Fire Fighting in Canada

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Working Fire: The big one

To the neighbours, it was an uncommon, perhaps even an annoying, event.

December 7, 2007  By Harold Harvey

To the neighbours, it was an uncommon, perhaps even an annoying, event.

the responding fire fighters it was putting their training to the test
– they were always training but hadn't had a burner for quite some time.

The call came in just before 3 a.m.

tone of the operator's voice was excited but clear and concise, giving
the address for a reported structure fire and adding, somewhat as an
afterthought, that numerous calls were being received for the same


Responding personnel did not need to be told twice
that this could be the one and as they headed out in the cool, morning
air, some could already smell the smoke – or imagined they could.

The first-in unit reported on scene, the driver activating the siren before stopping his unit, hoping to arouse any occupants.

officer reported that they had heavy smoke from a one-storey
single-family dwelling, lines were being laid and members were
initiating the attack.

He also quickly announced that he was in command and requested a general alarm.
crew of the second-in pump disembarked, reported to command while the
operator dropped a LDH line at the scene and headed for a second water

The large lumbering aerial platform was next to arrive,
was positioned in front of the structure and set up to provide access
and lighting to the roof for the ventilation crew.

The first-in,
four-person team had made some headway way inside through the thick
billowing black smoke, using their newly acquired thermal image camera.

As per procedure, they dragged a pre-connected charged line with them.

structure was not unlike those that they had visited during their fire
prevention activities and they had a general idea where the occupants
might be at this time of the morning.

It was then that they came
across a lifeless body in a hallway. Two of the fire fighters dragged
the victim quickly outside, where other members initiated life-saving

The remaining crew continued the search, constantly consulting the image on the camera.

smoke seemed to dissipate a bit as they heard the sound of saws and
axes as the crews on the roof proceeded to open up the structure.

Two other fire fighters joined them and they found another victim.

this point the heat seemed to increase as the low air alarms sounded on
two of the crew's breathing apparatus and they decided to evacuate with
their second find.

Once outside, additional arriving personnel
had been set up as a relief crew, with others from a mutual aid company
assuming the role of a rapid intervention team (RIT).

As the
relief crew received details from the soot-covered officer, the
interior of the structure suddenly flashed over dooming further rescue

The resuscitation of the two victims had been started
immediately by fire fighters and they continued until the arrival of
medical personnel, who transported them to the local hospital.

The flames were now intense as they fed on the contents and structure of the residence.

Command ordered the evacuation of personnel and sirens were activated according to SOP's.

A quick accounting of personnel was made as a defensive mode was implemented.
personnel had switched to a number of large- calibre streams for a few
minutes in a successful effort to darken down the fire.

It was
the first time that some of them had used Cclass A foam at such a large
blaze and were quite impressed at the quick knock-down time.

fire fighters began to gain the upper hand, or as one was heard to say,
the fire began to run out of fuel, the sun had begun to make its
appearance, allowing for increased visibility as small diameter lines
were laid for the laborious process of overhaul.

notified the first-in crew that there were only two people in the
building and that the hospital reported they were doing just fine.

word soon spread to all members on scene and they felt a simple pride
in their combined efforts that resulted in a successful mission.

However, there was still all that hose to be picked up and numerous items to be cleaned, checked and put back in their places.

read over the incident check list, hoping that he had not forgotten
anything and began to remember the reports to be filled out.

He wondered if there had been any witnesses to the fire and indeed if any of them had seen the great work of his personnel.

usual, the few people who had been present began to drift away as soon
as the spectacular stuff was done, not realizing that fire fighters
would spend another few hours making sure the scene was safe and
investigating the cause.

Some were questioning the use of all those sirens.

He hoped the local paper would report the incident, but perhaps it would be better if the department issued a communiqué.

Best get to those reports.

Play Safe!

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