I am continuing to publish the back log of articles that was printed in "Firefighting" magazine. This time we will cove January 2019 article. This article continues the fireground survival series and is the first article of two that covers the topic of flashover.
This article covers the topics of physics of flashover, why even most modern PPE does not allow you to survive it if you stay inside the compartment, why do we encounter flashovers more often in modern fires, what are the signs of imminent flashover and how you can learn these signs in flashover simulator. As the article is in Russian, I, as usual, will translate its most important points for my English-speaking readers.
- First of all, recall the research results that I have shown you in the previous article. 57% of all LODDs are traumatic in nature, of these 96% occur in combat and training, of these 60% happen during structural firefighting or structural firefighting training, of these the largest chunk – 33% are due to chaotic retreat resulting in loss of team continuity and spatial orientation, progressing to either panic or air exhaustion, progressing to smoke inhalation and resulting in death. So, if you look at the same statistics again, you will see that flashover account only 5% of traumatic LODD cases that occurred in structural firefighting or structural firegighting training. Much less than 33% of chaotic retreat. But this 5% number is constantly growing, so we must not ignore it.
- Most of my American colleagues know about flashover from their fire department training, so I won't bore you with repeating the definition and physics of this process. I will just remind you that your PPE is not designed to protect you in flashover, it will only give you limited protection for no more than 5 seconds. The only way not to die in the flashover is to get out of the room before it happens.
- Fighting a fire does not guarantee that the flashover won't happen. In some cases you can postpone the flash by applying water, thus buying your team enough time to get out, but do not expect the effect to last forever. Modern fire compartments with a typical modern fuel load are a very fertile soil for flashovers and the odds are against you.
- If your department does not use flashover simulator training, there is something wrong with your department and your training officer. Flashover simulator is the only way to learn what are the signs of the the imminent flashover and how to recognize them. Importantly, only pre-flash conditions should be demonstrated, never the actual flashover, while the students are inside of the simulator, or else there will be casualties.
If you do understand Russian, you can either download and save a copy of the article in PDF format or you can view it right here on this page.