Putting fire under pressureFirefighters got a hands-on lesson in physics this week in Superior’s North End.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Firefighters got a hands-on lesson in physics this week in Superior’s North End.
For three days, Superior Fire Department crews responded to the same call over and over – smoke coming from the two-story home at 325 Winter St. With hoses, gear and a new ally – air – they quickly put the fire out.
The house-burning scenario gave firefighters a chance to practice using positive pressure attack on fires. The technique relies on pinpointing the fire, creating an opening at a window and shooting air into the house with a fan to drive the smoke, steam and heat out that opening.
“We’re essentially telling the fire where to go,” said Battalion Chief Scott Gordon. Although the technique is not new, it is in Superior. It was first used last fall to put out a fire at the Moose Lodge. A month later, Superior Firefighters practiced the technique over and over again at the one-story home next door to this week’s demo house.
This week, the fire was located in an upstairs bedroom. For each scenario, firefighters opened the window of the bedroom with a long pole, simulating breaking the glass. They charged the hoses, set up the fan and then entered the house. Although it takes a few extra minutes of set-up time, Gordon said, using positive pressure attack decreases the amount of time it takes to get to the fire once firefighters enter a building. Because they’re going in on a lifeline of fresh air, they no longer have to crawl.
“They can literally walk right up to the fire and put it out,” Gordon said. With the smoke vented out the window, he added, fresh air gets to victims faster, too
“We can clear out the first floor in a matter of seconds versus minutes before,” he said, then proceed to the second floor and extinguishing the fire.
While one engine crew fought the blaze, another would stand upstairs near the fire to watch how the focused air attack flushed out the smoke and steam. As one firefighter said, “Seeing is believing.”
Because the firefighters are still getting familiar with the process, Gordon said, they appreciated the chance to practice it. Jeff Foster, who owns both homes along Winter Street, allowed the department to use them.
“We don’t have a training tower or anything here in town,” said Fire Chief Jim Rigstad. “When we get a building like this that’s available it’s really important to get out and be able to do that training and keep people up on the latest techniques and what our procedures are on fighting the fire.
“Keep everybody on the same page.”
Training took place Tuesday through Thursday of this week.