FDNY: Taxpayer Fire Discussion – By Nate DeMarse

This is a great pre-arrival series of videos shot from an elevated position. It appears that the neighbor shot this from his fire escape on the 4th or 5th floor. Great stuff since we don’t normally get to see this operation.

Here are the links to the Youtube videos, and a few tactical comments:

Video #1

Video #1: Early-arriving footage from prior to the FDs arrival until the first engine arrives. Note how the first-due engine (95) approached slowly and pulled past the building allowing room for the first due ladder company. It is equally important to note that the first due truck (36, an aerial ladder) also stayed out of the way so that a tower ladder (TL-46, 2nd due) could get position in case it was needed later (very common as we know). Keep an eye on smoke conditions, there is not much showing throughout the first video. Note the discoloration (darkened & lack of graffiti) on the top third/top half of the roll-down gates. This is a good indication that the fire is directly behind or is impinging on the roll-down gate. This gate is probably warped from the heat which will make it nearly impossible to roll-up conventionally (as it is designed). If we arrive to this condition, we should think about attacking the gate directly as they did.

Video #2

Video #2: In the beginning of the video, Engine 95 stretches a 2 1/2″ line to the front of the fire store. The engine drops the required amount of hose to cover the fire store, then proceeds to a hydrant. As the Control FF at a taxpayer fire, a quick “trick” is to take the depth of the store and double it. This will account for any fire on the first floor. It will also provide enough hose to reach a fire in the front of a cellar if the access stairs are in the rear.

Video #3

Video #3: On the right store, it appears that they did a modification of an “inverted-V” cut. I am not sure what happened as there is a bit of a skip in the video. After a few seconds they were able to pull the slats and drop the left half of the roll-down gate so water could be put on the fire. Note that the saws working on the store to the right of where the fire is issuing and the gate to the left (same store) are cutting the locks.

Video #4

Video #4: On the left store at the 1 minute mark, it appears that the members are attempting to raise the roll-down gate conventionally. At 2:33 they appear to abandon attempts to raise the roll-up gate and start to directly attack the gate. It appears that the intention of the “Irons” firefighter (on the saw) was to conduct a curtain cut. Members pulled the right side of the gate prior to the completion of his last cut (on the left side). We should always attempt to leave the gate intact until the cutting operation is complete. Note the several methods used to pull/drive the slats from the gate. Many techniques were used:
At 3:30, they are using the pike of the Halligan to drive a hole in the slat and pull it out. Another member is using the Halligan from the other side to drive the slat out of the door.
At 3:50, they use the pike of the Halligan to drive a hole in the slat and attempt to pull it out. When possible, put the hole in the slat using the pike of the Halligan prior to cutting the gate to avoid the “waving” action of the gate, shown in the video.
At 4:00, they are using the Halligan to drive the slats out of the gate, this is complicated by the warping of the gate.
At 4:25, they are using the pike of the Halligan, placed in a hole then striking the Halligan to drive the slat out of the gate
At 5:25, and as a last resort, they cut the gate into sections
At 7:00, on the far left store a member pulls the slats of a gate that is not warped by heat.

Video #5

Video #5: Some overhaul video. Note all of the crap on the sidewalk that is present at the front of these stores. Typically, this stuff is piled into the front windows and display cases for storage as seen at the 2:00 mark. Additionally, any items that are normally sold in the front of the store during normal business hours, will be jammed into the aisles at night, impeding any progress to the rear of the store.

An equally important note is that TL-33 was probably 4th due (or greater) at this box. Regardless of when TL-33 arrived, they were able to get into position and “touch” the building. Responding aerial ladders and engine companies left room for tower ladders as per FDNY protocol at taxpayer fires. The million dollar fire truck does no good if it can’t reach the building. First due Ladder 36 has laddered the roof almost 5 stores away from the main fire building, providing access/egress but remaining out of the way for tower ladders.

An outstanding operation captured on videotape of a typical taxpayer fire that was able to be “stopped”. Much of the time, this is not the end result of a 99-cent store fire.

Feel free to jump in with any comments, questions or anything that you may have seen in the video that we didn’t point out. Stay safe!


  • Zig Markowski says:

    Nice article Nate.
    Westmont /DG FD

  • Dalas says:

    In my opinion a device similar to a pallet puller ( Big Vice Grips) would work nice for these slats. Make your vertical cuts all the way the ground, hook onto an upper slat with the puller, attach a rope to the puller and now you can use as many FF's as you want to pull ithe slat out Instead of just the weight and power of one FF. Once you have one full slat out you can then just roll the remaining bottom section of gate down.

    • NDeMarse says:

      While certainly an option, I personally would rather use the tools already in hand. While I don't doubt that a "pallet puller" will work, it is not something that most fire departments stock on their rig. I have always had very good luck (with gates that were not warped or directly impinged by fire) with putting the two holes in before attacking the gates, cutting the curtain cut and pulling the slats using the pike in those holes.

      Thanks for the idea! Anyone else with any thoughts, please share.

  • Nick Butta says:

    I think they did a great job everybody on that box. The first Engine pulles up to the building letting the Nozzle Man, Backup Man the Control Man and the Officer get off the rig pull the righ amount of hose of the rig for an saficent attack on a building like that. Then once they had enough hose the Chauffer pulles ahead leaving the Front of the Building open for the First Due Truck or a Tower Ladder and the engine also secured a water source. Then once the first truck company arrived on scence they came up to the building with the appropiate tools in hand to cut through the securtiy gates and made a big enough opening so they can operate two hose line to start there attack. Then once they get there First Tower Ladder there and set up the Roof Man goes to the roof and opens the roof to check if the fire is in the chockloft and see if the fire is spreading to adjacent building. I think its great how FDNY all there guys come off the rig ready for work with tools in there hands reay for any task that at hand. I wish we could get alot of volunteer fire department to do the same. Great Job guys and keep up the great work. Be safe and Merry Christmas.

  • @phyrngn says:

    Great footage of a professional operation. I especially enjoyed seeing the fire from the "prior to arrival" standpoint. There was no rushing, everyone had a job to do, and despite the hiccups, it was safe and successful. Nice work and thanks for the learning points!

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