Fire and Water Damage



The amount of fire and water damage that occurs at a house fire can be greatly impacted by fire department operations. As a result, the goal of every fire department should be to limit the expenses caused by a house fire, if at all possible.

Note: Keep in mind that preserving property is certainly important, but our main goal is always life safety first and foremost.

There are two actions of fire department operations that can directly impact the amount of fire and water damage. These actions can be divided into two phases.

The first is the actual firefighting or actions necessary for extinguishment. The second set of actions are those that take place after the fire is out.

Let's take a look at the firefighting phase first.

Attack from Unburned Side

If at all possible, the fire should be attacked from the unburned side of the structure.

The rationale behind this strategy is that when the water is applied to the flames it will actually "push" the fire. Due to the force of the water as well as the air currents that are generated, the flames are pushed in the same direction as the flow of the water.

An example of this strategy would be that if the fire is located in the front of the house, say the living room, then fire crews should enter the back of the house to implement the attack.

When the nozzle is opened and directed towards the flames, the fire is pushed toward the front of the house. Since this part of the house has already been damaged (burned), there is less fuel to be consumed by the flames.

By forcing the fire away from the parts of the house that have not been burned, there is less fire and water damage.

Now, what if the reverse strategy were used?

What Not to Do

We will use the same example of the fire being located in the front of the house. However, this time, fire crews attack from the front.

Note: There is a great tendency to attack the fire from the side that is already burning. There are several reasons why this approach is so tempting.

First of all, it is a lot easier to stand in the front yard and squirt water through the windows. There is no need to drag the hose around to the back of the house and then crawl through the smoke-filled rooms to get to the fire.

Secondly, the "moth to the flame" effect is hard to resist. Once the fire is visible, the natural tendency is to go straight to it.

However, if this approach is taken, the resulting fire and water damage is greatly increased.

Once the nozzle is opened, the water and air currents force the flames into the back of the house. As a result, parts of the house that had not been burned are now on fire.

In addition to the added fire damage, there is also more water damage.

When the hose stream is directed towards the flames, the water does not just automatically stop when it reaches the fire. The stream will continue until it either loses pressure or hits something (like a wall or furniture).

Everything that the water comes in contact with is now damaged.

However, if the attack had been from the unburned side, then all the water would land on either areas that had already been burned or perhaps even exit harmlessly out the front of the house.

As you can see, this is one way that fire department operations can reduce the amount of fire and water damage while attacking the fire.

Proper Ventilation

A second way that fire and water damage can be reduced during fireground operations is through proper ventilation.

Proper ventilation not only cuts down on the amount of water and fire damage but it also creates a safer environment for firefighters.

By creating openings (windows, roof) super-heated smoke and gases can be ventilated out of the structure. When the amount of smoke and heat are reduced, firefighters are able to advance to the seat of the fire faster.

Since visibility is increased and temperatures are reduced, there is less "wear and tear" on the firefighters.

The advantages in reducing fire and water damage through proper ventilation are accomplished by two means.

The first is that since firefighters are able to get to the seat of the fire faster, there is less time for the fire to burn. The shorter the burn time, the less damage.

The second way that fire and water damage is reduced through proper ventilation is through lower temperatures. Obviously, the hotter the temperature the more the contents will burn or melt.

As you can see, fire and water damages can be greatly influenced by the actions of fire crews on the scene. Here are some pointers on fire department operations that can expedite the fire and water damage restoration process.

Firefighter411.com Home