Understanding building construction has never been more important when you add in snow loads. Do you expect normal tasks
like fire suppression and search/rescue to be done quickly when
firefighters encounter delayed ventilation? Interior companies will
certainly encounter an underventilated fire condition. Interior
conditions will not be the same as operating during the spring,
summer, or fall months in the Northeast.
Ladder companies will certainly have a delay in providing verti-
cal ventilation because of lack of access to the roof, large snow
banks that limit truck access, carrying a ground ladder in deep
snow (difficult at best), and access to the physical roof that may be
buried under 18 to 36 inches of heavy wet snow and ice. Add-
ing firefighters to a potentially overloaded roof can trigger a roof
collapse as well, not to mention the lack of solid footing and the
ability to sound the roof before stepping off—and not too often do
we ask the truck company to bring a snow shovel with them to just
find the roof’s surface! Attempting to stay on the aerial to get the
job done safely? Well, good luck trying to shovel from there. These
delays can definitely change the interior company’s thermal expo-
sure to extreme heat buildup and underventilated fire dynamics.
Every firefighter on the fireground, from the chief to the proba-tionary firefighter, needs to stay alert for signs of overhead hazards
during winter month operations. There typically has been a lot of
focus on building collapse potential with snow loads, but staying
cognizant to potential heavy snow or ice slides that could cause
serious personal injury or death to responders is a reality as well.
This type of overhead assessment must be done on arrival by the
first-due company officer and be continually monitored throughout incident by the incident commander.
During the winter months, the fire service needs
or exterior operation. The type of structural ma
play a major role in whether that snow load
The dwelling’s snow load
should be directly considered
when the incident commander
determines a strategic plan.