Four Elements of Building Construction that Impact Fireground Operations

Date: July 20, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Most firefighters spend a fair amount of time studying building construction in the classroom before they embark on their first mission to extinguish a building fire. However, knowing how to evaluate building construction, and actually evaluating it as a part of a fire search and rescue operation, are two different things. Firefighters must be able to quickly assess the following construction characteristics of a building, among several others.

Floor Construction

Slow, long-burning fires and fires that burn extremely hot for a short period of time are known to weaken floors in buildings and cause them to collapse. However, the threat of a collapsing floor ultimately depends on how the floor is constructed. For example, a concrete floor that is filled with rebar would typically be less likely to collapse than a tile floor that wooden trusses support. Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service covers the subject of floor construction in-depth.       

Wall Construction

Like the floors beneath your feet, walls in burning buildings can collapse unexpectedly. The material from which the walls are constructed have a major impact on whether they will fall or stay in place. However, understanding wall construction is good for more than keeping firefighters and evacuees safe. It is also essential for assessing how easily a wall could be demolished to assist with the rescue effort. Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service covers the topic of wall construction.       

Rooftop Access

If a building offers easy access to the rooftop, it isn’t uncommon for occupants who are located on upper floors to go there and await rescue. Unless firefighters check an easily accessible rooftop, they risk overlooking evacuees and contributing to fatalities. By the same token, firefighters may direct evacuees to the roof for aerial rescue if normal evacuation is impossible. Read Brannigan’s Building Construction for more on the subject of roof construction.       

Exit Stairwells

Also known as “emergency egress paths”, exit stairwells are the routes that building occupants travel to exit a structure in the event of a fire or other catastrophe. For firefighters, one of the main goals of firefighting missions is to move evacuees through exit stairwells as quickly as possible -- a task that requires knowing the number of exit stairwells and their exact locations.  

Start Studying Today

Understanding building construction is an essential aspect of conducting successful fireground operations. If you need to gain a better understanding of building construction for fire fighting , Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service contains the information you need. We also recommend purchasing the study software based on the latest edition of this book, so you can test your knowledge. Visit us online and place your order today.

Responding to Terrorist Events: How Hazmat Workers Make a Difference

Date: July 20, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Hazmat Workers

In recent years, the world has witnessed an unprecedented uptick in terrorist attacks, many of which are conducted on a small scale or a medium scale at the local level, and involve insidious biological and/or chemical agents of one kind or another. When terrorist events involve these destructive substances, hazmat workers play a significant role in responding to the events by performing the following incident management techniques that help protect life and property.

Hazmat WorkersIdentifying the Agent of Attack

In order to effectively deal with a chemical-based terrorist attack, hazmat workers must determine what chemicals are involved in the event -- the Hazmat Chemistry Study Guide includes a comprehensive list of common chemicals and steps for how to deal with them. After hazmat responders determine the agent of attack, they are perfectly positioned to carry out the following three steps of managing the incident.   

Establishing a Safety Perimeter

The type of agent that is used in the attack has a significant bearing on the circumference of the safety perimeter. For example, if volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are involved in the attack, the safety perimeter is likely be quite expansive, as VOCs tend to vaporize at room temperature, and cause injuries by wafting through the air, where they are unwittingly inhaled by onlookers.   

Neutralizing the Agent of Attack

Using a reference book such as the Hazmat Chemistry Study Guide can assist hazmat workers with developing a plan for neutralizing the agent of attack. Depending on the substances involved in the event, neutralizing them can require an extensive effort, with the goal being to keep the area of attack as safe and functional as possible while neutralization is performed.     

Defining Clean Up Operations

Hazmat WorkersFor the sake of filing the proper insurance claims in a timely manner, parties that are victims of the attack must have a complete understanding of what must be done to make their properties as safe to inhabit as they were before the catastrophe. Hazmat responders can assist with this process by developing incident reports that outline what measures must be taken and why.      

Interested in Hazmat Operations?

If your career goals include becoming a hazmat worker, Firebooks has the educational resources that you need to perform well in the classroom and during real hazmat incidents. One such resource is the Hazmat Chemistry Study Guide. Because terrorist events commonly involve hazardous substances that hazmat responders must evaluate and contain, hazmat workers are often some of the first responders to terrorist incidents that greatly threaten life and property.  

