why do so many firefighters die in building fires ?, dangerous practices or just unlucky?.

Am I right in thinking that you guys open up the roof and ventilate buildings when you have guys inside searching and fighting the fire?. Is that how the two Houston lads died because the fire intensified very quickly when fresh oxygen was introduced?. Now please don't think I sit here in judgement, I just don't understand why you guys lose so many firefighters. The agressive ventilation tactics just dont happen in my country. If anyone was to open up a roof while a fire raged below and there were guys fighting the fire/searching in the building,then they would be sacked. Maybe we don't understand your tactics,but it just seems a very dangerous practice. I would like your thoughts on this topic please,because every week I see there are more dead firefighters.

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First, you VENT.
Second, you ENTER.
Third, you SEARCH.
You have a water supply ready to go.
I will not speculate as to what happened in Houston. All I know at this point is that two brothers died and I will wait for the report.
Thanks for your reply. I was going by what I have seen on that 'firehouse Boston' program on tv,and like I said,I don't know your tactics,that is why I started this discussion, and on that tv program they were clearly venting whilst others were inside the building. Now if that is the case, then they were going against what you have said is the way it should be done. It is a tragedy that the two Houston lads died,i am just trying to understand your way of firefighting,and I will await the report.
While I understand your question, it is a little premature to suggest that aggressive ventilation, attack, or S & R played a part in the recent events in Houston. There are a lot of rumors floating around about why this occurred from overly aggressive tactics to equipment failure, and there are some things suspected. What I can tell you is the City of Houston is preforming a very aggressive and in depth investigation along with the State Fire Marshal's Office, and the National Institute of Occupational Health, and withholding comments until after the investigation is completed.

Another area which may impact different tactics from one country to another is building construction. There are a lot of structures which have had been remodeled 3 or 4 times, had additions added which are not apparent until after the attack has been started. The common use of lightweight constructions methods in the US probably have more to do with injuries and deaths than ventilation tactics.

While I am no authority on firefighting tactics, in the many years in this business, I will tell you there is a definite advantage to proper coordinated ventilation with an interior attack. When done properly, the escape of heat and gasses to expose the seat of the fire, allows for a rapid search for victims, and property conservation.

Are there times when we don't apply tactics correctly, yes. Does this kill or injure firefighters, most definitely. Looking at the statistics, we do have issues which are killing and injuring our people compared to other countries, but I for one am not yet ready to strictly prohibit the practice of ventilating.
thankyou very much for your reply. Your input is much appreciated so I can get an idea of how other country's work. I can only go by how we do it here in England and by how I see you guys (USA), do it on tv/internet. I agree about proper ventilation and its merits and Just to be clear,I didnt mean it to sound like thats what could have happend in Houston as clearly, no one could know,unless you was there,what happend,but from my side, yet more lads have died and it seems like it happens near on every week.
Here in Finland, we have about 17,000 house fires per year, in those fires there´s approx. 100 deaths of occupants.
Firefighter has died last time at 1999. In industrial fire, in his first fire call after getting his smoke diving certificate.

Injuries every now and then. I remember from last year in my town, that 3 vollies were taken to hospital to checkout, broken ribs and hearing loses from exploning butane tanks,cuts and bruises in interior firefighting etc.

We do use aggressive ventilation and aggressive searching for victim tactics. I´ve been trained in that way.

Here is in use strict building laws and regulations. Every new building has been trough Fire inspectors office, where buildings drawing been chacked for fire safety. When making additions to older house, same bureaucracy.
I think a huge difference between our countries is building materials.

From my time in europe I cant think of any wood frame homes. I am sure there are examples, but for the most part in congested areas the dominant material is stone. I am sure there is wood in the buildings, but I would wager most 100 year old row houses are heavy timber on the inside.

Our residential structures to include apartment complexes are for the most part 2"x 6" and 2"x4" frame and wooden siding, thoe many of todays homes are sheathed with modern flame resistave materials.

So collapse and fire load are factors that could be a major cause of our LODD fireground deaths to be higher per capita.

Just my 2c...
This writing in professional firefighting and structural english is pain in my a***, hope you guys get my point :)

Some sort of summary on my point of view.

Most firefighter fatalitys what i´ve read here and around internet is caused by collapsing structures and getting jammed inside the fire

- Bad luck.. maybe.
Don't sweat it wayne, this is how we learn. My short tour of duty across the pond was in the 70s, so I also learn how things are done over there today.

Finn Volunteer makes another good point about building codes in his country that we (mostly rural areas) in the US probably don't have. I know that until 5 years ago, the county I live in didn't have a standardized code. They have since mandated the International Building Code, but that is only for commercial structures. Residential buildings are not nearly as regulated. I can truthfully say that there are some areas of this country where they are practically non-existent.

I think the responses you've gotten so far show that it's probably not a single issue which is causing deaths, but a lot of factors coming together at the same time.
In one family residential buildings you can by eye sight say:
"This kind of wall prevents fire at least xx-time, or this type of door will hold back at least xxx-time"
Windows are always double- or triple screens, so they won´t break suddenly and make suprise flashovers.

Benefits of this standardization. Down side is costs.

Building even a small house ( 150m2/1614 square foot ) will take 200,000 up to 300,000 euros´s, including property where you wan´t to build.
once again chaps,thank you for your input. yes we do have bricks and stone with heavy timber construction over here with double glazed windows which can offer up some scary backdraught situations, and thats how its allways been. some of Our buildings are built to last because they have been around for centuries. I guess in the USA you have a lot of wooden structures and a lot of brick in the older towns/cities,so you get a mixture of both,and wooden structures can collapse suddenly without warning. Cheers guys and I think that there is no one answer. Take care out there.
Let me start by saying whatever the circumstances behind the tragedy were I am sorry to hear about the loss of fellow firefighters in Houston.
People can speculate at practises especially regarding venting at incidents, who can say if it is 100% wrong or right?

I think personally that ventilation at certain incidents can be pro-active, however at certain times it can also be detrimental therefore it becomes a judgement call after risk assessment.

I hope that after the investigation is carried out, that learning points for Houston will be established and if improvements to any safety practises are identified, I hope they will be implemented to stop this happening in the future.

As an incident commander myself I would risk assess the situation before I decided to commit any of my crew into a buliding (property can be rebuilt)

We will risk our lives a little to save savable property

We will risk our lives a lot to save savable life

We will not risk our lives where property or lives are already lost.


Rest in peace Firefighter Damien Hobbs and Captain James Harlow
Why do so many firefighters die in building fires?

Could I suggest lack of situational awareness and perhaps issues with education (Structure types, construction types, risk management, etc), is a major contributing factor in many instances? (Dare we reignite the interior attack debate again???!!!)

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