Indoor Video of a Catastrophic Fire Event

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.

FlashoverTV is powered by FireRescue1.com

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

3 Comments

  • Medic999 says:

    As you know, I am not a Fire Fighter and never really want to be. Watching stuff like that is what makes me appreciate what you guys do. Over in the UK there is a wedge the size of the Atlantic ocean between EMS and the Fire Service. We see then sitting on station all day doing pretty much nothing other than training a bit and relaxing whilst we run calls all…..day….long!

    However, not enough of us (i.e. ambulance staff) realise what it would be like to actually have to go into something like that shown in the video. The vast majority of us would be running in the opposite direction!!

    As to what type of CFE it is?

    I would guess that it is the type that I will stay as far away as possible from!!

  • Tom Allen says:

    There was a seperation here in the States until the 70's. That's when we started to cross train firefighters to do EMS and train the EMS members to be firefighters. Most larger cities were the last to do this and I think New York City is still seperate. The fire service saw the opportunity to strengthen their position and numbers by taking over EMS. Here everytime a new job comes up the fire service says we can do that, is haz mat, highrise and below grade rescue, rescue diving and who knows what else. You are in a tough spot by being overworked with calls while the firefighters sit there waiting for their next emergency. If the two services were to consolidate you might have to join their ranks and become a firefighter and it sounds like you don't want to do that. I have no answers just observations…have a great day, Tom

  • Tom Allen says:

    There was a seperation here in the States until the 70's. That's when we started to cross train firefighters to do EMS and train the EMS members to be firefighters. Most larger cities were the last to do this and I think New York City is still seperate. The fire service saw the opportunity to strengthen their position and numbers by taking over EMS. Here everytime a new job comes up the fire service says we can do that, is haz mat, highrise and below grade rescue, rescue diving and who knows what else. You are in a tough spot by being overworked with calls while the firefighters sit there waiting for their next emergency. If the two services were to consolidate you might have to join their ranks and become a firefighter and it sounds like you don't want to do that. I have no answers just observations…have a great day, Tom

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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago

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