Smoothbore or Fog?


SB or FOG? My 2$$
It’s time to but this debate to bed. I say BOTH. There certainly is a place for both and if you find yourself only taking a stand on one of the two nozzles, chances are you are uninformed. SB and Fog a lot of times are dependent on the demographics they serve. Where I work in suburban America, BOTH nozzles are needed and are beneficial. The biggest problem I see when debating these nozzles is that many firefighters are just simply uninformed or under educated on the advantages and disadvantages of BOTH nozzles and even at times, don’t know how to operate the nozzle properly so that it is an effective weapon. The lack of knowledge prevents progress. Staying in your own “bubble” (not getting out of your own department to see how the rest of the world does business) prevents progress. Close minded firemen…”We have always done it this way…and no one got hurt….or just put the damn fire out” mentality, prevents progress. I will take it one step further, it not only prevents progress, but it makes OUR job that more dangerous. That’s right, not just your job, but ALL OF US. This is not an opinion, it is an evidence based FACT. Here are some quick points to ponder that are FACT. Fog nozzles DO NOT provide ANY type of protection with interior firefighting. It is a myth that has absolutely no merit. Watch the video and see what type of “protection” it provides. When operated on a fog pattern, you can move almost as much air as a PPV, essentially creating a wind fueled fire. Again, see the video when the fog pattern is opened twice. Observe how “violent” the conditions get. Drastically changes conditions and heat conditions increase significantly. The ironic thing is, this is what I was taught in 1989 in rookie school. “We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know we don’t know.” I now know it was wrong and dangerous. I’ve learned this through training, education, and experience of being steamed burned (multiple times). Moral of this point, NEVER operate any type of fog pattern, no matter how narrow the fog pattern, when combating interior fires (when fire suppression, not to be confused with mop up). Don’t think so?? Just google the history of the fog nozzle and pattern and how they were originally designed to be used or read up on Lt. Andy Fredrick’s, then come back and finish reading my boring rant. Always use a straight stream. Again, watch video and it clearly demonstrates why we should not be using fog patterns. With that being said, fog nozzles on a straight stream are extremely effective and are excellent weapons. In addition, it does provide the firefighter with a little more versatility to use during overhaul and hydraulic ventilation if needed. Best Fog nozzle weapons are the 50 psi nozzle pressure nozzles. To keep it brief, it equates to high volume of H2o (150+) with low nozzle reaction. The greater the nozzle pressure, the greater the nozzle reaction which equates to gating down the flow. Automatic Nozzles are dangerous, period. Don’t use them with interior firefighting. If you don’t agree or understand, go flow test one and you will see. Don’t use 100 psi fog nozzles. These were big in the 80s and 90s, but fortunately are phasing out of interior firefighting. SB nozzles are extremely effective interior weapons and have been since the inception of the American Fire Service. They have low nozzle pressure (50 psi), typically open orifices the pass debris (essential for stand pipe operations) and solid packed streams that will penetrate objects such as dry wall much better than their fog counterparts. They typically have the same reach as the newer designed fog nozzles, but more volume of the stream goes further distance. SB also are typically small, light, basic, and compact, unlike their fog brothers from another mother. This design makes it ideal for combat firefighting. Light and small equates to aggressive movement of the nozzle….no big fog bails weighing it down. Simple in design….less that will go wrong, and that IS a big deal when the shit hits the fan. And, they are just plain durable and an effective weapon. The biggest mistake I have seen in my career for those who have not been exposed to SB nozzle operations (and that’s a lot of departments in suburban America), is the lack of understanding on how to operate this weapon in an effective mode. It should be moved aggressively all over the room, hitting the floor, sweeping the upper atmosphere, using the ceiling and walls to break up the stream into small droplets. The droplets will not be as fine as a fog stream, thus working to our advantage to not completely jack up the thermal balance like the fog pattern does. Many firefighters loose site of a simplistic concept they teach us in rookie school. GPM extinguishes BTUs. If we allow firefighters to use a SB line when they have never used one before but we don’t train them on how to use it, then we shouldn’t get pissed if they have a negative experience and decide it is not a viable option. So, the point of this rant…..BOTH ARE AWESOME WEAPONS THAT SHOULD BE USED. I believe in having versatility on an engine and by having both options, only make sense. Don’t take mine or anyone else’s word on this, go find out for yourself by training, reading books, studies, and journals about this (that’s right…we do actually learn from reading others materials and can apply what we learn), and challenging the status quo. If you have formulated an opinion on this but it is not based on your own research, training, experience, and education, I would encourage you to re-evaluate your position on this subject. Be the courageous follower in your department and challenges all perspectives to find out what works best for your demographics. “Challenge the Status Quo!”
Be Aggressive-
8 5 0 F I R E M E N

