The Fire Spotlight crew spent a day with Central Alabama Training Solutions, capturing footage from a variety of one-day training evolutions. In this HOT action, CATS instructor Shaun McAteer teaches Nozzle Forward techniques, focusing on successful interior attacks while putting life first.
It will be low visibility. We have hay burning so you will not be able to see. This is a shipping container, and contrary to popular belief, this is not realistic. With shipping container fires, I could teach my 14-year-old to be the best pilot fireman in America. These are just good for putting your hands on the fire, getting in your gear, working with your crew and moving line.
A lot of firefighting is more than just putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. Life is the number one priority when you go to a fire scene. If there are possible victims in the fire, I can make the environment worse for them or I can make it better. It depends on how I use my nozzle. I was taught to crawl under fire, get to the room of origin and use a power cone. After that, wait until the fire lifts and then go in for the direct kill.
That form of attack works very well. It’s very efficient at controlling a fire because you make steam. However, I’m not looking for efficient; I’m looking for effective. Water is a renewable resource. Don’t be afraid to let it flow.
The fire creates an area of high air pressure. High air pressure always moves to low air pressure. Imagine our construction is made of wood. The newer stuff is lightweight. If this was a house it will burn easier because of better-insulated homes today. They don’t breathe as well, and we have a lot of junk in our homes.
We want to get right to the scene of the fire. We are going to use a fog pattern and create an area with more pressure because of the steam from the water. There will be more pressure and it’s going to want to go somewhere else. If it can’t go up, it’s going to go right back on you. You got turnout gear, so that is fine. It sucks but you’ll live. However, possible victims will not live, and they are the whole reason why we’re in there.
This is what I want to see when you open the nozzle. I want to see that it’s on the proper pattern for a straight stream. I want you to go in there with a straight stream and just work in the leading edge, banking it off the walls and the ceiling, upside down.
You’re going to be active with the line while getting the live burn back. Remember, you’re introducing two things when you open that nozzle, water and air. Try to use it to your advantage but know that you can also use it to your disadvantage. When I’m active with the line, I’m making a high-pressure front. I’m giving it a place to go.
We make entry on the outside and we’re staying low. I want everybody to know that from this post on is off-limits. We are going to start right here. We are going to take a right and stay low. This will be our burn room. As soon as you turn the corner the fire will be there.
This is not like the movies. In real life, synthetics will make the smoke black, and you will not be able to see. For training, it’s going to be different because we’re burning nice, clean, pallets. It’s not going to be like that in real life.
When you turn that corner, you are most likely not going to see any flames. You’ll see some orange glow. The instructor will be leading and at no point will you get in front of the instructor. He is your margin of safety. He knows how deep he can let you come in, depending on how hot that fire is burning.
We will be right here waiting. They’re going to talk to you and show you the thermal imaging camera. Everybody wants to look at that flame, but I want you all to focus on how hot it is right above your head.
I want you to hit that fire with a straight stream. Watch your stream because all of that wood is going to come down, hit the back of that wall and whoever’s right here. If that happens, you’re not going to do anything for the main damage. The main damage is right on top of you. I’ll show you the thermal imaging camera and it will be 4-500 degrees right there. Your goal should be to cool that.
If I put water directly on the fire, I am not going to know there is fire directly above me. However, while using a straight stream on this is a sheetrock ceiling, I’m going to find out.
Just because I can do something does not mean I should. Our turnout gear nowadays is so good, it will allow you to get too close too quick. You won’t even know it’s hot. You’re almost inoculated from your environment. Our gear is good for not getting hot, but it is bad for knowing how hot it is around you. It allows you to get too far in the fire.
If you get too far in and did not cool what is above you, it will block your egress. So, if we cool where we are eventually going to go, we’re making it safe.
You want to be working it back. Gases expand when they’re heated and contract when they are cool. With a wide cone, you are really cooling those mid-range gases. It could be 1600 degrees above you and it’s going to get cooler as it goes down. If that fire pattern is coming from the floor and it goes up, it has to go through these mid-range gases at 400 to 800 degrees. You can do an effective job of cooling them first.
By the time you’re getting water on the fire, you’re cooling some of it. However, you took all of this gas, and you tracked it down. All of that gas is going to come back up at you. That’s why the steam hits you right in the back of your ears and you eat the carpet.
The straight stream goes right through that layer. You want to be bouncing it off. Make big droplets of water so you are not converting so much steam. Remember to cool the hottest gas first. What you’re looking for is lift. You want to be lifting that thermal plane controlling the space. I learned all this stuff from Seattle guys. I didn’t come up with it. So, if this video gets out Aaron Fields, you’re the man. Just trying to pass on the knowledge brother, not taking credit.