Positive pressure attack

="CFB Esquimalt Firefighter"

CFB Esquimalt Firefighters take part in a positive pressure attack exercise at an empty house near Work Point.

Base firefighters assembled in Work Point two weeks ago to keep their much-needed emergency skills perfect.

Using a smoke machine to mimic a smoke-filled residence in an empty house near Work Point, the crew tackled a simulated emergency.

The technique exercised was a Positive Pressure Attack (PPA).

A PPA is a firefighting technique in which cool air is blasted into a burning building with a high powered fan.

This ambient air pressurizes the inside atmosphere while also reducing the inside temperature, increasing the chances for anyone trapped inside to survive.

Once the firefighters have created an adequate exhaust opening, the super-heated gases, smoke, and other combustible fire debris vent out of the building.

“Techniques like this can bring the heat in a building down from 1,600 degrees to 300 degrees in 30 seconds,” says Randy Morton, Battalion Chief at the CFB Esquimalt Fire Department.

“That makes it more survivable for occupants, and gives firefighters more time to get them out safely.

It also clears smoke and super-heated fire gases, giving firefighters a clearer field of vision as they advance into the hazardous environment.”

Breaching the entrance, firefighters moved into the building, and swept it for occupants and the source of the fire.

Within five minutes they completed a search of the entire structure, extinguished the fire, and exited with a mannequin in their arms.

“This is the kind of response I like to see,” said Morton during the team’s debrief.

“This was efficient, effective work. This is why we train to ensure procedures are followed, and a quick attack is provided without delay.”

This exercise and others like it are part of the department’s daily shift workday. Every 24 hour shift the department conducts an exercise.

“We don’t get calls every day, but it’s important for us to stay on top of our game,” says Morton.

“Working in a marine environment means there are many more hazardous situations, considering our industrial setting. It’s important we’re well versed in all of our trade disciplines.”

Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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