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Up in Flames: Firefighters adapt to fighting hotter, faster-burning house fires

Up in Flames: Adapting tactics to...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Materials used in modern home construction burn hotter and faster. It's more important than ever to have an escape plan should your house catch on fire.

It also means firefighters have had to adapt their tactics and training when it comes to fighting these fires.

A study by Underwriters Laboratory found that thirty years ago, you might have as long as seventeen minutes from the time the smoke alarm sounded until survival was impossible. Today that number is down to three minutes.

Firefighter trainees spend a lot more time in the classroom studying fire behavior. They have learned to be more efficient in many areas, from the way they dress to how they charge their hoses to how they conduct searches.

CSFD Training Officer Lt. Jason Buckingham says the average home burns about five-times faster now than traditional wood-frame homes of thirty years ago. Temperatures inside a burning home can reach 900-1,000 degrees and a firefighter in full gear can only last a few seconds in that environment.

Firefighters have gone from having eight-to-ten minutes from the time they open the door until they're putting water on the flames to now having less than three minutes.

A major tactical change fire crews have implemented is to start spraying water around the entire environment on their way to finding the fire, cooling the smoke and hot gasses to prevent them from re-lighting behind them.

Firefighters have learned how to fight fires more quickly and efficiently while keeping safety a top priority.

A final thought from the Colorado Springs Fire Department... make sure you have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every floor. Test them regularly and change the batteries, if needed, twice a year when the time changes.

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