How to fight the rural building fire

Limited water supply and windy and drought conditions add to the complexity of gaining the upper hand on this structure fire


Hotter-than-normal weather, along with increasing draught conditions affecting large parts of the United States are creating many fire suppression challenges, especially for firefighters in rural areas. And while wildland or vegetation fires get the bulk of attention from the fire service and the public, those challenges for rural firefighters also include structure fires.

We can take stock in what some of those challenges look like as we view this video segment of Clinton, Iowa firefighters battling a fire in a vacant building that is part of a larger agri-business complex where swine were being born and raised for pork production.

Water supply and water management — two entirely different animals — are critical factors in the management of this incident. The former encompasses the tactics and tasks that must be carried out to bring a supply of water to the scene that meets the incident commander's water supply needs. The latter is how the commander manages and allocates that resource, and how subordinate tactical leaders manage the water resources given to them.

Discussion points

  • What is the building construction type and they physical condition of the structure?
  • How will the occupancy type influence the fire?
  • What are the sources of operational risk and how can you mitigate those risks?
  • What are the water supply issues and how would you address them?
  • What are the water management issues and how would you address them?
  • What does the building being vacant, in this location, mean to your tactical approach to fire suppression operations? 
  • Describe the influence that hot, windy conditions have on a fire in an old vacant building, like the one shown in the video. 
  • What influence will this have on your tactical approach to suppressing this fire?

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