I’ve read about and heard from a few firefighters who have told me that they were in a room which flashed.
The mere fact that they are able to relate such an experience is almost always a clear indication that a flashover did not occur.
Certainly some type of catastrophic fire event (CFE) took place, but in
all likelihood, no one survives a flashover and lives to tell about it.
So what happened?
A trick question that always gets my students is: Does it really matter what type of CFE it truly is?
The answer is hell yes! Why?
If we want our crews to survive, we need to constantly be aware of the what’s going on inside the burning box we’re crawling through. Different
CFE’s give different clues as to what will be occurring next.
Recognizing these clues will make the difference between crawling out of the structure, or being carried out by your brothers. You have to have the smarts to look for, recognize, and react to the constantly changing situation of an aggressive interior attack.
In the spirit of training, here is a cool video of a catastrophic fire event taken from five feet outside the door of the room. Watch it closely as it develops, then make your guess as to what type of CFE it may be.
Above all, learn to recognize these clues and keep your brain engaged constantly next time you’re crawling through that burning
This is a flashover as viewed from 5 ft away from the doorway. The fire was allowed to continue on purpose to achieve the flashover. I
captured the footage with my special camera. A secondary smoke explosion in the attic blew two sheets of tin off. I use the footage for training. Hope you can use it for instruction as well.
John Mitchell is a fire Lieutenant and paramedic in suburban Chicago. He is a fire and EMS instructor, certified fire investigator and Chicago Blackhawks fan. He is the editor of FireDaily and co-creator of FirefighterNetCast.