Page 1





,,~', I • 'h

"~2 . <\',

.J J ..


21-00 ROtlll; lOS Sumh

Fair [~1wn. NJ 07410·2602


Td.: (973) lSI-SMO www.fircEllginccring.colll P.O. Box 1160 Tub;}. OK 74101

(')18) 835-3161

Features 67


25 POINTER5 FOR YOUR ENGINE COMPANY Jeff Shupe-This is a baseline for engine company operations ranging from prealarm considerarions to postincident analysis. HIGH-RISE ROPE RESCUES, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA David Owens-An incident involving three workers dangling

on the outside of a downtown high-rise tests one department's

knowedge, training, and perseverance.


IMPROVING PRECONNECT FUNCTION AND OPERATION Bob Sbovald-The Coeur d'Alene (TO) Fire Department makes its H~-inch preconnects 'Nork harder and morc efficienrly.


FIREGROUND RECON: DEFINING AN OLD TERM Steven E. Sta"dridge-Since the term has real-world implications on the fireground-not just at wildland fires-it is best to thoroughly understand the concept and lise it properly.


HIGH-RISE FIREFIGHTING PERILS: VETERANS' PERSPECTIVES JeffCrow-A high-rise fire could be any firefighter's potential problem. Learn the lessons from firefighters present at some of the most \-vell-knowll high-rise fires in history.



LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE: BALANCING MANAGEMENT WITH LEADERSHIP ROlloJd E. Kallterman-Learn how to be a good leader and a good manager at the same time.


THE IN-LINE GAUGE IN STANDPIPE OPERATIONS Russ Chapman-This tool for standpipe operations can help ensure crews attack a fire with the proper flows.


ROLLOVER EXTRICATION: UPSIDE DOWN WITH NOWHERE TO GO Ralldy Schmitz-There are a number of patient and rescuer considerations when patients are trapped in this difficult upsidedown position.


POSITIONING AERIAL APPARATUS WHEN YOU'RE NOT FIRST DUE Nicbol€ls A. Martin-Positioning of' the ladder company can be complicated by the location of engine apparatus, command vehicles, pol ice cars, hoselines, and equipment.


DIVERSITY IN THE FIRE SERVICE: A PROBLEM OR A SOLUTION? Job,,,]. McNeil-The challenge for fire service leaders is to actively recruit new firefighters from a diverse candidate pool without lowering job perform'lnce standards.



High-Rise Firefighting Perils: Veterans' Perspectives BY JEFF CROW



event for a firefIghter or firc department: 111Ous:md... of people could be in an enclosed stnlClure from which there are vcry limited means of egress and in which the fi.-e load is extremely hc-â&#x20AC;˘.IVy. And, even though high-rise fires em be the most chaUenging and dangerous, they arc among the least frcquenllypes of fires to which we respond. Thb is as Inle for firefighters who WOrii in high-rise (Ustricts as for those who don't. Firefighters who work in suburban or rural areas Illay think, "'There's not a high-rise building anywhere in my response area." Are you slIre of lhal? What exactly is a high-risc building? Depanlllcnts and building codes define high-risc buildings differclldy, In general, a high-rise is any building lall enough so thai its top cannot be reached by your department's tallest aerial appararus, That can be a building as [ow ~IS six or seven stories, "Ibday, most communities have ~II least one six- or seven-story bUilding in their area. And whether a fire is on the 70th floor of the Sears Tower in Chicago or the se....enth floor of a hotel in a small town, firefighters face simibr challenges. '111ey have to rescue or in pl:lcc OCCUp:Hlts who cannot escape through doors and windows, and they have 10 move firefigluers ~Ind equipment up and down man}' floors lO accomplish their ta51,5, And even if one-story F.lIlch houses and restaurants :Ire all you have in your territory, if a major fire were to break out in a high-rise building on the other side of town, yOllr company, and even companies from many miles away, may have to respond. You may have seen thc photos of firc trucks running hot across the Brooklyn Bridge and olher aliter-borough bridgcs into Manhattan on the morning of September II, 200 I. Thai obviously wns an extreme situation, and none of liS hopes or expeCls to respond to another 9/1'\, bur the principle remains the ~lllle, "The do\vntown companies aren't going to pUl out the fire," says Assistant Chief (He!.) Bob Iblllirez, Los Angeles County (CA) Fire Department. "You know who's going to put it out? The oUllying companies," He explains: "At a major high-rise fire, the first-in crews aren't going to be anything more than pathfinders, They're going to set up rhe fire .. and r.hey're going to be spent." Itnmirez Illay be the person most responsible for putting Qut one of the biggest high-rise fircs in U.S.

