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Reality Training
by Reality Training

Reality Training: Two-alarm fire in Brooklyn

Use this video and its discussion questions to improve your firefighting capabilities

By Robert Avsec

This feature is intended to spark the sharing of ideas, information and techniques to make firefighters safer and more effective. The following video and discussion points must not be used to berate, belittle or criticize those firefighters. Rather, in the spirit of near-miss reporting, please use this feature as another teaching tool to help you better do your job. Please leave your comments below and use this material in your own department. I hope you find this Reality Training valuable; stay safe and keep learning.

This video offers a good look at a building on fire well before the first firefighting resources arrive. The building houses a grocery store on the first floor and residential apartments on the upper floor.

One of the initial Incident Commander's (IC) most critical decisions is to define the mode of operation — offensive, defensive, or marginal — based upon a risk assessment derived from a 360 degree size up of the incident. Size up and evaluation of risk for the situation must continue throughout the operation. 

Older, mixed use buildings such as the building in this video present fire situations that can make size up difficult. A good rule of thumb: the more complicated the situation looks at first glance, the more important it is to conduct the initial size up and regular follow up assessments.

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  • What mode of operation — offensive, defensive, or marginal — would you select for this incident based upon your initial size up and risk assessment? 
  • How did you determine the mode of operation that you selected?
  • What is the level of risk for the firefighters in the video and how did you determine that level of risk?
  • How would you manage those risks as the IC?

For additional resources, read the International Association of Fire Chiefs' "10 Rules for Engagement for Structural Firefighting and the Acceptability of Risk."

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