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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
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on Saturday, 07 September 2013
in Industry Insights

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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“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”


ib Saturday, 21 September 2013

As a simple rule for consideration, 1/4 the max flow rate of your hose the maximum size of the fire compartment for a developing fire?

Paul Grimwood Monday, 27 January 2014

Excellent representation of needed water flow-rates at building fires Shan. I think this graphic says it all! Our rough 'rule of thumb' guide for our firefighters is .... area of fire involvement x 5 = L/min but always anticipate that by the time you deploy the involved area may be twice the dimensions!

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