(1) A helicopter searches for civilians trapped on the 50th floor at the First Interstate fire, (Photo courtesy of the u.s. Fire Administration,) history-the First Interstate fire in Los I\ngeles (LA). That firc consumed fivc floors of a downtown LA high-risc before Ramirez and his crews Slopped the firc on the 16th floor; they nend)' lost their lives in the proccss. On thc fire floor, Ramirez ,¡cc.dls, "We were standing on a floor that was so hot that the plastic carpet was melting at our feet. We had no air. You couldn't stand up. YOll couldn'l kneel down. Your feet were slipping in the melting cal1JCL" But they persevered and put out that massive fire. "The First Interstate fire," Ramirez says, "\...'as literally a b:mle between j\'lurphy's Law and firemen, and firemen won" (photo 1). The reason the high-rise district firefighters called ro extinguish high-rise fires oftcn do not put OUl the Are is that thc greater alarm companies corne in "fresh" and pick up the hose: and put out the fire, Ramirez explnins, "I've seen it happen time ancr lime after time," he adds. The point is that high-rise fires arc nOl jusl the problem of a big city or downtown firefighters. They are eve,y firefightcr's pot-ential problem.

LEARNING FROM OTHERS' EXPERIENCE "[AI high-rise lfirel is probably lhe most difficult incident you'll ever h:lve 1'0 deal with as a fire officer, ~lIld you can'l really gel good at. it, because these fires are so rare," Chief

FIRE ENGINEERING October 2008 97

â&#x20AC;˘ HIGH-RISE PERILS (Her.) J:lck Bennett, Ramirez' colleague in the LA County Fire

alarm systems in these buildings activate, they turn out 10 be

Department, relates. Among man)' ocher incidents, Hennen was incident commander at the Fickett Towers tire at \vhich 12 floors on one side of an elderly residential high-rise build-

false alarms. "We go to those buildings all the lime on false alarms, smoke detector malfunctions-you name it," Bennett says. "You Imow. r guess it's just, again, we're back to the discipline

ing \vere engulfed in flame. To the credit of the LA County Fire Department, nOl one of the building's 300 residents was killed. So jf experience is the best reacher, what do we do when we can't get enough on-the-job experience to learn? We h~lve to rely on training and, to a brgc extent, "secondhand" learning from others' experiences. Young firefighters learn by talking to veterans abollt: their pasl experiences of fighting fires when "the fire \vas hotter and the water was weller." In the same way, we Gin learn about high-rise fires from the experiences of firefighters who h~lve fought major high-rise fires. I've interviewed firefighter,'; from around the nation who responded to some of the most significant, intense high-ri...c fire.... Following i,'; a SUl1lmar~' of their most importanl poinLsthe lessons to be learned frolll their "voices of experience."

BUILDING SYSTEMS Few firefighters in the world probably have responded to, analyzed, and taughl about as many high-risc fires as Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn, who retired from the rire Department or New York (FONY) after 42 years of service. l Dunn says that high-rise firefighting is all about the bUilding systems. What's the biggest difference between a high-rise fire and other types of fires? First of all, a high-rise is the only building where we're totally dependent on the systems in that building. Our firefighting fails if the elevators fail. Our firefighting fails if the communication system fails. Our firefighting fails if the water or standpipe system fails. Now, in a low-rise fire, we control all those systems. Your portable radio never fails. Your hose stretching never fails. Maybe you get a kink or a burst line, but you can always fix it. And your feet are your transportation system. (At a high-rise fire, on the other hand]. you're totally dependent upon the systems of the building. And if the systems fail, we fail. John Norman, FDNY deputy assistant chief (ret.), concurs: "For me, knowing the building, ImQ\.ving the systems, know~ ing the way the s~'stellls were dcsigned-th:H's the bottom line.,,2 Norman explains:

that's involved." "We callihigh~risc districts] 'the electronic ghetto,' " Norman says, "where you're running automatic alarms all dny." nepealed false alarms arc a problem, because they mal<e us run hot down cify streets for no good reason, endangering firefighters and citizens. They C'.luse needless wear and tear on fire apparatus and keep apparat.tls OUl of service and un:lv~lil­ able to respond to real emergencies. But the biggest problem \vith frequent false alarms in high-rise buildings is that they can lead to complacency on the part of the firefighters who respond to dlem. This leads to a situation, says Assistant Chief Bruce Kolar of the Clark County (NV) Fire Department, where "guys don't want to put on their turnouts; thcy don't want to put on their SCBA." Hack in 198'1, Kolar was a ynung firefighter just .... Carling his career among ule newly constructed high-rise buildings of Las Vegas. I~ccalling his complacency in those days, hc says, "1 remember thinking that Vegas was :l new town nnd we would never h,lve the 'big one.' I never felt that, being in a new town, I would ever get any kind of experience." He gOI" plenty of cxperience thai winter when, in the space of a couple of wed:s, he responded to the MGM Grand fire, where 84 people died, and the firc in the Las Vegas Hilton, 'where there wcre eight fatalities. !-Ie cautions: "It's so easy to let your guard dow1I, especially as a firefighter going to a new building. When the call came in for the MGM Grand, I distinctly remember thinking, 'It's a new building. \X/hat are you going to havc there? (photo 2). TIlerc's nothing that's going to go on there.' Then, in a couple of minutes, yOll hear guys screaming on the radio, and they were in deep Itroublel." Billy S:mds, now a federal court judge in Georgia, W~IS a captain in the Jacksonville (FL) Fire and Rescue Department in 1994 when he responded [0 a fire at the Cathedral TO\.... ~ ers high-rise building, which was home to some 250 senior citizens. I-I cavy smol<e and fire bmke ou[ on the -14th floor. Sands recalls, "It was one of these places Lhat you go to every

A big problem is the bUilding. We have to rely on the building, and when the buildings fail us, we're in big trouble-whether it's First Interstate, where the fire pumps failed, or any of the other numerous high-rise fires where systems in the building have failed. That's when we make headlines, you know.