To start on the exciting career path of becoming a hazmat worker, visit the Hazmat section of our online bookstore and check out the Hazmat Chemistry Study Guide and our many other educational resources for this special line of work. Start studying for hazmat operations today!

What Are the Job Duties of a Pumping and Aerial Apparatus Driver/Operator?

Date: July 02, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Pumping and aerial apparatus drivers/operators play a special role in the fire department. They use their skills to extinguish fires and perform fire rescue operations that occur on the upper floors of large residences and buildings. If you are interested in pursuing the position of pumping and aerial apparatus driver/operator, reading Pumping & Aerial Apparatus Driver & Operator Handbook will provide you with the information you need about the job duties of the position.

Operate the Pumping Apparatus

The pumping apparatus delivers water or other fire extinguishing solutions through a hose that extends the length of the aerial apparatus. Operating the pumping apparatus involves specific duties, such as selecting the right extinguishing solution, selecting the right pressure reading for the solution’s dispersal, and shutting down the pumping apparatus after fires are extinguished.

Operate the Aerial Apparatus

Operating the aerial apparatus also involves a specific set of duties, including: extending the apparatus to the best position for extinguishing fires, extending the apparatus to different levels of the affected structure to rescue occupants and bring them to safety, and expediently shutting down the aerial apparatus after the firefighting mission is complete.  

Maintain Aerial and Pumping Apparatuses

In addition to teaching to you how to operate aerial and pumping apparatuses, Pumping & Aerial Apparatus Driver & Operator Handbook addresses maintenance operations for the equipment. To cut costs, many fire departments prefer to have the driver/operator maintain the equipment instead of outsourcing maintenance operations to a third party service provider.   

Perform Search and Rescue Operations

As mentioned above, pumping and aerial apparatus drivers/operators may be required to use their skills for search and rescue missions that involve fireground operations. Search and rescue often requires the driver/operator to use a different aerial platform than one that is strictly intended for firefighting. The driver/operator should know how to select the right platform.    

Stay Up-to-Date on Applicable Laws

As a pumping and aerial apparatus driver/operator, you would need to remain current on federal, state and municipal laws that govern the use of your equipment. The administrative side of the fire department may provide you with information regarding new legislation and how it impacts your firefighting role, or you may be required to procure this information on your own.   

Pursue Continuing Education

Throughout your career as pumping and aerial apparatus driver/operator, you may need to pursue continuing education requirements to keep your driver/operator license in good standing with the municipality you serve, and learn about the latest strategies for using pumping and aerial apparatuses for fire extinguishment operations and search and rescue operations.  

Is This the Right Job for You?

If you are considering becoming an aerial apparatus driver/operator, you should know about the duties you would perform before you decide to move ahead with your studies. Available from Firebooks, Pumping & Aerial Apparatus Driver & Operator Handbook provides all the information you need about the job duties of the position. Order your copy of the information-packed Pumping & Aerial Apparatus Driver & Operator Handbook from Firebooks today!

Unified Command: What Types of Situations Result in Multi-Agency Responses?

Date: July 02, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

The term multi-agency response refers to an emergency response effort that involves more than one organization. For example, a major explosion in a building often entails an immediate response by firefighters, police, hazmat crews and EMT crews. How well these agencies work together in the response effort is determined by the concept of unified command, which refers to a set of command protocols that helps to organize and expedite a multi-agency response effort.

Situations That Involve Multi-Agency Response

There are several types of situations that can result in a multi-agency response. Below, we look at some of the most common situations that require the response of multiple agencies to the site of the event. For more detailed information about how to handle these situations in terms of providing unified command, order the Mastering Unified Command DVD from our online store.

Severe Storms

Severe storms that negatively impact a large population typically require multiple agencies to the site of the event, which can be rather broad. For example, firefighters may respond to the event to put out fires, EMT crews would respond to treat the injured and transport them to hospitals, and police may respond in order to help control the social disarray that the event precipitates.    

