Recent training put to good use on Sublette County fires
‘Positive Pressure Attack’ training used on Cora Y home fire
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
January 8, 2011
On Monday morning, January 3rd, Sublette County firefighters responded to a blaze at a house at the Cora Y. Seventeen volunteers with units from Pinedale, Daniel and Boulder, along with Sublette County EMS and Sheriff’s deputies, responded to the scene.
The one occupant who was in the home at the time got out unharmed, thanks to a smoke detector which went off and alerted her to the blaze.
The cause of the fire in the two-story home is still undetermined, however is believed to have started in the kitchen area. There was extensive fire damage in the kitchen and smoke damage to the upstairs of the home. The home’s five occupants have been displaced until repairs can be made to the home.
Sublette County firefighters are all volunteers who give their time and energy to serve as firefighters in their communities, responding at a moment’s notice from home or work when a page goes out to respond to a fire. Last fall, local firefighters from all six county volunteer fire departments attended a firefighter training class which focused on "Positive Pressure Attack" (PPA). The course was a refresher for veteran firefighters and new training for volunteers who have recently joined the force.
PPA is a philosophy in dealing with the way firefighters approach fighting a structure fire. Positive Pressure Attack fights a fire by achieving effective ventilation and directing airflow during initial fire attack. The tactic is to use or create a vent location near the fire in the burning structure, then strategically position fans in the building to blow air to direct the fire and smoke in the direction of the vent hole. The technique encourages the fire, toxic smoke, and fumes to move in a desired direction out of the building away from any inhabitants and the firefighters who are entering the structure. Using the fans to create pressure differentials in the building, firefighters can decrease temperature in the structure and introduce clean, cool air into areas where a victim is located, leaving them in a much improved environment and providing increased visibility for rescuers to see the victim and fight the fire. PPA can be implemented by the first responding firefighters on the scene and has been proven to be an effective took to quickly knock down a fire.
In the case of the Cora Y house fire, Pinedale volunteer firefighters were quickly on the scene and implemented the PPA techniques. They closed windows in the house to reduce oxygen getting to the fire and used a fan to create positive airflow into their desired venting location.
Sublette County Fire Warden T.J. Hunt said he noted heavy smoke coming out of the side of the building as he approached the scene from Daniel as he responded to the fire. By the time he arrived at the home a few minutes later, the smoke was no longer visible. "It was like shutting the door," he said, explaining the Pinedale firefighters had closed the house up and set up the positive pressure fan, which quickly shut down the fire. Firefighters were paged out at 10:30am. The fire was knocked down by 11:07 am.
Firefighters want to remind the public to check the batteries of their smoke detectors twice a year, recommending in the spring and the fall. They credit the smoke detector in this home with alerting the individual in the house to the fire, possibly saving her life.
Sublette County firefighters have spent the past several years working to get funding to have a fire training facility built in Sublette County. In the past, volunteer firefighters have had to travel to facilities around the state to do hands-on training in controlled simulated structure fire situations. Having a facility in the county will allow them to train closer to home, as well as schedule training events firefighters from other areas would come for, benefitting the local economy for dining and lodging for those crews who participate in local training sessions. The new facility will be located near the Marbleton sewer lagoon. Construction will begin this spring.