FALSE ALARMS AND COMPLACENCY Oflen, the first and most frequent systems with which we interact in the.o:;e buildings are those downtown firefighters have come to hatc-the alarm systems. Their purpose is 10 warn occupants and the fire department th~ll a fire is in the building. The problem is that, more often than not, when Ihe

98 October 2008 FIRE ENGINEERING

(2) The MGM Grand fire. (Photo courtesy of the Clark County (NV)

Fire Department; used with permission.]

• HIGH-RISE PERILS week. You get complacent. Nothing's going to happen. And this lime. these

you'll learn in your career is thal- whenever you let your guard down, you're

people were going crazy." Jacksonville Fire and Hescuc was able to save all of

going (0 gel smacked." So how do we keep from gelting

fhe Cathcdr:ll Towers' occupants; bUl,

"smacked" because of complacency?

Sands warns, "Complacency is what will

According to James t'o'iocklcr, a 26-year

kill you." Myou think Inew bUildings! are not going La burn," Kolar pOinL'i out. "And it's hard for you lO have that mindsct

veteran of the Houston (TX') fire Depart-

that, hey, this could happen. But I'm telling you that probably the biggest I..hillg

ment, it all begins with leadership by example. '" find that Iher'lI [my mem· bersl do whal I do. People do what the captain docs, I don't renlly explain myself. I just kind of do what I think is

necessary, and people follow me," l"tockler, assigned 10 the downtown high-rise district, was on the depart· ment's heavy rescue squad in 2001 when it responded (0 a fire at dlC Four Leaf Towers high-rise apartment building, j\.'locklcr's crew was scm upstairs to res· cue the captain of the first·in fire auack team, who had become disoricntcd, was running out of air, and c~llled ~l Maydny. Mockler recalls hearing the captain saying, "Whcrc's my backup engine?" and thcn, "We'rc having trouble," before declaring a Mayday. "EvcllIually, we found him," MockJer says. "Il was :1 big rugb)' scrum. SOllle guys wcre running out of air. One of the guys knocked me ovcr." Aflcr a desper:Ite struggle that nearly cost the lives of Mocklcr and his crew, they succeeded in reaching thc downed caplain :lI1d re· moving him from the fire noar. Despite their heroic efforts, the caplain did not survive, In Mockler's eyes, the crew will :lvoid compl:lCcncy so long as their leader doesn't show cornpl:lCency. "I think it's a leadership thing," hc says. He asl<s, "When responding 10 calls for alarms sounding in hotels and apartment build· ings, do company officers put on their gear? I think there arc a lot of guys who don't pUll.heir equipment on," he offered. Mockler stresscs that hc doesn't intcnd to be a victim of complacency: "I don't \~lnl to be on the fire noor and havc to comc running out because I wcnt up witham my gear or something," hc explains. Mockler uses the frequent false .. Iann responses he makes in high-rises as op-pOflunities to lr::lin his crews and teach Ihem about the building. "We use all l!lese automatic alarms we make," he says, ":15 :1 fire drill for us. We don't look to wrile up any tickets about excessive aJanns. II's like a training session for US." \~en responding to automatic alarms, he adds. "We go to the fire control ccnter; wc get the firefighters ke)', .md then we procc(.'(! .IS if we had :tn incident. And then 1 drill-you know, each guy gels to nm the elevator at different incidents." tn this W;I)', Mockler transforms a false 'I!.arm from an annoyance 10 a leaming op-portunily and transforms the "clectronic ghcHo" into a training ground,

Enter 172 at flrocng,holims,com

HIGH-RISE PERILS • LOGISTICS If, as Ramirez says, the downtown companies-the first 1O arrive on the scene-often ;lrc not the ones who will put out the fire, what should they be doing? The ~lIlswcr is: They're doing the most important part of high-risc firefighting-Iogistics. "You have to understand that a high-risc fire is a logistics problem," Ramirez says (pharo 3). Bennett pUIS it bluntly: "\Ve had several fires where we forgal logistics until we were lip to our necks in alligators," \'('hat is meant by logistics? Roughly speaking, logistics is everything except fire atl<lck and rescue, including elevator and stairway nwnagcmCI1I, resource pool setup, transport or personnel and equipment to a sraging area, lobby conrrol,

and other activities. Ahhough logistics rna)' nol be as exciting as fire altacl( or rescue, it is, hy interviewees' consensus, the most important part of high-rise fircfighting. Logistics is the groundwork lhal lllUSt be laid hefore the fire attack and rescue can be accomplished. At :l norm~d fire, like a house fire, mmil of the firefighters on-scene will he directly involv~d in lhe firefighling or re.";cue effort. At a high-rise fire, the opposite is true. A rdatively small percentage of personnel will be engaged in firefighting and rescue operations, and a much larger percentage will bc involved in logistics. Hamirez ciles the following rulc of thumb: "Four firefightcrs for evcry firefighter on a hoseline is a good estimate." High-risc fire logistics is inherentl}' personnel intensive. Hamirez says, "These buildings will eat

(3) The equipment pool in the lobby at the First Interstate fire.

