I’ve read about and heard from a few firefighters who have told me that they were in a room which flashed.
The mere fact that they are able to relate such an experience is almost always a clear indication that a flashover did not occur. Certainly some type of catastrophic fire event (CFE) took place, but in all likelihood, no one survives a flashover and lives to tell about it.
So what happened?
A trick question that always gets my students is: Does it really matter what type of CFE it truly is?
The answer is hell yes! Why?
If we want our crews to survive, we need to constantly be aware of the what’s going on inside the burning box we’re crawling through. Different CFE’s give different clues as to what will be occurring next. Recognizing these clues will make the difference between crawling out of the structure, or being carried out by your brothers.
In the spirit of training, here is a cool video (from fireman985 over at FireRescue1.com) of a catastrophic fire event taken from five feet outside the door of the room. Watch it closely as it develops, then make your guess as to what type of CFE it may be.
Above all, learn to recognize these clues and keep your brain engaged constantly next time you’re crawling through that burning box.
This is a flashover as viewed from 5 ft away from the doorway. The fire was allowed to continue on purpose to achieve the flashover. I captured the footage with my special camera. A secondary smoke explosion in the attic blew two sheets of tin off. I use the footage for training. Hope you can use it for instruction as well.- fireman985