Friday, August 28, 2009

6 minutes for safety: Wildland/Urban Interface -- Structure Protection

The primary consideration of any operation is to assure firefighter and public safety. It is a must to assess potential fire behavior, ingress/egress routes, nature of the threat, hazardous materials, and available water supplies before engaging in the protection of any structure.

Factors that may make an attempt to save a structure hopeless or too dangerous include:
  • The fire is making a sustained run and there is little or no clearance between the structure and the fuel.
  • The fire behavior is extreme; spot fires are numerous and the spread is outpacing containment.
  • Water supply will not last as long as the threat of the fire.
  • The fire’s intensity dictates that you leave the fire area immediately.
  • The structure is constructed of wood and has a wood, shake roof.
  • The roof of the structure is more than one-quarter involved.
  • There is fire inside of the structure or windows are broken and there is no way to quickly repair them.
  • You can’t safely remain at the structure because your escape route could become unusable.
When implementing a plan to protect structures, consider the following:
  • Don’t enter a burning structure unless you are trained, equipped, and authorized. Firefighter safety and survival is the number one priority.
  • Always stay mobile and wear all of your PPE.
  • Back in equipment to allow for a quick escape.
  • Coil a short, 1½”, charged line with fog nozzle on your engine for safety and quick knock down capability.
  • Don’t make long hose lays. Keep at least 100 gallons of water reserve in your tank.
  • Check the road system before the fire approaches. Know bridge limits, alternate access routes, and turnarounds for your vehicle and other support vehicles.
  • Determine if residents are home. Leave on the inside and outside lights, regardless of the time of day. Close the garage door.
  • Place the owner’s ladder at a corner of the home on the side with the least fire threat.
  • Coil and charge garden hoses.
  • Check and mark hazmat; e.g., LPG, pesticides, and paint storage.
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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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