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Monday, May 25, 2015

Firefighters vent on Main Street


^ Lundbreck Station first responders - Duncan Gano, Aaron Layton, Kerry Smyke, Sandra Gano, Captain Anne Molnar, Kristy Stevens. Not pictured: Dawn Heerschap.


^ Beaver Mines Station first responders - #9 Captain Allen Tapay, #57 Greg Hession, #64 Kevin Kelly, # 44 Tom Judd, #56 Hawkin Everts, not pictured: Marg Cox, Steve Oczkowski

Toni Lucas

On Wednesday evening May 20 first responders from the Beaver Mines and Lundbreck fire stations came to Pincher Creek for a joint practice session with a rare opportunity - a building that is going to be demolished on Main Street Pincher Creek.  They focused on venting.  Venting a structure properly can help contain and direct a fire.  If venting is done improperly it can speed the destruction of a property.


Hawkin Everts demonstrates checking a roof to see if it's safe to walk on
Beaver Mines Captain Allen Tapay said "The whole idea of cutting a hole in the roof is that 2,000 degrees can't build up along the whole ceiling. It's going straight out."  They assessed the mock scene and discussed issues and decisions related to it, including how to set up ladders to reach a roof, how to check to see if an area such as a flat roof is safe to put weight on, where to cut a vent, and how to do it safely.  The roof may be compromised by the fire below, and because a new area is being created for heat to escape and oxygen to enter there is a chance of getting burned if it's done without due caution.


Captain Tapay talked about flash-overs.  "You get a fire going in there, it's unbelievable, the heat that will go along the ceiling,"  He said that if you have a sealed fireplace and have a number of logs it that are starting to burn and you see when all the logs start fire at once, "That's the flash-over.  It reaches a point where almost all the wood starts to burn at once.  What is happening is that's the flash-over.  Hardly anybody has ever seen that, and come out of that alive. It'll be 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit along the ceiling."



Tapay also explained how directing water directly on the fire can create problems. He said that running the water along the ceiling can help cool the room, and water turns to steam in the enclosed space.  "As it turns to steam, the volume of water  goes up something like 1,000% over the size it was originally.  But the thing is that we're cooling the ceiling off first, where the most heat is."  He reminded the fire fighters to never stand someone up if they are found in a fire.   "It may be 70 or 100 degrees down here,' indicating an area about two feet off the ground "but it might be 400 degrees up here (at his shoulder), because the heat is coming down from the ceiling and will just kill them anyways."

Kerry Smyke cuts a piece of OSB to cover the vent hole
Beaver Mines Firefighter Hawkin Everts shared a cautionary anecdote.  "Make sure it's venting, so the water and the heat have somewhere to go, because literally when they hit that fire (with water) it just exploded.  It was hot, it melted all of our helmets, lucky nobody got hurt."


Related stories:

PCES conducts smoke training exercise at abandoned Main Street house

Pincher Creek Emergency Services hosts barbeque and extraction demonstration

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