Multiple Driver Auto Accidents

Auto accidents that involve one or two drivers can typically be handled by police and EMT crews. However, multiple driver accidents that involve a pile up of wrecks on the roadway can also require the response of firefighters who are trained to use vehicle extrication tools, and the response of hazmat crews, if the accident involves vehicles that carry hazardous substances.

Large Chemical Spills

Large spills of hazardous chemicals always demand the response of hazmat crews, but they can also require the response of firefighters and police to extinguish chemical-based fires and establish a safety perimeter around the area of the event, respectively. The Mastering Unified Command DVD addresses multi-agency responses to chemical events, in addition to others.  

Fires Involving Multiple Structures

Fires that involve multiple structures often require the response of more than one fire department to control the fire quickly, assist with the evacuation process, and help prevent casualties due to fire, smoke or botched evacuation operations. Multiple structure fires also demand the response of EMS crews, and may require police response to help bring order to the resulting social chaos.    

Need Advice on Unified Command?

If you serve as a decision maker for your organization’s participation in multi-agency response efforts, you should have a firm understanding of unified command to ensure that your agency fulfills its duties and helps other agencies fulfill theirs. This is exactly what Mastering Unified Command DVD prepares you to do. If you need advice on participating in multi-agency response events, order your copy of Mastering Unified Command DVD from Firebooks today.

Firefighting 101: What to Look for in a Firefighter’s Exam Prep Resource

Date: July 02, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Over the course of their career, many firefighters take several types of exams, including: class exams, certification tests and promotional tests. The exam prep resources that firefighters need to pass these milestones naturally depend on the exam in question. However, there are certain features of study resources that should apply to all cases. Regardless of why you need an exam prep resource, choosing one that has the following characteristics is highly beneficial.

Hundreds of Questions

Because firefighting exams can be quite comprehensive, especially when they deal with a specific subject area, such as introduction to fire origin and cause, using a resource that has hundreds of questions is only sensible. Not all of the questions you answer may be on the exam, but knowing how to answer them can help to benefit your performance in field operations.    

Cross-Referenced Answers

The questions in your study guide should be cross-referenced with the parent text from which information for the answers was taken. For example, our exam prep resource is cross-referenced with IFSTA's Introduction to Fire Origin and Cause, 4th Edition. Cross-referenced questions help you gain a better understanding of the subject matter.  

The Latest Information

Studying for a firefighting exam is similar to studying for a graduate school exam. The scope of the test differs from year to year to provide the most up-to-date information, and to ensure that the previous round of test takers don’t provide the next round of test takers with answers. Ideally, you should choose a study resource that was published in 2014 or 2015.  

Computer-Based Format

An exam prep resource that is computer-based (e.g., CD-ROM format or flash drive format) allows you study for exams by using a computer interface to answer practice questions, which can make it easier to study while on the go. Many computer-based study resources also give you the option of printing out questions to help simulate the classroom test taking environment.

Approved by Instructor

Before you invest in a study resource for introduction to fire origin and cause or another subject, it’s a good idea to ask your instructor whether the exam prep resource you plan to use would prepare you for the exam you will take. Some instructors go the extra mile and suggest exam prep resources. Even when they don’t, it is still a good idea to ask for a recommendation.

Need Exam Prep Resources?

If so, check out our great selection of test study resources. In our inventory, you will find exam prep resources that focus on everything from introduction to fire origin and cause to driving and operating pumping and aerial apparatuses. What’s more, many of our prep resources come in DVD format or flash drive format, allowing you to use them on your home computer, laptop, and smart tablet. Visit Firebooks today, and order the exam prep resources you need to succeed!

Firefighter Books for Pleasure Reading: Four Titles You Shouldn’t Miss

Date: July 02, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

As an industry-leading supplier of educational resources for firefighters and firefighting instructors, most of our books pertain to firefighter education. However, we also stock a great selection of firefighting-themed books for pleasure reading. Whether you are a firefighter who enjoys reading about your occupation or a non-firefighter who likes to read about firefighting topics, check out the four titles below that offer hours of information-packed pleasure reading.  

1. I Can’t Save You But I’ll Die Trying

I Can’t Save You But I’ll Die Trying contains essays about firefighting operations and philosophy that have been collected over the course of several years. Packed with more than just entertaining stories, I Can’t Save You But I’ll Die Trying takes a serious look at the elements of firefighting from a philosophical perspective that encourages positive change in the industry.    

