Standard Operating Guideline
Date of Issue: June 28,
Effective Date: June 28,
Developed by: Ronald Richards,
Issued by Authority of:
Ronald W. Richards, Fire Chief Ronald
Ladder Company Operations
It is the intent to establish
a guideline to insure appropriate activity for the ladder company.
This operating guideline
is developed to insure all Station 43 assigned or riding the ladder complete
the mission of the company in a safe and efficient manner.
The fire chief is responsible
to insure that objectives on the fire ground are completed in a safe and
The Ladder Company is a
special service that supports the engine company. It is imperative that
all personnel assigned to the ladder follow these guidelines to insure
the completion of the company’s mission in a safe manner.
The Ladder Company officer
will supervise the operations of the ladder company.
Firefighters are responsible
to follow this guideline.
VENT FOR FIRE is accomplished
to facilitate the Engine Company’s ability to advance to, and extinguishment
of, the fire. This venting is normally delayed until the Engine Company
has its water, and is ready to "move in".
VENT FOR LIFE is accomplished
to facilitate movement of members into an area where there is known or
suspected life hazard. With an inherent calculated risk of eventually "pulling
fire" it is performed as part of an attempt to reach possible survivors
as soon as possible. These actions must be coordinated with the inside
GENERAL AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY
FIRST LADDER COMPANY TO
A. Ladder company operations
on fire floor.
B. Determine life hazard
and rescue as required.
C. Roof ventilation and
a visual check of rear and sides from this level.
D. Laddering as needed.
E. If a second ladder company
will not arrive within a reasonable time, make interior search and removal
of endangered occupants above the fire.
Is an ongoing evaluation
of the problems confronted within a fire situation. Size up starts with
the receipt of the alarm and continues until the fire is under control.
This process may be carried out many times and by many different individuals
during a fire.
The factors which all members
must consider in size-up are:
A. Time governs the life
hazard. Night fires mean poor visibility; buildings locked effecting delay
in access. A tenement fire is more serious at night than in the daytime.
B. Life is the most serious
factor at any fire. The location of the life hazard in relation to the
fire and the life hazard to firefighters must also be considered.
C. Area - Building or occupancy
area. Large areas to be searched requiring search lines. Large areas generate
fires of great intensity, heavy volumes of smoke and severe heat.
D. Height - Building height
will govern the use of the Aerial and/or Tower Ladder and ground ladders.
E. Construction -Non fire
proof contains vertical voids that allows for extension. Alterations may
have introduced larger voids, both vertical and horizontal.
Wooden "I" beams, lightweight
truss, Energy Efficient Windows and membrane roofs can affect the safety
of operations within the structure. The presence of front or rear fire
escapes or party balconies will also have an effect on fire ground operations.
F. Occupancy - This determines
the severity of the life hazard and the intensity of the fire. For example:
A commercial occupancy with an increased fire load on the first floor with
G. Location and Extent of
Fire - A fire in the cellar, shaft, or apartment on the top floor will
determine access and areas to be searched.
H. Water Supply - Hydrant
availability, and the placement and readiness of hose lines.
I. Street Conditions - Effect
apparatus access and the placement of aerial apparatus to the fire building.
J. Auxiliary Appliances
- Standpipe/sprinkler systems, and the location of outlets, O S & Y,
and/or check valves.
K. Weather - Snow and freezing
conditions, wind velocity and direction are major factors in safety and
L. Apparatus and Equipment
- Be aware of the units on the scene. The arrival of those units assigned
on the alarm, Engines and Ladders, 1st due, 2nd due, etc.
May be adjoining buildings
or areas within the fire building itself (auto exposure). i.e., floor to
floor via windows, and across shafts or adjoining apartments.
The Ladder Company will
institute a two team offense that will cover their area of assigned responsibility.
A. Officer Position
B. Forcible Entry Position
C. Chauffeur Position
D. Outside Vent (OV) Position
E. Roof Position
F. Utility Positions
Due to the unpredictability
of staffing, the inside/outside team concept will be maintained with a
minimum staffing of 3 personnel. The interior team will have a crew of
A. OFFICER POSITION
TOOLS: Portable radio
Go to the suspected fire
area via the interior stairs of the fire building.
1. Performing an immediate
size-up and gives necessary orders.
2. Insure that entry doors
are chocked open, to enable the stretching of hand lines or access by other
3. Takes command of forcible
entry, locating the fire, search and removal of victims.
4. Maintain control of interior
5. A decision must be made
whether entry into the fire room by the inside and outside team can be
made safely before a charged line is in position.
6. Control the horizontal
ventilation on the fire floor, by the inside and outside team.
7. Penetrate to the seat
of the fire and try to contain it by shutting a door or using a portable
extinguisher. A thorough primary search must be started at this point.
Ventilate as required in order to conduct this search, keeping in mind
that the fire can be drawn to the area vented. Verify that all areas of
the fire floor have been covered.
8. Inform the engine company
officer of fire location and any unusual layout that will cause difficulty
in reaching the fire. Provide and maintain an unobstructed path through
which the hose line can advance. Furniture, appliances or other articles
blocking the advance of the line, will have to be moved.
9. be aware of structural
features that would endanger exposures or permit extension, such as shafts,
voids, etc... Relay necessary information to the Incident Commander.
10. be aware of and await
return of members operating in other locations. Secure information regarding
their observations and operations. If any member has not been accounted
for in a reasonable time, take prompt action to locate him/her.
11. Company officers must
maintain communication with members not operating under their immediate
supervision to determine their status. The interval between contacts should
be frequent enough to provide for the safety of the firefighter being monitored
without monopolizing the radio frequency.
NOTE: Members are under
the "Immediate Supervision" of an officer when:
A. They are within sight
and/or hearing of the officer.
