Training forum: Single-family unit with heavy fire

How would you attack this multi-level, single-family dwelling with heavy fire showing?

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.

Incidents involving heavy fire at single-family dwellings, especially multi-story units constructed of lightweight building materials, present several significant safety issues. Such dwellings burn faster, burn hotter, and structural components fail faster as they are quickly degraded by fire. Incident commanders and firefighters must be especially cognizant when hostile fire has significantly attacked the building's attic area and roof support assembly.

Incident command must select an appropriate strategy and tactics based on incident conditions. Fire conditions progress rapidly in today's single-family dwellings and incident commanders must continually ask themselves: Is my strategy still appropriate for the conditions? Are my tactical operations having a positive effect on the fire? 

  • If you were going to assume command of this incident, what is your assessment of the incident conditions when the video begins; what would be your on-going assessment?
  • Based on the conditions observed as the arriving captain or battalion chief, what should be the mode of operations: offensive, marginal, or defensive?
  • Based upon your continuing size-up, would you consider the tasks being performed by the firefighters in the video to be in line with your strategy and tactics? If not, what adjustments would you make?
  • When an incident commander decides to switch modes of operation from offensive to defensive, what specific procedures and adjustments in the actions of personnel must take place?
  • What observations would you make from the perspective of civilian by-standers about the efficiency and effectiveness of the firefighting forces in the video?

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