Fire service terms every new firefighter needs to know

A simple A-Z guide to ease the lingo learning curve – and even give aspiring firefighters a head start on the job


The fire service is known for its unique lingo – and its even greater love (or at least propensity) for acronyms.

Unless they’ve grown up in a family of firefighters, new firefighters often find themselves frantically trying to keep pace with the firehouse jargon all around them.

The following A-Z guide should help ease the learning curve – and even give aspiring firefighters a head start on the job.


A


B


C

  • CAD – computer-aided dispatch
  • CAFS – compressed air foam system [Learn more: 5 reasons to fight fire with foam]
  • CAN – condition, actions, needs (a type of fireground report)
  • CBRNE – chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosives
  • Charlie side (aka Side Charlie or just "C") – back side of a building
  • COAL WAS WEALTH – construction, occupancy, area, life hazard; water, auxiliary systems, street hazards; weather, exposures, apparatus/personnel, location, time, hazards [Learn more: 2 operational acronyms firefighters must learn]

D

  • DCD – descent-control device (for rope rescue)
  • Delta side (aka Side Delta or just "D") – right side of a building

Extrication in action.
Extrication in action. (Photo/Rom Duckworth)

E


F


G

  • gpm – gallons per minute

Hugh Halligan with the tool.
Hugh Halligan with the tool. (Photo/Imgur)

H


I


J


K

  • KSA – knowledge, skills and abilities

L


M


N

  • NFPA – National Fire Protection Association
  • NIMS – National Incident Management System

O

  • OSB – oriented strand board (used in building construction)

Firefighter turnout gear.
Firefighter turnout gear.

P


Q


R

  • RECEO-VS - Rescue, Exposures, Containment, Extinguish, Overhaul - Ventilation and Salvage (firefighters' actions on the fireground in order of strategic importance) [Learn more: 2 operational acronyms firefighters must learn]
  • Rehab – short for fire rehabilitation, the process of resting the body after exertion
  • RIC/RIT – rapid-intervention crew/rapid intervention team (the team that rescues a downed firefighter)

Firefighters tending to SCBA.
Firefighters tending to SCBA. (Photo/U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Bryan Reckard)

S


T

  • TIC – thermal imaging camera

U

  • UAS – unmanned aerial systems (aka drones)
  • USAR – urban search and rescue

V


W

  • WUI – wildland-urban interface

X

Y

Z


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