Here is a great example of a disciplined engine and ladder company.
You can skip to 01:30, everything prior to that is a response video. The video is a little dark in some spots but it gives insight in a near perfect aggressive interior attack in a very common private dwelling found in most of our communities.
01:30 – 02:30: The first due engine company arrives on the scene with heavy fire showing from two windows on the 1-4 (a-d) corner. They immediately go to work forcing the front door and stretching and flaking the first line. It appears that line is ready to go at approximately the 2:30 minute mark, less than a minute after the rig has stopped.
02:30: – It appears that the forcible entry firefighter is delayed in getting the door. He sticks with it using various 1-firefighter techniques by prying down with what appears to be the adz end and then followed it up with a baseball swing at the 03:00 mark. He uses various techniques of the Halligan to effect entry.
03:00 – Resisting Several Urges: This is probably one of the best videos on the online training circuit showing tremendous professionalism and discipline in both engine and ladder company operations. This video shows us that there are still departments out there that know and operate with the basic firefighting fundamentals in mind.
The engine company resisted all urges to hit the fire from the exterior, even when the forcible entry operation was not going as smoothly as we like. Hitting this fire from the exterior would have driven the fire into uninvolved areas of the building, and would have killed any occupants that certainly could be alive in any other part of the house aside from the fire room. This would have also driven fire to a member performing VES opposite the fire searching for those victims, if VES is in the departments SOPs.
The engine company also did a great job in avoiding becoming “side-tracked” by the small rubbish fires (fence, bushes, rubbish on the side) and kept to the mission of getting a line through the front door and to the seat of the fire quickly. Operating on those small fires, which are typically inconsequential to the outcome of the fire, often lead to a tendency to “hit the window” to “give the fire a whack”. By staying near the front door and covering the member forcing entry, the line was able to quickly move in after the door was forced.
In addition, the ladder company (or ladder company operating firefighters) resisted a tremendous urge to ventilate the two front windows directly adjacent to the front door. I started to become a little concerned at 03:15 when a member with a hook, set up to the right of the window as if he was preparing to ventilate. Just as I started to cringe, he decided not to ventilate the window. Whether he decided on his own, or a boss or senior firefighter told him not to, it was the correct decision to delay ventilating those windows. Ventilating those window(s) would have certainly pulled the fire from the room of origin and to the new ventilation opening and probably allowed it to spread throughout the rest of first floor since access had not yet been gained.
03:53: – After a tough forcible entry operation, entry is gained. A second member assists the forcible entry firefighter by providing a couple of much needed “taps” to the properly positioned Halligan and the door is forced almost immediately. In a very coordinated and swift motion, the front windows are ventilated and the line aggressively advances to the seat of the fire. All members appear to assist in the advance of the hose line. It appears that water was applied to the main body of fire about 30 seconds after the line entered the front door and the main body of fire knocked down about 15 seconds after that. A great job by the engine company in any way that you approach it.
There were several YouTube comments that express displeasure with the operation, mainly centering around the speed of the forcible entry operation. I emailed the videographer and he explained that the owner of this house was in prison and had “fortified” this door prior to him vacating the house for his absence. The door had a high deadbolt and a standard deadbolt, both with extra-long bolts as well as the regular locks. The firefighter forcing the door did an excellent job getting the door. Perhaps, asking for assistance (a few hits to set the forks, which was done eventually) a little earlier could have slightly sped up the operation, but I think it went well. This was not your typical easy private dwelling forcible entry job that much of the country sees on a day to day basis.
Additionally, there were comments regarding making entry through the window with the hose line and to search while other members worked on the door. As I wrote above, ventilating the windows next to the door would have drawn the fire to that location and negated entry to the building. Anyone who would have entered, would probably be leaving just as fast. There are very limited circumstances where the first hose line should be stretched through a window instead of through a door opening. The only instance that I can think of stretching a hose line through a window is in the case of a vacant building where the stairs are burned out, unstable or otherwise compromised. Short of that, the hose line should enter the fire building through a doorway and not a window.
I invite everyone to add to the discussion, comment further or post questions regarding the video or my thoughts. The only two things that we ask on our forum is that all posts be signed (first and last name) and all posts remain professional with an intent to learn or teach. Posts that do not meet that criteria will not be published!