Hotel Rooms and HROC 2015

We have numerous individuals with room reservations that are not registered for HROC. We have extended the $250 until tonight for you to register. We will be issuing name tags for HROC 2015. YOU MUST be REGISTERED to attend. Seats will be limited to only those that have paid and are registered. We are well aware that numerous individuals attended the last two years without registering. We can not look the other way this year. We are currently have over 300 registered and it will SELL OUT!  Register and Reserve room. Rooms are coming very limited. Over 150 rooms already reserved.

Your Name will need to be on list for attendance to HROC 2015.

High Rise Operations Conference 2015

December 1-3, 2015 on Pensacola Beach  Class Starts at 0730 on Tuesday December 1 and Ends late Thursday December 3. You should plan on arriving Monday and leaving on Friday. There will be a HUGE Firefighter Party Thursday night.

Time is Running Out on the $250 registration and the conference is filling FAST! The Hotel is also running out of rooms. The $89 rooms are gone, but you can still get rooms for under $100. The last two years SOLD OUT!!

Contact the Pensacola Beach Hilton direct for reservations 1 (850) 916-2999 You pay after you stay “you can reserve without paying”. Code PHC

Free Shuttle to and from the Pensacola International Airport on Monday and Friday. There WILL NOT be a shuttle for Thursday afternoon/evening.

Rooms less than $100 at the Host Hotel/Convention Center.

Free Beer every night with some FREE FOOD/Dinner.

Top Senior Instructors/Speakers from all over North America

This year will also offer some Heavy Rescue Operations and The Nozzle Forward Program.

Socials for all attendees each night of conference and morning walks/runs to start the day.

The following is a list of offered topics that will be covered:

1. Command & Control of High-Rise Fires
2. Size Up and Deployment at High-Rise Fires
3. Understanding and Utilizing Built in Fire Protection Systems
4. Understanding and  Utilizing Alarm/Control Room
5. Elevator Operations and Rescues
6. PRVs and Everything that they involve.
7. Search and Rescue at High-Rise Fires
8. Forcible Entry in a Smoke Filled hallway
9. Smoke and Fire Control
11. Open Balcony vs. Enclosed Hallway
12. Fire Attack and maximizing Standpipe
13. Attack Line Options
14. Salvage and Controlling activated sprinklers.
15. RIT Operations at High-Rises
16. Standpipe Emergencies

Last Years Brochure as an example of conference schedule


We will flow WATER off the 18th Floor of an occupied Hotel. Where else can you do that? You will Hook Up, Go Up, Stretch down a hallway and through a condo suite.

Link to register

Currently $250

$300 before the end of May.

Some of the Speakers/Instructors for 2015

Ray McComack, Mike Lombardo, Mike Ciampo, Bob Morris, Jerry Tracy, Bob Hoff, Rick Kolomay, Dave McGrail, Kevin Story, Bill Gustin, Gabe Angemi, Jim Crawford, Paulie Capo, Curt Isakson, Ed Farly, Jim Ellis, Josh Materi, Nozzle Forward group and many more.

Keynote for 2015

Curt Isakson

The Cultural Divide  “It’s Worth The Risk”

Part 1 from last year

Email Questions to

HROC 2016 Page

Check this for the latest info and also like us on Facebook at CF Tactics




Searching Without a Line!