(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration.) resources like you've never seen before." I<olar recalls: The MGM [fire] just overwhelmed everybody. That casino was fully involved in less than a minute. In less than a minute, all the resources of your department are totally overwhelmed (photo 4). That [fire] was so overwhelming, to go from seven o'clock in the morning [when] you've no problem to 7:12 [when] you've 5,000 people you need to put someplace, and you've got a fire that you're dealing with ....



Log on to the and create your




I hOLl,ands 01 b,ld Hc, helmellronl, ,1nd licl'n.l) pllll(' oplivns!

Ordering has


been so easy!







) 800-852-6088

JEfFERSON 1~1:1~~It1:U~;

104 Independence \ \'a~ , Co,llCS\ illc, I'A 19320


Enter 173 at


(4) The MGM Grand Hotel fire overwhelmed everyone. The fire moved with

unbelievable speed. [Photo courtesy of the Clark County (NV) Fire Department.} (5) Air bottles staged in the lobby at the First Interstate fire. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration.) To keep from being overwhelmed, Bennett says, "Assign

a logistics officer early in the resource game-maybe even before operations." "\'t;o"hcn you attack the f'irc, it has to be a sustained :twlclc You cannot stop 10 run down 20 flights of stairs (Q gel anmhcr air borde or another length of hose," explains R'Il11ircz. "The hose and air borde have to be right there (photo 5). Otherwise, you lose the fire." Raymond Orozco, commissioner of the Chicago (11.) Fire Department (CFD), was incidcnl commander at the 2004 high-rise firc at 135 S. 1...1 Salle Street, at which four floors of a heavily occupied office building were engulfed in names. "At a large fire in a high-rise bUilding, deploy additional resources to abovegrollnd staging/support areas," he recommends. '''I1,is pr<lctice \vill reduce reflex time. If you lose the elevators, thosc resources will thCll have 10 \valk up from the lobb}'." At Ihis incidenl, the CFD was able to rescue all of the bUilding's occupants. Coming as it did about a year after a disastrous highrisc fire in \vhich six Chicago citizens were kiUed, the La Salle Street fire is considered the incident at which the CFD put into pmctice the lessons IC~lrned from the previous year's Imgedy. At a high-rise fire, just like at any other fire, aggressive crcws want to be attacking the fire and performing rescue. Warns Hamircz, "Ever)"body wants to go squirt \vater, but you can't do it. Your most aggressive officers and crews may not want to be assigned to logistics, but they should be." Ramirez related rhe follO\ving concerning a higlH'ise fire he cOlllmanded:

Early in the game, I took my best battalion chief, who later became the number two man in the fire department. I told him, 'You're going to be logistics.' I could almost see his face drop [as if he were thinking], 'I was going to get a chance to fight fire and now I've got [this] job.' He may have been thinking that; but he said, 'Yes, sir,' and he set it up.

102 October 2008 FIRE ENGINEERING

CREW FATIGUE The logistical requirements of high·rise fin.::flghting demand that people and equipment be moved up many floors before fire attack and rt:scue can begin. For that reason, one of the most important aspect.. of logistics is how yOlI manage and conserve the most valuable tool on the firegl'ound: the firefighters. Bennett recommends this basic method for reducing crew fatigue at a high·rise fire. Set up a rotation of crews among three positions ne:lr the fire floor: (1) one group actively engaged in firefighring operations; (2) one group standing by, ready to move into action; and (3) a group resting in staging after haVing jusl left ;]clive operations. So, he says, "You've got one company involved on the lfirel noor; one in t..he stairway ready to relieve the other company, to take over their hoseline or to get another line to back them up, as the case may be; and one down in staging. Go through that rotation twice, and then relieve Jt.he crewsJ with fresh crc'ws that have not yet been in adion. This way, you have three companies rotating. And that continues until you have three companies that arc too tired and have to be rehabbed."

FIRE AnACK After a solid logistical foundation has been established, fire :twlcl, can begin. II has to be decisive. Dunn says, "YOll can't switch from an ollcnsive to a defensive, outside attack if your fire is above the rc:.'ach of the hose streams. You know, your ability to do an exterior, defensive attack is laken away from you. In other words, 'You've only got one chance [Q put oul ~I high-rise fire.' " For t.hat reason, using large-diamcter hose and ;1 solid stream nozzle is cruci:l!. That is why, Orozco says, "The CFD prohibilS the lise of LJ./.i-inch hose and fog nozzles in high"isc buildings." Hclative to the successful attack at the La Salle Street fire, he says, ';On vcrifiC:ltion of the fire floor, rhe first

• HIGH-RISE PERILS two engine companies combined


lead out a 2 ljz-inch attack

line with a smooth bore nozzle." Norman ~lgrces: "For FDNY, 2lh-hosc with solid tip nozzle is

