The Marines Got A Lesson In What Real Heat Looks Like

flashoverFrom a NIST video on flashover.


FDNY Firefighter Tommy “T-Bone” Bohn talks about fire like it’s a living thing.Right now he’s talking about the “Flash Over” simulator.

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“So the flames, they’ll be up near the ceiling, looking for air to breath, and something to eat.”

Inside the simulator, Marines, Navy corpsmen, firefighters and instructors will sit and bear witness to the “flash over” phenomenon. A flash over occurs when all the oxygen in room is expended, while simultaneously the furniture in that room is heated to its “flash point.”

“That’s when everything in the room instantaneously combusts.”

All at the same time?

“Yes, all at the same time.”

Any way I could get in there with my camera (the living, breathing, bleeding and combustible part of me hopes he says no)?


Well, at least I’ll be able to get photos of the other Fire-Rescue training. 

Marines and sailors of the elite CBIRF, or Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, come to Randall’s Island every year to cross train with the FDNY.

The Response Force is the only Marine Corps unit responsible for responding to chemical, biological, radiological attacks, including any sort of WMD’s. The CBIRF mission breaks down into a few components—(chemical, biological, radiological) agent detection and identification; casualty search, rescue, and personnel decontamination; and emergency medical care and stabilisation of contaminated personnel. 

The unit, which has responded to crises ranging from the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, to the Anthrax scares, will often work hand in hand with local first responders. Though they may not actually fight fires as part of their mission, they’ll often support those personnel in the field, making it mission expedient to know the ins and outs of a first responder’s job.

Over the span of a week at the FDNY Training Facility in New York’s Randall’s Island, these Marines and corpsmen get first-hand comprehensive training in what it takes to be a part of the world’s most elite group of firefighters.

Marines and Navy corpsmen who serve as disaster and WMD first responders spent a week on Randall's Island every year cross training with the FDNY.

The Chemical Biological Incident Response Force Marines wear colour coded helmets. Red denotes extract teams, and they're made up mostly of former infantrymen. Blue is medical, the corpsmen. Black is Technical Rescue. Yellow is the Decontamination crew. And Teal is the Identification Detection Platoon.

The CBIRF unit was set up initially in response to serin gas attacks in Japan in the 90s.

Now they're totally cross trained and ready to respond to any credible threat of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high yield explosive (WMDs).

Here, they're on a week-long training exercise with the FDNY to learn the ins and outs of domestic first response.

Each Scott Pak compressed unit can weigh upward of 25 pounds. Marines and sailors in combat carry up to 60 pounds of gear. So as they walk up the stairs to their first event, the weight is a familiar feeling.

Here Marines navigate their way out of the smoky floor of an apartment building.

Outside Marines practice rappelling. The whole warehouse is set up to look like a mini-town, complete with grocery stores and apartment buildings.

There's always a watchful eye on the roof, just in case.

Marines drop down two stories to grab a stranded victim off a ledge.

Sgt. Ben Ambrose hooks up the victim, and then takes him down another two stories to safety.

Instructors keep a watchful eye throughout the whole process of rappel training. Marines do it once as a part of basic training, so the FDNY is probably a bit more well-versed.

Outside Marines will practice crash rescue techniques in a couple different scenarios. Lance Cpl. Conad Higgins takes a couple whacks with a haligan before finally striking true.

Beaded glass covers the ground. One of the first obstacles breached in a crash rescue is the vehicle's glass.

Which includes prying the windshield off the car. Usually, the windshield can be pulled off the vehicle in one huge strip.

And its doors.

The jaws are powerful enough to cut through the composite material and steel that makes up most vehicle frames.

The tools use various power sources, everything from common electricity ...

Like a high-powered pair of scissors: each Marine gets to know the points on the vehicle which need to be snipped in order to ...

... Turn it into a convertible, gaining access to trapped casualties.

The FDNY has a variety of casualty dummies, spanning the gamut from child to adult, from 125 all the way up to 300 pounds.

Common calls to the Fire Department also include people trapped beneath rubble.

Oftentimes the loads on top of a victim aren't evenly balanced, and first responders have to find strategic locations for their lifting tools.

Other times victims will be trapped behind layers of concrete.

The diamond studded plunge saw can be pushed straight into a concrete wall, using water as lubrication.

Marines also learn how to operate a diamond studded circular saw, which can be used to cut away specific portions of concrete or steel.

This saw also uses water to keep the blade cool and ease the diamonds into the concrete.

Then there's the core drill, which works kind of like a jackhammer.

The core drill puts a hole into concrete, into which first responders can put a camera or fasten a piece of rebar for lifting.

The tool is hung from a 2X4 and guided by hand until the operator can drill a decent pilot hole.

Then it's just a matter of a lot of dust and pushing hard.

Among other things, the CBIRF Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians get a chance to navigate their Andros robot around the training facilities.

Marine EOD Staff Sgt. Daniel Pare puts her right where she needs to be via remote control.

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