B. They are working with
a search line or hose line which is under the supervision of an officer.
12. Insure the safety of
his/her members on the fire floor by close supervision. Prior training,
combined with adequate communications and control on the fire ground is
necessary for the safety of all members.
13. Control operations on
fire floor that will affect members operating on floor above. Be aware
of changing conditions on the fire floor that could endanger units operating
on the floors above.
14. when necessary, ensure
members are reminded of their designation as safety team members.
B. FORCIBLE ENTRY POSITION
POSITION: Door to
the fire area. Reached via the interior stairs of the fire building.
1. Forcible entry.
2. Immediate search and
removal of victims.
3. Locate the fire.
4. Ventilate as required
The chauffeur must have
a working knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of all members of
the ladder companies and how they are likely to execute their assignments
under different fire situations. Monitoring the handheld radio will be
of assistance in making decisions. The chauffeur should have the ability
to evaluate a problem and then make a sound decision to cope with it.
The chauffeur shall select
the tools that he/she deems necessary to complete his assignment.
The front of the fire building.
The chauffeur of an aerial
ladder shall not operate in a manner that will in any way impede his/her
return to the pedestal and cause a delay in positioning or repositioning
the aerial for rescue or removal operations.
The chauffeur must notify
his/her company officer of intended destination when leaving this primary
1. Position apparatus for
complete coverage and immediate use. If unable to attain this position
the Incident Commander must be notified.
2. Raise and use aerial
and/or portable ladders for rescue.
3 Roof access if necessary.
4. Vent the fire floor.
5. Ladder chauffeur should
remain on turntable when members have entered the building by aerial ladder
and are in precarious positions such as: a floor over a heavy fire, the
roof of a building with a heavy fire condition.. The chauffeur should keep
alert as to the who, when, where of members using the aerial ladder.
6. If the chauffeur is aware
that the 2nd ladder company is not in service or will not arrive in a reasonable
time, he/she shall team up with another available member to try to get
above the fire via aerial or ground ladder.
7. For purposes of efficiency,
the OV and Chauffeur shall team up while keeping in mind the necessity
to be available for the use of the aerial or portable ladders to assist
members in distress.
8. A situation that can
arise is the obvious need to use the aerial for the roof firefighter but
at the same time there is an apparent need to remove an occupant. Consider
the following factors in reaching a decision as to its initial use:
a. Emotional state of the
An agitated, frightened
occupant or one threatening to jump should be removed first.
b. Fire/Smoke in the immediate
vicinity of the occupant.
The occupant must receive
instant attention if he/she would be endangered or seriously disturbed
by any delay in his/her removal.
c. Location and severity
of the fire.
A rear first floor fire
will not normally require immediate removal of occupants from the 3rd,
4th, or higher floors in the front of the building. Conversely, a fire
on the upper floors rarely requires removal operations on lower floors.
d. The Time Element.
When aerial ladder is needed
both for removal and roof access, roof access can be given priority if
the person to be removed is in no immediate danger. If any doubt exists
remove the occupant first. After roof access has been attained, the aerial
ladder may be used for the removal, keeping in mind that the ladder must
be repositioned as quickly as possible to avoid endangering the roof firefighter
should the roof position become untenable.
9. When approaching the
alarm location and there is no visible indication of fire, position apparatus
so that it can be moved to provide maximum coverage if necessary.
E. OUTSIDE VENT POSITION
TOOLS: 6' hook
For top floor fires the
saw is taken in place of the hook.
Except for assisting the
chauffeur in front of the fire building when aerial or portable ladders
are needed for rescue or removal, assignment is to ventilate the fire area
from the exterior providing lateral ventilation. If the location of the
fire is not obvious from the exterior of the building the OV should communicate
with his/her officer. Once the location is verified the OV can then reach
the correct window from a lower or adjacent apartment or from a ladder
at ground level.
THERE ARE OCCASIONS WHEN
THE OV POSITION IS VARIED:
1. Store Fire:
Ventilate the rear of the
store from the exterior. If this would expose people on a fire escape,
ventilate immediately after they are out of danger. If a delay in ventilation
is encountered and/or anticipated, notification should be made to your
2. Top Floor Fire:
Proceed to roof with saw
and halligan to vent fire apartment from roof level, and then assist the
roof firefighter with roof vent.
1. Assist in laddering
for rescue work.
2. Lower fire escape drop
ladder, or position a portable ladder.
3. Vent for fire: Ventilate
fire floor from exterior. The OV has the responsibility of timing the exterior
ventilation with the advance of the charged hand line. Communication with
his/her company officer via handheld radio must be maintained in order
to coordinate and control lateral ventilation.
4. Venting for life: Prior
to venting from the fire escape, the OV must receive permission from his/her
company officer via portable radio. The OV might not be aware of conditions
inside the structure. Entry and search will be completed if he/she teams
up as follows:
a. When the fire apartment
is in the rear, the OV and Roof Firefighter (or another available member)
shall team up and enter the fire apartment from that fire escape.
b. When the fire apartment
is in the front, the OV and Chauffeur (or another available member) shall
team up and enter the fire. In both situations, they will affect the removal
of any occupants but still consider fire severity or extinguishing operations
which may endanger them.
When the OV must assist
the chauffeur in a removal operation, or the OV is unable to descend from
the roof, the officer may dispatch a member of the forcible entry team
to perform outside ventilation after they have forced the door to the fire
apartment. Entry and search will be completed if he/she teams up with another
F. ROOF POSITION
Life Saving Rope
Roof of fire building.
Roof ventilation is critical
for search, rescue and extinguishment of the fire. NOTHING SHALL DETER
the member assigned the roof position from carrying out the assigned duties.
The duties of the roof firefighter demand an experienced, observant and
determined member capable of decisive action.