2. New York’s Bravest

Unlike I Can’t Save You But I’ll Die Trying, New York’s Bravest intertwines tons of compelling photos with blocks of text to tell a story in pictures. Since the terrorist events of 9/11, the New York Fire Department has become synonymous with bravery in the face of adversity. A great choice for a coffee table book, this text covers eight decades of New York firefighting in photos.

3. Memoirs of a Volunteer Firefighter

Most of the entertaining stories we hear about firefighting come from professional firefighters and other personnel in fire department. If there is one type of firefighter we seldom hear stories from, it is the volunteer firefighter. This is one aspect of what makes Memoirs of a Volunteer Firefighter so interesting. Based on years of experience, the author speaks to the challenges and rewards of being a firefighting volunteer.

4. WTC: In Their Own Words

More than a decade after the terrorist events of 9/11, the catastrophe remains one of the most talked about ones in the field of firefighting. WTC: In Their Own Words records the perspectives of firefighters who participated in the search and rescue effort after the twin towers were attacked. If you are interested in 9/11 from a firefighting perspective, this is a book you should have in your collection.

Like to Read About Firefighting?

If you find the subject of firefighting as engaging as we do, you are sure to enjoy our diverse selection of titles that offer firefighting-themed pleasure reading. The titles above are just a few of the books we carry that fall under the umbrella of pleasure reading. To learn about our other interesting titles, visit the Customer Favorites section on the homepage of our website today.

Forensic Fire Scene Reconstruction: Benefits of Using Laser Scanners

Date: May 29, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Photo: Menkes

After a building fire is extinguished and building occupants have been evacuated, fire scene investigators perform forensic fire scene reconstructions to determine how the fire started, the manner in which it spread, and the damage it caused, among other concerns. In many cases, laser scanners can assist with forensic fire scene reconstruction by providing the following benefits.

Highly Accurate Data

A laser scanner works by projecting a thin laser beam that bounces off of objects and is registered by a sensor in the scanner. The scanner detects the 3D coordinates of objects and environments by directing multiple laser beams at the target and measuring how long it takes them to bounce back to the sensor.

From a distance of several yards, the best commercial laser scanners -- which can cost upwards of $100,000 -- can record physical dimensions within a range of less than 1 millimeter.    

More Investigation Time

A laser scanner can be used record the physical dimensions of the fire scene. In addition to reproducing an accurate representation of the general scene using 3D coordinates, it can also record the presence of small objects, such as knives and drinking glasses.

Ultimately, using a laser scanner to create a digital record of the fire scene gives fire investigators more time to study the scene. After a fire damaged building has been declared off limits, fire investigators can have the luxury of studying the scene using laser scanning data.

Collects Overlooked Evidence

Fire investigators only have so much time to perform forensic fire scene reconstruction at the burn site. Consequently, it is not unheard of for investigators to overlook evidence that is physically minute or does not seem to have anything to do with the building  fire.

By recording the 3D coordinates of a fire scene, a laser scanner creates a point cloud that allows investigators to view the fire scene from different angles, and review any physical objects that may have been overlooked, and have suddenly become important to the investigation.  

Creates Animations of the Fire Scene

After it records data, a laser scanner is commonly used to create 3D animations of crime and accident scenes to show how events occurred. It can also create animations based on fire scene data. Because the scanner records precise 3D coordinates, the point cloud can be used to create computer animations that show exactly how an event occurred.

Data is Easy to Archive

Photo: David Munniaux

The forensic evidence that laser scanners record can be conveniently downloaded to a high-density compact disc (CD) that takes up less room than paper records. The evidence in the point cloud can also be stored in onsite data silos or outsourced to a managed storage provider.

Finding a reliable format in which to store laser scanner data benefits fire departments in two ways: it prevents data from being destroyed by a disaster that destroys the IT system, and, when it is outsourced, it can free up space that was previously occupied by large data silos.

Need Help With Fire Scene Reconstruction?

If so, using a laser scanner to record the 3D coordinates of a fire scene, and then using the data to create a mathematically precise animation of how events occurred, may be exactly what you need. If your department doesn’t have room in the annual equipment budget to purchase a high-end laser scanner, it can outsource laser scanning to a laser scanning company.  

