Performing overhaul at fires is a piece of the fire attack puzzle that requires attention to detail or bad outcomes will surface, afterwards; even small rubbish fires require a level of overhaul to be performed. The point of overhaul is to guarantee that our fire operation is complete. Leaving before every stone is overturned is leaving, too soon.
Point one: Do not be in a rush or lazy when performing overhaul. When we rush for spoken or unspoken reasons, it effects our attention span and how we function. You can’t rush overhaul. Doing it correctly takes not only the physical process, but the evaluation of damage and possible hidden fire. You can tell when overhaul was lazy by observing the amount of opening up that occurred in relationship to the fire damage.
Point two: Open up until you see clear space. Fires can work unseen, regenerating themselves slowly, as we work in other areas. When you open a space, open it up enough to observe the area fully until adjacent spaces are clear. Pulling ceilings is critical to observe possible fire extension. Ceilings are difficult to observe except for the bay that was pulled. Fire can extend beyond the original bays, so an extended space of multiple bays needs to pulled and examined.
Point three: Plan your overhaul. Pulling ceilings down on top of smoldering beds and furniture only sets us up for a rekindle and possible hidden victims. Extinguish the fire, do a search of the area and then perform overhaul. You can always pull the ceiling or other space to chase the fire. That’s not overhaul, that’s opening up for continued fire attack.
Point four: Civilians often see overhaul as excess damage. Explain to them that we must be thorough before we allow them to renter their home. We must assure ourselves that the fire is completely out.
Point five: Remember to save property before you start. Dumping a ceiling on a dresser full of family photos is something we can avoid with a mindful approach to our task.
Point six: Use a TIC to assist with overhaul on hidden hot spots. Remember, sometimes we chase steam and that’s okay; open up until all are satisfied and we can safely turn the home over to the occupants. Don’t add rekindle to your name.