Monday, October 26, 2015

The SLICE - RS Side Show

THE SLICE – RS Side Show
  Since our tax dollars seem to be continually doled out to private corporations that are driving the fire training agenda, I thought I would give some of my own personal opinions on where this well intentioned program is helping fire departments, and state fire academies take the easy way around fire training.

  After I was invited to audit a beta run of the Modern Fire Behavior class I began considering all of my previous conclusions and instincts of the current ISFSI steps to fighting building fires. I have been studying and practicing the basics of this subject for the last 20 years and my conclusion is that this new way of doing business is missing more than it is contributing. In addition the public relations campaign from ISFSI is a disaster. The continued inference that if you disagree with them, then you are a dinosaur and a zealot against science is harmful to the job. Examples also exist of the fire industry wagging the fire service for new gadgets and gizmo's that are conveniently available and marketed with the backing of SLICER science.

  More context of the bigger picture includes a couple details concerning the funding of these programs. Nothing nefarious there but something worth noting. $618,000 was awarded to fund the Spartanburg South Carolina live burns as well as cover the 100 classes made available to the 50 state fire academies. I don’t know what the cost for the live burn exercises were but the rough math leaves at least $10,000 per state academy for this 30 some slide power point and other UL content. Hmmm. The state academies have the prerogative to add to the ISFSI PowerPoint but there are the core must have’s such as the SLICE_RS video and description.

  Next, If you have written for a grant then you know the hoops to jump through to get a grant can be many. One of which is having your proposal pass the Criteria Development Panel (CDP).  If you look at Appendix B - Application Guidelines and Program Priorities, The members of this panel include the NFPA, IAFF, NAFTD, and the ISFSI. I’m wondering if the ISFSI recused itself on the recommendation of them receiving the grant money. Hmmm.

  The slide show is a side show. Back to one of my earlier point’s considering the ISFSI hostile attitude towards those who do not share their view point. A Paul Combs illustration was used 3 different times in the less than 40 slide presentation. The picture shows 3 “traditional Firemen” speaking negatively of the Modern fireman writing on a white board. His notes include “Exterior streams don’t push fire, coordinate ventilation, and SLICE –RS”. This in your face approach came after the first slide which listed the “sponsors” of the program, The DHS-AFG, ISFSI, the Ohio Fire Academy, Honeywell and Blue Card. The next slide was the disclaimer we have been seeing everywhere from UL which reads “we aren’t telling you to change the way you do things, but you should see the scientific evidence.” So here is the double speak and the epicenter of the mixed message from the ISFSI.

Image from Google, Paul Combs
  The next slide of content included a mention of the NIST study regarding the benefits of the proper size firefighting crew, and how appropriate manpower make all the difference for efficiency and safety. ( )
 Funny how that study doesn’t get the airtime that ISFSI/UL one does. I wonder why that is?

  Next up was the video series of a guy with a UK accent explaining how smoke is fuel. Ya thanks, but I would rather listen to Dave Dodson explain it “chap”. There was no mention of Jerry Knapp’s work on nozzles moving air or the pending interior attack study. May I suggest you look at Knapp's work in this month’s Fire Engineering…

  I wonder if the ISFSI will get a grant to teach us how to flow and go if it is found to be better for the survivability of people in a burning building? Hmmm.

  After another reminder from Paul Combs I was shocked at the outright arrogance of this presentation. Pictures of F/F Louis J. Matthews of Engine 26 and Anthony Phillips from the Cherry Hill fire in DC, 1990, are shown with the title: “These men died doing what they were trained to do”. This is fear based propaganda using the persuasion of loss and scarcity. No specific detail listed of course, and if you look at it on the surface then yes they were firemen that were working a fire, but to indict them and the DCFD as negligent or reckless is in poor taste to say the least. 
  If that wasn’t insulting enough, the description of a flow path was illustrated with a vented miller lite can. That image was titled as the fireman definition. Very classy Columbus…. Well done.

  There was much missing from the presentation and I will get to all of them by the end of this editorial but as far as the overall message there was 1 glaring omission. It is one that is missing from every conversation concerning UL, SLICERS and hitting hard from the yard. That little fact is that none of these have brought attention to the fact that 80% of fire fatalities are due to inhalation injuries, and lowering the temperatures from an exterior stream has not been proven to improve survivability for trapped occupants. The overriding message is that the lower temperatures are “SAFE for firefighters”.

  Another notable “update” from the original message @2010 was the quote from Mr. Buchanan that “This is all about hitting it hard from the yard.” I was happy to see that gem missing, but the inference that the “safe location” to cool the fire area is only from the outside is loud and proud. There was no qualification or example shown of a stream being played from an approach hallway, stairway or adjoining room. The only visual example was exterior hose streams. Some were deployed past the front door, and the side door, to the rear of a house and then played into a second floor window. Don’t be confused though, the next slide says you don’t always have to do this from outside! My slide would say “Ladders go outside, hoses go inside whenever possible gentlemen.”

  My vocabulary was re aligned to include “Flow Path” rather than air tract. The recognition that high pressure systems look for low pressure areas, kind of like smoke lifting and pushing out of an opening, and that there is a “neutral plane” you know, where hot and warm air is not mixed yet. Kind of like thermal planes or balance, I don’t know it is complicated…

  In a general summary I would conclude that this application of science is to weaken your mindset when going to a building fire. The emphasis is not on expecting victims or difficult fire situations. The first arriving company using this model as an operating platform will be flat footed when the fire is not obviously showing or if the victims are demanding to be thought of first. All of this in the context of a federally funded program that is being force fed to the fire service culture that varies widely from urban to rural makes me wonder if the tail is wagging the dog.
  My Next Posts will be tackling the acronym on where it robs it’s users from embracing the basics of the job. Of course those are predicated on putting the civilians and their stuff at a high priority so some may differ in opinion on their sequential merits. Stay tuned.
 Image from Google, ISFSI

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