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Garden Apartment Fires By Capt. David Polikoff. Objectives. Discuss construction of garden apartment Discuss tactics Discuss our rolls and functions on the fire ground Discuss command considerations. Overview. Building Construction Layout and Design Box Assignment Strategy and Tactics

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Garden Apartment Fires

By Capt. David Polikoff

Objectives l.jpg

  • Discuss construction of garden apartment

  • Discuss tactics

  • Discuss our rolls and functions on the fire ground

  • Discuss command considerations

Overview l.jpg

  • Building Construction

  • Layout and Design

  • Box Assignment

  • Strategy and Tactics

  • Command Considerations

Definitions l.jpg

  • Aggressive: moving quickly to accomplish a task. All the while keeping safety of you and your crew in mind. Aggressive firefighting is used in offensive or defensive modes.

  • Forceful

  • Hard hitting

  • Assertive

  • Unyielding

  • Attic: a story or room directly below the peaked roof of a building, especially a house.

Definitions cont l.jpg
Definitions cont.

  • Cockloft: structural space above ceiling and below rafters of a flat roof building, often connecting adjacent occupancies and permitting fire to spread laterally, often unseen.

  • Division: The organizational level that is responsible for operations within a

    defined geographic area, or with functional responsibility. Radio designation:

    Division xxx (Roof, Basement 1,2,3,4…)

Definitions cont6 l.jpg
Definitions cont.

  • Group: The organizational level that is responsible for a specified functional

    assignment at an incident, e.g., ventilation, salvage, water resources, etc. Radio

    designation: “specific function- (e.g., Salvage)”

  • Poke through: A hole or opening in fire stopping material

  • VES: Vent Enter Search

Key to success l.jpg
Key to Success

  • Aggressive Truck and Engine Work

    • Open walls and ceilings

    • Bring the correct GPM (min. 150 GPM), hose length and size

    • Put the manpower in the correct place

  • Plenty of Manpower

  • Understand how fire spreads in Garden Apartments

Keys to success cont l.jpg
Keys to Success cont.

  • Understand how Garden Apartments are built

    • Kitchens and bathrooms stacked on top of each other from the bottom to the top

  • Be prepared to stretch hose longer than 200 feet

  • Preplan your area

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Keys to Success cont.

Always check the attic/cockloft on any fire regardless where in the building the fire started. Do this to ensure no fire has entered the walls and is traveling to the overhead spaces.

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Keys to Success cont.

From this

To this

Building construction l.jpg
Building Construction

  • New vs. Old

  • Stack Design

  • Pipe Chases

  • Roof Design

Construction l.jpg

  • Buildings are usually

    • Wood frame

    • Brick veneer

    • Ordinary construction

    • Multiple buildings joined together

    • Common attic/cockloft

    • Lightweight building construction

      • Roof and floor

New construction l.jpg
New Construction

  • Lumber yards in the sky

  • Large open spaces

  • Large open cocklofts/attics

  • Light weight building materials

  • Light Weight Truss Construction

  • Wooden “I” Beams (with poke through in the web)

  • Energy efficient

  • Flammable exterior siding

    • Vinyl

Old construction l.jpg
Old Construction

  • Nailed roof systems

  • Masonry construction (brick and block)

  • Metal “I” Beams

  • Sturdy

  • Not as energy efficient

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Stacked units

  • Kitchen

    • Stove vents

  • Bathrooms

    • Plumbing drains

    • Vent stacks

  • Provides fire spread through convection and conduction

  • Same floor plan plus or minus bedrooms

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Pipe Chases

  • Run vertical and horizontal

  • Cut through fire stops

  • Cut through wooden “I” Beams

  • Provides avenue for fire and smoke travel

  • Provides fire spread through conduction and convection

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  • Light weight truss

    • Fail very quickly

    • Gusset plates

    • Built off site

    • Each component relies on each other

  • Solid sawn wood

    • More solid than truss

    • Solid wooden beams

      • Sometimes larger than 2x4

    • Built on site

Roof cont l.jpg
Roof cont.

  • Eaves

    • Direct access to the attic for venting fire

  • Loads on roof

    • HVAC

  • Plywood

    • Burns very fast as it delaminates

  • Flat

  • Pitched

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Roof cont.

Gusset Plates

Truss Construction

Pitched Roof

Broken Truss Component

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Roof cont.

Stairwell Hatch

Flat Roof

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Layout Of Building

  • Side “A” vs. Side “C”

  • Kitchens

  • Bathrooms

  • Hallway

  • Building Access

  • Building Size

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Side A vs. Side C

  • What are the differences

    • Number of stories

  • Access

    • Truck Company

  • Laddering

    • Ground

  • Rear entrance

  • Terrain

Kitchens l.jpg

  • Same from bottom to top

  • Fire travel

  • Extension

  • Overhaul

Bathrooms l.jpg

  • Same from bottom to top

  • Fire travel

  • Extension

  • Overhaul

Hallways l.jpg

  • Side A

  • Enclosed

  • Open

  • Court yard style

  • Foyer style

    • Typical layout

Hallway cont l.jpg
Hallway cont.

