Seconds before a backdraft
30 Mar 2018

A backdraft caught on video on new Fire Behavior instructional page


FIRE BEHAVIOR. Backdraft can be one of the most difficult fire events to predict. The petrochemical based products found in the modern built environment make this a bigger risk than ever - Learning to read the smoke can give you the warning signs you need to make the right decision!


International CFBT instructor Shan Raffel. Photo by Terri Casella, Ottawa 2015.
International CFBT instructor Shan Raffel. Photo by Terri Casella, Ottawa 2015.

Shan Raffel, AFSM EngTech CFIFireE, Station Officer at the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Australia, and one of the top CFBT and Fire Behavior instructors in the world, caught this on video when working with some of his  South Korean students during container training. Shan Raffel is the author of the BE SAHF concept:

"Every fire sends out signals that can assist the firefighter in determining the stage of fire development, and most importantly the changes that are likely to occur. This skill is essential to ensure the safest and most efficient firefighting strategy and tactics are employed.

Being able to “read a fire” is the mark of a firefighter who is able to make decisions based on knowledge and skill, not guess work or luck." (Shan Raffel)

READ MORE about Fire Behavior on CTIF.org here

The backdraft video is posted on a new instructional page called "Reading the Fire" on Facebook. The video clearly shows the classical signs of a build up of an Under Ventilated Fire.

In this exercise, the instructor lets the fire develop into fully developed fire. Doors are closed when the fire is still burning with lots of fuel available. It then runs out of available oxygen inside of the compartment, and the fire dies down to a simmer of smoke seeping out of the cracks of the container.

After a few minutes, once again the doors are opened.


Container  minutes before the backdraft


Initially, the fire may appear to be fairly calm, but a twisting and turning whirl of whitish-grey smoke - that gradually turns darker - gives away the fact that there is a slumbering fire about to violently awaken inside.

The closer the compartment container is getting to Backdraft, the faster the twirling "smoke twister" turns and spins.

The above photo shows the container during the seconds before the backdraft. In the below photo, the fireball of the backdraft is at its peak.


The fireball of a backdraft



On BE-SAHF, from the FDIC 2018 home page. Upcoming lecture by Shan Raffel:

"Every fire talks to us through the four key fire behavior indicators: smoke, air, heat and flame (SAHF). When read in the context of the building and environmental factors (BE), the SAHF assessment can greatly assist firefighters in determining the location of the fire; stage of development; and, most importantly, the changes that are likely to occur.

This skill is essential to ensure that the most effective strategy and tactics are employed for each situation we encounter. Underpinning this critical skill is a sound fundamental understanding of fire dynamics in the modern built environment. The workshop reveals a firefighter's perspective on the ABCs of fire dynamics and provides insight into how to recognize and deal with modern fire development scenarios.

The knowledge provided is based on decades of collective international front line experience, reflects the latest scientific research, and is focused on effective and accurate tactical decision making at real incidents."





Published by Bjorn Ulfsson / CTIF NEWS