ACCESS TO THE ROOF
1. Adjoining Building
Generally, there are contiguous
buildings making this the safest and most dependable method. Be aware of
possible extension of fire to exposures.
2. Aerial Ladder
The aerial ladder is used
when the building is isolated or the roof cannot be reached, or accessed
from the adjoining building, due to a difference in height or obstructions
caused by security barriers, fences etc.. Roof access from the aerial can
be dangerous. The cornice slopes towards the roof and in some instances
there is a high front parapet wall. Use caution stepping off the aerial,
especially when visibility is poor.
NOTE: The interior stairs
are NEVER used for the following reasons:
Danger of being trapped above
Banked heat and smoke may prevent
member from reaching roof.
Will lead to a delay in roof
ventilation when it proves dangerous or impractical.
The duties of a roof firefighter
demand an experienced, observant and determined firefighter capable of
decisive action. The responsibility of this position covers three broad
areas; life, communication, and ventilation. Roof ventilation is critical
for search, rescue and extinguishment of the fire. NOTHING SHALL DETER
the member assigned the roof position from carrying out the assigned duties.
The roof firefighter should always confirm his/her way off the roof as
soon as he/she reaches the roof. The roof firefighter is responsible for
1. Opening the bulkhead
door and skylight, or scuttle and roof level skylight over interior stairs.
2. Probing bulkhead landing
3. Probing for roof level
skylight draft stop.
4. A perimeter search of
the building for persons trapped and those who may have jumped or fallen.
This search shall include the sides, rear and shafts of the building.
5. Locating the fire and
making a visual check for extension across shafts or by auto exposure.
6. Transmitting vital information
to the Incident Commander, either directly or through the company officer,
on conditions observed from that vantage point.
7. When necessary, team
up with the OV to VES the fire floor and, if not needed for search on that
floor, proceed to VES the floors above the fire.
8. When necessary, team
up with 2nd Roof firefighter to VES all floors above the fire.
9. At top floor fires, venting
top floor windows from roof level. He/she is also RESPONSIBLE FOR UTILIZATION
OF THE SAW to vent the cockloft and top floor when necessary AFTER COMPLETING
10. Conveying information
to 2nd ladder company. Inform them of the extent of the search completed,
so that all floors above the fire may receive a thorough search. Also inform
the 2nd ladder company when proper examination of exposed interior stairs
and public hall has not been made due to other duties. The 2nd ladder company
shall complete the above mentioned examinations.
11. Reports back to their
company officer (generally located on the fire floor) when assignment is
completed or when relieved by 2nd ladder company and apprise them of all
12. Roof Ventilation
Building will have either
a bulkhead with a skylight or a scuttle with a roof level skylight over
the interior stairs.
a. IF BUILDING HAS A BULKHEAD;
open bulkhead door. These doors are almost always self closing. To keep
the door open, either remove the upper hinge or block the door open
b. IF BUILDING HAS A SCUTTLE
COVER, remove scuttle cover. This may be difficult because scuttle cover
may be nailed down, have several coatings of tar at the seams and/or secured
by hooks, chains, etc. on the underside of the cover.
c. Heavy smoke and high
heat issuing from the bulkhead doorway or scuttle would obviously require
further ventilation such as removal of the skylight.
The absence of these indications
does not necessarily mean that skylight ventilation is not required. Opening
a bulkhead door or scuttle cover will not always give a true indication
of interior fire conditions; the door to the fire apartment may not be
open, either because it has not been forced or because it is being held
in a closed position. Evaluate other factors (heavy smoke or fire showing
from several windows, etc.) in determining the amount of ventilation that
will be required when the door to the fire apartment is opened.
d. Remove skylight over
stair bulkhead or on roof level. If fire and smoke conditions are obviously
heavy, immediate venting of the skylight prior to the removal of the scuttle
cover to relieve the interior would be justified.
e. If difficulty is encountered
opening the bulkhead door, vent the bulkhead skylight first. Units operating
below shall be warned by portable radio, prior to breaking glass. Pause
after breaking the first pane, as this serves as a warning to members below
and also allows roof person to determine the wind direction.
f. Work with the wind at
your back, when possible. When protective wire screens cover skylights
insert tool beneath screen to remove glass. Skylights at roof level may
have been removed and openings covered with roofing materials. It may be
necessary to cut a hole over the stairs to vent stairway. The Incident
Commander should be informed that a saw is needed to accomplish this.
g. Remove skylights or coverings
over all shafts if indicated by heavy heat and smoke conditions. This includes
dumbwaiter shafts, light shafts, etc. To insure an unobstructed outlet
for shafts other than dumbwaiter shafts, probe with hook to detect possible
presence of a glazed sash or other covering and remove it.
h. After removing roof level
skylight or scuttle cover, returns can be opened into cockloft to gain
knowledge of conditions or to ventilate.
Hand Held Radio
Exterior of the structure
This position is responsible
for laddering the exterior of the building as required. He will work with
the roof man and the chauffer to insure the building is appropriately ladders.
Additionally this position is responsible for control of utilities.
Teaming up to vent and search
After duties on the roof
have been completed, the roof firefighter shall descend the rear fire escape
to team up with the OV firefighter to VES.
Where the fire is in the
front of the building and there are three or four apartments on a floor,
the OV and Chauffeur will be teamed up in the front of the building. In
this situation, the roof firefighter can then team up with the 2nd roof
firefighter to VES the floors above the fire using the rear fire escape.
Pay particular attention to the top floor, especially the public hallways.
THE PUBLIC HALL AND STAIRS,
INCLUDING BULKHEAD LANDING ARE FREQUENTLY SEVERELY EXPOSED AND REQUIRE
EXAMINATION FOR VICTIMS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The roof firefighters can
get from the rear apartment to the front apartment using the public hall,
or if necessary, open the common wall between apartments. When searching
the floor above the fire, assist in venting the fire apartment by venting
windows below with a tool. In either case, the company officer shall be
notified when and where the search will commence.
