I wanted to do a post about this for a while and I was gonna take a bunch of pictures and use some diagrams of how the construction features allow for the use of this technique but then I found this video and it speaks volumes about the success of this technique, so I figured it was the better way to go.
We use this technique in my department a lot for a couple of reasons.
1. Man Power: We only ride with 3 (Officer, Driver, Fireman) so the officer is usually the backup man on the hose line. Well if we get an attic fire and the officer is doing his lap, the fireman can make an impact on the fire until the officer makes his lap, then when the lap is done they join up and stretch the line in.
2. Rules: Right, wrong, or indifferent in my department RIT (or RIC) is a big deal. It is in our SOG’s (Standard Operating Guidelines) that unless we are in rescue mode, no interior operations will take place without an RIT in place, which means waiting for the 2nd engine to arrive. So instead of waiting to make an impact this technique can be used to be a hit on the fire (if it’s in the attic of course, if not we do other stuff)
The great thing about it is that from an engine company perspective it only takes the tool you should already have (the hoseline), and for those riding with three, or even less you can make a positive impact while maintaining relative safety. However there are some things to remember when using this.
1. Sometimes people place this soffit vent over solid wood, or the void space itself is just solid wood. It can still be defeated but it is going to take tools, and people to do it. In this case it may be the better option to go interior and pull ceiling which will be easier (even plaster lathe, or tounge and groove)
2. You are going to be throwing a tremendous amount of water into the attic space, completely saturating the insulation and ceiling. This is important because when you finally do go interior you are gonna pull ceiling for overhaul. I can not think of an attic fire I have been to where some unsuspecting fireman gets nailed with a huge piece of water-logged ceiling. In fact my Lt. went to the hospital after an attic fire we had when it happened to him. The point is to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (some pretty smart guy said that once) think about whats in your attic, and how heavy it is. Now think about what water does to sheet rock. I know me personally I was hit with a full size desk once that fell through a ceiling, thankfully my adrenaline was going so hard it didn’t hurt until much later.
3. Make sure your using the right tools and streams. They use a smooth bore here (which I am a HUGE fan of) but a lot of people still like the fog and that’s fine, but a fog patter wont defeat that soffit, and it will push fire, so like any other exterior stream get it straight/solid and always have a tool handy in case you have to do some pulling/pushing.
This is a technique that no matter the size your engine company needs in its play book, but it only works if you train on it, and if you know your district construction features. Only way to know that is to go out and look (next EMS run take a peek at the soffit area to see if this could work for you, or next smell of smoke, gas etc. find an excuse to get to the attic) and to get out of the recliner and on the training ground.
If you have anything like this that’s working in your department please send it on, and I will feature it on the site, we are always looking to feature companies out there training, and practicing the values we see on the site. Also please leave some feedback on what you’re doing in your department in the comments section, twitter @averagejakeff, or EMAIL.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!