Foyer Style

Most common

Enclosed Hallway

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Hallway cont.

Court Yard Style

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Fallout Shelter Sign

Hallway cont.

Is this old or new construction?

Open Stairs no hallway

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Building Access

  • How does it sit

    • Shotgun (sideways)

    • Rear facing

    • Up stairs

    • Down stairs

    • Across a bridge

  • Distance from curb

    • Pre-connects

    • Leader line

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Building Access

Down Stairs


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Building Access

Side C


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Building Access

Across a bridge

Building access33 l.jpg
Building Access

200 feet pre-connect lines will not get there

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Building Size

  • Small older building

    • Small hallway

    • Small entrance

  • Large newer construction

    • Long hallways

    • Large lobby area

One building

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Our Box Assignment

  • Minimum of 26 people

    • 5 Engines

    • 2 Trucks

    • 1 Rescue Squad

    • 1 EMS unit

  • Behind the “8 ball” from the dispatch

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Apparatus Placement

  • 1st Engine secure water supply

    • Side A

  • 2nd Engine complete water supply for 1st Engine

    • Side A

  • 3rd Engine secure 2nd water supply

    • Side C

  • 4th Engine complete 3rd engines water supply

    • Side C

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Apparatus Placement cont.

  • 5th Engine

    • Uncommitted

  • 1st Truck Side A

  • 2nd Truck Side C

  • Rescue Squad don’t block engines or trucks

  • EMS Unit Don’t block incoming units or hydrants

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Crew Assignment

  • 1st Engine

    • Size up side A

    • Fire floor attack fire

  • 2nd Engine

    • back up 1st engine Protect exits

  • 3rd Engine

    • Size up side C

    • Attack fire floor above or most threatened exposure

Crew assignment cont l.jpg
Crew Assignment cont.

  • 4th Engine

    • RIC

  • 5th Engine

    • Uncommitted

    • Report to the IC

  • 1st Truck

    • Ladders Ladders Ladders side A

    • Open up, vent and search

    • Report to the fire floor

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Crew Assignment cont.

  • 2nd Truck

    • Ladders Ladders Ladders Side C

  • Report to the floor above the fire

    • Open up, vent, search

  • Rescue Squad

    • Search, utilities assist Truck with opening up

  • EMS Unit

    • set up aid station become part of rehab

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Strategy and Tactics

  • Engine Company

  • Truck Company

  • Rescue Squad

  • EMS Unit

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Engine Company

  • Arrive on the scene


    • Leave room for the truck

      • Most ladders come off the rear of trucks

      • Pull past the address, or stop short if truck is coming from opposite direction (you can stretch hose not ladders)

    • Initial command Mode

      • Investigative

      • Attack

  • Crew Placement

    • Aggressive

      • Initial hose stretch

        • Leader line

        • Size of attack line should be based on the amount of fire

        • Protect the interior stairs

    • Work with the Truck Company

Engine company cont l.jpg
Engine Company cont.

  • Size up

    • Where is the smoke coming from

      • 1st floor and/or roof line

    • Color of the smoke

    • Smell of smoke (food vs. working fire)

    • Circle check

      • Nothing from front what about the rear?

    • Rescues

      • Front and/or rear

Engine company size up cont l.jpg
Engine Company Size Up cont.

  • Where is the fire going

  • Building construction

    • New or old

  • Interior status report ASAP

    • What you have

    • Are you getting it

    • Do you need more resources

Engine company cont47 l.jpg
Engine Company cont.

  • Hose line placement

    • 1st line

    • 2nd line

    • 3rd line

    • 4th line

  • Lines 3 and 4

    • consider another way into the building (ladder into window)

    • But avoid:

Engine company cont48 l.jpg
Engine Company cont.

  • opposing hose lines

  • fighting fire from an apartment into a hallway; may jeopardize the stairwell

  • Drivers

    • Ensure the hose is smooth from the engine to the entrance of the fire building

    • Monitor radio

    • Assist Truck driver with ladders

Truck company l.jpg
Truck Company

  • Placement on the fire ground

    • Type of apparatus

      • TDA (tiller)

      • Rear mount Stick

      • Rear mount Tower

      • Mid-Ship Tower

Truck company cont l.jpg
Truck Company cont.

  • Crew placement

  • Tasks

    • Ground ladders

    • Forcible Entry

    • Search

      • Vent enter search (VES) may be a consideration for heavy fire conditions

    • Get walls and ceiling opened up

      • Ensure there is a charged hose line

    • Check the Attic/cockloft

    • Overhaul

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Truck Company cont.

  • Aggressive work

    • Quickly, but with purpose

    • Get the place open for the engine

    • Get the place open (ventilation)

    • Get ladders in position to effect rescues (VES if applicable)

    • Make the building ready to enter

  • Bring the proper tools (all the time)

    • Open walls and ceilings

    • Windows

    • Doors

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Truck Company cont.

