A recent house fire in my fire company's first due resulted in a fire that caused severe damage to a house that it will have to be torn down. A term was also used that day. Resetting The Fire.

A home owner was working on a car in a garage in a split level home. The carburetor exploded setting fire to the car and then the rest of the garage. Our fire company was on another call and if had been in quarters  would have been there in 2 minutes. Another county station was first on the scene along with a chief from another state. The crew was ready to enter the house through the front door and attack the fire from the basement level as a aggressive operation. The chief ordered the crew to stop and attack the visible fire from the outside to knock it down that way.

The fire entered the walls and made its way to the rest of the house and the attic burning the roof off.

Now this procedure has come from the result of buildings being built with light weight materials which could result in a unsafe fire building. Basement fires we have also been told will use Resetting The Fire procedure. If you can see the fire through a window or door way, put water through that opening.

Now how do you control where the fire will go when you can't be sure what openings are there. Also could a person be just outside a doorway somewhat safe and now have a fire pushed at them.

To me this like going back in time and shooting water through the windows and doors because you don't have SCBA. The old Surround and Drown.

Now the house was in area where the homes had been built a few years ago and the street had been added. So the house may have been built with light weight materials but in some way the home owner could have had just damage to the one area of the house and not have lost the whole house if the crew could have contained it to the garage.

Many of our career and volunteer members don't like this idea. 


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Guess i'm not getting the question here. Was this a split level home with the living quarters over the garage? Does your county always have a Chief from another state run your scenes? I'm getting out of this a garage fire and basement fire so i'm a little confused on what type of fire you had here.  

First of all, IF the crew was directed to hit it from the exterior I would question the technique.  From the NIST/UL/FDNY tests that used hitting it from the exterior the proper method was a straight or solid stream at a steep angle to the ceiling and not moving the stream.  The stream deflects off the ceiling and cools the area and the window still allows for venting.  This method pushes nothing on the interior.

Secondly, if they injected a fog pattern into the window it is entirely possible that they pushed heat, steam, and smoke throughout the structure through any openings.

Not having been there I can't judge why the fire spread.  It could have been tactics or it may have been in the walls already before water was applied.

We have mutual aid agreement with all counties around the metro area we live in which includes two states. That day there was a number of incidents in our county so units from the other state were sent to fill in and were on calls. Our county will send a command officer with our units on calls in other counties or into the other state. All of the metro area uses 700 and 800 radio trunking system so units can work off the same radios. The counties have combination system of career and volunteer personnel except for the city we surround which has a all career operation.

As to the fire, the fire was a car burning in the garage which set the contents of the garage on fire and then spread. From what our volunteer assit chief said, the crew on the first engine said they could see through the front door of the house that it was clear and would have gone through there to make a attack and cut off the fire but they were directed by the first chief on the scene to hit it from the outside through the door of the garage. As to the companies that were sent on the call, there were units from the other state our county the next county and even a unit from a federal fire dept that showed up. Then there was all the county command officers including the county fire chief.

You say you would have been there in two minutes but were unavailable. How long did the crew that responded take? I suspect it was a significant delay and this is what allowed the fire to extend into attic. If the fire had a good head start (pretty likely) neither method of attack would have stopped the extension because it had already begun to happen. 

The tests that Don referenced showed that application of water lowers the temperature in the fire area and all adjacent areas, including the area ahead of the stream. Although smoke and steam may enter that area, temperatures drop. I don't see how this can be construed as pushing fire.

I guess we dont call it "resetting", but we will do and have done much of the same thing.  The last fire we were on was a mutual aid fire that took us 25 mins to get to.  The fire had a good hold on a bedroom and was in the attic of a single story house.  The doors and windows were shut and the fire was hit from the outside while the interior crew getting ready.  All that was left was mop up.  It was not a huge distance to the seat from the front door, but the tactic saved critical time.  The fire was NOT getting worse as the interior crew went looking for the "seat".  

Just my observations.  

The technique for hitting it from the outside for cooling before entry is VERY specific.  Use a straight or smoothbore stream through a window or door at as steep an angle as possible to strike the ceiling.  Do NOT move the stream, hit one spot and leave it there.  If you move it you block the entry point you are using as a vent opening.  We tried this at a practice burn we conducted and about a 15 second shot of water dropped the temperature over 300 degrees in the room.

The above technique should not be confused with the older method of going up to a window or door, sticking a fog nozzle through that opening on a wide fog pattern and filling the room or building with steam.   While this method can be effective in knocking down fire it is life threatening to any victims inside and calls for some serious venting before we can safely enter.

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