\X/hen the fire noors become heavily involved, firefighters may not have to open windows for ventilation. Glass will bre~d, of irs own accord and rain down on the streets nround the building. "There was so much glass coming down at First Interstate,"

mandatory." "You'd bener cover your b:ick by having the largest diameter hose and hook up on the floor below the fire," cautions Dunn. When advancing the haseline, Bennett says it is imporWnt t'O check the ceiling space above your he'ld. "\Xi'hal's happened 1.0 our guys," Bennett says, ·'is thai they've :ldvanccd the haseline into the building about 15 to 20 feel, and guess what? The fift.' stream or a pike pole to ;'knod those !ceilingl panels Ollr 10 mal,e sure you don'l have fire above you as you advance down

Bennett says, "Lh:u it trimmed .ill the trees on all four sides of the building." For this reason, he counsels: "Protect the inlet connections and the hoselines by using ladders and salvage covers. Lay lines firc-to-hydranl. Place pumpers as far away as possible from the building." By the time the glass starts falling, it will be too c1~Hlgerous 1.0 send firdighters 10 the apparatus to reposition thelll. Fire apparatus should be parked a considerable distance from the fire bUilding as e;lrly as possible in

the hallway or inlo {he fire."

the operation.



During the fire all,ad.. , Bennett says, "Smoke will elHer stninvays." He says thm using blowers in tandem may ventilate those sL'1irways with postiive pressure. Owayne Ayers, a Jacksonville firefighter who was among rhe first to arrive :H the Cathc,xlral Towers fire, S;lW thb method work effectively_ At that fire, Ayers says, "\,(Ie sct the fans up on rhe ground noor, blowing into thc stairwells. We opened the firefighting stairwells to the firc noor, and it \vorl..ed grell." As for the ventihltion of thl: fire-involved areas, Bennett says, ;;You're not bashful about the \vindows. YOll rake rhose babies oUL'"

The topic of elev;llor use is controversial. The normal way of moving up and down in high-rise buildings, of course, is the elevator_ In fact, the invention of dle modern safely elevator \vas one of the things tJut made high-rise buildings I)ossible. These generally safe and reliable transport systems move thousands of people up and down the dizzying heights of high-risc buildings every day, However, the usc of elevators during high-rise fires is a complex and contentious topic. When lIsed corrcctly at a higl1*l-isc fire, elevators can be the l.;cy to getting personnel and equipment close to where they need 10 be 10 fight [he fire and rescue occupallls. When used

was behind them!" [-Ie recommends using either the fire hose











""1'/ •



"\ c®us

USUD MADE WITH PRIDE IN THE U.S.A. Nntnlo Mtlchinn & Toot Co., Inc. C"rtsl:HH, NJ 07072

201-933-5500 800-883-8382 Enter 175 at

• HIGH-RISE PERILS incorrectly, they call be a death trap.

fires in history.

"If you ask, 'how is the next firefighter

Sometimes clc\'ators work; sometimes Ihey don't. Dtlnn says, "YOll know, a bucket of wrllcr can put these elevators oUI, but I've seen freiglll elcv;HorS work Wilh water pouring down through them." There is a lot of disagreement on this subjccL Hamirez is adamant thaI" elcva£Ors that serve the fire floor should llel'e,. be used at working high-rise fires. Many fire departmellL'), Ramirez says, "compromise the firefighter's safety by jumping

going to die at a high-rise fire?' " Dunn

says, "YOll can sa)', 'It's going to be in <Ill elevator.' " Sometimes elevator lise is not an option. At the First Interstate fire, Ramirez says, "[The elevatorsl never worked. They were already slopped. There was a dead guy in one of them," So he and his cre\vs had


climb up 16 nighr$ of st~lirs

to atlack one of the biggest



in elevators. The)' haven't thought il out-the fact thai fIre gets in the elevator shaft. The heat and the smoke are going to go to the top and are going to affect the mechanism ... trap people lin the elevator. I" When I told him that many departmems, including mine, allow fire Cre\V5 to t.ake the elev<ltor 10 five noors below the fire, he didn't mince words. "Oh, you're crazy," he said. "You're out of your mind:' BenneU is just as adamant. "Do not use elevators. \'(':llk the floors. Elevarors can be life d1reatening. We lost a captain years ago in a multistory bUilding fire." However, most with whom I talked saw elevator use :It a high-rise fire as a calculated risk. "We just do it luse the elevators]," says Norman, "We do it with caution. We {;Ike a lot of precautionary stops. We try to make sure that we're checking the shaft as we ascend ... knowing where the staircases are on each floor as we travel up. But to us, it's just a necessary evil.'· When tokl of Hamirez and Bennett's objections to elevalor use, Dunn explained, "I rhink most or Americ:1 uses elevalOrs. That's why they have fireman service." Norman says, "I've \valkcd 30 flights, 32 nights of stairs, hut in rail high-rises, it's just nol practical." Kolar agrees, ;'Whcn you gCI :I guy up 25 floors, what kind of shape is he going to be in?" "The issue," Dunn says, "is not whelher to use or nOl lise c1cv:llors. The issue is how lO usc them." That means taking precautions. Norman gives this advice when using elevators: Every five floors, you're supposed to get out and verify the location of the stairwell, because the staircases do change on diffe,.ent floors .... And check the shaft. Shine your light up the shaft. Look fo,. water, smoke. Look for- fire. If you have a hatch on the elevator, while you're traveling, open it and constantly keep an eye up that shaft. If you press '5' and it doesn't stop at 5, well then you should be pressing the emergency stop button. If that doesn't work, force the doors open to trip the interlock.

