Presentation on theme: "The ART of Reading Smoke"— Presentation transcript:
1 The ART of Reading Smoke This program was developed by Battalion Chief Dave Dodson, a 24-year Fire Service Veteran. It is offered as firefighter safety course. It may not be used for any resale or money-changing venture. The PowerPoint graphics were developed by Battalion Chief Mike Scott – most pictures are the property of individual photographers – respect their rights and don’t reproduce them in any manner.Developed by: Dave DodsonFE Story Board Dave Dodson
2 Why “Read” Smoke? To determine “HOW MUCH” fire FE Story Board Dave Dodson
3 Why “Read” Smoke? To help find the LOCATION of the fire FE Story Board Dave Dodson
4 Why “Read” Smoke? To help predict COLLAPSE potential FE Story Board Dave Dodson
5 Why “Read” Smoke?To help PRIORITIZE Strategies & Tactics
6 Why “Read” Smoke?To PROTECT Firefighters from a“HOSTILE FIRE EVENT”
7 The “ADVANCED” Basics Concept #1: Smoke is Fuel Gases Aerosols Particulates are suspended solids like carbon, dust, and fibers. Aerosols are suspended liquids like water, oil, tar, and creosote. Gases in smoke include Carbon Monoxide (under-ventilated fires), Benzene, Hydrogen Cyanide, and Acrolein (all flammable). There is more “stuff” in smoke than ever – these are just the biggies.ParticulatesFE Story Board Dave Dodson
8 The “ADVANCED” BasicsConcept #2: Fuels have changed: Mass and Make-up!Mass is fire resistance and time – lower mass means things heat up and off-gas quicker.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
9 The “ADVANCED” Basics Concept #3: Smoke has trigger points: Flash PointFire PointIgnition TemperatureFlashpoint and Fire Point require a spark or flame to ignite the smoke. Ignition Temperature means that the gases will self-ignite.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
10 The “ADVANCED” BasicsHow does “flammable range” factor in?
11 Flammable Range & the Three Fires Too Rich . . .Too Lean . . .Just Right . . .
12 The “ADVANCED” Basics Need to be able to determine... What stage is the fire in…Is the “box” absorbing heat? Laminar vs. Turbulent smoke flow
13 “ HOSTILE ” Fire Events Flashover Backdraft Smoke Explosion Rapid Fire Spread
14 FLASHOVER WARNING SIGNS: Turbulent Smoke “Rollover” Auto Ignition outsideSmoke –Cloud Ignition is likely after flashoverOften, a flashover cant take place because the mixture in a room is too rich to burn – opening a door or window can cause the flash…this is a delayed flashover, not necessarily a backdraft.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
15 BACKDRAFTRemember – Backdraft is triggered by O2 being introduced to a pressurized “box”Yellowish-grey smokeWhistlingBowing windows“Sealed” containersBackdraft and smoke explosion are still argued in the fire service. For understanding in this context, Backdraft happens when air (oxygen) is introduced into a pressurized, closed container that is above smoke ignition temperature.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
16 SMOKE EXPLOSIONRemember – A Smoke Explosion is a spark or flame applied to a mixture below its ignition temperatureTrapped gases in upper areasGrowing fireIncreasing smoke densityAir intake overtaking smoke exitingAgain, not to argue terms: Smoke explosion can be used to explain the event where trapped gases are not hot enough to burn – but a sudden introduction of a spark or flame causes the smoke to “pop.”FE Story Board Dave Dodson
17 RAPID FIRE SPREAD Usually “Container” Influenced Fuel for fire spread is smoke driven vs. contents surface flamingLook for fast-moving smoke in high pressure zones (stairs and hallways)If smoke is moving faster than a firefighter can – and ignites, the firefighter will be burned. Look for fast moving smoke in hallways and stairways, once it moves faster than firefighters, look out.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
18 “ Reading Smoke”Observations are typically made from outside - inside observations hide the “real” picture.
19 “ Reading Smoke” Nothing is absolute Visible FIRE is easy to read - look past it for the real storyCompare vent openingsFlames are at their “end-potential.” Smoke is the future of the incident – and gives you a better understanding of what the fire will do next.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
20 The ART of Reading Smoke A 4-STEP PROCESS to help predict fire behavior and hostile events
21 Step 1: Evaluate Key Factors VolumeVelocity (Pressure)DensityColorThe hardest thing about reading smoke is dropping “light and heavy” mentalities – and comparing the volume, velocity, density, and color of smoke coming from openings.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
22 VOLUME Always relative to the “Box” Tells “how much” fuel has off-gassedSets the Stage
23 VELOCITY (Pressure) How fast is the smoke leaving? Can indicate volume or heatHelps find the location of the actual fireVolume pushed smoke will leave the opening and slow down almost instantly. Heat-pushed smoke will keep its speed. The find the seat of a fire, look for the fastest smoke from like-sized openings or cracks.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
24 DENSITY Most Important Factor Quality of Burning Continuity of Fuel Likelihood of an event“Degree” of the EventIn essence, density tells you how bad things are going to be. VENT HIGH!FE Story Board Dave Dodson
25 COLOR Rarely tells “material burning” Stage of Heating Location of FireAmount of Flaming“Brown” Smoke“Black Fire”White and slow = early heating. White with speed = hot fire but the smoke you see has traveled distance. Black is late heating (hot). Black and thin means the fire is nearby. Black and thick means “Look Out!” Brown smoke is from the mid-late heating of unfinished wood (structural components?).FE Story Board Dave Dodson
26 “BLACK FIRE”“Black Fire” is the term we give to High Volume, High Velocity, Extremely Dense, Black Smoke.It is the sure sign of impending flashover – VENT & COOL are your only choices.
28 Step 3: Judge the Rate of Change How fast are SMOKE conditions getting better or worse?
29 Step 4: Predict the EVENT Consider that:One hostile event can - and usually will - lead to another event.Communicate your observations.Warning Signs are not always visual – use your KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE.TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS…
30 Some other “Tricks”When you open a door or window - watch what the smoke does – and what the fresh air does!
31 Some other “Tricks”A 5-second change in any key factor means an event has taken place – the key is to define what event has taken place and to forecast what will likely happen next.
32 THE ART OF READING SMOKE Add real video examples here. Find videos for purchase at , , , andSome ExamplesFE Story Board Dave Dodson
34 Special THANKS to: Mike Scott, Battalion Chief, Kent (WA) Fire David Ross, Chief of Safety, Toronto Fire ServicesPeter McBride, Shift Safety Chief, Ottawa FireMike Scott = made this PowerPoint (edited by Dodson). Dave Ross = encouraged development of this program and added technical background. Peter McBride = Serious Technical support and review.FE Story Board Dave Dodson
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