A PRIMARY SEARCH is an immediate
search for life. This primary search is rapid but thorough and systematic.
A SECONDARY SEARCH Is a
thorough and painstakingly complete search, to insure that no possible
victims are overlooked, as children may hide in closets or under beds or
in bathrooms. The secondary search must also include the entire perimeter
of the building and all shafts, basements/cellars, etc.
Firefighters must be aware
that removal of draperies or curtains and the moving of large objects,
or furniture although frequently necessary, may hide a victim or seal off
a closet or other area being used as refuge. Another area that will frequently
hide a victim is the entrance door. As a victim will usually try to reach
a means of egress, they often can be found in the vicinity of or behind
the entrance door.
Officers of units performing
search shall be certain that the area in the vicinity of the entrance door,
and behind the entrance door are searched for possible victims.
After a quick check of this
area the room or apartment search can begin. A thorough search is required
on all floors above the fire for several reasons. A partially open door,
even on a remote floor, may have allowed an apartment to become heavily
charged. This open door would be even a greater hazard on the top floor
where heat and smoke could have mushroomed prior to stair bulkhead ventilation.
In addition the presence of energy efficient windows may intensify the
extension of heat, smoke and gases to the upper floors via pipe recesses
and/or improperly fire stopped vertical arteries.
NOTE: IF PRIMARY OR SECONDARY
SEARCH IS DELAYED OR NOT COMPLETED FOR ANY REASON, THE INCIDENT COMMANDER
MUST BE NOTIFIED.
The public hallway and the
entire staircase up to the roof bulkhead door must be examined as soon
as possible for those civilians who unsuccessfully attempted to use the
When searching or examining
a number of apartments it may be quicker to enter from the related fire
escape then to force numerous doors. This does not change normal forcible
entry procedure for access to fire floor and the floor immediately above.
If for any reason a thorough
search of an area has not been completed the firefighter`s officer must
be informed and a carefully executed follow-up search shall be initiated.
Search for life shall not be confined to the structure alone. The perimeter
of the building, shafts, courtyards, etc., must be checked for victims
who may have jumped or fallen.
Since the first due ladder
company is responsible for the fire floor, it shall conduct an exacting
primary search on this floor as soon as conditions permit. The second ladder
company, which is responsible for the floors above the fire, should conduct
a thorough primary search on all floors above the fire. Upon completion
of the primary searches, the secondary searches shall be conducted as soon
as conditions permit and shall be conducted by units other then those who
conducted the primary search of these areas.
After opening the door,
the inside team may find conditions too severe to enter before the Engine
Company has their line charged and are prepared to advance. In this instance
they should probe the area with a hand or tool, then close the door, being
careful that the door does not lock. When the Engine Company has water,
immediately crawl in behind the engine company to search and ventilate
The Officer of the inside
team must be notified before venting is attempted by the OV. After venting,
this firefighter shall team up with another available member prior to entry
and search. If entry is not possible, this firefighter shall probe the
immediate area with hand, foot, or tool. If the adjoining apartment is
charged with heat and smoke, the officer of the inside team must be notified
by the firefighter that his/her entry will be made into this adjoining
apartment for VES when he/she has teamed up with another available member.
The second ladder inside
team is assigned an extremely difficult position in the apartment over
the fire. Prior to proceeding above the fire the second arriving officer
should insure that the officers on the fire floor are made aware of his/her
intentions so that those operating above can be warned of any situation
necessitating withdrawal. Initially, they may not always be able to attain
this objective, however, they should make an aggressive attempt to gain
a foothold on this floor while keeping in mind a safe means of egress.
Access to the apartment above the fire may be gained via:
• Interior stairs
• Fire escapes
• Through a common partition
• By crawling across the
public hall from a tenable apartment on the same floor if conditions permit
• Aerial/portable ladder
All members operating above
the fire must be constantly alert to conditions on the floors below them.
The existence of resources to control the fire situation on the fire floor
does not guarantee that their position will remain tenable. When
operating on the floors above the fire, members should force one or more
doors on each floor to provide an area of refuge if they have to vacate
the interior stairs.
IF YOU CANNOT GAIN ENTRY
INTO A SAFE AREA AND THE ATTACK LINE IS IN POSITION AND READY TO ADVANCE,
YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY RETURN TO THE FIRE FLOOR, BEFORE THE DOOR TO THE FIRE
AREA IS OPENED. YOU MUST NOT DELAY THE START OF FIRE EXTINGUISHMENT.
NOTE: The engine and ladder
company officers operating on the fire floor must make the units above
aware of any conditions affecting their safety. These officers are responsible
for the control of the door to the fire apartment.
PRIOR TO PROCEEDING TO THE
FLOOR ABOVE, ALL OF THE FOLLOWING SHOULD BE CONSIDERED:
1. Life hazard. (known
2. Status of line.(charged
3. Door to fire area.
4. Location and volume of fire.
Forcible entry complete?
Integrity of door?
Control of door?
5. Has ventilation of fire
apartment been effected?
Fire in front or rear of apartment.
Light medium or heavy fire
6. Is roof vented. (skylight,
7. Type of occupancy.
Number of apartments ?
Location of fire escapes ?
Interior stairs (combustible
or non combustible?)
Construction of apartment doors?
Has building undergone renovations
introducing many voids?
Ventilation is the systematic
removal of heat, smoke and gas from a structure, followed by the replacement
with cooler air to facilitate other fire fighting priorities.
