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Reality Training
by Reality Training

Fire attack: Attic fire

Take command of this residential attic fire and make decisions based on a 360 size up and crew availability

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.

The completion of a good size-up of the involved structure and any external exposures by the first arriving fire officer is a critical component for successful fire suppression operations.

While conducting her size-up, the fire officer must be cognizant of how easy it is to develop tunnel vision. This can include becoming focused solely on visible smoke or fire to the exclusion of other key observations about the fire's location, how it's extending, and what affect it's having on the structures stability.

Discussion questions

  • The first arriving officer in the video communicates via radio that he has a working attic fire. As he begins his 360-degree assessment, what do you observe about the wall on Side B as the camera pans the structure? 
  • What is the significance of this observation as it relates to the fire in the attic?
  • How would you characterize the smoke conditions as the video progresses?
  • What assumptions can you make about fire extension based on your observations? 
  • What tactical direction would you give to your fire attack team as they advance into the structure?
  • In the video, the radio traffic indicates that the incident command doesn't assign resources to the RIT until the 4:30 minute mark, several minutes after crews are already operating inside the building (and the IC has already communicated that there are no civilians inside the structure). What is the appropriate time to establish the RIT in the incident arrival sequence? 
  • What is your department's SOG for the establishment of RIT?

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Matt Hills Matt Hills Tuesday, July 08, 2014 9:43:04 AM This was called in as an attic fire, and crews made an nterior first floor attack prior to full vent of the roof. On arrival smoke is venting the B side. However, it appears the B side reveal this was NOT an attic fire at its origin. That appears to be a dryer vent on teh B side which clearly has extended up the wall/interior into the attic, and the extension filled the attic prior to flames venting out the B side roof. Not sure if this home has a basement, but there could likely be a fully involved basement. First, the engine is too close. Attack from the front door, and establish RIT before full entry. Second in should use tools/hoseline on B side to expose attic and wall where vent. Direct lines from interior to B side, and find attic entry toward middle of the home to push toward B side. Exterior attack focused on wall only, and not pushing flames inward. If basement attack needed, reconsider interior attack until lower level controlled.
Steve McLoven Hutchinson Steve McLoven Hutchinson Tuesday, July 08, 2014 7:06:19 PM lots of guys standing around and not much water flowing
Drew Perkins Drew Perkins Wednesday, July 09, 2014 8:15:39 AM Should be a cordinated interior and exterior attack. Front door wide open feeding in O2 well before they are ready to enter. Until you are ready to put water on the fire opening the structure puts you behind the 8 ball.
Ronald Shalonis Ronald Shalonis Saturday, July 12, 2014 12:49:44 PM You never preform an interior attack and a defense attack together! You will steam bake the interior crew! Pick one or the other! This is for Drew
Michael Meyer Michael Meyer Saturday, July 12, 2014 12:55:45 PM they burnt the house down they just stood around doing nothing
Rich Gaun Rich Gaun Saturday, July 12, 2014 1:22:35 PM I want to know who was the guy in street clothes that just walked up and moved the ladder to the roof. WTF?
Jim Carter Jim Carter Saturday, July 12, 2014 1:55:26 PM I am guessing he was a Chief the way he was ordering people around. Yes he should not have been anywhere near the structure. Right after he moved they broke through the roof with the hose line and debris was flying everywhere.
Rich Gaun Rich Gaun Saturday, July 12, 2014 5:00:39 PM No kidding! If that was one of my Officers or Members that would have been quite a discussion.
Hank Salzmann Hank Salzmann Sunday, July 13, 2014 7:44:08 AM Looks like supply line was never charged.

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