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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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Water on the Fire

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 17 December 2014
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

From our global interactions with many firefighters from the UK, USA, Middle East, Australia and beyond, there are two main schools of thought – the first being “I don’t care about fancy nozzles and techniques, I just want to get lots of water on the fire” and the other, “there’s no use getting lots of water on the fire if you don’t have well practiced and scientifically proven techniques”.

What’s common to both of these approaches is simply ‘water on the fire’ and no one can argue that this isn’t key to a good result when it comes to the task of fire fighting.

It doesn’t take many clicks on YouTube to find the arrival and first actions of firefighters being heavily criticised in the comments section. While the language can sometimes be colourful, the underlying message is usually “why did it take so long to get water on the fire?”

The speed and amount of water that gets to the fire or the weight-of-attack is dependent on many variables, with hose management being one of the main contributing factors and one we’re interested in at QuickLay Fire Attack. We have come to the conclusion that common to every incident, be it an oil rig, house or boat fire – there are two standard requirements in regards to managing hose.

These include:

  1. The need to stretch hose between the water supply and the smoke barrier or fire containment point and;
  2. The need to deploy enough hose into a coil so the firefighters can advance into the fire without becoming snagged or caught up by excessive friction caused by long lengths of heavy hose laid outside, up or down halls and stairs.

Stretching hose over a distance is a fairly straightforward task, however, under duress and in the dark it can sometimes end up in a mess of hose and not much distance covered. Straps will hold hose neatly; however, when the bundle is dropped or the load is partly deployed it loses its form and becomes a liability.

With increasing acceptance of the Cleveland Hose Load, also called the coil or the roundabout” hose load; it is possible to deploy enough hose close to the entry point, so it can be easily advanced into the fire. However, a hose strapped in the coil can be very temperamental, losing its form if dropped and can also suffer a catastrophic failure should one end inadvertently thread under one loop before the hose is charged.

Furthermore, while 30m/100ft of coiled hose is great, if two thirds of it remains coiled back at the standpipe even before the firefighters are through the door then there’s still the issue of dragging a lot of hose.

Purpose built fire hose deployment packs

Following four years of research and development while consulting with firefighters from all over the world we have created a suite of very simple packs that store and deploy hose in such a way that meets these two requirements while at the same time protecting the equipment in storage and transport. In addition, by design the equipment is ergonomic – being long and thin – and fits next to the firefighter’s breathing apparatus set, dramatically decreasing the impact of the load on the firefight- er’s centre of gravity.

Research and Development

Core to our testing was the importance of reliability – not in the drill yard but in limited visibility, high pressure and usually complex situations with gloved hands after a multi-level stair climb.

  • Stowage – Space is king on a fire engine so an underpinning design intention was to keep things tight and compact while not jeopardising the act of deliberately deploying the equipment.
  • Transport – ‘Bounce’ is the term we have used to describe what happens when a piece of equipment is seemingly secured however when carried it bounces and gradually comes loose and starts to hit knees, knock out teeth or cause unnecessary damage to the built environment.
  • Deployment – As already mentioned, the two packs have very clear roles and subsequently are packed differently so as to achieve their purpose. Critical to the success was the guarantee that all equipment will hold tight, however definitely deploy as and when expected.
  • Intuitive design – The role of each pack has been made very obvious. The pack that lays from the water supply is blue for water and the pack that deploys close to the entry point is red for fire. While this sounds obvious, it means fire fighters can perform their duties with the discussion being centred on the as-yet unknowns of the incident.
  • Implementation – To assist with the implementation and skills maintenance we have produced a phone-site (similar to a smartphone app), which will work on all devices so long as they’re connected to the Internet. Here we have packing, deployment and application demonstrations. This portal can be accessed at www.qlfanow.com
  • One size fits all – In order to fit all types and sizes of hose, nozzles, dividers/wyes and associated equipment we built in the ability to adjust pockets to fit as required.
  • Equipment – Depending on many variables, different departments run with different pieces of equipment and to accommodate this we have built in a removable cover for a gated divider/wye.
  • Operations – While the hose lay requirement is ultimately the same, no two incidents are. It is therefore important that firefight- ers maximise the capability of their equipment.

Attack Pack

  • Can stand up on its side and be held or lent against a wall
  • Can be deployed in a platform cage and advanced from within
  • Can be deployed then dragged fully in its coils
  • Will protect the hose ends from the hose load so as to avoid a thumb/overhand knot forming
  • Will not fall apart if dropped
  • Can store a coil that is big enough to expand into a kink-free coil yet pack down small enough that it’s easy to carry

Lay Pack

  • Stores a pre-connected gated-wye
  • Can be advanced from either end
  • Will not lose its form as the hose load lays
  • Can be dropped or thrown over a balcony or across a gap
  • Can be deployed lengths

Following this testing we have added a hose- securing strap and door wedge pockets as well as streamline pockets for other equipment specific to the department. While the two packs combine to provide what is easily compartmentalised as a “high-rise kit” they actually combine to form a system to deploy hose in any environment where there’s a need for a lot of hose quickly and not a lot of space to do it.

These include courtyards, hallways or even the top landing of aviation rescue stairs.

We are often asked to bolt on entry-tools and even a fire extinguisher and while this would be possible we feel and the general belief is these two packs combine to form a tool specific to the task of rapid and reliable fire hose deployment.