More Articles like this at

Risk analysis models influence much of the fireground decision making in the fire service today. But at times we are called to go against these models, act against the odds. The results of such actions are sometimes tragic and sometimes successful. Regardless of the outcome, the fire service must remember that we are a human service, and a standard set of rules or guidelines cannot always dictate the actions of the firefighters who serve the public.
On the evening of January 29, 1998, at approximately 6:30 p.m., a full first-alarm assignment was dispatched to a report of a fire on Townsend Street in Buffalo, New York. The assignment consisted of three engine companies, two truck companies, a rescue company, and a battalion chief.
Truck 11 arrived right behind Battalion 3; the fire was only two blocks from the unit`s quarters. It is a single unit stationed only with the chief; it carries no water and was staffed that evening with five firefighters and an officer. On arrival, the fire was observed venting from two doors and two windows on the number 4 side, from the first-floor rear apartment of this two-story wood-frame dwelling.
With very heavy fire venting from every opening on the number 4 side of the building except one and no engine company yet on location, the prudent decision would have been to await the arrival of an engine and the stretching of a line. However, there were also a frantic mother and father screaming that one of their children was not yet out of the apartment.
Battalion Chief Tom McNaughton also relayed to us that a child was indeed inside the building. He requested that we attempt to enter and search for the child.
There were no openings on the number 3 side of the structure, and windows on the number 2 side were immediately inaccessible by security bars (doors to the apartment were on the number 4 side).
I made the decision to enter the only remaining window into the apartment that was not venting fire. Heavy smoke pushed from the window. Firefighters Tom Jackson and Chuck Sardo and I entered the window into a bathroom. There was a high heat condition in this room. Ahead was a small hallway, where fire was rolling across the ceiling. Jackson crawled through the hallway and into the kitchen. Conditions were worsening rapidly. Fire was heavy in the kitchen.
Outside, Truck 11`s driver, Firefighter Tom Schmelzinger, handed a 212-gallon extinguisher into the bathroom window to me while Firefighters Tom Sullivan and Mike Taube went to the number 2 side of the building to force entry through the security bars on the windows there. (There were also scissor gates on the doors of this apartment house, though they were not a factor in the fire.)
Jackson traveled through the kitchen, with Sardo following. I tried to protect them as much as possible with the water can. Then Jackson entered a small bedroom off the kitchen. He searched a set of bunk beds in this room, with negative results. He came to a pile of clothes in front of the bedroom closet. He found a two-year-old boy.
The bedroom window was barred, providing no exit. Jackson rushed the baby out of the room and almost became trapped in the tiny space at the beginning of the hall between the kitchen sink and hallway wall, which measured less than 18 inches. His helmet was dislodged halfway off his head. He handed the baby to Sardo, who handed the child to me, and I passed him outside to firefighters. The child was in cardiac arrest, and the firefighters performed CPR as they rushed him to a waiting ambulance.
Meanwhile, I used the water can to protect Jackson and Sardo as they made their way forward to the bathroom. It did not extinguish much fire but slowed its progress. I ascertained from Chief McNaughton that this was the only person reported to be in the structure, and we exited the structure. Engine 3`s crew had advanced a line into the building by this time and pushed into the apartment, quickly controlling the fire.
There was tremendous heat in the bathroom, where our team entered. The tub surround had melted into the bathtub, and a medicine cabinet had melted off the wall. Firefighter Jackson received minor burns to his head when his helmet was dislodged in the hallway. These types of conditions normally would indicate that entry should not be made without a handline.
However, with reliable reports such as those given that evening by the child`s family, an attempt must be made to enter and search. If a handline had been immediately available, it still may not have guaranteed success; it most likely would have been advanced in through the apartment door, and crews would have had to delay the search while this line was advanced.
About two months after this fire, a man and woman walked into the quarters of Truck 11. With them was their son, Elijah, the boy rescued from the fire. The child had a fairly large burn on his head that was still healing, but otherwise he was in great shape. If his parents were asked about the firefighting risk vs. benefit of the rescue of their child, there is no question what their answer would be. And with the successful rescue of the baby, I am sure that the collective fire service voice is in agreement.
At the time we entered, Elijah Hall`s life was in the balance, and the duration of that life would be decided within the next few seconds.
But what happens when the child does not survive, or a firefighter does not survive or is seriously injured? It seems, then, that the collective fire service voice is very muddled with armchair quarterbacks saying, “I told you so.”
Decisions such as the one made on Townsend Street are not made by a computer or in a classroom with time to ponder. They are made in a split second and often without complete information. Elijah Hall`s life was saved primarily by the actions of Firefighter Tom Jackson, but also in part by all the members of the team of firefighters who responded that evening. He was saved because Tom–with his training and experience and his team behind him, fully recognizing the risk–“went out and did what he had to do.” And that`s the essence of the fire service.
Events like this take place throughout the fire service. We seldom see names associated with these types of actions. They are not a component of ICS. What drives them cannot be taught in the classroom. Even with our ever-increasing reliance on technology and business management philosophies, the fire service must not lose sight of our primary mission–to save lives–and the fact that it is often the immeasurable personal qualities of individual firefighters that are the driving force behind the accomplishment of that mission. n

Legacy versus Impact: I’m In conflict

“They’ll remember us for this”


Can I be honest?  I think any time you discuss maintaining proper life and work balance it can become intensely personal quick. But I also think this is one of the most important things we need to talk about.  I’m hoping if I go first, then maybe you’ll keep your defenses lowered and allow this to soak in.  If our personal lives are the exposures on our firegrounds, then it does nothing to have a great career (fire attack) if we let it all burn down around us. I’m a husband and a father who is spoiled by three incredible and beautiful ladies who love me very much. But my home life and work are out of balance and its causing conflict with my family…I’ve confused leaving a legacy at work with having impact.