Ventilation is a vital factor
in all operations and is of particular consequence with respect to the
life saving function. Premature or incorrect ventilation may rapidly increase
the fires intensity and the area involved causing:
Difficulty in extinguishing
and confining the fire.
Possible death of a victim
who could have been removed and saved.
Endangering inside team.
Entails the opening or
removal of the windows of the fire apartment or area.
ENERGY EFFICIENT WINDOWS
These windows maintain
their integrity longer than ordinary single pane windows in a fire environment
with the following effects:
VENTILATION OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES
High heat buildup in fire apartment
and floor above.
Possibility of a backdraft/flashover.
Difficult to vent properly.
Cause rapid extension.
Discoloration due to high heat
is not readily apparent.
Difficulty in determining the
fire apartment, room or floor.
The ladder company officer
must control lateral ventilation by the inside and outside team. Uncontrolled
lateral ventilation could cause backdraft/flashover jeopardizing the safety
of members searching the apartment.
A. Venting for Life
Accomplished to facilitate
the movement of members into an area where there is a known or suspected
life hazard, with an inherent calculated risk of intensifying the fire.
It is performed as part of an attempt to reach possible survivors as soon
Situation No. 1 -Inside
team enters the apartment first.
The outside team cannot
vent until given permission by company officer.
Situation No. 2 - Inside
team unable to enter the fire apartment first.
The outside team must be
notified via handheld radio to attempt VES from exterior. When the attack
line is in position and ready to advance, the ladder company officer must
communicate with the searching outside team members before the apartment
door is opened so as not to endanger their position.
B. Vent for Fire
- Accomplished to facilitate the engine company advance to and extinguishment
of the fire. This venting is normally delayed until the engine company
has its water and is ready to "move in". This ventilation from the exterior
is coordinated and ordered by the officer of the inside team.
Windows directly exposed
to fire across shafts or directly over the fire, should not be opened until
the exposing fire is controlled either by partial or complete extinguishment
or by having a charged hand line at these extension points. It may be necessary
to close windows and remove drapes, curtains, etc.
When using a fire escape
for access to different floors, never vent a window that could allow fire
to cut off the line of retreat.
While searching an apartment,
severe conditions usually require the firefighters to vent each room as
they advance. However, if they do not have another safe means of egress
they may necessarily omit venting (or even close) a particular window which
might allow fire to cut off their only exit.
NOTE: EEW`s may not give
any of these indications, contact inside team before VES.
Venting from above
When venting the windows
of the fire apartment from directly above by use of a 6` hook and an intense
fire is suspected, the possibility of fire rolling up the side of the building
when air is admitted must be considered. For safety the firefighter should:
A. Look down at the window
to be remove.
B. Measure the distance
with the tool.
C. Pull head back in the
window and then swing the tool through the window below. The firefighter
hand and arm will be protected by their clothing.
All members should carry
a utility cord for use in operations, e.g., venting of windows on lower
floors, guide line during search, raising or lowering tools or hose, etc.
CUTTING THE ROOF (TOP FLOOR
TO BE SUCCESSFUL, THE ROOF
OPERATING FORCES MUST FULLY
UNDERSTAND THE FOLLOWING:
Prevent horizontal spread
and ventilate top floor.
After preliminary roof
ventilation, (bulkhead, skylights, scuttles, windows, etc.) when a serious
fire occurs on the top floor or in the cockloft. In all fires it is still
of paramount importance to provide rapid initial ventilation before getting
involved in the slower work of cutting the roof.
If possible directly over
the fire. To determine this location, check for:
HOW MUCH TO CUT
melting snow or ice
wet roof, steam or dry spot
sense of touch-on the base
of soil pipe or vent pipe
knowledge of fire location
gathered on travel to roof
looking over roof edge
portable radio communications
a 3`x6` coffin cut is recommended:
it is more manageable
it can be quickly expanded
to a larger hole
It avoids the problems
associated with holes cut in a roof:
1. Too large
Too time consuming, causes
2. Too small
Will not grant desired
relief and once opened, smoke, fire, and heat might make it too difficult
to open further.
3. Too many holes
Unsafe. One large expandable
hole is more efficient and safer than many smaller holes.
The saw is designed that
whenever possible, roof boards and coverings shall be cut in one operation.
Sometimes the cut section can be lifted in one piece. When this can not
be accomplished, remove the roof covering first, then the roof boards.
When many layers of roof covering are encountered, the saw blade may bind.
The size and location of
the opening will depend on fire conditions. A suggested method to make
an expandable opening "COFFIN CUT" is as follows:
A. Assume wind is blowing
in direction indicated. (ideally at your back)
B. Cut #1 approximately
C. Cut #2 "knock out" corner
cut for tool insertion.
D. Cut #3 approximately
E. Cut #4 to #7 approximately
F. Leave removed pieces
of roof section next to opening to warn operating forces.
G. If larger opening is
needed, additional opening can be made in like manner. (continuation of
cut in desired direction)
H. Make sure that roof
is not opened before cut is completed.
I. Push down ceiling to
NOTE: When a fire is burning
in a top floor apartment, it is not efficient to wait until the fire is
"knocked down" before examining the cockloft. An early inspection can be
made by going to a room adjacent to the fire (in the same or adjoining
apartment) and opening an observation hole in that ceiling. If fire can
be seen burning in the cockloft, the observation hole should not
be expanded until a charged hose line has been positioned. It is a good
practice while waiting for the charged hose line to ventilate all windows
in the apartment, because once the ceiling is opened the floor will quickly
become filled with smoke. This is also the time to make sure that a roof
ventilation hole is being cut directly above the fire.
CUTTING THE ROOF WITH AN
The instructions contained
herein are still valid in that total reliance cannot be placed on power
equipment and the principles that apply to the use of axes still apply
to the use of power saws.
