A Backdraft caught on tape. A family watches their house explode but they were safe. They got out & STAYED OUT. Fortunately our friends at the Texarkana Fire Department were safe too.
Los Angeles firefighters have recently experienced residents re-enter homes well involved in flames after they were safely outside. First, a functional smoke alarm is a must! Second, personal property is not worth it, and if a person is trapped inside, immediately notify the 9-1-1 dispatcher of their exact location, the dispatcher will in-turn notify firefighters in-route so they are prepared to perform a rapid rescue with their protective clothing and separate air supply.
Three questions and answers...
1. What is a Backdraft?
It is an explosion of heated gases that occurs when oxygen is introduced into a space within a burning building where the oxygen has been depleted by the fire. It's a living breathing beast waiting for only one additional element, air.
2. How does a Backdraft actually happen?
A fire needs heat, fuel, and oxygen which induce a chemical chain reaction. Conditions for a Backdraft are very unique, it requires a building tight enough and strong enough to contain fire and hold back sufficient oxygen until the burning process is in the decay stage. We normally breathe 21% oxygen in the air around us. Oxygen content in a Backdraft must fall between 11% and 15%, however the products of combustion inside are 1000+ degrees Fahrenheit, well above their ignition temperature, so when oxygen from air gets introduced from opening a door, window, etc... Boom!
3. What are the warning signs of a back draft?
Smoke issuing out of any available structural openings, door jams, window frames, attic vents, etc. Smoke may ignite when it rolls into the outside air. Heavy hot smoke is visible but no fire can be seen or heard. Windows are darkened due to long exposure to heat, and may even look like mirrored glass from the outside, sometimes forming condensation. In some ways the structure actually appears to be alive inside, breathing, pulsating, and puffing smoke.
Backdrafts are extremely rare and a serious reminder of the many dangers firefighters face around the world. Aggressive interior firefighting is a trademark of the Los Angeles Fire Department. It is a way of thinking about how we perform our duty. We hold to a philosophy of aggressively implementing and coordinating fire suppression and support operations that will achieve the maximum gain at minimum risks -This is the philosophy of fighting fire smart.
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