Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Tools for the Firefighters’ Skill Toolbox

Positive Pressure Attack – many departments have used this strategy for years while others have not. It involves directing a high velocity air flow at the entrance to a building involved in fire to facilitate initial fire attack. It’s a technique that dramatically improves visibility and cools the temperatures in a house fire which would enhance the chances of survival of any trapped residents and help firefighters locate them more quickly. That’s why Hillsboro Fire and Rescue trained on the technique this week at a make-shift burn house at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The instructors for this week’s training were veteran battalion chiefs formerly from Salt Lake City Fire Department. Chief Kriss Garcia is now the Fire Chief at American Fork Fire & Rescue in Utah and Reinhard Kauffmann is now retired.

The trainers build fires from wooden pallets and hay one at a time in each of the rooms and crews rotate through these evolutions until all had the experience of conducting the initial attack on the fire. Crews monitor the temperatures in the rooms using a Thermal Imaging Camera and report the difference in the conditions inside. Using the positive pressure ventilation in coordination with the initial fire attack allows firefighters to wait a few moments to ensure conditions are improving, enter and find the seat of the fire more quickly, and operate in much cooler temperatures than when attacking a fire without the ventilation.

There are, of course, certain conditions when this tactic is not to be used. Chiefs Garcia and Kauffmann outlined those circumstances clearly in a classroom portion of this drill prior to the live fire evolutions.

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