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High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
High-Rise Firefighting
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High-Rise Firefighting

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How the events of 09/11/2001 changed the way the fire service looks at high-rise fires.

How the events of 09/11/2001 changed the way the fire service looks at high-rise fires.

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  • 1. “ What Should the Major Components of Fire Attack in a High-Rise Structure Include”? Captain Timmy R. Sweat Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services
  • 2. Abstract <ul><li>The events of September 11, 2001 will be forever etched in the minds of the fire service community. The lives that were lost and the ones that were saved will be remembered for eternity throughout our firefighting families. Although this day was one of remorse, there are several items’ that I feel warrant additional training in fire departments across the United States. </li></ul><ul><li>The tragic event of this day brought home the vulnerability of high-rise buildings to major fires in their upper stories. Although the terrorist acts were extreme in there conception and execution, they should not be dismissed as a unique event, there is every reason to suppose that repeat stunts will be tried against other high profile targets, and similar consequences could also result from accidental mishaps with no malicious intent. </li></ul><ul><li>In view of the likelihood that, either through hostile intent or accident, there will be future occasions when major fires occur in high-rise buildings, it is incumbent on the firefighting profession to identify a viable response to such incidents. </li></ul>
  • 3. Introduction <ul><li>On the morning of September 11, 2001 the New York Fire Department was faced with an airliner that was traveling in excess of 400 mph that penetrated the side of the World Trade Center Tower One. The airliner was carrying fuel capacities in excess of 24,000 US gallons when it made contact with the tower. The first initial companies reported heavy fire in the upper floors of the Twin Towers. The initial strategy was that of rescue and fire confinement, but this would create a more complex incident than ever imagined. There were several problems that arose while companies were engaged in their operations on this date. One of the biggest was that of radio communications with personnel operating on the fire floors some 80 stories above the Incident Commander, and the overwhelming rescue efforts that lay ahead. </li></ul>
  • 4. Introduction Continued <ul><li>In light of this day I feel that fire departments across the United States need to review their strategies and tactics when it comes to fire attack in a high-rise structure. This presentation will inform the viewer of the operations and the standard operating procedures of high-rise firefighting. </li></ul>
  • 5. High-Rise Defined <ul><li>Before we can define the major components we must first understand what a high rise structure is. So that there may be a clear understanding, let us attempt to arrive at a satisfactory definition of the term “high-rise.” It is suggested that we consider a building to be high-rise if its roof is above the reach of a 100-foot aerial ladder and its topmost windows are too high for effective penetration of outside streams. Buildings more than 100 feet high generally fit this category. </li></ul>
  • 6. Definition Expanded <ul><li>Some buildings less than 100 feet high may present the same problems of exterior approach because of location rather than height. These are buildings set back from streets or otherwise located so that their upper portions are beyond the reach of aerials. Although they are not high-rise buildings, fire in them may call for the tactics needed at high-rise fires. </li></ul>
  • 7. Major Components <ul><li>There are eight major components to effectively mitigating a fire that is found to be within a high-rise structure. In order to be successful at mitigating these emergencies fire departments must commit to focusing on these components and ensuring that their personnel are up to date with these strategies and/or tactics. </li></ul>
  • 8. Component #1 “Incident Command” <ul><li>In all high-rise incidents an effective incident command system must be put into place. Upon arrival, the incident commander will start the process of command. He must immediately make an initial size-up of the building to include but not limited to the following items; </li></ul>
  • 9. Size-up Concerns <ul><li>What floor is the fire on? </li></ul><ul><li>How will access be obtained? </li></ul><ul><li>Lay-out of building </li></ul><ul><li>Location of stairwells and elevators </li></ul><ul><li>Standpipes, are they wet or dry? </li></ul><ul><li>What equipment is needed to mitigate this emergency? </li></ul><ul><li>Is ventilation attainable? </li></ul><ul><li>Evacuation of Occupants </li></ul><ul><li>Search and rescue, if needed </li></ul><ul><li>Command Post Placements </li></ul>
  • 10. Component #2 “Water Supply” <ul><li>Once an effective incident command system has been put into place the next step is to establish a positive water supply to the building in question. The majority of high-rise buildings will have some sort of stand-pipe system in place. These stand-pipes will be either wet or dry in nature. It is imperative that a pre-fire plan be completed on all high-rise structures prior to an incident occurring. The information obtained in the pre-fire plans will help in determining the proper water supplies that will be needed at the emergency scene. From the firefighting viewpoint, the most important feature of a high-rise building is the stand-pipe. The structural features lead to the inevitable conclusion that only stand-pipes make any serious firefighting possible in high-rise buildings. </li></ul>
  • 11. Component #3 “Gaining Access/Egress” <ul><li>In high-rise buildings if the fire is above the eighth floor the only two ways to reach the fire is by elevator or stairwell. The preferred method is by elevator but only if these can be used safely. In elevator use, the incident commander can have his resources one floor below the fire much quicker and have a more effective fire attack. If engaged in utilizing elevators for transporting equipment or personnel it must be made clear that the elevator doesn’t proceed above the fire floor. The elevator must stop at the floor below the fire, and not be allowed to travel any further. If equipment or personnel are needed above this point you must utilize the stairwell. </li></ul><ul><li>Egress for large numbers of occupants is slow because of the distance to and down stairways, and also because many will try to use elevators, which have limited capacity. The use of elevators by occupants seeking escape (or sometimes just using the elevators normally) makes it difficult for firefighters to reach the fire by elevator. </li></ul>
