway and directly up the stairs trapping members above and cutting them off.  There WILL BE firefighters transmitting maydays and potentially bailing out of windows if this happens.  If you are the nozzle firefighter, YOU ARE THE LAST ONE OUT OF THIS FRONT DOOR IF THINGS GO TO HELL.  This is a tough day to be a nozzle firefighter.  Keep the nozzle working (read: move the nozzle fast) on the ceiling in circles just inside the fire room and over your head, if needed get on your back or belly to stay as low as possible.  Consequently, if you are one of the searching firefighters that went above, let the nozzle team know if you found another way out so they are not taking a beating for no reason.

At the end of the video, you can also see that the top floor windows were not broken out.  The members operating above realized that the fire was being knocked down, so only the top pane was dropped down to ventilate.  Believe it or not, when dealing with the energy efficient windows such as these, they are much easier to open without breaking them, than breaking them.  I have on several occasions, used the clips to remove these windows simply because it makes sense and is a more efficient vent than smashing a little hole in the glass, leaving much of the glass intact.

Great job once again to Newark and to Allhandsworking.  Thanks for the great drill material, and a professional operation to use an example!

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