Commercial Structure Fire

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1 Instructions This is a tactical problem for a commercial structure fire. A PDF file has been provided with views of the fire building. You should use the file for digital slides or overhead transparencies. The problem should take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Provide students with the scenario and review the scenario with them. Show the pictures while discussing the scenario. The students, as a group, are to assume the role of the incident commander. Allow minutes for them to answer the questions. Do not give students a copy of the considerations they are for the use of the instructor only. Begin the discussion of the answers by having each student provide an initial report. Discuss each question in order, referring to the pictures and site diagram as needed. Refer to the considerations provided to guide the discussion. Remember, the answers must be based on your department s resources and operating procedures. If there are specific policies/procedures that apply to the scenario, provide students with a copy or refer to them during the discussion. Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training P. 1

2 Scenario It is 7:00 am on a Thursday morning. A call is received from the police department that smoke is coming from the roof of a large commercial building at 1802 N. East St. The building was formerly a car dealership but has been vacant for five years. The officer that called it in said the smoke was dark and heavy. Your engine is the first unit on the scene. The building is a large masonry construction commercial building with a bow string truss roof. You find fire coming from what appears to be a roof vent in the center of the roof. There is also smoke coming from around a large overhead door. The police officer meets you and tells you that he didn t find anyone around the building. You notice that a crowd is beginning to gather and morning traffic has come to a stop on East St. The temperature is 49, wind is calm, relative humidity is 68%. You should assume a typical first alarm response is enroute and will arrive within the next 4 or 5 minutes. You assume incident command. Refer to the site diagram for nearest hydrants and streets. Based on the information available and the views of the building, answer the following questions based on your department s resources and standard operating procedures. 1. Transmit an initial report. (Each participant should provide the initial report with feedback from the instructor.) 2. What is your strategy for this fire, i.e. offensive, defensive, or marginal? Interior, exterior? 3. How will you achieve the following tactical objectives with the resources available to you? You may request an additional alarm(s) or mutual aid. Water Supply Rescue (primary & secondary search) Exposure Confinement Extinguishment Overhaul Ventilation 4. Where will you position your resources - engines, trucks, etc.? Identify the positions on the site plan. Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training P. 2

3 5. How will you ensure the general safety of the department personnel involved in the operation? 6. Are there any specific hazards to your personnel at this operation? If yes, please describe them. 7. Refer to #6. How will you address those hazards? 8. What support services will be needed for this operation? 9. Explain the ICS structure you will create to manage this incident. Draw the structure. 10. What customer service issues are present? How will you address those issues? Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training P. 3

4 Considerations 1. The initial report should provide information on the type of structure, the situation found, the initial action to be taken, assignments for incoming companies, and command status (who and where). The IC should identify the name of the operation. Also, since this is a large commercial structure that is going to be a working fire the IC should request additional resources. The resources may include police support for traffic control. 2. There are several factors that must be considered when selecting a strategy. First, the fire loading inside the building is unknown initially. This type of vacant building is often used for storage. Second, the building has a truss roof that is already exposed to direct flame impingement. This is an immediate hazard to working inside the building. Finally, there does not appear to be any exposures to the building that are going to be at immediate risk if a defensive strategy is selected. If an offensive strategy is selected the resources must be available to provide a large fire flow immediately. Remember, each minute that goes by brings you closer to a roof collapse. 3. Water Supply There are two hydrants close to the building that can provide a fire flow of 2,000 gpm. If the building becomes totally involved, more water will be required to protect the exposures. Also, if the fire becomes that large the hydrant at the southwest corner of the electronics store may become untenable due to radiant heat. Rescue Due to the time of day the likelihood of anyone being in the building is minimal. However, homeless persons using fires inside a vacant building have started fires of this type. Due to the danger of roof collapse and the unknown contents of the building, a primary search may be limited to rooms immediately accessible from the outside. Also, the primary search may involve a search of the perimeter of the building. The secondary search should wait until the building is secure and can be searched safely. Exposure The first exposure to consider is the areas of the building s interior not already involved in fire. There appears to be a showroom/office area in the front of the building that is free of smoke. This may be an exposure to protect from extension of the fire. However, remember that the fire may be extending in the ceiling area Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training P. 4

