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Control measure

Damping down and turning over

Control measure knowledge

Most fires are likely to produce debris under which small pockets of fire can continue to smoulder for some time. Turning over ensures that all faces of a burning material have been fully extinguished. This debris can contain useful information on the possible cause of the fire, so firefighters should try not to disturb it more than necessary before investigations into the fire's cause are complete.

The nature of the fire and the substances involved should be noted. Firefighters should recall that toxic vapours or liquids may be a greater source of danger at this stage in operations than the firefighting.

If possible and appropriate, the debris should be removed to an open space. Alternatively, a small clearing should be made and the debris methodically turned over into it, working from one end to the other.

In large industrial premises, where a lot of turning over has to be done, it may be possible, after gaining permission from the management and assessing the risk, to get assistance from drivers of forklift trucks.

Any baled goods, such as rolls of paper or cotton, should not be opened. If it is suspected that a bale may be on fire internally, it should be moved to the open air where it can be opened safely.

Even after a fire has apparently been extinguished, pockets of fire, flying brands, bullseyes or other possible causes of re-ignition may remain.

Burning materials can linger in various places, many not immediately obvious. For example, dust may become ignited and burn slowly in a trail from one compartment to another, setting it alight some time after the main fire has been extinguished. Bullseyes may linger for long periods, often in unlikely positions, and cause a later recurrence.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Develop tactical guidance and support arrangements for the hazards that may be encountered and the actions to be taken when turning over and damping down

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Ensure all fire is extinguished by damping down and/or turning over