I’m a fire officer and I have to have hard talks with people at time who are in crappy situations (sometimes personal or professional and a result of something they caused; other times its thru no fault of their own).  Sometimes I get the message right and everyone benefits.  Other times the situation is messy or rushed and perhaps my advice or opinion is just wrong for what’s happening.  I read the situation wrong, missed the full context, simply lacked experience, or someone else with more influence made the situation worse with their advice. If I’m really being honest, you should know that I’m your typical Type A, motivated, passionately driven, stubborn, thinks he knows it all fireman (and I admittedly don’t—yes I can admit it).  I consider myself to have more wins than losses, but I do try new things, and old things in different ways in the name of perfecting our “craft”. And from time to time I get “it” wrong.

Those of us who care about the fire service tend to share the same values.  We work and train hard to create and maintain a reputation in which we are credible, trustworthy, and competent to pass the job on.  We hope we are “one of the good ones” (in whatever role or rank that might be). We want to be a person people will consider a positive role model, want to work with, and reach out to when help is needed.  To achieve this we spend countless hours away from home in training classes and attending conferences.  The very nature of the job will cause us to miss holidays, birthdays, and other important events in our family’s lives in the name of work.  We’ll put in 25 years and hope to retire happy, healthy, and with someone who cares about us.  For all this hard work maybe they will name a sports arena, conference, or courage award after us!  Probably not, and unfortunately more likely some of us will inadvertently sacrifice our marriages, or strain relationships beyond repair with the ones that truly matter, like our children.  We will miss lunches at schools with our kids, and reading books before bedtime.  I think you are starting to see the picture I’m trying to paint.

Can you picture someone like me that works in your department? Here’s a hint, if you’re reading this, try looking in the mirror.  Chances are if you care about the fire service and your role in it, we have a lot in common including our professional values.  We would probably get along really well, and have a lot of fun training and working together.

So what’s the difference between legacy and impact, and which should we concern ourselves with? To understand my take on this, you need this example.  The fire department that I work for incorporated EMS in the 1980’s (well before my time).  This is arguably the largest culture change in the history of the fire service—no matter how you feel about it (sorry SLICERS, it can’t all be about you).   The story goes, that the men and women that put our first ambulances in-service would show up in the morning with calls pending, and leave in the evening—with calls

pending.  When the ambulance shifts became 24 hours you can imagine there was very little sleep to be had for those individuals as well.  This marked a significant increase in calls for service and obviously changed the fire service forever.  Today’s parallel is shared by our brothers and sisters who maintain their assignments at core busy stations, where an opportunity for a solid three hour block of sleep is a treat, not the norm.

Fast forward to today.  We recently concluded a project at work that I worked on with a group for over 16 months.  Most nights at the station I would retreat to the officer’s bunk around ten in the evening and then work another three to four hours to make sure I was meeting deadline.  I did this while at a core busy station and I averaged two hours of sleep a night.  I came home exhausted and if I wasn’t working part time I would often nap the next day and miss spending mornings with my kids.  When I was awake, I acted like a robot just sitting there until I would snap at them and even my wife because I was so tired.  Do you know this kind of tired? When I would talk, it was usually about work or I was on the phone with someone about work.  Have you ever had to have a meeting during the summer that interrupted family outings or prevented vacations? I’m sure you’ve never received a phone call from people needing information while you are trying to put the children to bed or eat dinner.  All in the name of meeting a deadline.

As I sat there pouring over the project drafts, I kept reminding myself that the work the group was doing was one of many paramount to the future success of our department. I might have even said “they’ll remember us for this”.  The project work often followed me home and after several hundred hours invested—we were done.   I bet the people who worked to get that first ambulance in service might have said something similar— “This is important to the department….they’ll remember us for this….this is our legacy.”  And in these last few words I see the problem. Would you like to know the names of these folks who sacrificed themselves to get that ambulance in-service? I can’t tell you.  I can’t even tell you the exact year or firehouse where it occurred.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate their sacrifice and professionalism.  I love learning about the history of ours and the fire service. It’s just over thirty years later after the first EMS call, we run so many it just fades into the background.  I’m responsible for knowing so much about so many different things and there simply isn’t enough time in the day to value or pay attention to everything.

