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Water on the Fire Supplement
advocating the same. Having one plan
for all situations is like attempting to
drive a square peg into a round hole: It
is fruitless and dangerous.
The following fundamentals will help
you to correctly evaluate and size up the
situation and confirm that the plan is
suited to the situation.
Ventilation. Direct and coordinate
ventilation with the advancement of the
engine company. If you do not coordinate or conduct ventilation properly,
the engine company’s advance will be
delayed or impeded and personnel will
be endangered. Consider those factors
that will negatively impact the growth
of the fire, including wind speed and
Egress. Protect the building’s primary
means of egress, the interior stairs. Although every situation may be different,
some things do not change: Life safety
is the number-one tactical priority. Place
a properly selected handline between
the fire and any endangered occupants.
Protecting the primary means of egress
within a building enables firefighters
conducting searches to remove victims
by the quickest route.
Handline. A properly selected and
well-placed handline operated rapidly
and maneuvered properly will generally extinguish the fire. Most fires are
controlled safely with one line. Extinguishing the fire has the single greatest
impact on life safety.
Water. Operations to get water on the
fire must follow a logical order. Locate the
fire, and communicate this information.
Confine the fire with handlines to give
truck company personnel time to conduct
searches. Deploy sufficient resources to
safely and effectively extinguish the fire.
Depending on staffing levels, building
construction, and so on, this may necessitate applying water from the exterior
before entering to decrease the amount
of energy. In other situations, the interior
attack may be warranted. In either case,
the goal is to get water on the fire quickly
and in a coordinated effort.
All of these tasks and skills are vital
for controlling the fire. Removing victims
from the building depends on our ability
to protect and control the exit paths.
Safety and survival techniques are needed
only when we cannot control the fire. Pro-
viding emergency medical service care for
the victims can be done only after the fire
has been controlled and the victim has
been removed from the building.
This information is shared in the same
spirit as in the UL report mentioned at the
beginning of this article: “These tactical
considerations are not meant to be rules
but to be concepts to think about, and if
they pertain to you, by all means adapt
them to your operation.” Apply strategies
and tactics for fires based on the needs of
the situation. The single most important
function at a structure fire is, always has
been, and will always be, to get water on
S TEVEN WOODWORTH, a 35-year veteran
of the fire service, is a training officer for
the Fayetteville (GA) Fire Department
and has written numerous articles for
Fire Engineering. He is an Operations
Section chief with the Georgia Emergency
Management Agency, Area 7 Type III IMT.
He was co-author Fighting Fires with Foam.