Tactical Safety: Taking Sides


Tactical Safety for FirefightersTaking Sides

By Ray McCormack

There are only two sides to a fire building: the inside and the outside.There are those who want us to stay outside for a variety of reasons. There are those who see us as incapable of making good decisions regarding entry. There are those who fail to truly understand our capabilities employing interior fire attack.

Fire, smoke, occupancy, construction, time of day, troop strength, timing, and water issues are all valid reasons to stay outside and many can be misread or exaggerated keeping you outside. We are all hazard – “check”. We are firefighters – “check”, but wait. There seems to be some difficulty in pulling the interior extinguishment pin for some. If your scales tend to tip toward the outside and you know that it isn’t really necessary, then why would you continue?

Do you feel that the inside of the fire building is too dangerous for your firefighters to operate in? What happens when the exterior option is off the table? What are you going to do then? Are your tactics going to tame it? Have you sat down and figured out what your extinguishment is going to look like?

Are you operating under an assumption that our capabilities don’t include interior success? What is missing from your extinguishment platform that you have trouble handling a bread and butter fire. It can’t be equipment because we all have the necessary hoses and nozzles. Do you believe there is no such thing as a bread and butter fire in the modern age? If so, that is a bad assumption.

To arrive at a burning home and base your operations on exaggerated conditions places most firefighters in a state of paralysis, and that must be fixed so that your people know they can be successful with either option.

Finding the tactics that you need to get extinguishment done is not an unknown, but it may take practice for some. Start by not feeding it unnecessarily and its bite will be less powerful. We need to get our people inside to find the savable and the injured. I know that I want someone coming for me if I’m inside, don’t you?

Keep Fire in Your Life

11 thoughts on “Tactical Safety: Taking Sides

  1. We must go inside to get the interior rooms. You cannot get water to the interior rooms from the EXTERIOR. What do You think? What is your FD doing? How do you look at today’s fire attack? What are your questions? Ask them here and someone will give their opinion.

    • I am reminded of an old newspaper article I recently came across. Midway Volunteer (at the time) FD arrived on scene to a “fully involved” house fire. Crews were on scene fighting fire for 30 minutes when a victim was found in a back bedroom. The victim was not burned and died the following morning apparently from inhalation injuries. I wondered how that would be perceived if our peers read the same article today. Playing arm chair QB, a proper size-up and effective interior tactics and search, probably would have saved that life.