A. Determine the location
of the hole. Cut through the roof covering and remove it, exposing the
sheathing. The roof sheathing is placed at right angles to the beams and
generally run front to rear. Cut through the sheathing at opposite sides
of the proposed opening close to the beam to lessen the bounce of the axe
and the resultant binding action when the axe goes through a springy portion
of the sheathing. Remove the cut sheathing from the opening with a member
on each end of the cut section working in unison to remove tar, tin and
nails. Push down the ceiling of the top floor with a 6` hook.)
B. The approximate location
of the beam may be determined by "sounding" with the back of the axe.
C. When there is a tin covering
between the asphalt covering and the roof boards, it will require an accurate
cut to separate the tin from the roof boards. This frequently requires
two cutting operations. The first cut is the tar and the tin which is removed
prior to cutting the roof boards. It is obvious that this will cause a
slight delay in obtaining a roof opening.
A. When roof stability
is in doubt, members must be removed and the incident commander immediately
B. After cutting the roof
the member must also push down the ceiling in order to relieve conditions
on the top floor. Using the back of the hook is usually more efficient
to push down the ceiling.
C. Members should always
cut with the wind at their back to minimize personal exposure.
D. A hose line may be necessary
on the roof to protect members from roofing surface fires. (membrane)
NOTE: Effective roof ventilation
at top floor fires that have extended to the cockloft will be adversely
affected or nullified by the operations of streams into or immediately
above these roof openings. This not only prevents or retards the vertical
movement of heat, smoke and gases but frequently reverses this flow thereby
contributing to lateral spread in the cockloft area while intensifying
heat and smoke conditions on the top floor which will handicap or halt
the interior attack.
A. Member cutting roof must
ALWAYS be assured of a way of getting off the roof.
B. Members cutting hole
should beware not to endanger other members operating on the roof.
The term overhauling shall
include any opening up of walls, ceilings, partitions, voids, etc. while
checking for extension or to extinguish fire during the pre control as
well as during the post control phase of operations. Proper overhauling
will expedite final extinguishment and minimize damage to the structure
and its contents.
Search for fire and extension
which takes place up to the point where the fire is under control. Pre-control
overhauling begins as soon as possible after the fire has been knocked
The continued operation
that takes place after the fire is under control to insure that there is
complete fire extinguishment.
CHECKING FOR EXTENSION
The search for fire extension
on the fire floor is started as soon as possible. Many fires do not initially
ignite the structure. The contents of a building are ignited and burn first,
then the flames spread to the structure. Stuffed chairs, mattresses, clothing
or food cooking on the stove are items that initially burn. After the building
contents are extinguished, the structure is checked for fire extension.
The opening up of ceilings, walls, enclosed pipe recesses, boxed out voids
in the fire area and above shall be examined for fire extension.
When checking for extension
there are six sides to examine in the fire area. The four walls, the ceiling
above and the floor.
The search for fire extension
is often done by sense of touch alone. All places where fire might have
extended and display no immediate signs of burning such as discoloration,
blistering, smoke, etc. should be examined by touch.
At a top floor fire that
has extended into the cockloft, the roof firefighter will have cut a hole
in the roof and pushed down a portion of the ceiling. Enlarge the opening
in the ceiling so that the engine company may operate into the cockloft
from a high vantage point (table, bureau, chair, etc.). Sweeping the cockloft
with the stream if necessary. Continue pulling the ceiling until certain
the fire is extinguished and involved areas are exposed.
FIRST ARRIVING LADDER COMPANY
After the fire has been
knocked down it is the responsibility of the first ladder company to arrive
to determine if the fire is extending and where it is extending. This information
should be transmitted to the Incident Commander and the ladder company
on the floor above
The ceiling should be opened
first by starting at a point where the fire was most intense and working
towards a clean area of ceiling space. The ceiling light fixture area should
be pulled and examined. Any horizontal or vertical voids, whether pipe
recesses, electrical conduits, channel rails, etc. are found once the ceilings
and walls are opened must be examined. If fire has extended, this information
should be transmitted to the Incident Commander and to the ladder company
on the floor above.
Fire that is found in ceiling
bays or adjacent to steel beams that cross over partitions separating other
uninvolved rooms or apartments must be inspected by pulling ceilings.
Boxed out protrusions: These
boxed out voids can contain pipe risers, electric conduit, chimney flues,
steel columns or sealed dumbwaiter shafts which run from the ceiling to
Steel Columns: Boxed out
areas around a steel column create a natural void. If a boxed out protrusion
on a wall contains a steel column and was involved in fire, then the entire
length of this void will have to be examined. Particularly its highest
point, the cockloft, will have to be inspected. Also, burning embers can
easily drop down this void and start a fire on the lower floors.
Closets: Their construction
on top of one another provide a vertical artery. Workmanship can be shoddy,
creating openings for fire travel. They should be checked for voids.
Walls: Wall switches, receptacles
and fuse boxes (circuit breakers) are locations for fire to enter and travel.
Especially when burning furniture is against the wall.
The flooring in the fire
area must be checked. If the flooring is charred, the ceiling below should
be examined for fire extension.
Pipe recesses on the floor
above must be examined for extension and if necessary controlled in order
to determine the area where the fire might have extended vertically. The
officer assigned to the task of overhauling the floors above the fire should
make an examination of the room or floor where the fire originated. This
knowledge will allow him to be more accurate in the search for hidden fire
when working on the floor above.
If fire is found extending
to the floor above, probing holes are made in the same bay or bays until
the outer edge of the fire is defined. THE CEILING OR WALLS SHOULD NOT
BE FULLY OPENED UNTIL A CHARGED LINE IS IN POSITION, BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY
OF INTENSIFYING THE FIRE.
If extension of fire is
found passing the floor above via vertical avenues (pipe recesses, etc.)
the Incident Commander must be notified.
