15 Points of Size-Up

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The 15 Points of Size-Up
Excerpts from Fireground Size-Up
by: Michael A. Terpak
Battalion Chief, Jersey City, NJ
COAL TWAS WEALTHS
Construction
Occupancy
Apparatus & Staffing
Life Hazard
Weather
Exposures
Area
Location & Extent of Fire
Time
Terrain
Height
Water Supply
Special Considerations
Auxiliary Appliances & Aides
Street Conditions
Construction: Size-Up
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The Classes of Construction
• Class 1: Fire Resistive Construction
• Class 2: Noncombustible/Limited
Combustible Construction
• Class 3: Ordinary Construction/
Brick & Joist Construction
• Class 4: Heavy Timber Construction
• Class 5: Wood Frame Construction
• Hybrid Construction
Class 1: Fire Resistive
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Favorable Characteristics
• Structural components do not add to fire
load/spread
• Compartmentalization
Class 1: Fire Resistive
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Negative Characteristics
• Heat
• Forcible Entry
• Large, open spaces
• Ventilation
Class 1: Fire Resistive
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Collapse Concerns
• Spalling
• Suspended Ceilings
Class 2: Noncombustible
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Favorable Characteristics
• Structural components do not add to fire
load/spread
Negative Characteristics
• Everything else is negative…and you’ll
see why
• Most prone to collapse
Class 2: Noncombustible
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Collapse Concerns
• Unprotected Steel
• Steel Deck Roofs
Class 3: Ordinary Construction
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Favorable Characteristics
• Exterior walls do not add to fire load
• Normally smaller in avg. square footage
than Class 1 or 2 buildings
Class 3: Ordinary Construction
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Negative Characteristics
• Alterations
• Concealed spaces and voids
Collapse Concerns
• Parapet Wall
• Hanging Ceiling Space/Multiple Ceilings
Class 4: Heavy Timber
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Favorable Characteristics
• Surface-to-mass ratio
• Lack of void spaces
Negative Characteristics
• Heavy fire conditions will produce
tremendous heat
• Severe exposure problems
Class 4: Heavy Timber
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Collapse Concerns
• Collapse will generally encompass large
areas
• Structural debris thrown extended
distances
Class 5: Wood Frame
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Favorable Characteristics
• Generally the smallest avg. square
footage of construction types
Negative Characteristics
• Fire spread
• Structural components add to fire
load/spread
• Interior stairways act as vertical artery
Class 5: Wood Frame
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Collapse Concerns
• Entire structure is combustible
• Upper floors are often supported by smalldiameter wood members
• Lightweight wood truss construction
Occupancy: Size-Up
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Occupancy Classification
Occupancy Load & Status
Occupancy Content
Occupancy/Construction Associations
Occupancy Classification
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Residential
Commercial
Mixed (combo. of residential & commercial
Institutional
Educational
Health care
Manufacturing
Occupancy Load & Status
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• How many people are in the building at
this time?
• Are they young or old?
• Are they ambulatory or non-ambulatory?
• Are they awake or asleep?
Occupancy Content
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• Are there haz-mats in this building?
– Reactivity; together or w/ water?
– Flammability/combustibility?
– Radioactivity?
– Health concerns?
– Specific hazards?
• What is the building’s fire load?
– Light, medium, or heavy?
Occupancy Content
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• Are there any specific stock concerns within the
building? Examples…
– Plumbing supply warehouse
– Carpet and rug store
– Toy stores
• Is there any water absorbent stock within the building?
– Increased load concerns
– Stock swelling could push out walls
• What is the content value?
– Jewelry shops
– Computer stores
– Museums
Apparatus & Staffing: Size-Up
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• Staffing
– Decreased volunteer response during the
daytime hours
– Decrease in number of active volunteers
– Minimal number of career firefighters due to
budget contraints
Apparatus & Staffing: Size-Up
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• Response compliment & capabilities
– Number & capability
• How many apparatus are responding to your
incident
• What types of apparatus are responding to your
incident
– Resource typing
• A “ladder company” can mean different things
– Is it a tower ladder, a ladder tower, a snorkel, a quint?
