Firehouse

JAN 2017

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A6 l Firehouse l AIR MANAGEMENT AIR MANAGEMENT The cause of death was identified as thermal burns and smoke inhalation, and his carboxyhemoglobin level was 61 percent. Like many of firefighters, he ran out of air in a big box structure. Warehouse Fire — Kansas City, MO LODD: Battalion Chief John Tvedten On Dec. 18, 1999, Battalion Chief John Tvedten was assigned to the interior of a manufacturing and warehouse build- ing. The building was a 300,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, and Chief Tvedten was assigned as the chief to manage the interior operations at the incident. The strategy was declared as offen- sive, and Tvedten donned an SCBA and took his companies to the interior to locate and extinguish the fire. The fire was located in an area where large paper bales were stored and had sub- sequently caught fire. As time elapsed, the paper bales were causing the struc- ture to fill with dense white smoke. According to the NIOSH report, Kansas City, MO, firefighters battled the fire for approximately 52 minutes in the offensive strategy until the con- ditions deteriorated so much that both the IC and Chief Tvedten concurred in ordering a withdrawal of the struc- ture and declaring a defensive strat- egy. Despite the IC's radio order for evacuating, countless firefighters did not hear the order. Numerous firefight- ers ran out of air and became disori- ented in the large, horizontal maze and needed emergency assistance to escape. Chief Tvedten himself became dis- oriented, and he was extremely low on air while lost in the structure. He called for help, and his brothers and sisters responded. Despite the fact that he was in direct radio communication with the IC, and two rapid-intervention crews were assigned to locate him, the rescue attempts were met with no success. Both RICs re-entered the structure but ulti- mately ran low on air and were forced to exit without locating the victim. Additional RICs were put together as more resources arrived, and they eventually found Chief Tvedten roughly 90 minutes after the initial dispatch. He was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. His cause of death was asphyxiation. He too ran out of air. Rules of Air Management The doctrine that became the Rules of Air Management was the genesis of a few fire service leaders from Seattle: Mike Gagliano, Casey Phillips, Phil Jose and Steve Bernocco. They had a pas- sion for changing our minds about how we measure air capacity and how we deployed SCBA-reliant resources into a hazard zone. They ultimately changed our industry by preaching the impor- tance of air management throughout North America and by being pivotal in leading changes to NFPA 1404: Stan- dard for Fire Service Respiratory Pro- tection Training. Many of us learned from the "Seat- tle Guys" and adopted the Rules of Air Management into daily practice on the bread-and-butter house or apartment fires. Big box fires do not occur daily in any jurisdiction, and they are anything but routine. Expecting our firefighters to survive a working fire in a big box struc- ture equipped with only their SCBAs and a reliance on the Rules of Air Man- agement is a recipe for failure—and we can do better. We have to step outside the box, like so many of those before us in fire service history, and consider technology and a different method of delivering air to our workforce inside buildings like big box structures. The air supply standpipe The fire service is slow to adopt most tech- nological advancements that are brought forward until they are proven by years of experience, and even then we tend to be laggards (remember, many of us still wear helmets made from cowhide). Despite a significant number of fire- related tragedies experienced through- out the United States before modern fire protection systems, there were many in our field who were critical of the tech- nology until it demonstrated its effec- tiveness. However, fire protection sys- tems in North America protect millions of citizens and firefighters each day in areas where they are installed, without much consideration. Sprinkler systems, highly technical detection systems, emergency lighting and so many others are now consid- ered routine expectations for the public and those sworn to protect it. Those before us who advocated against the anti-sprinkler lobbies and wayward politicians trying to protect builders were early-adopters—they challenged the status quo and would not stand for lives being needlessly lost. Those early- adopters won several arduous battles and eventually convinced members of the fire service to embrace an expecta- tion of building fire protection systems. They won because they were persistent, demonstrated their belief through evi- dence-based research, and focused on a long-term strategy that permeated the innovation throughout all of the differ- ent sociological groups in our industry. Today, one of our largest oppor- tunities available to prevent firefighter deaths from large big box structure fires is the advent of a firefighter air replen- ishment system (FARS) that can be installed within all big box buildings. FARS is fundamentally an air supply standpipe that can be mandated for big box structures through the adoption of the 2015 International Fire Code, Appendix L Requirements for Fire Fighter Air Replenishments Systems. The code's principle is based on rec- ognizing the fire department's limited capability of replenishing firefighter breathing air during emergency opera- tions in these structures. Fixed FARS systems are installed to allow firefighters to safely and unfail- ingly refill SCBA cylinders deep within a structure where the transportation of air bottles becomes problematic. The installation of a FARS system in a big box structure will reduce the amount

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