6-26 Structural fire fighting – fire streams and ventilation
Structural firefighting is very dangerous work as it puts firefighters near or within fire. Extinguishing the fire quickly is the most effective way of eliminating the hazard. An adequate water supply and coordinated ventilation is essential to extinguish a fire.
Improper or inadequate use of fire streams and ventilation may lead to worsening fire conditions, increasing the risk to firefighters. Flashover, rollover or backdraft may result. Longer fire suppression times may increase incidence of heat stress and fatigue.
Actions for employers
- train firefighters on the proper use of fire streams and coordinated ventilation, to reduce fire suppression times
- develop procedures for structural fire fighting which consider:
- minimum flow rates for all occupancy types
- minimum water supply requirements and availability
Minimum flow rates and water supply
Firefighters and officers should:
- understand critical flow rates (the minimum flow in litres or gallons per minute) required to extinguish a given size fire and the availability of the water supply
- understand the effects of nozzle stream patterns when determining the type, size and number of lines required to control the fire as quickly as possibleconsider the use of nozzles with lower reaction forces at higher flow rates to improve safety by reducing the workload and stress during the high demands of interior firefighting
Safety considerations for interior firefighting
When interior firefighting takes place, a direct attack to cool the area should be emphasized in place of indirect or combination attack, when possible.
Improper application of water during an interior attack can place firefighters in great danger. When large volumes of air are forced into the fire area an excessive amount of steam is created, and the thermal balance is upset. This can reduce visibility, cause steam burns or result in flashover.
Ventilation coordinated with fire attack is also a vital component of safe fire fighting and is an essential part of a safe interior fire attack.
Structural firefighting training
Training programs on structural firefighting should include components on:
- proper water application during interior attack and the hazards of improper water application
- pump operation and critical flow rates
- nozzle pressures and reaction forces
- the importance of coordinated ventilation practices
- proper hose deployment
- mobile water supplies
Prior to participating in live fire training and fire suppression, fire personnel should understand how to effectively use fire streams and coordinated ventilation to quickly suppress a fire and reduce the time they are exposed to the hazard.
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
- clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
- clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
Read NFPA 1710 Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments for information on flow, water supply, and handlines.
Read firefighter guidance note 6-22 Ventilation saws