Life Hazard: Size-Up
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• Firefighters
– Incident Command System
– Accountability System
– Training
– Situational Awareness
Life Hazard: Size-Up
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• Occupants
– Areas of greatest danger in a building
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The fire floor
The floor above the fire
The top floor
Floors in-between
Floors below the fire
– Occupant life hazard concerns
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The number
Their location
Their condition
Accessibility
Resources
Care
Life Hazard: Size-Up
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• Bystanders
– Anyone near the scene perimeter
• Other emergency service personnel
– EMS
– Law Enforcement
– Public Works
– EMD
Terrain: Size-Up
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• Topography and/or obstructions that might
interfere, delay, or cause concern with our
operations
– Setbacks
– Buildings built on a grad
– General accessibility
Terrain: Size-Up
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• Setbacks: Buildings set back from the
street/road & buildings surrounded by and
set back bay decorative landscaping
– Concerns include
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Apparatus placement
Hoseline selection, stretch, & placement
Water supply (long driveways, etc.)
Equipment needs (how do we get it all there?)
Can the building be reached by the aerial device?
Terrain: Size-Up
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• Buildings built on a grade
– Buildings that appear to be two stories from the street,
may actually be three stories from the rear.
• Could lead to misdirection in a rescue attempt
• Could lead to unintentionally placing firefighters above the
fire
• General accessibility
– Anything that gets in the way
• On the ground: fences, cars, trees/shrubs, etc.
• Overhead: tree limbs, electrical lines, cables, telephone
wires, etc.
Water Supply: Size-Up
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• Water Availability
– Hydrant, dry hydrant, landing, lake, pond, etc.
– Need to know where the closest water is located
ahead of time
• Water Needed
– “Big fire = Big water”
– “Big water = lots of people”
• Water Delivery
– Water Shuttle
– Supply Hose
– Nursing Operations
Auxiliary Appliances & Aides: Size-Up
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• Detection Equipment
– Smoke Detection
– Heat Detection
– Flame Detection
• Suppression Equipment
– Sprinkler Systems
– Standpipe Systems
– Special Extinguishing Systems
• Aides/Assistants
– People that can provide assistance and/or information
at a specific incident
Street Conditions: Size-Up
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• Street Width
– Direction of approach
– Apparatus positioning
• Traffic Flow
– Two-way or one-way?
• Street Surface
– Asphalt, concrete, dirt, stone, gavel
– Stability for heavy apparatus
– Water run-off or collection
• Unusual
– Know and anticipate difficult areas
• Flood prone, etc.
Weather: Size-Up
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• Wind
– Gusting or sustained winds above 10 mph should be
considered significant
• Concerns include ventilation, hose stream reach and
penetration, etc.
• Temperature
– Cold: temperatures below 40°F
• Firefighters fatigue early; promotes conditions that cause
slips and falls; long durations of exposure dull the senses
• Considerations need to be given for evacuated occupants
– Hot: temperatures above 85°F
• Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
• Require early and frequent reliefs & rehab
• May require additional alarms to relieve firefighters
Weather: Size-Up
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• Humidity
– Reliefs: concerns of heat exhaustion & heat stroke
– Fire spread: Low humidity increases fire spread
concern
– Ventilation: High humidity often leads to temperature
inversion, which can decrease visibility; maybe even
make it difficult to find which building is actually on fire
• Precipitation
– Heavy precipitation may increase FD’s response time
– Heavy precipitation may make some roads impassible
Exposures: Size-Up
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• Life Hazard
– Buildings prioritized by “the most severely
threatened exposure” vs. “the most severely
threatened life exposure”…there’s a
difference
• Location & Extent of the Fire
– Current fire involvement w/ its extension
probability & possibility
• Exposure Proximity
– Attached or separated, & by how much?
Exposures: Size-Up
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• Fire Building Construction & Features
– Exterior sheathing, air shafts between the
buildings, common attics/cocklofts, etc.
• Exposure Building Construction & Features
– Exterior sheathing, air shafts between the
buildings, common attics/cocklofts, etc.
• Wind
– Consider its speed and direction
Exposures: Size-Up
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Exposure Designation
Area: Size-Up
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Area: the square footage involved & the
square footage threatened
Concerns
1. Irregular shaped buildings
2. Irregular shaped areas
3. Interconnected buildings
4. Hidden areas
5. Overall square footage
Location & Extent of Fire: Size-Up
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The most influencing factor of size-up
Considerations for:
• Below grade fires
• Lower-level fires
• Top-floor, attic, & cockloft fires
• Upper-level fires
Time: Size-Up
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• Time of day/day of the week
– Occupants
– Traffic
• Time of the year
– Fire/occupant loads
• Burn time
Height: Size-Up
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• Height Accessibility
– Can the ladders reach?
– Can the hose streams reach?
– Elevators?
– Stairs?
• Smoke Behavior
– Stack effect
– Reverse stack effect
– Stratification
Special Considerations: Size-Up
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High rise buildings
Row houses/town houses
Vacant fire buildings
Manufacturing processes
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