Last week’s fire on Parkland Avenue opened our eyes to a major concern at fire scenes in more densely populated areas; crowd control. A house fire is a spectacular scene, people cannot help but become drawn to it. Unfortunately this also causes issues for emergency crews trying to stop the fire from spreading and can be a danger to the crowd themselves. Most people recognize the dangers at a fire as heat, smoke and flames, however most don’t think about the dangers posed by the equipment used to fight the fire. Fire trucks are very large vehicles that are required to navigate in tight conditions, often with numerous people moving around. Add to that the adrenalin the firefighters are feeling and you can see how this can be a very dangerous situation. Even the hose lines themselves pose a serious threat. Hose lines when charged have been known to become uncoupled, whether it be a faulty coupling or simply human error by not ensuring the lines are properly connected, either way an unharnessed charged line can seriously injure or even kill a person. The couplings on fire lines are aluminum and the larger the line, the larger the coupling. In June 2008 this exact scenario took place in Boisbriand Quebec. A four inch diameter line connected to a hydrant became disconnected and the coupling hit a 75 year old woman killing her almost instantly. The dangers at a fire scene are essentially too numerous to mention or even imagine so it is imperative that people stay a safe distance away, but how far is a safe distance? I would recommend that if you are at a fire scene you should not be within 100 feet of any piece of equipment that is being used, this includes the hydrant that supplies the water to the scene. Also all roads should be kept clear to allow for additional emergency equipment to arrive or leave the scene as needed. By staying back from the fire scene you are actually helping us perform better, our crews and officers can fully direct their attention and resources to the task at hand without having to dedicate manpower to crowd control.
If by chance you do have a house fire in your neighbourhood there are a few items of concern you should be aware of. If the house is a direct neighbour you should also vacate your home in case the fire spreads. All homeowners within the vicinity of the fire should immediately shut all their windows and doors to avoid smoke entering their home. Finally maybe offer to help the affected neighbour, depending on the severity of the house fire they may have lost everything they own.
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