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Kill The Flashover

I work in a department where we utilize a traditional (some might say aggressive) interior attack on fires at every chance we get. Sure, there are some empty lots in our City…including some parking lots downtown. We haven’t saved every building…but our track record is pretty good. Chalk that up to our quick responses and ability of our firefighters. I wish I could say that we get decent fire training made available by our department numerous times each year, but that is not true. I wish I could say that our staffing levels and lack of closing down companies are the reason why our responses are so quick, but our story is very different.

We are just like every other department, we get the job done with what we have to work with.

Transitional attack is something you might see in our department, but you probably wouldn’t hear anyone using the terminology “Transitional Attack”. It would merely be a case of cooling the fire prior to heading inside if needed.

One thing I will note is the old teaching of pushing the fire through the house…I have never seen this happen. I am not saying it can happen. I will just say that the way we used to teach that you HAD to fight fire from the unburned side to keep from pushing the fire will not always occur if you get in their and put plenty of water on the fire.

Kill The Flashover

Their motto is “We test, we demonstrate, you decide”

Watch the video below…

What do you think?

Kill the Flashover is an experiment. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t find a definitive web site for the project. Joe Starnes’ web site has information on the project(2011 here and 2012 here) and then points to I couldn’t find any information other than “Blue Card Certification” on though…nothing on Kill the Flashover. Maybe I just couldn’t find it.

There is a Facebook Fan Page for Kill the Flashover here.

There is a Youtube channel for Kill the Flashover here.

The Average Jake Firefighter recently wrote about the video I shared above. The post “So Traditional Attack is Wack Huh?”, delves into what you watched above and discusses its use in his departments.

Mark Vonappen also speaks on the topic in a post titled “Pride and Anecdotes”.

What do you guys think?

Here are some other videos from Kill the Flashover

Kill The Flashover (Burn Down Training Moment) Albemarle, NC
Watch this video closely and comment what you think the training moment is. There is a very important lesson in this short video that we all need to learn from.

Kill The Flashover Using Air Intake
This video clearly demonstrates the effects on temperature that something as simple as closing a do can do. This footage was taken during the first Kill the Flashover burn held in Shelby, NC in 2011. For more information on Kill the Flashover see us at

Comments - Add Yours

  • Josh Creamer

    I recognize the name on the back of the coat in the first video. The firefighter is Ed Hartin and he operates the website He along with several other international fire researchers presented material at the 2011 FDIC International Fire Instructor Workshop. Several of those international researchers can be found at the bottom of this page

    While Ed’s website does not reference “Kill the Flashover,” his work on compartment fire behavior trainingmatches with the focus of this ‘experiment.’ Considering their backgrounds in research, I would hope that the product of these experiments would be published in some sort of reputable paper or journal.

    I greatly appreciated the post and accompanying videos. They videos in particular are verry powerful.

  • Fern

    The bottom video is evidence of the theory behind the Iowa formula developed by Nelson & Royer. If you can contain the fire to a room, just crack the door with a fog pattern for a minute or less, close the door, and let the steam do the work.

    That said, it has to be under the right set of circumstances, or else it won’t work.

    This “Kill the Flashover” stuff is good, but it’s only the mythbusters of fire science. It is not true research because research involves publishing results with a definitive result (I.e. it worked or no it did not)

    Then again, this is coming from a guy who had to make a research proposal for 90% of a grade of a class at school, so take it with a grain of salt.

  • Martin Grube

    I too was skeptical about this after thirty four years of firefighting. “Never spray water into a window….it spreads the fire.” Well the “Kill the Flashover Project” proved that you can indeed spray a low pressure fog stream into the lower portion of the window, where the air is being sucked in by the fire, and the water droplets actually are drawn into the fire. As if the fire is being made to drink water! It really works on this single family dwelling, which is a majority of our calls handled with three man engine companies.
    The video camera footage is unedited; you can see the smoke color change and out-pressure change. It really works. Just another tool for the tool box. Our gear is rated at 450 degrees (F) and a room and contents fire is $1300 degrees (f). Just cool the fire before you go in and under a flashover.
    Please watch the video again and see the low pressure and low volume of water coming out of the nozzle as it is applied.

  • Shawn A. Oke

    Joe Starnes and I are the driving forces behind Kill the Flashover. We have been working together for less than a year to combine our knowledege of wetting agents, air track management and fire behavior to help our fire service find a better way. We never imagined our work would spread across the fire service as it has over the past several months. That is the reason for the lack of a dedicated website and written information. We are working as hard as we can to feed the hunger that exists in our fire service to see and read about the better ways.

