WALKING IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS

Fellowship and Master Craftsman: – Statement of intent
By Clive Hall

WALKING IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS

I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone, which for me is normally portraiture.
In this panel there is no posing or direction that we would normally use to get the best results, this panel is purely documentary, and media related and as you see it, that’s is what happened.  

My aim here is to get “you” to walk in their footsteps to try and feel some of their emotion and understand what these people actually do.  

Remember if you are trapped in a building, we the fire fighters can’t get to you, then no one else is coming, that is massive pressure on these crews.

Due to my background I was given unrestrictive access to what I needed, taking into account the crews safety, any trapped casualties safety and of course my own.

I have spent 30 years in the fire service and have wanted to do a panel on this for a long time.  Over the 30 years I have gain lots of valuable knowledge on techniques of attacking fires, the chemistry and behaver of different fire situations.  This has allowed me to put all that experience together to be able to shoot this panel, believe me this is not straight forward as you may think.  Some of the things I had to consider, I had to position myself in places that I thought something was or could happen, how to use the natural light very carefully, the condition of the smoke levels and the very high heat levels being radiated.  

The most difficult issue on this assignment was the lighting, as this was a live fire situation, I couldn’t get in the way or direct the crews in any shape or form, their job was to save life and protect the property and the last thing they wanted is me using flash blinding them. Smoke is also very dense and artificial lighting will only bounce of the surface of the smoke layers.  I have had to use my knowledge of fire behaviour and try and judge the fall of natural light against internal operation and the smoke conditions, trying to judge where crews would appear and getting any available light to affectively light the crews working.

An important aspect is to not make this panel personal to the casualties or the owners of the premises.  This is a personal disaster for them, and I don’t believe it is right to use that in any form, so I have tried to make this about the fire service by making the images more close ups rather than full scenes of building and fire appliances.

Science, chemistry, the physical and psychology effects need to be fully understood here and will help you understand what is actually going on within this panel.

Fire
Seconds of ignition
The smoke is a deadly mix of hot gasses, carbon dioxide, monoxides, hydrogen sulphur and un burnt hydrocarbons and the air will start to become hot

30 seconds,
Flames will start to spread up and across the ceilings
Flammable furnishings will ignite, curtains etc
Smoke will become denser and very poisonous, including hydrogen cyanides

Here it would take two or three breaths and you would pass out or worse.

1>2 minutes
The Fire would have developed fully in the room spreading rapidly and the radiated heat will ignite other items in the room, tables chair etc

Toxic smoke will increase to 3,400 ppm, your survival time is going fast.

2>3 minutes
More and more heat is being generated ranging from 600 to 800 degree and the fire is rapidly developing.

3 minutes
Now the temp would reach over a 1000 degrees and flash overs can occur, with explosive forces and temps reaching 1400degees instantaneously
Oxygen is gone and used up by the fire.

Everything around you is a light and you are surrounded by super-heated gasses  ( would you stick you head into an over at 200 degrees?

Crews will enter and try and find the areas of most danger and search away from them to locate you.
Other crews will fire fight, but this changes the atmosphere with super heat black dense smoke making visibility NIL.
Crews will search on hands and knees feeling there way around rooms they have no knowledge about.

Information will come to them, persons trapped or accounted for your hoping for the later.

Got to find them, GOT TO FIND THEM, then the structure of the build is compromised, you hear the evacuation signal but you know someone is in there.

WHAT DO YOU DO ?