To learn about additional resources for forensic fire scene reconstruction, contact Firebooks. We carry a variety firefighting books that help fire scene investigators perform the their job as efficiently and thoroughly as possible. Visit our online bookstore and check out our titles!

Pre-Hospital Treatment of Fire Victims: A Checklist for EMS Workers

Date: May 29, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

It would be wonderful if firefighting operations only involved extinguishing fires. However, major blazes in occupied buildings commonly involve the emergency care and transportation of the sick and injured.

Many firefighters possess enough training in search and rescue missions to provide a minimal standard of care for fire victims, but treating fire victims at the burn site is predominantly the responsibility of EMS workers, who can provide a high level of pre-hospital care by practicing the following measures when they treat fire victims.

Pull Victims to Reposition Them

When victims are unresponsive or unable to walk, firefighters and EMS workers should gently move them to safety by gripping their arms and carefully dragging them away from the danger. Using this method instead of attempting to carry the person’s whole weight can expedite the emergency care and transportation of the sick and injured.  

Remove Smouldering Clothes

In most cases, textiles only smoulder when they are on fire or retain remnants from the burn site, such as embers and fire. To prevent additional burn injuries, EMS workers are recommended to remove victims’ smouldering clothing in order to assess the true burn injuries of victims.

Avoid Rolling Victims on the Ground

Many of us remember the personal fire extinguishment method that we were taught in grade school: stop, drop and roll. While this strategy can extinguish flames, it can also cause more burn injuries, as smouldering clothes can transfer new burns to other parts of the body.

Cover Burn Injuries With a Blanket

After smouldering clothing is removed and the true extent of burn injuries are assessed, the victim should be covered in a blanket that keeps wind, rain and other factors from exacerbating the pain of fire injuries. Before victims enter the ambulance, the blanket should be removed.

Asses Victims Using the ABC Method

The ABC method refers to assessing whether fire victims have proper airway clearance, whether they breathe normally or display shortness of breath, and whether their circulation is sufficient. Applying the ABC method helps EMS crews better care for victims at the fire scene.   

Cool the Burns That Victims Suffer

There are several simple ways to cool burn wounds, such as dowsing them in cold water or using another non-flammable, clear liquid if no cool water is available, such as milk or a canned drink. Once they arrive at the hospital, victims will receive advanced burn care from physicians.   

Need Advanced EMS Training?

If so, visit Firebooks’ online store to find the education resources you need. We carry a variety of titles that assist EMS workers with the emergency care and transportation of the sick and injured. When EMS crews apply the measures above, it can minimize the pain of burn injuries, and assist the hospital emergency department with treating burn victims as soon as the arrive.

If you are an EMS worker in training that needs to learn about the emergency care and transportation of the sick and injured, visit our online store today and order the educational materials that you need to improve your knowledge of EMS work. If you need help selecting the right materials for your needs, just give us a call at (827) 727-3327 to receive assistance.

Building Construction for the Fire Service: How Construction Impacts Firefighting

Date: May 26, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Building Construction for the Fire Service

Building construction has a major impact on how firefighters battle building fires. Buildings feature different types of external and internal construction, and it is often the internal structure of a building that most determines how a conflagration should be contained.

In determining the best approach for extinguishing a fire, firefighters refer to five types of building construction that define building construction for the fire service: Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV and Type V. Each of these construction types is discussed in detail below.

Type I Construction

Type I Buildings (a.k.a. fire resistive buildings) contain a limited amount of combustibles. These materials typically consist of small elements such as wood trim and furniture. Because the buildings are largely fire resistant, firefighters can move through them with the assurance that fires will not develop in ceilings and walls, and compromise the overall strength of the structure.

Type II Construction

Type II buildings (a.k.a. non-combustible buildings) contain combustible wood trim and furnishings. They may also contain other combustible elements, such as non-load-bearing partition walls and wood blocking that supports cabinetry, railings, and other internal construction elements. In these buildings, firefighters must consider that a fire may occur inside the walls.

