Size-up discussion for Williamsburg worker

Videos below are of an all-hands fire at Box 0212 in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Photos of the 9 January fire first appeared on NYC Fire Incidents Facebook page. The shots of the initial hoseline stretch are quite good.

For use as a size-up discussion post, some images below can help. Here is the view (click on each image for a larger photo) once we enter the hundred block. Hydrants are on the left, one just behind us and the other at the end of the block. FDNY engine company policy is to not normally forward lay or 'lay in' to the fire. Instead, they 'back stretch', stopping in front of the fire building to allow members to pull off the estimated lengths needed and proceeding to the hydrant. As we will see at this fire, the hydrant was located almost directly in front of the fire building. This is also a one-way street in the direction we are traveling.

Approaching the scene, do we see anything that might give us concern for apparatus placement? If a truck company is running with us should it have entered the block first? Why or why not? What special instructions might be communicated to additional companies arriving?

Here we are in front of the reported fire building. During our approach, what type of building did we determine to have? How many stories? Should the number of fire escapes give us an indication to the number of apartments per floor? Fire a fire in the first floor commercial occupancy what will our line selection and number of lengths going to be? Note the fire escape directly above the entrance and the almost complete glass store front. Do we trust the drop-down ladder? Did you notice the child gates in the windows? How vital is it that the nozzle team should make a immediate push or 'open up' on smoke?

Photo courtesy of Ancient Cycles on Flickr.

Notice the roll-up gate and door hardware (that which is visible). It appears there is one locking device for the gate. The door looks 'simple' and the windows appear to be made to open outward. A transom also appears above the door. If this were an evening fire would we expect our truck company to have problems forcing entry?

Photo above is from NYC Fire Wire on Facebook. See more here.

Suppose we are not in this specific setting - will our staffing on the first two pieces of apparatus allow for simultaneous forcible entry and a hoseline stretch? Will our staffing dictate what we do first? Where will our ground ladder placement be if we have people on the fire escapes? Now look at the videos below.

How would you describe this smoke condition in your preliminary size-up; light? heavy? moderate? Does it matter? Notice the fire escapes on the Exposure 4 or Delta side. Should we expect a different layout or apartment configuration on the floors above? The truck arriving is likely Ladder Company 104. If your first due truck company is approaching from a different direction, what pertinent information do they need to be aware of? If the truck company is approaching from the same direction (the direction of the one-way street) what must the second due engine do before taking its position?

The next video looks to be after the knockdown. I've looked and have found nothing in-between the two. It still appears to be a one line fire, but that is an honest guess with limited video. Where would your second line go? What is the amount of smoke still venting telling us? We see that the second due truck, Ladder Company 108 is on the scene. Where should you expect the second due truck in your area to operate if this was your fire? Suppose both truck companies arrived at the same time - how would assignments be covered in your area? Suppose you are given the rapid intervention assignment at this fire; what is your size-up and action plan?

Take time to look at videos in the way presented here - not critiquing the actions of the companies shown - asking yourself, 'what if we had this fire?'

This fire was held with the companies on the box alarm and an extra engine and ladder. Battalion 35 had command.


Source: NYC Fire. Images not directly noted are courtesy of Google maps and YouTube


Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

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Narrow streets make apparatus placement tough - no escape from potential collapse zone if things get completely out of control. Plan for that early just in case. Give all apparatus a way out. Also take into consideration possibility that closest hydrant could become unusable in a worst case.  Moderate smoke conditions, growing worse, requiring immediate attack upon arrival. Certainly would evacuate the entire building (manpower intensive). Second line to the apartment directly above as a safety during investigation of possible extension. This could simply be the second due company taking a line off the first engine. RIT team directly in front of fire is good so they can observe smoke conditions as well as personnel entering and exiting the building. Since you mentioned the escape ladder I might have a ladder placed on the escape landing - probably would be sturdier than the existing ladder. If any personnel working in other apartments to the right I'd throw a ladder to each apartment.

I live in a sparsely populated area, so I'm not tuned in to truck company ops. I would guess perhaps a second truck company could take the lead on searching and evacuating the building's upper floors.

Thanks for posting, Bill. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I will chime in.

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