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Shan Raffel

Shan Raffel

“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting techniques that are now accepted as standard practice. His expertise in this area is what drives QLFA seamlessly through the industry”

Door Entry Techniques

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Friday, 09 October 2015
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Door Entry Techniques – Many variations

If you ask 5 firefighters about exactly how to perform door entry technique you will probably get about half a dozen different opinions. Many of these are very rigid and involve a set number of pulses with a specified cone angle.

I tend to take an outcome based approach. What are we trying to achieve?

Firstly we need to cool the gases and linings around us so that the smoke or flame that exits the door meets cool gases and moist surfaces. After reading the fire behaviour indicators we need to cautiously open the door and introduce water fog into the upper zone to cool those gases. The risk assessment conducted may indicate the entry is not possible. Or it may be necessary to repeat the process several times. How many pulses, their duration and angle will be largely dependent on the geometry of the compartment and the stage of fire development. High ceilings will require a narrower cone angle. I still believe in hitting the ceiling with a jet to dislodge any loose debris. This can also assist in cooling the gases particularly in the case of high ceilings.

Large spaces with a well developed fire will need to have medium to long pulsations to have any meaningful cooling effect.

Don’t forget that if you open the door and you can see the fire base it is ok to put water on it!!!! After all the purpose of gas cooling is to help us get to a point where we can put water on the fire. Some people forget that it is only a control technique suitable for small compartments.

If we teach firefighters WHAT needs to be achieved and WHY, they will be able to work out HOW.

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4 – 8 – 12 A Sliding Scale Approach to Optimal Flow Rates

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 07 September 2013
in Industry Insights · 2 Comments

There are a number of fire ground formula that are designed to assist fire officers in determining the flow rate required to gain effective control of a fire.

Most of these come back to floor area or volume and don’t take into account the stage of development or strategic objectives. I believe that the sliding scale model provides a more practical guide that considers the mode of attack as part of the guide for initial attack flow.

At the lower end of the offensive mode of attack, a flow rate of 4 lpm/m2 (similar to the recommendations from the Iowa formula) should be considered the minimal tactical flow rate. As we approach the marginal mode of attack, we should be looking at a minimum of 8 lpm/m2.

As we move toward the upper end of the defensive mode of attack, we should be looking at flow rates of 12 to 13 lpm/m2 (similar to the NFA formula).

To successfully apply the sliding scale approach, firefighters need to have sufficient knowledge and skill to conduct an accurate size up to determine the most applicable mode of attack.  Some may consider this an “advanced skill” and argue that the “safest approach” is to deploy hose lines capable of the maximum flow.

I advocate that size up is an “essential skill” or “core skill” and that realistic training must be utilised to develop these skills.

“Dumbing down” our approach to fire attack to the lowest common denominator (and the highest flow rate) does not achieve a greater level of safety and will never be a substitute for quality training.

Struggling with very large hose lines reduces mobility and increases physical strain. Over application of water can destroy the thermal balance which further reduces the chances of safely locating the seat of fire or occupants.

Gross over application is as inappropriate as trying to attack a well-developed fire with a small hose line.

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Keeping an Open Mind

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 21 July 2013
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

As a pioneer of 3D Firefighting tactics in Australia (since 1997) I have been privileged to see the benefits this approach has delivered to my colleagues as well as the people we serve. Along with increasing the safety of firefighters, the 3D approach greatly assists in formulating the most efficient approach to fire attack. This has increases that chances of saving victims while minimising the loss of property.

The 3D approach is not the only innovation we have seen in the last 30 years. CAFS and PPV are also game changers in their own right. Unfortunately I have seen a tendency for innovators to fall in love with their approach and to ignore the potential benefits of the other innovations. Some PPV advocates think adding water-fog will generate excessive steam and some 3D purists think that adding air will intensify the fire. The fact is that when they are combined there is a synergistic effect that greatly increases the safety and efficiency of the operation!

I have been practicing combining 3D techniques with PPV for over 13 years and have witnessed firsthand how powerful this combination can be. I am currently looking as combining CAFS with 3D and/or PPV. One of the limitations with CAFS is that it has minimal cooling interaction directly with the accumulated gases. The cooling of the gases occurs mostly at the the heated surfaces. If CAFS internal attack was combined with PPV the heated gases are removed prior to entry and the linings can be very effectively cooled and buffered.

With knowledge, an open-mind and a desire for excellence you can adapt your tactics and tools to develop the safest and most efficient plan of attack.

With this approach everyone wins!!!

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Inherently Dangerous

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 30 April 2013
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Firefighters are called upon to work in some of the most hazardous situations found in our society.

No responsible employer in the developed world would consider allowing their firefighters to enter these hostile environments without adequate personal protective equipment. Indeed most countries have legislation that makes it mandatory to provide such protection to their employees.

Adequate training and safe systems of work are just as critical in ensuring that firefighters are not placed in unnecessary danger. Arguably one of the most essential skills is the ability to recognise the hazards and to be able to formulate the safest and most efficient method of fire attack.

