A coordinated fire attack is essential in our modern fire environment where fires are burning hotter and faster than ever with our synthetic home furnishings. Civilian lives are depending on the synchronized actions of firefighters to remove heat and improve their oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Together the fire conditions and civilian lives present tremendous challenges for the incident commander and the nozzle firefighter that at times will require you to listen to that voice inside called gut instinct.
County Fire Tactics asks you to take a moment of pause while reading this article to remember the loss of Firefighter Oscar Armstrong II 18 years ago today, March 21st, 2003. In March 2003, Firefighter Armstrong was assigned to the nozzle position when his life suddenly ended in a flashover during a residential fire at 1131 Laidlaw Avenue in the Bond Hill section of Cincinnati Ohio. At the time of his death, he was 25 years old and left behind two children, and a fiance expecting the birth of another child.
When the incident commander arrives on the scene, regardless of rank or vehicle style, the framework for the overall success of the fire begins with the scene size-up, selection of the tactics that will put out the fire based on manpower available, and the tempo at which the tactics are carried out. The photo shows smoke coming from a one-story wood frame with a central hallway leading from the front to the rear. This older home is sealed up tight, boarded up windows, and a damaged roof tarped with furring strips. A gut instinct by the IC drove a slightly slower tempo in recognizing the potential for extreme fire conditions upon opening up this oxygen or ventilation limited fire.
This fire occurred less than six months after Firefighter Steven Solomon lost his life in a fire that occurred on November 23rd, 2006 at 257 Elm Street in Atlanta Georgia. Chief Isakson attended Firefighter Solomon’s funeral and received a first-hand account from an Atlanta Fire Chief regarding the initial conditions and operations where Steven lost his life. Isakson’s gut instinct to slow the tempo and open up before letting his firefighters advance was based on the fire behavior similarities that the two fires presented.