Wednesday, June 17

Of sprinklers and fog nozzles

A special welcome to a newcomer on the Mutual Aid Board, a new site I caught on day 1 following along on Twitter. has some great stuff so far, with just enough angst between the lines to have your old pal Happy grinning and giggling.

Giggling aside, attached to a good piece about the Mexico daycare fire is this great video about residential sprinklers. This should be required viewing for every municipality considering requiring the installation of the little life savers.

As I was watching it and marveling at the effort someone went through to build the prop only to light it off, the nozzle team comes in and makes me pause the video and rewind.
Are they still teaching this "cool down the ceiling with fog" stuff in fire college? Watch the video:

I posted a comment over at Fire Critic and wanted to expand on it here. I was taught more than a few years ago about cooling the ceiling with fog, then I had a chance to try it in a residential fire. When the darn thing kept burning I chose to aim the wet at the red and, wouldn't you know it, the air stopped burning too.

Perhaps fire works differently where you are, maybe I'm in a vortex, but watching the amount of steam that escapes this prop when hey "cool" the air takes me back to how hot that hallway got when I tried it for the last time 10 plus years ago.

Yes, yes, I know, the fire went out. My point being, has anyone else noticed that a smooth bore from a distance works better and removes this need to "fog above?"

I am curious to especially hear from Nottrainedbutwetryhard, Lt Morse and the Road Dr on this one, mainly because I think they show a nice cross section of both readers and departments. (I only know one of them, that'll do.)

To fog or not to fog, that is my question.


Anonymous said...

Definitely NOT to fog.

Yes, they still discuss cooling the hot gas layer in FF-I. Thankfully, it's not reinforced as much, and the use of the combination attack (T/Z/O patterns) is more heavily emphasized. Were it up to me, combination attack with the combo-fog would be second to direct attack with a solid-bore in many if not most cases, but discussing nozzle selection would be opening up a whole other can of worms.

Ckemtp said...

I like the combo nozzle on a just-fog (Really narrow fog pattern) for my initial attack. I never have jumped on the smooth-bore nozzle band-wagon. I figure that the combinozzle can be used for a wide variety of nozzle-related tasks and I'd rather have the versatility with me.

However, you break the thermal layering with it and it just plain hurts.

Interestingly, my department just did this exact demonstration last night. We passed a district wide residential sprinkler ordinance and need to get the local politcos on board. There's video iff'n yer interested

Music Medic said...

Happy: You'll probably be happy to hear that when I went through my Fire-academy, We were taught to use the fire's light for a quick search, and then NOT to use a fog pattern, Especially in this situation, but also to hardly use one at all inside because it disturbs the gases... There are of course times when it is needed and acceptable, However I completely agree with you. A smooth bore will put out the fire faster, and with less disturbance! GOOD POST!~!

The Road Doctor said...

As I have blogged about, I did attend FDIC, and I took "Engine Company: Combat Readiness" as part of my course work there.

The approach that was taught was still an indirect attack (water aimed at ceiling), but to do so w/ a smoothbore, or a combi nozzle on straight stream. The were VERY adamant against using a fog pattern inside ever.

On a personal level, I would choose a smoothbore over a combi nozzle for interior fire attack any day of the week..

Michael Morse said...

We switched to strait streams on our first attack lines a few years ago. We still have combo nozzles on some attack lines. I always went strait stream when I was on the pipe, and hit the seat of the fire. I'll never forget backing up a nozzleman during a residential, he was hypnotized by the flames as they roared across the ceiling. Then, after I bashed his helmet he decided to fog the ceiling. Barely secaped.

FireCritic said...

When I first watched it I felt as though they hit the fire just a little bit to knock down the fire and not disturb the prop as much as possible. I think they used this tactic to show on the video what damage was sustained by the fire. We all know they could have opened it up and washed everything out onto the pavement.

I don't think they wanted people to lose sight of what the purpose for the video was - the need for sprinklers.

However, your thoughts are right on target for actual structural firefighting. I have always put the wet stuff on the red stuff and gotten the job done.

Capt. Schmoe said...

I am old enough that I was taught never to fog the ceiling, as it was likely to disrupt the thermal balance.

We are now teaching our boots to pencil the smoke layer and see if any water comes down, apply fog to the layer only if you can't apply it to the seat of the fire and only enough as to not disrupt the balance.

I don't go in as often as I used to, but still tend to use the straight stream more often than not.

firefighter / paramedic said...

Yes aiming a fog at the ceiling causes a steam bath. we dont really teach that technique with the exception of preventing a flashover. Remember all that hot black smoke at the ceiling is FUEL. It burns (flashes) if it reaches its ignition temp. So if you picked up on the warning signs, and were unable to exit the structure I think this would be the only sane reason to cool the ceiling. Use whatever nozzle you have in your hand and a steam bath is better than a flashover. I am becoming a fan of smooth bores. Our engines have preconnects with both.

Firecap5 said...


If one of my guys starts spraying water at the smoke, he is going to get my Marine Corps Parade Ground voice in his ear!

As mentioned by Ckemtp, the very narrow fog, or near straight stream, seems to work well. Our methodology here at the mill is to get two guys on the pipe and an officer there with them with the TIC and go find the seat and put the dang thing out.

Going down ramps into conveyor tunnels and down 3 residential stories into an oil cellar with thick smoke pumping out of the hole is not the time to pussyfoot around and spray the smoke.

Of course the color and temp of the smoke could cause an adjustment. Oh, and as for penciling the ceiling. I like ot, it works to reduce the heat without broiling you like a lobster.