OPENING UP CONCEALED SPACES
THE 6' HOOK.
Beams generally run parallel
to front and rear walls. Lath is attached at right angles to the beams
and runs front to rear. Each piece of lath usually covers two or more bays.
The ceiling is penetrated with one firm stroke with the hook end parallel
to the lath. This breaks only one lath on the upstroke instead of two or
three. The hook is then turned to form a right angle to the lath and the
ceiling is pulled with short, sharp strokes close to the beam. This method
is fast and conserves energy. The firefighter should not stand directly
below the ceiling being pulled. They should keep the work in front of them.
In close quarters firefighters shall keep their heads down to prevent injury.
Eye shields shall be used.
NOTE: WHEN PULLING SHEET
ROCK CEILINGS, BE AWARE THEY MAY FALL IN LARGE HEAVY SECTIONS.
To make a hole high in a
sidewall or partition of lath and plaster. This requires a sharp blow with
the hook. After penetration with the hook, the tool is used to pull down
or pry out if leverage is possible.
To make a hole low in a
side wall or partition. The hook is held like a javelin before penetrating
the wall. After an opening has been made, the hook is then pushed down
behind the lath and the lath is removed by pulling the handle. This should
open the wall to the floor or baseboard. When prying with the hook, excessive
strain which may break the wooden handle must be avoided.
Use the handle of the hook,
or the point to make small probing holes to check for extension or to allow
water to flow out as opposed to pulling.
CUTTING A FLOOR
Flooring is seldom cut
at tenement fires as it is easier and faster to pull the ceiling below
for examination. If a hole must be made, the cuts that are parallel to
the joist should be made close to the opposite joists of the bays adjoining
the one we wish to expose. This will insure that the entire bay and joists
are exposed as well as the two adjoining bays. If the floor is cut in this
manner it will also eliminate any unsupported section of flooring.
A. Cutting with saw
because it is the most
efficient. Area must be vented to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide.
B. Cutting with axe
Cut floor at a 60 degree
angle and on a bias. This is easier than cutting across the grain.
TRIMMING A WINDOW OR DOOR
The complete removal of
a window frame is seldom required. They are generally set into the brickwork
and extension from them cannot occur except to a space between the plaster
and the side wall of the building. Similarly, extension around a door frame
is usually limited to the space between the door frame and the studs forming
the rough opening.
The trim around windows
and doors is put on last during the construction stage and should be the
first pieces removed if examination is required at these points. Removal
of the trim is generally sufficient to allow an adequate examination and
application of water.
Depending on the tool being
used, the most efficient and safest way to remove the trim is to start
at the top or bottom corner or joint and work along prying the molding
out from the wall.
This section will cover
safety suggestions generally applicable during the post control phase of
Dispatch a member if other
tools are needed. The right tool for the job will save time and energy.
It is dangerous for more
than one or two members to use tools at the same time in a small area.
Members must be relieved
frequently to conserve their energy and prevent accidents.
Adequate lighting is required
at all times.
Holes in the floor are generally
small and must be protected, generally by placing a door over them. Holes
in the roof will be much larger and all members must be warned to be constantly
alert. A roof door or short ladder may be used to cover danger spots.
Bulging or hanging plaster
should be removed from walls or ceilings.
Hanging wood lath, metal
lath, or tin from a ceiling should be trimmed off and removed.
Tin should be folded to
a size making it safe to carry and placed outside away from the line of
travel. A minimum amount of handling of tin is advisable to reduce the
Hanging ends of cable such
as electric (BX), telephone and coaxial television shall be secured near
the ceiling. Loops of cable hanging down shall be pushed up out of the
Where it is obvious there
will be considerable overhauling, Incident Commanders should consider retention
of a work force adequate to complete the job in a reasonable period of
Smoldering goods such as
clothing, upholstery, carpet, etc. can produce an abundance of carbon monoxide
and other toxic gases. For this reason such material should be completely
extinguished and or removed from the premise.
Officers must not permit
any material to be thrown out of windows unnecessarily. A member should
always be posted in the yard or street below to prevent injuries to anyone
from falling material. Examination of the yard must be made before discarding
any material into the yard to assure that no occupants have jumped into
the yard prior to the arrival of Fire Department units. No material shall
be thrown onto roof of buildings or into narrow shafts or setbacks.
Before exiting building
you must "STOP" until you are assured it is safe to exit the building.
Whenever a member operates on a ladder of any kind, they must have enough
hand control to ensure their safety. This is an absolute necessity when
on vertical ladders, such as fire escape drop ladders and goose neck ladders
to the roof. Greater physical effort is needed when using a completely
vertical ladder, because a missed step or a slip of a hand will result
in a vertical drop and a serious injury. A similar mishap on a ladder which
is angled into an objective could result in a member falling toward the
ladder rather than straight down.
Care should be exercised
when overhauling in bathrooms. A sudden collapse of the flooring due to
fire weakening, rotting of the floor beams, the weight of the fixtures
(cast iron tubs) and tile floors can occur. Consider using the reach of
the hook and standing outside the bathroom to open up the ceiling.
At greater alarms, Incident
Commanders should give consideration to the relief of entire units that
might be physically spent from their efforts to contain and extinguish
the fire. When using saws and generators while overhauling within a building
adequate ventilation must be provided.
All members should have
a working knowledge of construction features so that they will be aware
of the avenues of fire travel, exposures and the simplest manner of opening
up for examination, i.e. the trim around windows and doors is put on last
during the construction stage and should be the first pieces removed if
examination is required at these points. Trim, baseboards, etc. shall be
removed in a professional manner so that those structural members not deeply
charred may be preserved for future use.
