One of the most challenging aspects of being a firefighter is that no two fires are exactly alike. Although each call brings a unique set of trials and circumstances, there are certain general categories into which a fire can fall. Within these categories, first responders must be prepared to follow certain protocols and strategies that have been found to be the most successful. One of the most common types of emergency calls is structural firefighting. Read on for a basic overview of what it is, what it entails and how firefighters can prepare themselves for success.
What Is Structural Firefighting?
The image most people have of fighting a fire is a crew rushing into a burning building with ladders and hoses at the ready. This is the simplest definition of structural firefighting.
However, beyond deploying firefighters to a structure fire, there are many ways to handle this type of fire depending on the specific situation. Certain building fires may call for a more aggressive approach, for example, while others may be better served by a containment strategy.
Structural Firefighting Strategy and Tactics
One of the most important jobs that must happen as soon as a team arrives on the scene is to determine the firefighting strategy. The two basic types of strategies are offensive and defensive. The latter focuses on preventing the fire from spreading to surrounding buildings, while the former aims to put the blaze out as quickly as possible. This is typically achieved by running hoses into the burning structure to attack the seat of the fire. Offensive attacks are high-risk and generally only come into play in instances where the threat to life and high-value assets is imminent.
Structural Firefighting Gear
Some of the most crucial equipment that is unique to structural firefighting is apparel. Turnout — or bunker — gear is specially designed to protect first responders from the intense heat and flames they are likely to encounter inside a building. Unlike fighting a wildfire outside, crews have no choice but to come dangerously close to the fire when inside a structure. In addition, respirators and visors help protect them from smoke inhalation and keep soot out of their eyes.
In terms of the tools used to fight structural fires, firefighters typically carry axes to chop through doors and assist windows to provide a means of escape for anyone trapped inside. Positive pressure ventilation (PPV) fans also serve a crucial role after the fire is extinguished, removing smoke and contaminated air from inside to assist rescue and recovery efforts.
Every fire presents a specific set of challenges, and structural fires can push firefighters and their tools to the limit. Although the skill and courage of first responders is paramount, having the right equipment is another critical component of success.
BlowHard Fans has extensive expertise developing and manufacturing PPV fans that help crews do their jobs as effectively and safely as possible. We offer a range of powerful, portable fans that departments across the country count on to support their work. To learn more, get in touch with us today.