Thursday, July 5, 2012

Journal Entry 18: Smash the Tactical Box

“We have fire in another mini tank farm”
By Ron Kanterman (7/5/2012)

Hope you summer is going well. On the LODD front, we’re not doing great. In my last Journal Entry (#17), we talked about seatbelts, speed and intersections. This is just one cog in the safety wheel. Hopefully you and your team mates have all recommitted to safety during the International Fire & EMS Safety week in June.

As I write this journal entry, I can’t help but have my thoughts with the brothers out west who are getting their proverbial asses kicked in the wild land. I was out in Colorado the third week in June teaching a class and was probably in the only town that wasn’t on fire, but you can bet all of those guys ended up traveling to a fire location. Hell, even guys from Delaware flew west. My “Back Step Boys” radio partner Tom Aurnhammer was teaching at the NFA for two weeks and in the true spirit of the American Fire Service, told me on the phone the day before he headed home to Colorado, “I’m chomping at the bit to get back and dig in.” Others not in our business are driving away from it. Tom was flying home to get in to it. Pray for rain and that all come home safely. Pray for those who haven’t come home, particularly the four National Guardsmen who perished in their C-130 transport.

Let’s briefly talk about smashing the tactical box. For one moment, let’s not get out of the box, let’s take it apart violently and with vigor. As most of you have seen by now, the FDNY is doing some tactical testing by lighting fires in acquired structures to study the heat release rate of materials and how to attack the hydrocarbon laden fires we have today. Those of us who have the opportunity to teach (and preach) have been discussing the new fires and the new fire loads for a year or three. I tell young firefighters in my classes, that they’re not going to my fires anymore. The heat release rate of the materials, the speed of flame propagation and the toxic by-products are all very fast and very new. The Smoke Coalition ( has published papers and DVD’s entitled “The Toxic Twins” meaning Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN). That’s a pretty good reason to wear your mask during a structure fire and right through overhaul, isn’t it?

Food for thought:
Knowing what we know, we may be bringing a pea shooter to a gun fight. Hey, we evolved albeit slowly and went from 1 ½” line to 1 ¾” line. Some even use 2” attack lines as well. With fires in “mini tank farms” (that would be today’s home or business full of hydrocarbon materials, e.g. plastics and like) should we be thinking 2 ½” for a few rooms of fire in a house? In terms of transitional attack, how about a shot of dry chemical in a window for knock down? How about a shot of foam (Class A or B) in the window for knock down. Stay tuned in to what New York is doing.  To read more tactical tips on smashing the blox at your next mini tank farm fire -- I mean structure fire -- CLICK HERE.
Be safe,
Ronnie K

PS-Just want to wish much good luck to Bob Colameta who left the Everyone Goes Home Program. Bob was the web site, resource administrator and “backbone” of the EGH program and a George D. Post Instructor of the Year for the work he did on the program. I’m sure we haven’t heard or seen the last of him. God speed big guy!