Video link - Fires
An unavoidable truth is that firefighters worldwide are killed and maimed each and
every year in the line of duty. When firefighters die fighting fires there is always
an enquiry to establish cause and proportion blame. Invariably some truth always
exists that points the finger and inevitably something must be done to rectify the
In my twenty nine years as a firefighter I have seem my fair share of death, including
that of some fellow firefighters. The resulting enquiries have always shown sufficient
cause for improvements and have been known to criticise and cast doubt on the performance
of firefighters. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but for my part, in the enquiries
that I have participated in, it never looked further than the experience or understanding
of the panel conducting the enquiry.
The intimate knowledge of a fatal fire is peculiar to that fire. As a fire consumes,
radiates and convects, it deteriorates and eats the fabric of a building, fuelled
by its combustible contents, it multiplies and takes the least line of resistance.
Air and smoke movement and the generation of flammable gaseous vapours are impossible
to fully risk-assess, as indeed is conflagration of unknown and invisible fire load.
We all know that smoke is a big unforgiving enemy. But so is the expansion and pressurisation
of smoke as the fire is being fought, particularly in the early stages where the
attack is insufficient to reduce fire development, especially as it becomes wind-driven
with free access to other areas of the building.
All the video shown in these clips have things in common, but they show little of
what it is like inside the building. They all show massive proliferation of fire
and smoke, which impresses upon us the dangers we face. Now look at these clips again
and imagine how the situation is unfolding inside various areas of the building.
We can appreciate firefighters getting hurt in the conflagration outside the building,
but how about inside?
Draw upon your experiences to imagine each situation, the heat, pressure wave and
smoke generation as the fire erupts and consider your Rapid Intervention Team’s risk
assessment as you are committed to perform an attempted rescue of missing comrades
inside the building.
From the comments we get we will compile a document for discussion, which will be
published on this page in the near future.