Bending the Rules of Water

Ray McCormack

Applying water to a fire is different from applying water on a fire. Building fires exist in defined spaces and often extend from them as well. The introduction of fire streams to building fires to knock them back, knock them down and extinguish them, demands targeted water placement for a specific duration.


Water application from a building’s exterior through an opening, such as window or door, is an example of a vertical surface breach. The stream’s shape may be tight, or cover the opening, depending on the user’s choice. It may move about or be held steady; It may strike upwards towards the ceiling, or downward on the window frame. The stream may be aimed straight ahead hitting whatever surface is opposite it’s entry point, or it may be placed far away so that it falls inside, having reached the end of its break-over cycle.


We have many ways to attack from inside the space as well: Your stream can be pointed upward, downward, side to side, bounced or moved in a pattern. Nozzle movements have a greater chance of being blended together inside, because you are usually on the same level as the fire. You can more easily judge what what stream movement is required at certain times and locations. Exterior water through an opening, by it’s very nature, is restrictive.


The current fire environment affords us the same stream options as legacy fires; however, we now know more about our streams’ deflection traits than before. Paying attention to how water works inside is something all firefighters need to know. 


We must remember that the ability to collect available information and form it into a class is readily available to anyone who wishes to pass on the latest stuff. Passing it on is not enough when dealing with firefighting.
I have used simple hallway props for years to show how different streams and their placement impact the interior, firefighting and safety. Attempting to replicate exterior stream techniques on interior firefighting is a dangerous tactical error that firefighters need to know how to avoid. 
While water doesn’t bend around corners, it’s effect can come close if you throughly understand interior fire attack and stream deflection. 

Keep Fire in Your Life 

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