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Fire attack: Attic fire

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

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?

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