5 around the trusses. A roof collapse may involve the front rooms also. The next exposure to consider is the building across the street. There may be danger from flying brands from the roof and radiant heat. Confinement This is the real challenge for this fire. An attack that has been used successfully in this type of fire is to tee-pee cut the overhead door closest to the fire and attack the fire with a portable master stream. You are going to need big water for this fire a fire stream that is capable of penetrating the heat in the ceiling area and reach into burning materials on the floor. A solid stream nozzle has that reach. If this attack is selected, the cut in the door must be large enough to allow the crew to maneuver the master stream and have a wide angle for attack. Also, the master stream should be positioned if possible to protect the interior exposures from fire extension. It is important to remember the size of the fire you are dealing with in this building. While it may be faster to quickly advance a 2-1/2 line, that amount of water isn t going to provide enough knock down power to control the fire. Remember the cliché big fire, big water. Extinguishment If the master stream is successful, and the roof is safe, large handlines can be advanced into the building to finish extinguishing the fire. Also, if possible, extinguishment should be made beginning from the interior exposures working outward. Overhaul Overhaul should only begin after interior operations are declared safe by the safety officer or building official. If there are large boxes, vehicles, etc. in the building it may be safest to pull them outside and overhaul outside. Ventilation Since the fire has burned through the skylight some ventilation has been achieved. However, with this type of roof smoke and heat can remain in the ceiling area. Once the fire has been extinguished, additional ventilation should be created in the roof if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, the windows can be opened/removed and other doors opened to provide maximum air flow into the building. 4. There are two considerations for placement of apparatus. First, the IC must be thinking ahead about the possibility of the fire extending to the entire structure. An engine or truck placed directly between the two buildings could be exposed to radiant heating and smoke. That doesn t mean apparatus shouldn t be Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training P. 5

6 positioned in that area, but the drivers and IC must monitor the heat and smoke between the buildings. Second, if the roof collapses the exterior wall may also collapse. All apparatus should be placed outside of the collapse zone. 5. The first step to be taken is to appoint a safety officer for the incident. The safety officer must be in a position to monitor the condition of the roof, keeping in mind that there may not be any observable signs prior to the collapse of the roof. If crews begin working inside the building, an interior safety officer may also be appointed. The best step the IC can take to ensure safety is to be aware of the dangers presented by this type of fire, specifically the unknown contents of the building and the roof construction. Tactical decisions must be made with these considerations in mind. 6. The specific hazard for this incident is the truss roof. The roof members have been exposed to heat for an unknown period of time. The trusses may collapse at any time, possibly without any warning. 7. This hazard can be addressed by initially appointing an incident safety officer to observe conditions and operations. Until the fire is controlled and the safety of the building determined, crews should be kept out of the building. Next, when possible fire streams should be directed into the ceiling area to cool the roof members. Finally, the IC should request a building official or engineer to come to the scene to inspect the trusses once the fire is controlled. Another safeguard is implementing a RIT if an interior operation is required. This will also meet the requirements for 2 in 2 out. However, don t fall into the trap of believing that because a backup team is available that it is safe to send crews inside. The RIT doesn t decrease the risk of roof collapse, it simply provides an additional resource for rescue should fire fighters become trapped inside the building. Finally, if available a haz mat team should be requested. If hazardous materials are found inside the building the team can provide assistance and possibly mitigate the problem. Also, the haz mat team may be able to do air monitoring. 8. This operation is going to take several hours. Rehab and medical monitoring will be required. Also, shift change may be required. Support from the police will be necessary to control the traffic in the area. If available, request an ambulance to standby to assist with medical monitoring and provide medical care if needed. 9. The ICS structure will depend on the deployment of the crews and other resources. However, a safety officer must be appointed. Also, a public information officer would be helpful since media will be at this type of incident. Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training P. 6

7 10. The business owners from the electronics and rental stores will have many questions about the safety of their buildings, when they can open, etc. A liaison should be appointed to work with them. Also, if possible the owner of the building should be notified as well as his/her insurance provider. If they come to the scene the liaison officer should be made available to answer their questions and respond to their requests. Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training P. 7

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