  • Size Up

    • Same as Engine Company

    • Give status report

    • Ladders

      • Where

        • Cover all sides

        • Drivers work together

      • What size

    • Where is the fire/where is it going

Truck company cont53 l.jpg
Truck Company cont.

  • Ventilation

    • Type needed

      • Vertical or horizontal

      • Coordinated with interior crews

  • PPV vs. Natural

  • When to vent

  • Where to vent

  • Drivers monitor the radio

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Rescue Squad

  • Unit placement

    • Does it need to be up front?

  • Crew Placement

    • Tasks

      • In a position to ensure all the searches are done

      • Sometimes the whole building

      • Utilities

      • Support Truck crew

        • Ladders

        • Vent

Rescue squad cont l.jpg
Rescue Squad cont.

  • Size Up

    • Same as Engine and Truck

  • Bring the proper tools (all the time)

    • Open walls and ceilings

    • Windows

    • Doors

Rescue squad cont56 l.jpg
Rescue Squad cont.

  • Rescue

    • Time of day

    • Size of building

    • Type of occupancy

    • Fire conditions

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EMS Unit

  • Unit placement

    • Well away from the front

    • Don’t block hydrants

    • Allow room to leave if you must

  • Crew

    • Set up Aid Station

    • Be the 2 out if designated (must be certified)

    • Full PPE and SCBA

    • Assist with hose stretch

    • Assist with laddering

    • Assist with vent

Ems unit cont l.jpg
EMS Unit cont.

  • Size Up

    • Same as Engine

    • Report changing conditions

    • Report location of Aid Station

    • Become part of Rehab.

Command considerations l.jpg
Command Considerations

  • Establish Command

    • Ensure PSCC announces your command and location

  • Utilize Site maps or preplans

    • Get them from your stations in your Batt. In advance

  • Ensure all units are in correct position per SOP

  • Call for RID

Command considerations cont l.jpg
Command Considerations cont.

  • Decide on incident action plan

    • Offensive

      • If decision is made to go offensive Allow crews to get in place and do the job

      • Get updates ASAP

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Command Considerations cont.

  • Offensive cont.

    • Ensure RIC is in place

    • Set up appropriate Group/Sectors

    • Set up appropriate Divisions

  • Defensive

    • Ensure exposures are covered first

    • Establish collapse zones.

    • Limit exposure damage

    • Ensure all sides are covered

    • Set up appropriate Groups/Sectors

      • Get up dates often

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Command Considerations cont.

  • More manpower

    • Taskforce

    • Extra alarms

      Establish appropriate Groups/Divisions

    • Get this done quickly

    • When referring to exposures use terminology set forth in Policy 20-02/NIMS (Exposure Axxx)

  • Maintain accountability

    • Use your Groups/Divisions

      • This will reduce radio traffic

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Command Considerations cont.

  • When giving orders ensure the receiving unit understands the order

    • Have them repeat your order back to you

  • Ensure your Group/Division Supervisors know who is assigned to them.

  • Ensure you get progressive reports continually

  • Ensure SOP’s are followed

  • Ensure there is minimum unnecessary radio traffic

    • Use other talk groups or Nextel to get info from PSCC

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Command Considerations cont.

  • As incident grows utilize other talk groups

  • Maintain a sense of duration in relation to fire volume and type of construction

  • Older Construction

    • Last longer than new

    • May sustain longer firefighting operations

  • Line placement

    • 1st to the fire floor

    • 2nd back up 1st line

    • 3rd floor above (consider other entry than front door)

    • 4th to attic/cockloft (consider the 5th Engine)

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Command Considerations cont.

  • Ensure crews operate aggressive

  • Ensure all crews have/use proper tools

    • Hand tools

    • PPE and SCBA

    • Engine crew

      • Using correct size line(150 GPM or more)

      • Ensure to get interior up-date ASAP

    • Truck crew

      • Open up

      • Vent

      • Ladders all over

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Command Considerations cont.

  • Rescue Squad

    • Utilities

    • Searches

    • Assist truck crews

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  • Building Construction

  • Layout and Design

  • Box Assignment

  • Strategy and Tactics

  • Command Considerations

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References Used

  • Street Smart Firefighting by Robert C Bingham

  • Building Construction for the Fire Service 3rd Edition by Francis Brannigan

  • Fire Officers Hand Book of Tactics 2nd Edition by John Norman

  • Truck Company Operations by John Mittendorf

  • Montgomery County Safe Structural Firefighting Policy 24-07

  • Strategic and Tactical Considerations on the Fireground by James Smith

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Photos Courtesy of

  • The Firefighters Page

  • Firehouse Magazine

  • Kentland Vol. Fire Dept.

  • Laurel Vol. Fire Dept.

  • Capt. Derrick Anthony

  • Beltsville Vol. Fire Dept.

  • Station 15 B Shift

  • Shawn R. Fitzpatrick Station 15