Enter 1n at fireeng.hotims.cQm

HIGH.RISE PERILS • Others echoed the imparlance of the prccaution;lry SlOpS. "The Fire Invcstig;ltiol1 Team will check at five-noor intervals to ensure that thc elcvator is still under fire department can· trol, as well as check for smoke and water," says Orozco. 'The operaror of every elevator car must have some type of forcible entry tool, an SCIJA, a portable radio, and one extra air bailIe," he adds. Dunn agrees, "\'<fhen you use an devamr, you had beU'cr have a handheld radio in there; you had better have forcible entry LOols to force your way out; landl you've got to keep resting your controls every fift.h noor." Norman says rhat elevators should be used e'lrly if they arc going to be used. "You have to move your resources up close to the point of attack as early as yOll can, because you're going to lose the elevators," he says. At a certain point in a high-rise fire-for insrallce, wht:n water or smoke enters the elevator shaft-elevators should no longer be used for moving people. BUl that doesn't mcan that they can't be used at all. David \X'hile, president of Fire :lnd Safety Specialists, Inc., in College Statioll, Texas, a high-rise consulting firm, offt:rs Ihe follOWing suggestion: If we can't do anything else with the elevators, let's use them for freight. I'm going to fill that elevator up with air bottles, hose, generators. lights. whatever else I need; push a button; and send it to the 25th floor. I can get my men up there, eventually; but when I've got to carry air

bottles up there and a thousand feet of 2Y.z..inch hose. there's no way. So we can just use the elevator as a freight truck.

In this way, Whitc suys, we're addressing the most difficult task in ::I high-rise incident-laking care or logistics. In other words, when it becomcs too risk}. to put people in the elevaWI'S, tal;;e them out of firefighter service, pul thcrn in regular mode, an(1 usc thcm to move equipmcnt. Mockler has another idea he learned from hard experiencc: Use the map in the lobby that directs occupants to siairwells for evacuation as an aid. \\;/hcn he and his ere'.v members got lost and disoriented al the Four Leaf Towers fire, they pulled that map orf the wall and used it to find the exil stairwell. "That made a profound impression on me," Mockler says. "One or tJ1C things to check is thar map, or check for exits, to orient yourself" He says he makes a point of telling everyone that the FIrst thing yOll do when you get off the elev~ltor is look at the map. "1 teach it as a basic survival sId II;' he adds.

STAIRWELL MANAGEMENT Inevitably, when enough smoke and water enter the shafts, the elevators will stop working. When that happens, Ihe stair'.Yays become the prime means of moving up and down inside the building. At that point, managing the slain....ells and their usc by eivili:lns and fireHghtcrs becomes crucial. Ir is important to prevent occupants from trying to self-ev3cmite through sllIoke- and ht:at-fillcd stairwells, as happened


com lo ckers. I


\ ~

Products Include: • Open Access Lockers • Standard Lockers • Vented Lockers • Extra Wide Lockers • Designer Lockers • Modular Lockers • Solid Oak Exec. Lockers • Plastic Lockers • Storage Lockers • Storage Cabinets Rochester, New York

• Locker Benches • Locker Options




For l'IlIJmum pettmrTIIYICII a~~ ""Iet/. we re«JmmellO yoo reM 'te Ow,.) NMlIJl bena CJPffalOil \'Wr Ib'I:Ll f'ov,et [Qui;l .. enl CoI'rlf:C:lIon Il1gtlf1era!tr's I:l~ouse power reQlliesllansreldeoi:e wa.oI:llliJSS'bM ",,,IV 10 ~CIJl'T"IlW'l'





~"'somot ~aQl,tlllilleallloctJ1dllll.

lns Angeles. (A 91111U1 159li Phone: ' 800-562.5317 • Fin::: 1-800-562-5399 1010 East b2nd SItP.E'I, 4

Enter 178 at


Enter 179 at

FIRE ENGINEERING October 2008 107


(6) The Cathedral Towers fire. (Photos courtesy of Working Fire Training System; used with permission.) (7) Firefighters rescue a resident from the Cathedral Towers fire. (8) A resident is given fresh air at the Cathedral Towers fire. at lhe Cook County Adlllinistr:llion BUilding fire in Chil:<lgo in 2003. where six civilians were found dead in the slairwells. In the wake of thaI tragedy, the crD now deplo}1S what it calls "rapid :.lsccnt tcams" (RATS) to ascend each stairway above the lire noor to check for occupants and dinxt those in the ventilation/fire attack stairwell 10 move to another stairwell or enter safe flOOTS and sheller in place. At the L1Sallc Street fire, Orozco says, the RATS "deployed above the fire floor and directed civilians to d'l:: designated evacuation stainvell." eFa policy requires that the ''ire attack stairwell be cleared of building occupants for :l minimum of five floors above the nrc floor before the attack line is advanced onto the fire floor. Norman sa)'s if there are indic.ltions that people are coming down from above Ithe nrc flood, you have to physically verify those spots so that no people are in that st.lircase, and you have (Q withhold the attack until the attack stair has been checked.

