You Make the Call – Resources needed elsewhere?

A full structure fire alarm has been struck for a dense residential area in the neighboring district. You catch the alarm while on the way to shopping and as you accelerate you see the first in engine sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store a block ahead.

You’re first due now.

On arrival you have light smoke from the garage of a 3 story type 5 house, approx 30 feet wide and 100 feet deep with the neighboring homes of similar type and so close it prohibits a 360 size up.

Your firefighter has made contact with the owner who states heavy smoke in the rear of the garage but no fire. Inside visibility is clear and his definition of “heavy” is clearly based on never seeing a fully smoke charged room.
In the back of the garage is an over heated electrical panel leading to the elevator control room, the door to which is blocked by storage bins and piles of laundry. Cutting the power immediately makes the electrical box stop buzzing.
As you exit the garage and send your firefighter to search the upstairs for signs of fire, the Battalion Chief calls on the tactical channel and asks for a report and if the entire alarm assignment needs to continue, they have another fire call nearby and could use the units. The engine you passed at the store is now arriving on scene and the officer is listening to the radio dispatch for the other fire.

What is your report and decision about additional resources? You make the call.

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22 thoughts on “You Make the Call – Resources needed elsewhere?”

  1. What is a full alarm assignment in your jurisdiction and who is on scene? This sounds like something one engine and one truck could handle, IMHO. You can always divert the units and ask to strike another alarm if further investigation reveals extension or an unrelated problem.

  2. What is a full alarm assignment in your jurisdiction and who is on scene? This sounds like something one engine and one truck could handle, IMHO. You can always divert the units and ask to strike another alarm if further investigation reveals extension or an unrelated problem.

  3. “Chief, we have an electrical box that is out on arrival. Power has been cut and we are checking for fire in the walls and upstairs. We’re going to continue the truck.”

    “Dispatch, E23, we have an electrical box out on arrival, we need an inside light man, all companies not on the scene can return to service except the truck.”

    I would be using the TIC to examine the walls, looking for hot spots, pulling wall or ceiling where it was hot and using a pump can if embers are found. The whole situation could be handled with a single engine and truck, and it’s doubtful you would need the truck.

  4. “Chief, we have an electrical box that is out on arrival. Power has been cut and we are checking for fire in the walls and upstairs. We’re going to continue the truck.”

    “Dispatch, E23, we have an electrical box out on arrival, we need an inside light man, all companies not on the scene can return to service except the truck.”

    I would be using the TIC to examine the walls, looking for hot spots, pulling wall or ceiling where it was hot and using a pump can if embers are found. The whole situation could be handled with a single engine and truck, and it’s doubtful you would need the truck.

  5. Not yet. No 360 and an electrical source means there’s still a good chance you’ve got fire in the walls. A single engine crew could chase fire through this type of structure for hours, and if it gets all the way to the attic you’ve got a major problem, especially with this type of exposure scenario. Your second call for resources will be significantly delayed by the second incident.

    Until you’ve heard back from the upstairs crew and taken a look at the back side of the house yourself, keep the units coming.

    “Engine 23 I have an electrical source, powers cut, we’re checking for extension. Keep my assignment coming. I’ll update on resources needed in three minutes.”

    1. That’s a good point, Steve. You also have to wonder, what happened that he is posting this scenario? :) So is this balloon frame? We don’t have any on Hilton Head Island so it’s easy for me to forget this is a common construction type in older cities.

    2. I agree that the report from upstairs is important before you release anyone. Something was causing the smoke. Just because the source appears to be controlled, doesn’t mean it didn’t ignite something else.

  6. Not yet. No 360 and an electrical source means there’s still a good chance you’ve got fire in the walls. A single engine crew could chase fire through this type of structure for hours, and if it gets all the way to the attic you’ve got a major problem, especially with this type of exposure scenario. Your second call for resources will be significantly delayed by the second incident.

    Until you’ve heard back from the upstairs crew and taken a look at the back side of the house yourself, keep the units coming.

    “Engine 23 I have an electrical source, powers cut, we’re checking for extension. Keep my assignment coming. I’ll update on resources needed in three minutes.”

    1. That’s a good point, Steve. You also have to wonder, what happened that he is posting this scenario? :) So is this balloon frame? We don’t have any on Hilton Head Island so it’s easy for me to forget this is a common construction type in older cities.

    2. I agree that the report from upstairs is important before you release anyone. Something was causing the smoke. Just because the source appears to be controlled, doesn’t mean it didn’t ignite something else.

  7. Keep everyone coming until the investigation is complete…..as said above……I’m guessing he posted cause it took off and he’s pissed at the guys that finished their shopping.

  8. Keep everyone coming until the investigation is complete…..as said above……I’m guessing he posted cause it took off and he’s pissed at the guys that finished their shopping.

  9. Where I work is very rural and our closest truck is at least 40 minutes away. That being said we don’t rely on it. I would re-page the local battalion (a mix of rangers) and keep the next due engine coming and cancel the rest, pending further investigation. Fortunately where I work the houses are all fairly far apart. If I were where Happy works, I would keep the full box coming until I was sure that there was no extension. I make my decision based on the closeness of the buildings, the probable construction (balloon frames are very common), and the lack of a 360 size up. I am from the bay area and know that if a fire gets out of hand it could very likely take out the whole city block.

  10. Where I work is very rural and our closest truck is at least 40 minutes away. That being said we don’t rely on it. I would re-page the local battalion (a mix of rangers) and keep the next due engine coming and cancel the rest, pending further investigation. Fortunately where I work the houses are all fairly far apart. If I were where Happy works, I would keep the full box coming until I was sure that there was no extension. I make my decision based on the closeness of the buildings, the probable construction (balloon frames are very common), and the lack of a 360 size up. I am from the bay area and know that if a fire gets out of hand it could very likely take out the whole city block.

  11. Hmmmm ! 3 story, possible balloon frame house with an elevator shaft and a possible electrical fire in the walls ? Well, there is smoke, albeit light smoke so…………………

    “Chief 1 from Engine 2. We have a 3 story balloon, wood frame home with a light smoke condition, possible electrical fire. We’re sitting on a hydrant. Keep my first truck coming and you can divert the other units. We’ll continue to investigate and call for a box if we need it”.

  12. Hmmmm ! 3 story, possible balloon frame house with an elevator shaft and a possible electrical fire in the walls ? Well, there is smoke, albeit light smoke so…………………

    “Chief 1 from Engine 2. We have a 3 story balloon, wood frame home with a light smoke condition, possible electrical fire. We’re sitting on a hydrant. Keep my first truck coming and you can divert the other units. We’ll continue to investigate and call for a box if we need it”.

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