Fire protection- fire fighting
Every day there are numerous house fires resulting in injuries and deaths. Someone fell asleep in bed with a lit cigarette, the kitchen with a forgotten stove. There are many dangers lurking in a household. A fire can usually be avoided by correct behaviour. Should it however happen and things start to burn, care must be taken to ensure that the entire house does not burn down immediately. For example, the fire extinguisher must work and the individual components of the house must not catch fire too quickly. Keep in mind the fire brigade can only help if it can reach the house with its trucks in time. These are just a few of the points that need to be taken into account when building a house. If you live OffGrid it may take the firetrucks a while to reach your property. Take that into consideration! It is highly recommended to properly plan for a case of fire. Check how much water you have available without using pumps, in the case of fire you can not expect your electricity to be available. Have multiple fire extinguishers ready deployed in different parts of the house. Have a plan of what to do if your house is on fire; life should always have highest priority, have important documents bundled together so they can be evacuated on quick notice, have an idea of where you have highly flammable substances that might cause issues, etc. Fire is a serious threat and should be treated as such! Fire needs to be engaged quickly, calmly, and preferably with proper gear to save lives and property if need be. Having experienced multiple small and bigger fires in my lifetime, honest words, it can be scary as fuck. There is serious danger but being mentally prepared and having the correct tools available, a dedicated individual that acts with haste can do the job of 2 firetrucks taking 20 minutes to arrive. Let me be as clear as possible on this subject. Life always has priority! Saving people and animals should be the utter most immediate, ultimate, priority. Once that is done things become more or less a choice. Houses can be rebuild, fields can be made harvest-able again, whatever material goods you have and you consider saving they will almost always not be worth your life! Charging into a burning house to save your kids should be a split second decision, yes of course throw on that gas mask, grap a shovel or axe, your heat protection blanket and go. The same scenario to save a few documents and your favourite collection of vases is just stupid, your energy is better spent fighting the fire in that case. Obtaining the skills to fight fire properly can be done rather easily and you’re doing a good deed at the same time! Most areas will have a volunteer firefighter brigade, they’ll always be happy to have a helping hand, even for limited time.
Houses have to be built in such a way that in the event of a fire, people can be saved and the fire can be fought. Easily flammable building materials may only be used if they are no longer easily flammable in conjunction with other building materials. If the house is less than 50 m from the public traffic area, a straight 1.25 m wide access is sufficient. If the building is more than 50 m away from the street, three-meter-wide, sufficiently paved access roads may be required. Walls made of flammable building materials that are not at least fire-retardant as well as fire-retardant walls that have a surface or cladding made of normally flammable building materials must be at least five meters away from the wall of the neighbouring building. The homeowner should be aware of his own responsibility and install additional safeguards. Be it in the choice of building materials or in security systems, such as a smoke detector. Smoke detectors warn of the toxic smoke gases when fires start. This is very important, especially at night, since the house residents often have their bedrooms on the top floor and are locked in the flames in the event of a fire.
Recommended Fire Fighting Kit
Hopefully you will never need this. If need be however these things can be the difference between a ruined existence and possible death or some minor renovation works and a pair of brown underwear. These things are more pricey than your MedKit, though it’s possible to source some of the materials used for cheap from fire brigade stocks and such. Check your favourite online auction platform. All in all a reasonable tool kit will drain your savings by about 150€. Scale this accordingly to the size of your structures. This list does not include the fire extinguishers you should always have placed around your household anyway.
Gas mask or Oxygen mask
Military grade gas masks are rather cheap.
Have new sealed filters on stock. Change filter after use. Fire will produce 2 main issues aside from the actual obvious heat. Toxic gas and a loss of oxygen. A Gas mask will remove most toxins but not carbon monoxide, nor will it provide oxygen! For small to medium scale fires a gas mask can help you to engage fire with less risk to your health. Always keep the downside of the oxygen in mind. Ex. If you walk into a basement that is 99% filled with black smoke, wearing a gas mask, you will pass out after a few seconds due to oxygen loss and die to carbon monoxide poisoning if not assisted. However, if your plastic TV started a fire, some furniture is burning but the air is still visibly rather clear, a gas mask with proper filter will provide full protection for the toxins produced. The same scenario without gas mask means inhaling 3-4 times could lead to irreversible lung or airways damage, liver damage, etc etc.
- Oxygen mask
These are a bit more pricey than gas masks.
They are also heavier and come with an attached bottle of compressed air that is worn on the back. To engage more serious fires this is a recommended piece of equipment. Learn how to use it properly.
Axe, Crowbar or Sledgehammer
A heavy tool not your casual 500g axe for garden works, a 2kg one with a at least 60cm pole. Pick any of the three: axe, crowbar or sledgehammer. You need this to open doors, windows, closets and such, to clear area quickly of obstacles. In case of fire often there is no time to have discussions with objects, they move or get crushed and punched aside from a sledgehammer impact at full force.
Gloves and Boots
Proper heavy duty work gloves/boots made out of leather will do. Better are heat resistant ones that will sustain heat over longer time and offer better isolation to protect you from burns.
3-4 Proper Fire Extinguishers
Not small scale ones, as heavy as you or people in your household can lift.
If you within a 25-35km radius of a fire brigade this is probably not required. This becomes more important the further you are away from your next fire brigade. If you have the balls, and are aware of the risks involved (your life will be in danger), to engage bigger fires a firefighter suit is highly recommended. You can source these used from fire brigades for around 250€. Combined with an oxygen mask+air tank, will give you very good protection in engaging fires and the ability to save lives and property. Learn how to use these properly. Be aware of their limitations, this will not make you invincible to fire, it only increases the level of fire you can combat.
Water tank, pond, well, etc.
If you are OffGrid you need a proper steady source of water to combat larger fires. This also applies for incoming firetrucks, there is only so much they can have in their tanks. Always assume your electricity is not present during fires! Most common approach for this issue (assuming you have a well) is to not wire the well pump directly to your fuse box, but have the pump connect via a standard plug near the well hole. Use a portable generator (that you should have anyway), plug the pump into the generator and you have running water independent of your currently burning battery. A larger pond or a river in close proximity can do the job as well. For cheap and easy a 1000l tank on a few wooden pallets can provide pressure by gravity and a decent amount of water to get something done. Some 2m² pond is not gonna be enough to save your 300m² wooden house on fire. Scale this accordingly.