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Thoughts from MUFTRI Winter Fire School February 19, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Combat Ready for Suburbia, Events.

JimatWFSRecently, I had the pleasure of delivering Suburban Fire Tactics at the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Institute (MU FRTI) Winter Fire School (WFS). If you didn’t attend this event, you missed a great experience and exchange of information!

WFS offered participants and excellent opportunity to develop and discuss ideas. In addition to interacting with students during two deliveries of Suburban Fire Tactics, I was fortunate enough to discuss concepts with fellow instructors, including the crew from Engine House Training.

Some of our hot-discussions involved fire fighter safety:

  • How do you interpret ICS/NIMS for structure fires? Where does the first due officer belong? One student reported when arriving first due with only two firefighters to a structure fire, both firefighters make entry and “leave God at the pump panel.”
  • Is compressed air foam system (CAFS) effective prior to flashover? Will a CAFS line effectively cool down an eminent flashover atmosphere without actually hitting the seat of the fire? Students questioned if CAFS would cool at the ceiling level without actually hitting the body of fire. Is it theory, or is it proven?

What is your opinion of #GodAtThePumpPanel and/or CAFS cooling?



1. Michael Thiemann - February 19, 2013

“God at the pump panel”…. While I understand it and certainly wouldn’t question others in the heat of the moment, I would say that you have increased your risk exponentially by making this tactical decision.

I would offer that if you have a quick contact rescue for a known victim with a location you should consider it. However, you are knowingly risking your life, that of your crew member, and those that are coming in to back you up. Also, if ANYTHING happens at the truck (as it often does) you are done. Who are you calling the “mayday” to….

I would suggest that instead you establish a strong situational awareness of scene conditions. Most likely in the above example you are going to be in such a hurry to reduce fire growth that your 360 will be forfeited or significantly rushed.

I think that we have learned so much from “Near Miss”, USFA, and so many LODD’s that we have passed the point where it is acceptable to make a common practice of reckless behavior. Risk a lot to save a lot, risk little to save little, risk nothing to save nothing. I would assume that NFPA, IAFC, or the IAFF would not endorse this practice for routine operations either.

Just my thoughts.

2. Steve Arnold - February 19, 2013

“GOD at the Pump Panel” would be an interesting topic for a future class.

What happened to the two-in two out rule before committing to interior firefighting operations, unless there is a confirmed rescue?

What happened to NFPA 1910 and 1920… minimum on scene staffing for an interior fire attack? Its nice to have these standards on paper but they are worthless unless an attempt is made to train to and implement them on the fire ground.

I realize immediate on scene staffing issues is a huge problem in many departments but entering a structure without someone knowing where you are at in the interior (basement-1st floor-2nd floor) is simply rolling the dice with your life.

Also what happens if the pump malfunctions and the water supply to the pump is interrupted or the water flow through the attack line stops and you find yourself in a superheated environment with potential flash-over possibilities? Also the lack of a second supporting safety line is really dropping your odds for safe efficient operations.

Unless you can make an immediate impact on a rescue you should follow the minimum two-in…two-out SOG….Its all about good risk management….thinking with our heads.

3. Jim Silvernail - February 19, 2013

My intent here is not to “arm chair” quarterback or critique another organizations operations. I understand that many of us have different budget constraints which affect operations. Teaching at different regional fire schools has really opened up my eyes to the fact that we are all not “created” equally (so to speak).

I always ask a question in my delivery, “Does your organization allow your crews to attempt offensive, interior attacks on unoccupied structures?” I know this is a loaded question, because the first part of this question is the unknown variable of “unoccupied.” But then I take it further, now it is absolutely confirmed that no one is in the structure. Do you still go in?

Of course, the second part of this question deals with the risk assessment of the equation. Does your agency have: the adequate resources, the experience, the ability to read fire progress and structural stability, a good set of operating guidelines, and a safety net (RIT, Ems, Safety officer, etc) to minimize the risk to justify an interior attack on an unoccupied structure?

I consider myself an aggressive fire officer. However, I am only aggressive because my agency and the system I work under allows me to be aggressive. We have all the elements above to allow me to operate in this fashion. I believe that we adequately have the elements in place to lower our risk. Not every fire is the same, however, and aggressive will get you hurt if you do not monitor the circumstances and the situation.

When I ask this question in my delivery, I have noticed less hands going up to the question. It is either fear of being seen as a lesser fire agency or trying to be like “everyone else.” It takes more courage to say NO. It takes more courage and an AGGRESSIVE leader to say: “do not go in, we do not have the resources.” Just look at pics at Worchester. The Chief that had to say no more will go in was a true leader.

Thank you all for the comments.
PS.. Chief Arnold, lets put that class together.

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