By Skylar Barti and Georgia Rios
The Los Angeles County Fire Department conducted a live fire training Sunday morning to reinforce how to work in and on top of a burning building.
“A developer approached us and said he was going to tear down this house, so we saw an opportunity to burn and do some live fire training which is rare these days, explained Captain Randy Perry, training officer of the north region. “So this gives us a unique opportunity because we can do roof operations on a real roof.”
More than 50 fire personnel participated in the training,coming from six engine companies and two truck companies,all from the Santa Clarita Valley.
The firefighters burned an 800 square foot home on a fifteen thousand square foot lot off of Valley Street in Newhall, starting at 9 a.m. and going until noon.
During the training, firefighters used a series of approaches in how to put out the fire, depending on how much smoke, intensity of the flames and location in the home.
“Usually the lieutenant commander will make a determination in if we’re going to fight this fire by interior if its safe enough, or if it’s beyond where we can’t fight it from the inside, we’ll go defensive mode,” told Perry. “So that’s what we’re doing, we’re practicing offensive mode with a coordinated attack with the people who cut a hole in the roof, the truck company, so all the hot air and gases will escape the structure and make it more tenable for the firefighters to go in with their hoselines.”
Additionally, the training also helped newer firefighters get hands-on practice with home fires.
“This is good training for our newer firefighters to recognize signs of flashover, which is usually a roll over, where the fire starts rolling over their head. So we teach them proper nozzle technique, the signs to look out for, the smoke and how they can read the smoke with the velocity, density and color. We are also teaching them flow path, which is different ventilation techniques to opening different windows and how that will affect the fire” told Perry.
As the fire roared out of the windows of the home, firefighters were positioned at the base of the home, as well as on top of the roof, challenging them to work together using a variety of tools, all while smoke billowed around them.
For the firefighters on the roof, they worked to see where the roof was secure, and where to cut a hole into it.
“You can never trust a roof, so they’re making sure that roof is secure for them to walk on, so they’re banging on it with their tool, before they step onto that next step, to make sure that its secure,” said Perry.“We teach them how to read roofs in different building constructions, so they go up there and try to figure out where the rafters are and cut a small hole to see where they are so they know what they’re walking on. That’s what they were doing with the sounding tool, they basically cut a four by four hole…then they wait and when the interior guys say they’re ready to tackle the fire, then they’ll punch the ceiling because there’s still that drywall ceiling, and let all of the fire gasses out which will make it easier for them to see the fire and put it out.”
The public was notified about the training through various social media posting that told residents not to be alarmed about the smoke they would be seeing emerging from the building while the training was being conducted.