Enhancing Ventilation Efforts

Enhancing Ventilation Efforts:

Whether horizontal or vertical, firefighters need to be aware of how tactical thermal imaging can assist in ventilation efforts.

Prevent improper ventilation: In the following video, these windows and doors were taken without coordinated suppression efforts. As a result, the fire intensified.

Assist in proper selection of the ventilation area: In choosing the area for ventilation, one can also see the heat signatures around the area indicating this is the proper area to open up or take a window.

Determination of roof truss spacing: On a standard asphalt shingle roof, a firefighter can determine the roof joist spacing (16 or 24”) by scanning the roof line from the ground or prior to stepping off the ladder. If the roof has less than 3 layers of shingles and isn’t on the side of direct sunlight, firefighters can see the temperature differences between where the joist contacts the roof decking and the area in-between.

Preventing injuries:

At a recent incident, firefighters were in the process of cutting a ventilation hole when the saw failed due to excessive smoke causing it to shut down. The firefighter picked up the axe to finish the cut and was about to begin swinging when the company officer saw (through the TIC) the other firefighters hands were pulling sections of roof out of the way. The company officer prevented the firefighter with the axe from striking the other firefighters hands!

Before stepping off on a standard asphalt shingle roof, it is advantageous to look with the TIC for unusual heat signatures between the joists, at thermal bridging points (mushroom vents, chimneys, solar panels, vent pipes etc). This could indicate the fire location and possible concerns for structural integrity. On commercial roofs, rain roofs, or SIP panel style roofing, thermal bridging may be absent or not visible with the TIC due to the overall insulate properties of the roof. Always trust our training first, sound the roof as we move across it, and use the TIC to enhance our efforts.


These are but a few concepts that can assist firefighters during ventilation efforts on the fireground.

Stay Intelligently Aggressive!

Instructor Andy Starnes

Insight Training LLC

Level II Thermography Certified