We want to avoid the tool morphing into a lesser performing tool-box with diluted applications.

With this understanding and the purpose designed equipment, firefighters can arrive and intuitively stretch and coil hose with the focus being on the true-unknowns of the job and hopefully get water on the fire fast.

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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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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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History & tradition + technology & innovation = progress

Posted by Peter Messenger
Peter Messenger
Peter Messenger has not set their biography yet
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on Sunday, 04 March 2012
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

I have always believed that history and tradition within a fire service is essential to providing effective emergency operations "they've done it this way for years and it seems to be working".

But sometimes emergency services should take a closer look, was it done as best as we can do or is there a better, smarter way?

As technology etches it way into fire fighting and emergency response, some traditions are best left in the fire fighting museum- the introduction of Breathing Apparatus for example- what was once considered something a 'sissy' would wear is now considered essential personal protective equipment.

 

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Deploying hose lines in tunnels

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 29 January 2012
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Lay Flat fire hose deployment in open spaces is quite a straight forward task. But inside a tunnel is a completely different story.

 

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What it means to be Emotionally Intelligent (EQ)

Posted by Peter Messenger
Peter Messenger
Peter Messenger has not set their biography yet
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on Sunday, 22 January 2012
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Emotional intelligence has been around for a long time – but with many different theories of what it is, not a lot of people have a thorough understanding of what it actually alludes to.

The reality is, emotional intelligence can be the difference between a great day at work or an extremely stressed one – and when applied to the fire ground it could even be the difference between life and death and/or serious injury.

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What drives your actions?

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 15 January 2012
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Firefighters are often faced with situations that require the ability to conduct an accurate size up, usually with limited information and in a compressed time frame.

If this is not challenging enough, the decisions made have the potential to endanger the lives of firefighters and may mean the difference between life and death for any persons that are trapped.

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Transit Tunnel Fire Emergencies

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 17 August 2011
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

For most people the daily commute through a busy transit tunnel is of no real significance, while it is unlikely that a major incient will occur- in the event it does all the implications of the emergency are amplified, these including smoke and heat from a fire as well as hundreds, potentially thousands of evacuees moving though an unbreathable environment in limited light.

Like a cruise or cargo ship emergency, the two variables that dictate the size and duration of a fire in a tunnel are Speed in both initial response and subsequent fire fighting operations and Weight of Attack (WoA) i.e how much and how effective the water streams are).

We have looked at the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and how their immediate response and local knowledge provide an invaluable advantage and we have also outlined the nuts and bolts of how the QuickLay Fire Attack Packs provide unparalleled performance in confined environments with milti-skilled and multi-lingual team members.

For a true insight into tunnels and how the who's who of keeping them safe no one would have a better, more up-to-date understanding of "Planning, Preparation and Response to Emergencies in Tunnels" than QLFA's own Director Shan Raffel.

Shan is a Churchill Fellow having completed his research project into tunnel emergencies.

His findings can be viewed here

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But fire fighters bowl hose... don't they?

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Friday, 08 July 2011
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Sure, fire fighters are trained in the use of fire hose. There's no doubt about it, it's their bread and butter!

The straight forward task of holding the roll of hose steady, then carefully bowling it out in a straight(ish) line is the noble rite-of-passage for any fire fighter.

Though is this reason enough for other organisations like stadiums, large shopping centers or factories to avoid having the same ability to combat a fire in its infancy?

We don't think so; not when the task is simplified, expedited and the resulting hose from the Attack Pack gifts the user with a calibre that's twice that of a common one-inch fire-hose-reel.

Another reason people avoid lay-flat hose is based on the assumption that it can only be used with breathing apparatus - however it's when you do not have the advantage of air protection that the greater reach a lay flat hose offers should be utilised.

"Emergency Response Teams equipped with the QuickLay packs and an understanding of basic hose deployment are best positioned to protect life and the assets of the business".

 


Until now fire fighters

bowled this:

Now! Fire Fighters AND

Emergency Response Teams

can deploy these:

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Where there's fire there's smoke (except in Hollywood)

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 05 July 2011
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Fact v's Fiction - Hollywood would have us believe we are bullet proof in a fire...

As humans our appreciation of fire is well developed - 'bestfriend but- worst enemy' is a maxim I remember from school, so people generally 'get-it' when it comes to fire.

However, Hollywood's portrayal of fire and the effect the resulting smoke has on the human body has a lot to answer for: in their defense the last scene of 'Backdraft' would be pretty beige if all we saw was a blurred glow of fire through the thick black turbulant smoke and not Brian McCaffrey (aka William Baldwin) smash the top off a fire extinguisher and throw it in the burning factory, all without breathing protection...

The reality is:

"the onset of smoke and heat can only be fully appreciated and given the respect it deserves when observed and experienced firsthand - which unfortunately in some cases, is too late".

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The Missing Link

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Monday, 04 July 2011
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

Fire hose lay is not an exact science- so we have identified the standard requirements common to most fire emergencies...

If you talk to Akron they will tell you they've spent millions on the development of their nozzles and if you chat to Scania, they will tell you of the billions that has gone into R&D of the noble fire appliance yet the bit between the appliance and nozzle remains- hose. Simple lay-flat canvas or rubber hose.

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