The following is an article contributed by Chris Garniewicz, a Truck Captain for the Bluffton Township Fire District. He was the first due truck officer at the following incident and these are his accounts and lessons learned from that fire:
On September 11th, 2009 at 2107 hours, Bluffton Fire responded to a reported (building) fire at 154 Bluffton Road. While companies were enroute, Dispatch advised there were multiple calls for the fire. The first due company was delayed, so the truck and the second due engine arrived first together with the Battalion Chief. A thermal column was seen on approach, and on arrival there was heavy smoke pushing from the eaves and doors of a 5000 square foot, 13-unit storage facility. Apparatus positioning was a challenge, due to very narrow and obstructed driveways, requiring the engine to position on the Alpha side for fire attack while the truck positioned on the Charlie/Delta corner and split crews, establishing two forcible entry teams.
The building was type 2B construction, with no fire stops between units (overhaul revealed an approximately 6” gap at ceiling level, allowing fire and heat to spread between all units). Due to the mixture of combustibles within the units, the smoke was thick and dark. First arriving companies identified the unit of origin by the warping and discoloration of the steel doors and metal siding.
The decision was made by the engine officer to aggressively attack the unit of origin, then the units on all sides working out from the fire. Truck crews were assigned to open all the doors to facilitate attack and overhaul. During forcible entry operations, truck members were met with a few challenging lock configurations and locations. The number of locks and lock types created a time issue. As a result, crews decided to cut the door instead of wasting time with removing multiple locks.
In order to access the fire units and exposure units quickly, the truck crew initially made “A” cuts to allow for knockdown, then came back during overhaul and made full height and width horizontal cuts to allow safer operations within the units. The initial cut into the fire units allowed the engine crew to stop the fire spread rapidly and minimize damage to the other units. In all, 13 overhead doors were cut and/or forced and the fire was extinguished with two handlines. The aggressive tactics and coordinated efforts of the companies allowed for a large
and challenging fire to be contained to the area of origin,
Sizing up commercial building for forcible entry problems gives companies a heads up when faced with a fire like that at Taylor Warehouse. Crews were able to make decisions that allowed for quick access and a good stop. Like anything in the fire service, we can’t be proficient at something we don’t practice. Take out the saws, find something to cut (scrap, old locks, etc.) and know what you are capable of accomplishing prior to the emergency.
Also on SAFE Firefighter …
- Shock, Gap, Set, Force- It Works In The “Real World” (Video) – August 27, 2012
- CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT! Street Smart Forcible Entry 1 & 2 – June 24, 2012
- **CLASS DATE CHANGE** Forcible Entry 1 & 2 in Bluffton, SC – November 19, 2013
- Back by Demand…MORE Forcible Entry Training! – November 1, 2013