The following are my thoughts from Kill the Flashover 2014 at the South Carolina Fire Academy. The event combined with various discussions and the learning curve of past few years on the theories of fire behavior., have only enhanced my love of this profession. -Huston
The traditionalist seeks to always provide high quality, professional, and timely services to the public we swore an oath to protect. This includes problem solving and mitigating the situation that was presented to us. These fire services traditions shall stand resolute. We will provide essential services with pride, commitment, and a sense of urgency. The fundamentalist mind understands the basics, and knows we should never sway away from those basics. However, the basics, the fundamentals that we provide as Firefighters, change. We must intervene with water to promptly cool the environment, to extinguish the fire. We will perform one of two acts, take the victim away from the hazard or take the hazard away from the victim. We need to separate the fuel, the heat, and the oxygen through some form of extinguishing media. We CAN separate the victim from the hazard by interrupting or impeding the combustion process. Our streams cool the fuels, the gases, and reduce temperatures. We must regulate the amount of air entrainment that the fire needs to grow/die, and prevent fire gas ignition or rapid-fire progression. We can achieve success by the performance of compartmentalizing, and reducing the temperature.
Therefore, what do we learn from events like KILL THE FLASHOVER? We learn that we still must pull hose lines, flow water, and still provide for life safety. The fundamentals of what we do when, the order or priority, and in the manner they are conducted, need to change! We change these by controlling doors promptly, creating anti-ventilation, managing air intake and exhaust, all as applicable. We can then control the air; so we control the heat. Provide extinguishing media through some means that will the stop off gassing, cool the environment, and cool the gases. After we have the upper hand, we will move into the building for search and final fire extinguishment. This does not take long! High performing crews can intervene in as little time as it takes to don your SCBA face peice.
KILL THE FLASHOVER - photo courtesy of John Buckmann III
Kill the Flashover 2014 has shown that we can still take our traditional tactics, of providing Firefighters to intervene and stopping the combustion process which prevents fire loss. We can be those fundamentalist by pulling hose lines, spraying water and putting out the fire. The fundamentals must evolve and continue to progress as needed, then re-evaluated as the environment in which we are expected to perform in changes. We can still provide a professional, caring, and sympathetic service for those we to an oath to serve. But our oath can still be fulfilled as we stay to true to our mission at all costs, even if that cost goes against what we have been doing for many years. Stop, think, and re-evaluate how we approach firefighting. We have the means to do this with the equipment we have right now. We simply must inject a critical mind to understand the effects of our actions.
Moving forward with the evolution of tactics, we must seek balance. For many years we have heard that no two fires are the same. Yet, at the same time fire is predictable. Having the abilites, skills, and knowledge on the scene will only increase our success. Too much or too little of any tactic, can be deterimental. The culmination of appropriate, scenario based, tactics will yeild unparalleled results.
Our efforts will pay off, when we continue to seek out new information. We must continue to train. KTF 2014 is just one small step for the entire fire service to start re-evaluating how we are going to fight fires, today, tomorrow, and in the future.