I’ve confused legacy with impact.  Impact is the ability to literally collide ideas and values benefiting the here and now, with an eye towards the future.  As leaders, we should all strive to have a positive impact at work.  Legacy, is an opportunity to create a gift—an inheritance of our values about the world and how to navigate within it—that we can leave to the ones we love.  The mistake leaders make is thinking the place to create this is at work.  Avoid confusing the two and realizing neither. My passion for the fire service has blinded me to my shortcomings as a husband and father and this is creating a conflict within myself.  My wife and little girls will remember the memories we make together.  I hope to pass on my values and best attributes while raising them.  Hopefully they will go on to have great impact in the world and create their own families and

legacy.  We will sit around one day and watch home videos and joke about how much more hair Daddy had back then.  We won’t sit around and talk about the project that Daddy worked on for 16 months.  And the reality is that in another 10 years, no one else in my organization will either.  It will more than likely be redrafted and improved upon by the next “go-getters” of the organization.

My role in the fire service is to have a positive impact at work—do a great job, have fun, and empower the next generation of firefighters and leaders.  My legacy is always growing at home with my wife and children and ultimately is determined by their success.  They should receive the bulk of my time, attention, and investment.  We sink a ton of time into developing our teams and ourselves at work, but are we doing the same at home? If you read a fire service book, do you read one on marriage or parenting? If you travel for a fire conference, do you attend a marriage retreat or take a family vacation?  Like a see-saw, it is difficult to maintain balance, and we will have ups and downs in the process.

Anytime I take the time to read something like this (and I appreciate it that you’ve made it this far), I always look to see if the author is offering anything usable moving forward.  In the spirit of this, here’s what I’m currently doing and preaching.  I talked with my wife, and told her this was on my mind. I asked for her help and support in making this change a priority.  I also asked her to be patient and forgive me when old habits emerge.  I was intentional about letting her know that the family is the priority, not work.  I am learning to respectfully say no.  It’s ridiculous how easy I volunteer for projects.  I’m very curious and like problem solving, and people are well aware of how to pitch me an idea to get me on board.  Spread this message to young folks as you see them along the way.  A lot of senior people in my department gave me warnings and advice throughout my career.  I hope they forgive me for not listening sooner, and are happy I’m starting to get it now.  I’m not preaching don’t get involved, (it’s hypocritical given my lengthy committee involvements) but in doing so seek balance.

Quite simply, if you feel overwhelmed chances are, you are either out of balance or quickly headed that way.  To borrow from the fire service, you should maintain a manageable “span of control”: 3-7 life priorities with an optimal of 5.  Your significant other and children should each occupy a priority.  If you have children with multiple sports or clubs that split your family into different directions and make it hard to eat family meals together, then that occupies a third priority.  If you are not currently in a relationship (either divorced or not dating), make sure you keep a slot reserved for meeting new folks.  We were not made to be alone, and you shouldn’t let work prevent you from having a social life and finding people that add value and meaning to your life.

So that leaves us potentially only 2-4 more available priorities.  If you are a leader at work, then your team is a priority.  If you have a rookie, guess what, his or her development needs to be an additional priority (and rightfully so).  This is your largest chance to create lasting impact: provide a positive influence while they learn the culture of the fire service.  Your own development, especially as leadership, is also a priority.  Spend time reading, attending classes (in moderation), listening to leadership and training podcasts—making yourself a better leader benefits your team.  So before we have added the first “special project” we have almost exceeded our span of control.  Make sure you always have at least one slot available for emergencies such as a family death, mental health crisis, or illness such as cancer.  It’s like having a rapid intervention team for our personal life.

I’m not preaching don’t fall in love with the fire service.  Just know that she can only love you but so much back, and is very fickle when she does.  There is a season for everything, and being a young officer with young children is currently my struggle.  I’ve worked over the last two years to honor current commitments but also to not take on any others that might distract from my goal at work, which is to create value and opportunity for the team everyday.  This is an on-going process and I’m not perfect in it.  I’ve set my sights on making a change where home is the priority, and I work hard while at work, but leave it there. I wish you the best success in your career, and hope to see and hear from you on the road to recovering balance between life and work.  If there is anything I can do to help or offer advice, please feel free to contact me at

Benjamin Martin is a lieutenant with the Henrico County Division of Fire (Va) and an 11-year veteran of emergency services.  He is a graduate of and former Deputy Curriculum Chief with The Virginia Fire Officers Academy.  He focuses on empowering aspiring leadership ahead of promotion.  He is equally passionate about supporting and promoting resiliency in existing leadership.  He has two bachelor’s degrees in Allied-Health (Pre-Med) and Fire Science and is currently working on a Master’s in Public Administration.