  • 12. Component #4 “Operations” <ul><li>On a first alarm assignment for a high-rise structure you will receive 3 Engine Companies, 2 ACLS transport units, 1 Truck Company, 1 Squad, and 2 shift supervisors. The first arriving engine company will respond to the floor below the fire floor to begin investigation or fire attack. The third in engine and squad will report to the floor below the fire to assist the first arriving engine. The Truck Company will respond to the floor above the fire to begin any ventilation and search operations that need to be put into place. The second arriving engine will connect to the stand-pipe and secure a positive water supply. </li></ul><ul><li>Once the first arriving engine officer has made an assessment of the situation he/she will relay that information to the incident commander and a planned attack will be put into place. Once an initial attack has been made on the fire floor the Squad will begin the initial search and rescue operations on the fire floor. </li></ul>
  • 13. Component #5 “Ventilation” <ul><li>Ventilation of a high-rise building is extremely difficult and hazardous due to the construction of the building and the effects of limited access of the building floors. In a fire in a low rise building five floors or less, ventilation can be accomplished by normal firefighting practices, such as roof openings and window ventilation. In a high-rise structure these practices cannot be done. The fire can be ten floors below the roof therefore roof ventilation would not be successful. </li></ul><ul><li>If a stairwell is available, and one that is not in use by fire department personnel it can be utilized for ventilation. The process of utilizing stairwells for ventilation can be very task oriented. Positive pressure fans can be used at the base of the fire floor to help push the heat and smoke up the available stairwells where it can ventilate through the roof access door of the stairwell. When this option is used there must be a minimum of two fans put into operation. The first fan will be placed at the entry door close to the opening so as to direct air into the fire floor. The second fan is placed behind the first fan to seal the entry with pressurized air and to add more air to the fire floor so that there will be enough force to push the heat and smoke up through the stairwells for ventilation. </li></ul>
  • 14. “ Ventilation Continued” <ul><li>High-rise buildings have large and complicated H.V.A.C. systems that control air movement in the structure. These units can be used to ventilate the fire floors. This practice should only be done under the supervision of the building engineers or maintenance personnel who are familiar with the H.V.A.C. system. The fire department must also develop officers who are familiar with all the nuances of H.V.A.C. systems and be able to hold their own with designers and installers. It is simply not adequate to accept someone else’s idea of what will be an adequate functioning of the system when there is a fire in the building. </li></ul>
  • 15. Component #6 “Evacuation” <ul><li>Evacuation of a high-rise building in a emergency situation can be a very difficult process. If the incident commander deems it necessary to evacuate the structure a second alarm should be struck to assist with this task. The second alarm personnel will direct the occupants down the appropriate stairs and to search for trapped occupants. </li></ul><ul><li>When evacuating occupants a stair-well that is not being used by fire department personnel and one that is free of smoke and heat should be used. Upon the arrival at the lobby grade the occupants should be directed to a safe place that is clear of the structure. In theory, this is how the evacuation process should take place, but in reality the fire department will arrive with occupants fleeing the building in any means available. The incident commander and firefighters should immediately try and control the evacuation in a calm and orderly manner. </li></ul><ul><li>There are typically two types of evacuation; self evacuation of the entire building and controlled selective evacuation. Self evacuation takes on a life of its on and is normally a haphazard process. It is based entirely on the decisions and actions carried out by the buildings occupants. Controlled selective evacuation requires that the building management have input in the decision making process and execution of the actions needed to evacuate. </li></ul>
  • 16. Component #7 “Fire Spread” <ul><li>In a high-rise fire, fire spread becomes a concern. The extra time needed to reach the scene, secure a water source and lay hose lines allows for rapid fire growth. Fire will find it’s way into mechanical openings, airways, false ceiling openings, through walls, up open stairwells and out the exterior of the building to the floors above. The incident commander or the fire floor commander must be aware of this process and the steps needed to confine the fire so that it may be brought under control. </li></ul><ul><li>The incident commander will assign a Truck Company to inspect the floors above the fire for fire spread. The firefighters will close all open fire doors; will inspect all windows, walls, and floors and ceilings that could be impinged by fire. The Truck Company officer will report to the incident commander on fire spread and suggest the needed resources to bring the incident under control. </li></ul>
  • 17. Component #8 “Pre-Fire Planning” <ul><li>In all high-rise buildings it is imperative that a pre-fire plan be on file for that particular building. The pre-incident plan will include; floor layouts, elevator locations, stairwell and standpipe locations, and the building occupancy whether it be day or night. The pre-incident planner needs to know the availability of the building engineer on a twenty-four basis and if the building and elevator keys are on sight. The pre-plans must continually be updated due to building management and tenants changing on a regular basis. </li></ul>
  • 18. “ Never Forget” <ul><li>The events of September 11, 2001 brought home the vulnerability of high-rise buildings to major fires in their upper stories. Although the terrorist acts were extreme in there conception and execution, they should not be dismissed as a unique event, there is every reason to suppose that repeat stunts will be tried against other high profile targets, and similar consequences could also result from accidental mishaps with no malicious intent. </li></ul><ul><li>In view of the likelihood that, either through hostile intent or accident, there will be future occasions when major fires occur in high rise buildings, it is incumbent on the firefighting profession to identify a viable response to such incidents. </li></ul>
  • 19. “ Never Forget – 343”

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