SHELTER IN PLACE VS. SELF-EVACUATION To minimize the risk to OCCUp,lIlts in stairwells, often the best option is to have most of them shelter in place. According to Dunn, "A high-rise nrc takes away two important strategies from the fire incident commander. The first strategy is rescue. You can't usc ladders to rescue people. Your ability to lise :l 1:lddcr to get people oul is raken away from yOll. Your ability to rescue people from the exterior and the ability to switch to an exterior/defensive attack are the two major differences of a high-rise fire." For this reason, Dunn adds, ''The s(rategy for high-rise residential buildings is total (Iefensc in place. Evcrybody stays in place." Hamirez agrees, "Sheltering in place is a p'll·t of high-rise firefighting. It is rcall)' what it's all aboul." ;'At a high-rise residential building," Dunn says, "you have to tell everybody: 'Stay in your apartment.' Ever)' single apart* ment is subdivided. 'lOti don't have cenlr::tl air systems. So the s3fest place for them to be is in their apartment.s." 108 October 2008 FIRE ENGINEERING

Norman notes that FDNY tries to educate building managers that there arc other threals than fire. At the MGM Grand, Kolar recalls, "Some people who stayed in their rooms fared a lillie better. The ones who went for lhe stairwell didn't do so well." Ayers says his experience at Cathedral Towers brought home the rationale behind sheltering in place at a residential high-rise fire. ''l'1l tell you what Ithe Cathedral Tmvcrs firel did for me," he says. ·'It. gave me a lor more respect for the building itself (photo 6). I came to appreciate the actual structure, how the building is designed to contain the nrc." Some types of high-rise constl'uc(ion contain nrc better than others. Bennett relates that the center core and the center hallway are the l..vO main types of construction found in a high-rise building. Most residential high-rises arc compartmenlalized and havc a hallway down the center of (he floor. That's why, he says, as a general rule, fire spreads less in a residential high-rise. Hamirez considers residential high-riscs "a slam-dun I,." Your biggest problem there, he says, "is going 10 be external flame spread, lapping." On the other hand, according to Bennett, "With center core type, you're going 1O have more fire. If you have hallways with one-hour construction, you're not going to have as much lire spread. ITherc's al big difference."

â&#x20AC;˘ HIGH-RISE PERILS A goal, notes Ayers, is to leach occupants of a high-rise (0 realize that they can be safe in a burning building. The

problem, especially in a posl-9/11 world, is gcuing the public to undcrsrand this. Af"icr watching the collapse of the World

Trade Center lowers on 9/11, civili~lns tend to overestimate the risk of building collapse during ;l high-rise fire, disrcg:'lrd firc~ fighters' instructions, and risk their lives trying 10 self-evacuate when they should be :':iheltcring in place. In fact, Orozco says, '''111C reality of the posl-91 I I era is lhat you must be prepared to address the faci that most occupants will nOl shelter in place." In Florida, Dunn reports, the elderly sil in the stairs. "TIley can't even get down the stairs. They bailout of their buildings. They're dying in the hallways and stairways. And nobod}' kno\vs ,,,'hat LO do." Happily, that ";"as not the case at the Cathedral Towers, at which Jacksonville fire crews were able to evacuate all residents with no fatalities. They did it by proper management of the stairwells. ]ad:sonville assigned a section officer in the lobby to control all of the stairwells and companies to go up those stairwells. "If you tell people to go to the 47th floor and shelter in pl~u..:c," cautions Ramirez, "you'd bener get firefighlers up there to calm them down. We've done it, and you can have ncar panic up there." According to Lieutenant William Langley, ''0'110 responded to dle Cathedral Towers on the first-in unit, that's exactly what Jacksonville did: As rough as this may sound, we were very firm with the occupants of the building. If they tried, if they wanted to go down the [wrong] stairwell-no matter what-we would not allow it (photos 7-8). We forced the flow of traffic. Once we controlled the flow of traffic headed in the right direction, it was like they almost forgot about that stairwell we were using for a fire attack stairwell, so to speak. We had people, firefighters--uniformed, dressed firefighters--at every floor level, actually blocking the exit and telling people, 'You cannot go this way. You must go that way.'

