Smoke is a leading cause of death in most fires. This paper the case study of the two firefighters that died of smoke and soot breathing while combating a suburban fire in 1997. From the case study, the paper tries to establish the various toxic gasses that might have caused the deaths. Moreover, it seeks to determine whether the smoke in the leaving room might have obscured visibility making it hard for the firefighters to orient themselves with the building. Conclusively, suggestions have been made regarding what the first firefighters could have done to combat the situation.
There are minimal occurrences as upsetting as a fire. That is more so true when an individual known to a person suffered a distressing getaway, was injured or died from a fire. Every year, many individuals lose their lives to fire that also leads to many injuries (Noll, Hildebrand, Rudner, & Schnepp, 2014). Apparently, one of the reasons of human losses in fires in exposure to fire effluent, heat, or smoke. As an option to regulatory design, engineering companies utilize computational models of fire to establish whether a planned design of a building will avail adequate defense against effluent. Smoke-breathing happens when one inhales in the combustion products of a fire. Apparently, burning comes from the sudden breakdown of a material by heat. Ideally, smoke is a concoction of heated gasses as well as particles. It is impossible to envisage the precise smoke composition emerging from fire (Noll et al., 2014). The substance being burned, the fire’s temperature, and the level of oxygen available to the fire all make a difference in the kind of smoke produced. The firefighters in the case study at hand might have died due to inhaling toxic gasses and aerosols for an extended period due to lack of exits as a result of poor visibility.

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The Case Study Analysis
In the case at hand, the firefighters might have died from the inhalation of toxic smoke, which leads to acute life-threatening injuries resulting in enduring neurological and lung damage. Numerous toxic gasses are produced during a regular room-and-contents fire. Experiment and autopsy fire indicate that grim death as well as injury results from exposure to contact irritants, mostly hydrogen chloride, carbon monoxide, cyanide, and central systematic poisons (Noll et al., 2014). The reasons the components found in smoke caused the deaths is because, specifically, carbon monoxide, diminishes the supply of oxygen in the body. A prolonged exposure might have resulted in the deaths due to the lack of oxygen in the firefighter’s bodies.

The light mist observable in the living space did not contain aerosol droplets caused by the compression of gasses that chill as they escape the environs of the blaze. Ideally, the light miasma is usually comprised of smoke, dust, and dry particles, which obscure visibility (Noll et al., 2014). In any case, the light haze occurred when smoke and dust particles accumulated in the dry living room air. Because the building blocked the dispersal of the smoke alongside other pollutants, they concentrated and formed a low-hanging blanket that impaired visibility. Besides, it might have caused breathing problems to the firefighters that were not adequately prepared to handle the situation.

Smoke reduced visibility in the living room. The reason is that smoke is a mist (aerosol) of liquid droplets as well as solid particles, which are close to the excellent assortment of sizes for Mie dispersion of perceptible light (Noll et al., 2014). That effect is similar to that of a three-dimensional textured goblet. Apparently, a smoke obscure does not barricade an image but meticulously scrambles it.

As such, due to the moderate smoke alongside poor visibility, which was encountered by the firefighters, it was hard for them to orient themselves in addition to constructively establish a path to safety. Given that they have never been in the house, it is apparent that orienting themselves with the design of the building was critical to their safety. Nevertheless, because they could not see clearly, it took time for them to establish exits. Even if they might have established exists, it would have been too late as they had already inhaled the toxic gasses and aerosols from the smoke, which are a threat to life (Wang, & Carleton University, 2008).

Because the firefighters were not prepared to handle such a case, they would have first called for help from dispatch that would have availed fighters wear as well as pass devices that are appropriate in firefighting. Nonetheless, because it would have taken time and lives required being saved, the fire fighters would have first evaluated the building for any risks that may pose further threats to them, the causality, or other individuals in the vicinity (Wang, & Carleton University, 2008). Upon accessing the safety of the area, they would have determined whether it was safe to get into the building. Because it was not safe, they would have waited for the right firefighting equipment to arrive, while trying to save the people that had already escaped from the fire and the smoke.

Moreover, the firefighters could have destroyed part of the wall from the outside with the help of other people in the neighborhood to allow smoke to exit. Creating more openings to expel the smoke would have minimized the density of the smoke in the house (Dunn, 2007). Reduced smoke would have allowed for visibility and possibly minimize toxicity. As such, it would have been easier to save the lives trapped inside in a more effective manner, without putting their lives at a greater risk.

The firefighters might have died from the inhalation of the various gasses present in smoke. Such include mostly hydrogen chloride, carbon monoxide, cyanide, and central systematic poisons. Moreover, the light haze in the living room contributed to the decreased visibility that might have caused the firefighters not to find exists, subjecting them to toxic gasses. Nonetheless, it would have been wise for the firefighters to call for help while trying to attend to the people that had escaped from the fire. Additionally, it would have been important to destroy part of the wall from outside to release the smoke from the building.

  • Dunn, V. (2007). The strategy of firefighting. Tulsa, Okla: Penwell.
  • Noll, G. G., Hildebrand, M. S., Rudner, G. D., & Schnepp, R. (2014). Hazardous Materials: Managing the Incident.
  • Wang, Y., & Carleton University. Dissertation. Engineering, Civil, and Environmental. (2008). A study of smoke movement in multi-storey buildings using experiments and computer modeling. Ottawa.