The importance of opening walls and ceilings to search for hidden fire seems to be neglected in today’s fire service.  Yes, it certainly comes after effective line deployment and search, but aggressive interior hooking is often the key to fire extinguishment and though it seems counter intuitive, it saves far more property than it damages.  In staffing starved areas, consider calling additional units just for this task.

There are two primary goals: one, expose and access active fire to facilitate fire attack.  Fires that cannot be attacked cannot be extinguished.  Too many times I’ve seen active attic and cockloft fires with engine companies trying to fight narrow, rickety steps as their only path of attack.  Pull ceilings in multiple rooms and employ multiple handlines.  Fire you can’t see is very difficult to flow water on. Open it up!  But be sure to coordinate and have lines in place before exposing too much fire. 

Two, expose embers to facilitate final extinguishment. The lack of aggressive overhaul is the largest contributor in re-kindles, and re-kindles are often more damaging than the original fire. Smoke damaged drywall is certain to be replaced by the homeowner.  Pull it down and make sure the fire is actually out so they have a home left to replace it in. The bulk of the damage is done.  Don’t shy away from opening it up.

Like all skills, it must be trained on. Take advantage of acquired structures for this and make it a regular part of your truck company gameplan.  It’s vitally important.

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