What is ‘Fully Involved?’

This is a term used by firefighters to describe conditions upon arrival of a fire that indicates the fire has complete control of the structure. It is a raging inferno that leaves no doubt about its intentions. In reality, a building that is fully involved in the truest sense of the term is already a total loss before a single drop of water is applied.

Buildings can and do become fully involved occasionally after firefighters arrive and attempt to control the blaze with conventional tactics. In most cases, the fire has not emerged from its many pockets and voids to give firefighters an indication of its severity. Usually, what is missing is enough oxygen to fuel the flames. The heat and combustible materials are there in sufficient volume. At the out set of a blaze there is normally ample oxygen to support robust combustion (rapid oxidation), but in an enclosed space, such as a building, oxygen is quickly consumed and displaced by the products of combustion (smoke and heat). Only when a fresh source of oxygen is introduced either by the flames breaching a wall or window, or the inadvertent opening of a door or roof by occupants or the firefighters themselves, will the fire take off and turn into the free-burning inferno that makes for great aerial shots for the evening news.

As a firefighter and Fire Officer arriving at a fire scene, it was often easier to manage the fully involved building fire than those with little or no indications of a blaze visible from the exterior. At least with a completely involved building you knew where everything stood….you covered the exposures (other buildings), found a large water source and attacked the fire keeping everyone at a safe distance while doing so. Spectacular as they can be, a fully involved structure fire upon the arrival of first due fire companies rarely leads to injuries or deaths of firefighters since the risk to be taken for a building already lost to the flames should be far less than if a building, or more importantly a life could be saved by more aggressive tactics.

So, where the heck are we going with this cool firefighting lingo depicting a raging, out of control and totally destructive environment and an otherwise contemplative blog. I’m not sure….we’ll explore that as we go….I’ve always liked the title for a blog or book mainly because it is an engaging term that simply implies brightness, action and excitement. It draws attention, it demands some kind of action, it lures both thoughtful spectators and simple looky-loos.

Just like other events in life, everyone has an opinion about what should happen next at a big fire, or what started it or how long it will take to put it out. There remains the danger of imminent collapse of the structure, a possible explosion or two, and it makes for great still or live images….during the day the huge columns of dense mushrooming black smoke like a beacon draw the crowd, at night the mysterious, awe-inspiring dance of the ever-changing orange and black cauldron spewing over the walls of the building can be mesmerizing.

Let’s face it, we are only happy at a hockey game if a fight breaks out. We want to see action, we are awestruck by visible calamity, more so when the event is viewed simultaneously by many people. That is the shared experience of something that is fully involved.

Maybe that’s the theme here….shared experience, speculation, debate, empathy, enlightenment, or just a cool picture, story or thought to discuss that has absolutely nothing to do with firefighting.

As for the tagline here is the explanation:

Sound the alarm = call it out, bring it to someone’s attention, make it known, share it with other.

Face the flames = don’t runaway, stand your ground, feel the heat, respect the danger, risk a little, stay engaged even though it may look bad….it also means live, laugh and love wherever you have been planted with a passion that burns bright and illuminates and warms the space you occupy in a way that inspires and brings hope to others.

As a follower of Christ I am reminded:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

May this blog reflect that light and resonate in a way that the reader would have a reason to live, laugh, love and, think in a fresh way….even if they disagree with every word.

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