Type III Construction

Type III buildings (a.k.a. ordinary buildings) have exterior walls of masonry and contain combustible partition walls and load-bearing walls. The floor, roof, trim, and furnishings in these buildings can also catch fire. In these types of structures, firefighters must aggressively extinguish roof fires to prevent roofs from collapsing and potentially causing multiple fatalities.

Type IV Construction

Type IV buildings (a.k.a. heavy timber buildings) have load-bearing walls and exterior walls of masonry, and contain columns, beams, roofs, floors, trim and furnishings that are combustible, but not easy to ignite. In these types of buildings, firefighters must anticipate how much time they have to complete the firefighting mission based on the combustion rate of the materials inside.

Type V Construction

Type V buildings (a.k.a. wood frame buildings) can have combustible materials anywhere in the structure. Load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls may be combustible, as well as roofs, floors, trim, and furnishings. Due to their largely combustible construction, these buildings typically have a faster burn rate than the ones listed above, and often require the most aggressive firefighting measures.

Building Construction

Need to Learn About Building Construction?

If you’re looking to learn more about building construction, Brannigan's Building Construction for the Fire Service, 5th Edition, is a good place to start. In print for over 40 years, the classic text contains 14 chapters that address firefighting in terms of building construction.

Whether you are a veteran firefighter who needs to brush up on your knowledge of building construction or a prospective firefighter who must learn about building construction to pass exams, Brannigan's Building Construction for the Fire Service, 5th Edition, will serve your needs.

To learn more about building construction for the fire service, order your copy of this dynamic educational resource from our online store today!

Factors That Influence Vehicle Extrication Techniques

Date: May 26, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

Factors That Influence Vehicle Extrication Techniques
Photo: Hendrike

Firefighters use vehicle extrication techniques to remove crash victims from wrecked automobiles in an expedient manner. In order to do this, firefighters must know which type of extrication techniques and extrication tools to use for the situation at hand.

In many cases, deciding which extrication techniques and tools to use is based on at least five factors: the position of the vehicle, the make of the vehicle, its number of occupants, the condition of occupants and the presence of hazardous material at the crash site.

Position of the Vehicle

The position of a crashed vehicle has a major impact on how its occupants are removed. For example, if an automobile rests on its roof, it would be impractical and dangerous to attempt to remove occupants by cutting away the roof. By the same token, if the automobile is in an upright position, extricating occupants by cutting away the roof could be the best approach.

Make of the Vehicle
Photo: © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0
(via Wikimedia Commons)

Make of the Vehicle

The make of a vehicle also has a major impact on how crash victims are extracted. For example, there can be a big difference between removing crash victims from a passenger bus and extricating them from a compact car. Not only are different tools likely to be used in each situation, but the primary point of extrication may be different as well.

Number of Occupants

The number of occupants in a vehicle also has a bearing on which vehicle extrication techniques are applied. If a passenger vehicle is filled to capacity, firefighters must choose a point of extraction and extraction tools that will not jeopardize the condition of the occupants. In most situations, it is easier to remove a single passenger than it is to remove multiple passengers.

Condition of Occupants

The condition of a wrecked vehicle’s occupants determines how quickly extraction must be performed and which tools are used to perform it. When occupants are alive and in need of medical attention, the extrication procedure must be performed as quickly as possible. When occupants are fatalities, the timeframe within which they are removed may be less pressing.

Presence of Hazardous Material

Some vehicle crash scenes contain hazardous materials, the threat of which should ideally be evaluated by a firefighter that is trained for HAZMAT operations. When hazardous material is present, the primary goals of extrication are to remove crash victims without exposing them to the material, and to prevent the material from harming them while they are still in the vehicle.

Need to Learn About Vehicle Extrication?
Photo: ŠJů

Need to Learn About Vehicle Extrication?

Each year, U.S. firefighters perform thousands of vehicle extrication procedures to remove crash victims from wrecked automobiles. If you need to add vehicle extrication to your resume of firefighting and rescue skills, watch vehicle extrication expert David Dalrymple’s Fire Extrication DVD Series.

Each DVD covers essential techniques for vehicle extrication and rescue, including how to use the right extrication tools in the right situations. To increase your knowledge of emergency vehicle extrication techniques, order this information-packed series of DVDs from Firebooks today!

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