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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smell Of Smoke

The other day we were toned out for a possible residential structure fire. When we arrived on scene the occupants informed us that two day prior their landlord had had someone come out to work the furnace. This was the first time since then that they had turned it on.

Helmet covered in insulation after pulling ceiling.

A couple hours later they smelled smoke in the house. They did the right thing. They evacuated the house and called 911. On the way out the husband threw all the breakers killing the power to the house. When we arrived we found there to be a light smell of smoke with just a little bit of haze in the house.

Once we confirmed that there was no active fire we cancelled everyone but the engine and us. The BC decided to stick around as well. We used the thermal imager to check for hotspots throughout the house. I checked the attic in the garage and found nothing. I then went to check the attic in the house but I couldn't find the scuttle hole.

We searched the entire house (it was only a 1400 sq ft house). Every bedroom, closet, nook and cranny. There was no scuttle hole. By this time the landlord had made it to the house. He said that he had had some renovations done to the house about two years ago. He never noticed that the contractor had sealed the attic.

My battalion chief explained that we needed to check the attic to make sure there wasn't a smoldering fire and that there was no way for us to do that without a scuttle hole without making a mess. The landlord then looked at me standing there with a pike pole (and a grin). I told him that was my job to which he replied that I looked like I enjoyed my job.

The property owner decided to put his new scuttle hole in the hallway. We grabbed a salvage cover and placed it below where I would be working. I then used the pole to make a 18", mostly square hole in the ceiling. We figured that if I did it smaller than the normal 24" then it would be easier for a contractor to come in and convert the opening into a proper scuttle hole.

Once the hole was made I placed into it the attic ladder. I climbed up and was just able to squeeze in my shoulders. I looked around with the thermal imager and everything looked as it should.

Afterward we cleaned up the mess, turned on the power to the house and did a final check. Having not found anything burning we figured that the furnace was probably the culprit. We informed the residents to keep an eye on it and call us back if they needed us.

I needed to go clean my gear of all the insulation and to take a shower.
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