    Here is a link to the article that Joe wrote in BShifter magazine: The article begins on page 35.

    We aren’t working to tell anyone in the fire service that they
    should conduct operations in a particular tactical manner. We are here to provide information to our fire service so they can decide on their own if the tactic demonstrated is a valid tactic that fits their organization.

    In our department I believe that using a proven wetting agent and transitional attack is a better way. We have been using an agent, Novacool by Baums Castorine, in our water for several years now and it has proven very effective. There are several members of our department that are not on board with the use of Novacool or transitional attack. I have a responsibility as their chief to give them the knowledge and equipment to do the job as safe as possible so they are just going to have to deal with it. In fact my choice as chief to embrace Novacool and transitional attack has drawn a line in the sand and caused some members of our department to not have a desire to work in our department. I have been told that I am taking away what makes them firefighters. They didn’t come on the job to fight fire from the outside and use “snake oil”. They came on the job to crawl down the super heated hallway, take the beating and slay the dragon. They are here to “Do It”. I am here to ensure everyone in our department works a long healthy career and that they have a long, healthy retirement. If I didn’t do everything within my power to keep everyone healthy and safe I would be a failure as a fire chief.

    I would caution everyone in our fire service that all foams and wetting agents are not the same!!! Take time and be sure the agent you are utilizing is effective. Please don’t be lead by any salesperson into thinking your agent is effective, learn on your own how well it works. Invest the time and the money into training with the agent you use!!

    Thank you to everyone for watching and reading about Kill the Flashover and for taking an interest in finding better ways to do the job. There is a change coming in our fire service and we are going to be fortunate enough to be part of it.

    Stay safe and continue to think outside the box!!!

  • Joe Starnes

    Thanks for the time…. here is the link to the B shifter article :

  • Ed Hartin

    There are a number of different types of research. Experimental research controls as many variables as possible in an effort to determine what causes something to occur (as in the UL Ventilation Studies). Action research takes place in the field where (based on reasonable theory) attempts to figure out what works in a particular context. These two types of research complement one another. I became interested in the KTF project as Shawn and Joe were taking some of the research from the lab (both small and full scale) and were experimenting and demonstrating these concepts (without large scale funding). While not as well defined and having a far greater number of variables than research conducted by UL or NIST, this project has the potential to stimulate thinking and consideration of alternative approaches.

    As Fern noted, research needs to be published. In some cases this is in a research report, but frequently this means an article in a refereed journal. We have few refereed journals in in the fire service as most of our publications are magazines. The difference is that magazines do not subject their articles to a rigorous peer review process. There are many articles of value in Fire-Rescue, Fire Engineering, and Firehouse, but there are also some that are less than scientifically sound. The other challenge with research reports and refereed journals is that they are not read by most of the fire service. We need to communicate the results of (both experimental and action) research to the greater fire service community.

    KTF is not experimental research, but it has tremendous value in making some of the science accessible and possibly stimulating additional research questions that can be addressed in the lab and with full scale experimental projects.

    Hopefully I can dig out from under my current workload and get a couple of posts up about this project and the connections with prior and ongoing experimental research in the area of ventilation controlled fires, wetting agents, etc.

  • DM

    Still wondering what they think is “new” here or what passes for “science”…

    Yes, water will extinguish fire and sometimes you can get away with introducing that water into a compartment from an exterior opening. A fog stream introduced briefly into a pre-flashover room will suck up a lot of heat. That notion might have passed for “new” 30 years ago but now? Seriously?

  • E4

    Old school tactics new name. Also vent enter search used to be called vent for life. Same results different names.

  • Shan Raffel

    A very interesting topic and some intelligent debate. The following quotes are worth noting.
    “That said, it has to be under the right set of circumstances, or else it won’t work.”

    DM “That notion might have passed for “new” 30 years ago but now? Seriously?”

    DM I agree with you!. However there is a new (well actually is dates back to Gisselsson and Rosander circa 1979) approach to the use of water fog. Continuous water fog flow into a compartment will produce a lot of steam. SOMETIMES this can be a very good thing. This actually the objective of “indirect extinguishing. But NOT always. It depends on the context in which it is applied.
    Applying small bursts of water-fog into the over pressure cools and shrinks that smoke layer (temporarily). This can improve visibility, reduce the chances of flashover (in the right context, for a short time) while improving conditions for firefighters and victims. VERY different from indirect extinguishing. Actually it is more of a control technique.
    Another example (worth considering) that can be very valuable in “under the right set of circumstances”.