The Home Office Health and Safety publication “Training for Hazardous Occupations”, HSE OP8 has this to say about firefighting:

“The activities which firefighters are required to perform can be frightening. They frequently must work at heights, they are exposed to heat and smoke and they may have to enter dark confined spaces for rescue work. Unless the firefighter has experienced the fears to which these conditions give rise and has learnt to control them, there is a risk that he will get into difficulties in the hazardous circumstances of the fireground and will himself need to be rescued. He must also rely greatly upon his colleagues and his officers to look after him in hazardous situations. He needs to be confident in their ability to do so. He needs to know that if he is given an order by an officer that an officer will have considered the firefighters safety before asking him to do the task. He must also be confident that the task is within his own capabilities if he is to approach it in the right frame of mind. Each of these aspects, control of fear, and confidence in himself and his colleagues and his officers can be developed in training, but only if the training is undertaken under realistic conditions which may well expose the firefighter to risk.

I would argue that realistic and practical training is as critical to firefighter safety as adequate PPE. Yet even today there are numerous examples of fire services that do not see adequate realistic training as essential.

Some see it as an optional extra or something that can be provided with lectures or the occasional wet drill in the station yard.

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Tunnel fire fighting

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 21 April 2013
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

During many firefighting operations there is sufficient space to bowl out coiled hose or to flake out hose from the pumper.

While many tunnels will have hose reels these are extremely limited and will not provide sufficient flow to attack a developed vehicle fire. Initial fire attack in tunnels will most likely be conducted by connecting a hose line to an outlet located somewhere in the tunnel complex.

It is therefore essential for firefighters to be able to carry lay flat hose to the scene. This may be very challenging in the confines of a tunnel for a number of reasons. It is likely that vehicles behind the incident will have to be abandoned.

This chaotic environment could make the task of stretching a line extremely difficult. If visibility is hindered due to smoke or the failure of emergency lighting the situation become even more difficult and dangerous.

Probably the most limiting environment for hose line deployment is in a rail tunnel. In many cases the distance between the carriage and the walls of the tunnel is extremely narrow. Footing is difficult due to the ballast and few rail tunnels are fitted with emergency lighting so visibility could be very limited.

The Attack Pack provides the possibility to easily carry the hose to the scene and allow for hose to be charged in a very narrow or congested space. The fact that the hose line does not need to be stretched out to be charged allows fire attack to commence earlier and connection to the hydrant provides a tenable anchor point.

As conditions improve, the coiled hose line allows for easy and reliable advancement of the line.

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Big Box Fire Attack

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Monday, 11 March 2013
in Industry Insights · 6 Comments

After looking at the tactics used at a number of big box fires in my own city (Brisbane, Australia) in the last decade, I believe that once the accumulated smoke layer ignites the whole structure is going to be lost. Further, I believe that unless the seat of fire can be seen and quickly hit that we need to shift focus to preventing the accumulating un-burnt fuel from igniting in the over pressure.

The technique I have been promoting to cool those gases in the ceiling. I am NOT talking water-fog or pulses. We need big lines (minimum 64 mm) with a flow rate of at least 475 LPM. Must be set to a jet or it will not reach the ceiling. The objective is to rake the jet across the ceiling. The jet breaks up on striking the surface which cools the gases and the surfaces where they are hottest. Effectively we are trying to separate the gases above the fire from the un-burnt fuel in the remainder of the structure.

This will not put the fire out. It only buys time to locate and confine the fire. Attack needs to be initiated with at least 64 mm lines with good flow and a hard hitting jet to give maximum projection and striking force.

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What Drives Your Actions Part 2. Going beyond routine and tradition.

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 24 March 2012
in blogs · 0 Comments

If you want to want to be able to apply the most effective tactics, and choose the most effective tools and use them with the best possible technique, then you MUST have a sound understanding of fire behaviour. You must have a good knowledge of building construction and you must know the strengths and weaknesses of the tools available to you. No routine or robotic drill will ever will ever replace an strong understanding of fire behaviour, building construction and basic firemanship.

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Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Friday, 09 March 2012
in Industry Insights · 5 Comments
I am often asked to explain the difference between flashover and backdraft, both of which I will define using the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 

The key elements in all definitions are:

  1. Rapid transition
  2. Leads to a fully developed compartment fire

Flashover is defined as: "The rapid transition to a state of total surface involvement in a fire of combustible materials within an enclosure."

Most fires start relatively small as some form of heat energy is applied to the object which leads to the ignition temperature being reached. The flame radiates back onto the object and this increases the rate of combustion. The radiation also heats up neighbouring items and they will begin to pyrolyse (break down into fuel and passive agents). The heated fire gases accumulate in the ceiling area forming an over pressure area. As the temperature increases the unburnt fuel in the smoke layer approaches its’ Auto Ignition Temperature (AIT) . When this fuel ignites the fire gas combustion rolls across the ceiling releasing an enormous amount of radiant energy which rapidly ignites the remaining combustibles in the room.

In a nutshell, flashover occurs when there is a good supply of air that allows the accumulated unburnt fuel to heat up to its’ Auto Ignition Temperature (AIT).