COMMUNICATION "For anyone of these ddcnd-in-place strategies, yOll need three things," Dunn says. "You need to be able to extinguish the fire. The building's got to be fire resistive and confine the fire to that floor without lcrring it spread. And people have got [0 pay atlention to and comply with your instructions." Effective communication to the building occupants is crucial to defend-in-place strategy. Norman says that the building's personnel should make public address system announcements. "We give them what we want them \.0 tell them {occupants!, but they handle the system, make the announcements, because they already began that before we arrived." Dunn asked the fire safety director to make all annOUllceIllcm such as rhe following: "The fire's on the 13th floor. Everybody on The 13th and 14th floors-Ihe fire floor and the floor above-evacu3te. Everybody else stay in place." You must make Sllre thai those who evacuate take the right swirwell. For that reason, Dunn rec.:ommends that lhe decision

J 10 October 2008 FIRE ENGINEERING

of which stairway will be used for fire attack and which one for evacuation be made early. There wiIJ always be some people who will not do what the firefighters tell them for wh:Hevcr reason-they don't understand the directions or can't identify the correct stairway, for example. "\\1e really don't expect Ihem all to listen," Norman says. Communication among fircfl.gluers working in the building is ~IS important as communicating with building occupants. Ho\....ever, COml1lllllkation alTlong firefightcrs is one of the toughest problems when fighting fires in high-rise buildings. And, it is serious! "If you're a chief officer and you don't have communication at a fire, you might as well go home," Dunn stresses. "All we do at fires is communicate. It's the name of our game." Langley underscores the communication difficulties. ''The radio traffic, in my opinion, is eventually going (0 gel a lot of people killed, because people cannot get through on that radio," he exphlins. "Everybody is trying to Lalk. II's dlC same problem lh:lt all major departments h~lve." Dunn speaks for all high-rise firefighters when he S:lyS, "I want one radio that '....orks in high-rise buildings." As of yet, that ide:ll radio does not exist. The 9/11 Commission criticized FDNY for not having an effective communication system whcn responding to lhe World Trade Center attacks. Allhough no one's found a perfect solution to the problem, some progress has been made. Most notably, FDNY has developed what it calls the post (shari for "command posl") radio-actually a powerful repeater to amplify and extend the range of weak handheld radio signals in the building. Norman says that since 9/1'1, FDNY deplo}1ed a number of new items ancl rhe post radio is probably the "biggest item .... We've tested it in virtually every commercial high-rise in the city and have had real good luck," he reports. "Whereas before, you were lucky to penetrate eight or nine floors, we're now routinely getting to every Ooor, 100 stories," he explains. Norman, however, warns: "Radio communication is not everything. One of the big [hings ,..'e do try to use is hard-wired communications widlin Ihe building, in the lobby command post arca. We have floor warden stations alii on the floors. We have phone systems in the srairC;lse. They're redundant systems, separate systems." Orozco describes the redundant communication systems at the La Salle Street fire: Radio traffic was very heavy, as can be expected. To deal with this, we utilized a tactical channel as well as a command channel. We also utilized the building's communication system as designated in our General Order. Chief officers utilized the fire phones located in the stairwells to communicate with the command post in the lobby. We also deployed the engineers of apparatus not committed to pump operations to serve as runners. If we can't always have dle perfect communication systems fOI" lise in high-rise buildings, we should at least be aware of what to expect from the buildings in alii" area. We should use prelire planning and high-rise building inspections 10 find

HIGH-RISE. out to what extent our radios work in the buildings. Wh:ll' we really should be doing at every high~risc building is checking our radios," S~IYS Dunn. "\';'c send a firefighter to the roof, and he should be able to cOllll1luniOltc from the lobby to the roof and d,e lobby to the lower floor,"

Communication is the key-whether

it's ben\'cen firefighters on different levels of a high~rise or firefighters with

different levels of experience. Because high-rise Ares arc rare, high-rise firefighting experience is a rare and valuable commodity. Like any other commodity, it must be traded and exchanged to be

of use. Few of liS 'will ever respond ro enough working high-rise fires to master all of the skills we need to deal with them successfully-whether if be cOlltl'olling building systems, setting up logistics, handling staif\vell evacuation and yentilarion, or any other of the many special challenges of these tires. It's one thing to learn dlcse skills from drills, books, or articles. It's quire another to have performed them under pressure. By listening to firefighters who have performed dlcm, we can avoid dlcir mistakes and emulate dleir successes. And whcn the Ijmc comcs for us to roll up on a high-rise building showing heavy fire and smoke, we'll be a little bit more confident, haVing learned from those who fnced the fire before us. â&#x20AC;˘

Enter 180 at

ENDNOTES 1. Vincent Dunn is the author of Safety and SUNil/al on the Fireground (Fire Engineering, 1992) and Strategy of Firefighting (Fire Engineering.2007).

2. John Norman is the author of the Fire Officer's Handbook of Tactics, Third Edition (Fire Engineering, 2(05). He served as search and fesOJe manager at the World Trade Center operations on 9111.

...empties your tanker safely. No need for two-man crews, you don't even have to leave your truck! Our Newton KWik-Dump Valve, Model 1070 Valve with 5018 Auto Chute (shown) can be electrically or air operated. Just the touch of a button empties your tanker, and gets you on your way - FAST!

â&#x20AC;˘ JEFF CROW is a 25-year veteran of the Houston (TX) Fire Department, where he is a district chief responsible for the downtown highrise fire district. He is a Texas statecertified fire training instructor.

Contact us for more information. Brochures and CD-ROMs available.

A.H. Stock Manufacturing Corp. 8402 Center Road Newton, Wisconsin USA 53063 Phone: 920-726-4211 Fax: 920-726-4214 Enter 181 at

High-Rise Perils  

high-rise perils

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you