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Video close call: Lessons to learn from box truck fire

The firefighters in the following video are punished for not following the basics

A box truck fire in Athens, Ariz., last month put firefighters in a dangerous situation because of poor initial size-up and rig placement.

We are taught early on in the academy that size-up starts when the call goes out. We are taught to practice continual size-up and have situational awareness.

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Without these critical components and a basic understanding of fires we will continue to place ourselves in compromising situations.

En route, continue your size-up and plan a safe attack method and approach. Typically on arrival, vehicle fires are a total loss.

Unless the vehicle is occupied there is absolutely no reason to put firefighters in a position of unnecessary dangers and risks. Vehicle fires are not the fires in which to play hero at.

On arrival, remember the importance of rig placement. Understand the ramifications of wind on vehicle fires as well as changes in elevation.

Changes in elevation at vehicle fires can be dangerous for the following reasons:

  • Fuel spills compromising firefighters or apparatus
  • Hazardous liquids compromising firefighters or apparatus
  • Vehicle can lose brakes or not be in park, compromising firefighters or apparatus

Wind direction can impact:

  • Smoke direction
  • Exposure Risks
  • Fire spread

Knowing the changes in elevation and the wind direction can assist you in allowing the apparatus to be positioned in a safe location.

This placement will also allow firefighters to advance the line downwind and downhill to help limit inhalation and spill hazards.

The firefighters in the video above are punished for not following the basics, but were thankfully not hurt. Use this video as a training tool to limit unnecessary risk and exposure in your department.

Jason T. Poremba is the owner and creator of His ‘Close Calls on Camera’ section on FR1 won Best Regularly Featured Web column/Trade category in the 2009 Maggie Awards, which honors the region’s best publications and Web sites. Jason is a 14-year member and captain in an engine company of a volunteer fire department in New York. His specialty training includes rapid intervention, firefighter survival and engine company operations. He has developed a way to train firefighters via the Web in the dangers of firefighter close calls, and dangerous training and firefighting procedures.

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