The removal of major structural
elements is a very serious matter. Floor joists or roof joists should not
be removed if complete extinguishment can be accomplished in any other
manner. LINTELS in brick walls over exterior doorways and windows should
not be removed, regardless of charring, as they support a considerable
amount of brickwork. To remove them from their anchorage could result
in injury and considerable property damage through partial collapse.
Usually the ceilings and
walls are constructed of lath and plaster and will have been opened and
examined for fire extension in the precontrol phase. These openings may
prove adequate for examination purposes. In some instances charring may
extend into sections that have not been pulled. This lath and plaster must
be pulled until the bay shows clear and there is no evidence that fire
has extended beyond this point.
When ordered to pull lath
and plaster in the post control phase:
A. The floor is examined
first to make sure that burned material or flooring requiring examination
is not covered.
B The beds are taken apart
and removed or placed out of the way.
C Articles from the tops
of dressers, bureaus, tables, etc. should be removed to a place of safety
such as a drawer.
D. Furniture that is in
the way should be covered or removed to prevent further damage.
Small fires may be cut out
with a knife and submerged in water in a suitable receptacle. Where the
stuffing is involved with smoldering fire, these articles should be removed
to the street to prevent rekindle. If a supply of fresh air comes in contact
with incompletely extinguished foam rubber, there is a danger of the foam
rubber bursting into flame and producing vigorous s flaming combustion
over its entire surface area. This situation could cause serious injury
to any one in close proximity to the foam rubber. Prior to removing these
items to the street, they must be completely examined to ensure complete
It is rarely necessary
to remove these articles. Tables and hardwood chairs can be placed in a
safe location and protected from further damage. Dressers and bureaus must
be searched for smoldering fires in, behind or around the drawers. The
smoldering articles should be immersed in water and salvageable items returned
to the drawers with the entire object remaining in the apartment.
Wooden structural members
that are deeply charred may be removed from the building. Those that have
merely been scorched or on which the paint has been blistered shall be
left in the apartment for possible reuse.
The removal of involved
materials to enclosed shafts or roofs of setbacks is not to be permitted.
When material must be removed
from the fire building, the area where this material will be deposited
must, itself, be checked before proceeding. This eliminates the possibility
of covering hose lines, tools, cellar doors, drains or victims who may
have jumped prior to our arrival.
To reduce water damage:
Scorched hangings, bedding
or clothing shall be used to absorb excess water on floors.
Excess water may be channeled
into wastelines, dumbwaiter shafts, etc.. Every efforts should be made
to prevent water flowing down through the building.
Buckets, basins or other receptacles
may be used for dipping scorched material, but avoid stopping the drains
of sinks and tubs.
When water has seeped
down through several floors, the possibility of wet wires and short circuits
require that fuses be removed or circuit breakers opened for the affected
areas and apartments.
If meter, stove or gas supply
lines are damaged , gas must be shut off.
Electric or gas supplies
shall not be returned to use once shut off. Restoration shall be by authorized
crews of the affected utility companies.
Before the department leaves
All broken glass must be trimmed
from window frames so that glass shards will not fall causing injury or
Replace or position all drop
Check for all assigned tools
Overhauling has been dealt
with broadly but the following objectives should be kept constantly in
mind. Make a critical analysis of your attitude and evaluate your overhauling
practices in light of these objectives.
Time and energy will be
saved by systematically planned overhauling and the proper use of manpower,
tools and equipment. This facilitates the return of companies to "in-service"
status and eases the work load for those companies who remain at the scene.
Protection of property regardless
of ownership is a primary consideration. Officers must approach overhauling
as though the overhauling were being performed in their own homes and they
were in the unfortunate position of being uninsured for the loss.
All Officers shall make
every attempt to prevent a rekindle. This requires knowledge, skill and
practical application. Never hesitate to open and expose hidden areas when
reason dictates that it is required. Select the least destructive method
of making this examination whenever possible. Never open indiscriminately
without knowing why the opening is necessary.
Minimize exposure of personnel
both in time and danger. The major portion of fire duty is spent in overhauling
and a considerable number of injuries are incurred during this period.
The proper use of tools, recognition of the hazards, good practices and
close supervision are all required to reduce the injury and illness rate.
Professionalization is the
aim of the entire department. It includes all of the good practices already
mentioned as well as public relations. You should be able to justify your
actions by simple explanations to the uninitiated where the extent of damage
may not be completely understood. Sound practices have sound reasons.
Conditions at the scene
of a fire often indicate whether or not the overhauling was handled in
an orderly, systematic manner. Broken glass hanging from window frames,
debris covered hose lines, unburned furniture and clothing lying on the
street and/or personal garments left hanging from fire escapes or window
sills are definite indications that competent practices were not adhered
to. This does not mean that burned clothing, structural members, furniture,
etc. with a potential for re-ignition cannot be removed to the street.
Discrimination and professional judgment must be used.
The key to successful operations
Preplanning, group discussions,
drills and post fire critiques all aid immeasurably in the development
of an efficient fire fighting unit. They, in turn, provide the climate
for the teamwork and coordination that is so vital at tenement fires where
lives so frequently depend on the proper execution of numerous and diverse
assignments. Assignments should be carried out and objectives achieved.
Timing and exacting teamwork
are essential to an efficient operation. A singleness of purpose is necessary
to avoid distraction, duplication of efforts and a resultant delay in the
attainment of individual objectives. If firefighters have to improvise
to accomplish their objectives, then that too becomes part of their tasks.
Decisions on the fire ground must be made instantaneously and under great
stress. The professional firefighter continuously studies their responsibilities
so that they are fully prepared to make the best decision possible when
confronted with difficult or unusual situations.
This is a guideline
supersedes the guideline entitled Tower Ladder Operations, # 500-06-01
issued March 6, 2006.
Special thank you for the
FDNY for sharing of this information