Occupy Wall Street

Ray McCormack

For firefighters, occupying interior space is the goal. We occupy interior space to safeguard egress, provide extinguishment, and to rescue occupants. We use walls to guide searches, to use as location markers and to provide cooling when hit with a stream. When the engine is able to apply surface cooling to walls, this will aid our forward advance. 


While air flow rates don’t vary greatly with differing nozzle advancement techniques, surface coverage can. Not all application techniques are equal. Some use an upside down ‘U’ for water application, or as I like to call it, a lower case ‘n’. I prefer a circular nozzle movement. With a circular stream motion, we can also pick up the floor – That’s a bonus over the n method. 
The proverbial long, hot hallway may not be in everyone’s repertoire, however, shorter versions exist everywhere. You often have choices on how to progress toward the fire room. Some will flow while moving, some will stop and flow, and some will attempt no flow at all. The last choice gets riskier, the closer you get – Learn how to ‘know when to flow’. We are worth a few gallons of water. 


Flowing the line on the hallway walls provides at least twice the surface coverage of the ceiling. We now have three surfaces resisting flashover. The upper portion of the hallway walls, in addition to the ceiling, is where our steam has its biggest impact. With a circular stream motion, we can also pick up the floor. That’s a bonus over the n method and adds the final surface to be cooled to prevent flashover – The new fire tetrahedron. Floor temperatures directly impact firefighter safety. Picking up the floor on your advance reduces the chance that its heated state will contribute to flashover. There are other reasons to sweep the floor as well. Got any favorites?


Applying water to walls that are not radiating heat back because they are distant has little value. Approaching a second floor, front room, adjacent to the open stairway, calls for a narrow circular stream motion. A wide circle or standard n places water on the far wall or stairway adding little value. Instead, focus on the room ahead, cool the close wall and floor using a tighter method. 


Walls provide more than directional guidance, they provide flashover protection, but only if you wet them. Advance along the hallway wall opposite the fire room and you will get water in the room earlier even in a narrow hallway. Rolling out the red carpet of water in the hallway pays a dividend of safer passage. Invest in your stream and Occupy Wall Street.


Keep Fire in Your Life

Next: Draining Lines – Lifting Spirits

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