Fuel & Air + AIT = Flashover

Backdraught is defined as: "An explosion, of greater or lesser degree, caused by the inrush of fresh air from any source or cause, into a burning building, where combustion has been taking place in a shortage of air."

Well insulated rooms with limited air supply can limit the development of a fire. The fire will grow until the air is consumed and smouldering may continue for some time. The room may stay quite hot and the combustible contents will continue to pyrolyse (or breakdown) allowing the accumulation of large quantities of unburnt fuel.

If an opening is created air will flow into the compartment and add the missing ingrediant. It is possible for a sudden and explosive propagation of flame through the compartment and out through the openings. There will be pockets of gas remaining that are too rich to ignite immediately these will burn progressively as air is drawn into the compartment. The combustion process could continue for some time after the initial explosion and the heat generated could lead to a fully involved fire.

In a nutshell, backdraft occurs when air is added to a room with high temperatures and large quantities of unburnt fuel.

Fuel and Heat + Air = Backdraft

So how does this knowledge affect our fire attack strategy and hose lay tactics? Before we talk about that we must understand the 3rd critical fire development event, fire gas ignition.

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Professionalism is a state of mind.

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 04 March 2012
in blogs · 0 Comments

The general thinking has been that if you are paid to fight fires, then you are a “professional” firefighter. Does this mean that if you are retained or a volunteer that you are not professional? I believe that it depends on your definition of professional.

I have worked with “professional” and volunteer firefighters in several countries and I believe that I can say with some authority that the core values displayed by a “professional” has very little to do with how much you get paid, and a lot to do with how you think and behave.

I have met “volunteer” firefighters who display an extremely professional attitude and a high level of expertise. Unfortunately, there have been a few occasions where I have worked with full time paid firefighters who display a very “casual” attitude to all aspects of their profession. Some of these so-called professionals believe that after 4 years of service, any form of training is not only unnecessary, but also boring.

When it comes to attitude and core values I believe that there are only 2 types of firefighters. Professional or Unprofessional. Sometimes they are paid, partially paid, or unpaid. You can tell them apart by the following qualities.

Professional

Dedicated to serving the public.

Keen to learn new skills and always prepared to maintain skill levels.

Prepared to learn from mistakes.

Skilful and open to new ideas.

Displays expert knowledge and a desire to gain depth of understanding.

Works as a team player to provide the very best service.

Unprofessional

Self-serving.

Incompetent and unable or unwilling to admit it.

Think that they know all they need to know.

Blame others for their mistakes.

In a comfort zone that closes their mind.

Always looking for the easy job or position.


'It has been said that there is as much difference between a man who has not trained and cultivated his intellect and one who has, as between a dead man and a living, and the same contrast may be made between those who have not studied fire brigade work and those who have.'

Sir Eyre Massey Shaw 1868


Professionalism is a state of mind and the choice is yours!

Shan Raffel

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38 mm Vs 45 mm Hose

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 04 March 2012
in blogs · 0 Comments

What are the advantage and disadvantages of using larger diameter hose?

“The pressure loss due to fiction varies as the square of the velocity.” In simple terms, as the velocity of water inside a hose increases, so does the friction loss. The increase is quadratic, so an increase in the flow by a factor of X will result in an increase in friction loss by a factor of X2. Therefore doubling the flow through a hose will quadruple the friction loss.

If we can reduce the velocity then we can reduce the pressure required at the pump and we can deliver more water over a greater distance.

 

Flow or ease of handling?

So therefore larger hose lines are better? Well it depends. Larger hoses are heavier to drag and harder to manoeuvre. The best solution is to use the smallest line that will deliver the required flow and pressure over the distance required.

Lets consider at situation where we need to supply a flow rate of 475 lpm to a nozzle at a tip pressure of 700 kPa.

For 38 mm hose we will have a friction loss of approximately 257 kPa per 30 metre length. (* Akron FireCalc).

Therefore if we need to deliver this water over 60 metres we will need to have a pressure of 1214 kPa at the pump. ie 700 kPa at the nozzle + (2 x 257 kPa)

If we use 45 mm hose we only need 167 kPa/30 metre length.

So for 45 mm hose we need a pump pressure of approximately 1034 kPa.

In both cases most pumps will be capable of supply the required pressure and flow. 38 mm hose will be easier to handle. If however the need to flow higher volumes of water or add more lengths, the pressure loss through 38 mm hose will be excessive.

It is important to consider your particular application and then choose the hose lay pack that will best suit your needs. The Quick Lay Fire Attack Team have the expereince and the knowledge to ensure you end up the most efficient hose lay combination for YOUR NEEDS!

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Seconds Count

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 26 February 2012
in blogs · 0 Comments

The 3D approach to compartment fire fighting has reached the stage where most of the fire services in the world have adopted at least some of the training principles, tactics and techniques.

As an obvious believer and regular practitioner I can tell you from experience when executed efficiently the effect of the most appropriate nozzle technique is powerful, instant and life saving.

 

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