How fast do fires spread? The numbers can vary. One site claims it takes only 30 seconds before a fire begins to engulf a building. Others suggest that many factors can affect the spread.
Take, for example, wildfires that occur in huge open spaces. In general, they can gain a speed of 9 to 12.5 miles per hour. However, it still depends on the overall weather condition, terrain, and direction of the wind. If these fires are in the grasslands, the speed can increase to 14 miles per hour. They can also quickly spread when the direction is uphill.
The Great Chicago Fire in the 1800s burned for 24 hours. Within this period, at least 300 people died, 100,000 became homeless, and property damage cost $200 million after the fire and smoke consumed over 2,000 acres.
Regardless of the number, the message is the same: fire can spread quickly. Unfortunately, even devices like smoke detectors and fire alarms won’t go off immediately. It will still take a few minutes and a growing amount of smoke before they make a sound, leaving occupants a small window of time to get out and save themselves.
The faster firefighters can respond to the emergency, the higher are the chances of containing the fire and saving more lives and property. But how do fire departments do that? Besides adequate training of the responders, the answer lies in the design of the truck.
Many fire departments have begun to install sirens on their trucks. In most cases, these devices are atop the cab. They emit a loud sound with a decibel range of between 110 and 120 dBA.
The ideal decibel for humans is no higher than 70 dBA, which implies that sirens of fire trucks could cause temporary hearing loss for those nearby. However, that is enough to warn pedestrians, motorists, and, most of all, the occupants of a burning building or home.
In some departments, sirens are not the only warning device they use. Many of them also incorporate public address systems that can amplify their voices across a wide area.
Another type of system is the horn speakers, which come with several tones like two-long blasts and three-short blasts. It helps firefighters communicate better. Others still use the bells, although these are likely to be in small communities with very few vehicles passing by.
- Emergency Lights
Besides sirens, most trucks also come equipped with emergency vehicle lights. These include rotating beacons and flashing strobe lights. The former typically turns in an orb shape, while the latter can flash red, orange, blue, or white.
The colors give off different meanings in communication devices like light boards and public address systems. Red is the universal color for emergency vehicles, including ambulances and police cars. However, it also often appears blue, which lets the trucks stand out in a sea of cars using the red light while in traffic.
Some states allow emergency vehicles like fire trucks to use white along with other standard colors. White is especially helpful when responders work in the evening or when they have to pass through poorly lit roads and highways.
Firefighters use ladders to access homes and buildings to aim the hoses at flames from above. However, for these tools to be practical, they need a certain degree of length that allows firefighters to get closer or match where the fire is coming from.
One of the most popular types is the aerial ladder, which is around 110 feet. Despite the size, trucks can easily maneuver around tight city roads and urban areas due to their design. Firefighters can adjust the length conveniently, and the ladder can fold above the truck.
Overall, ladder heights can vary, depending on many factors. These include the weight of the ladder, the size of the vehicle, the types of buildings the department is serving, and even the budget of the state or city. In smaller areas, fire trucks may have ladders that are no more than 80 feet in height even when fully extended.
Ladders are also less likely to reach all units in skyscrapers regardless of how lengthy they are. In cases like these, firefighters would have to use the stairs to reach the upper floors. Nevertheless, these buildings should already have a fire safety plan to hasten the evacuation and make it easier for the officers to contain the fire.
Fire trucks are vital to the survival of every city, town, and community. They help firefighters act swiftly in putting out fires before they spread uncontrollably. For this reason, they should be equipped with the right features, particularly these three.