Part 3: Roof Ventilation

During a structure fire, firefighters may have to climb onto the roof to ventilate the interior of heat and smoke before a hose team enters the building at ground level. The ventilation team may use a chainsaw or circular saw to cut a square hole in the roof to allow the smoke to escape.

In the event that the mechanical saws ever fail, then a firefighter must learn how to ventilate a roof the old-fashioned way — with an axe.

Other useful tools (seen in the photo at right) include a long pike pole and a halligan, or essentially a wrecking bar or crow bar with an L-shaped end that has a pick and an adze.

The ladder is hooked over the peak of the roof for a stable foothold and support in case the roof collapses after sustaining damage from an interior fire.

Participants learned how to cut a ventilation hole in a roof using a chainsaw during the training. Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO
Participants learn how to cut a ventilation hole in a roof using a chainsaw during the training. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)

CCF/R Captain John Krebsbach says it’s important that a roof ventilation team and a hose entry or nozzle team coordinate their efforts during a structure fire.

“You do ventilate it too soon, (then) you will contribute to fire spread because you’re actually allowing more air and whatnot for that fire to spread. So, when they get ready to ventilate, the nozzle team has to be ready to be putting water on the fire… The nozzle team don’t want to be in there if you haven’t ventilated yet because of the heat, or the potential for flashover or backdraft.”

Roof Ventilation radio feature

“You’ve successfully ventilated a roof,” says CCF/R’s Erik Goldsberry.

“You got all your fingers and toes, right?”

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