Controlling the Path of a Fire
Our office recently got a call for a fire damage job in Arlington, MA. I was eager to tag along with our production manager, Chris Mack, to photo document the work from start to finish. The fire began in a first-floor kitchen as the result of food on the stove igniting. The damage was extensive in the kitchen, which was to be expected, what was unexpected was the damage done above the kitchen. As I explored the second floor I noticed a lot of damage had occurred in the bathroom directly above the stove. The interesting part was the bathroom sink, toilet, and wall looked as though they had been destroyed by a heavy object. Chris explained this was the work of the fire department venting the fire upwards. I also thought this was odd as there was very little smoke, soot, or fire damage done in the bathroom. So what is venting and why did it need to be done in this home?
Venting is all about controlling the path of the fire and smoke. As a fire grows, heat and smoke are expelled into the air. When a home is not ventilated, the heat and smoke get trapped in the building, slowly permeating from one room to another. As heat and smoke build in surrounding rooms the fire spreads with it. The fire department's first goal is to vent the fire to control where it will go next. In this case, the fire was in a first-floor kitchen, so the best course of action was to vent the fire upwards and then spray water down on it. Heat and smoke want to rise, so by venting the fire up, it only wanted to spread upwards and not sideways to surrounding rooms making it much more difficult to contain. The firefighters quickly assessed the scene and sprang into action by making a large opening in the bathroom floor and wall above the kitchen stove. Once the opening was made they sprayed water into the home from above dousing the flame and extinguishing the fire. Because of this the fire was contained in the kitchen and was unable to spread anywhere else. Now that I know what venting is I can appreciate what happened at this home in Arlington and how the fast actions of the local fire department kept the flames at bay. Now it is SERVPRO's chance to get to work, making this home look "Like it never even happened."