Here is the scene. You are the officer in charge here and when you arrive this is what you see.

You have reports of possible victims in an early morning fire.

Now, this house is approximately 1600 square feet with a basement. Single story about 25-30 years old.

Based on your tactical priorities, start assigning these crews where it is most appropriate. Explain where and why you sent your crews there. Keep in mind you are a medium sized department that is a suburban island. Meaning that basically you have three trucks on the scene with this number of personnel.

Your next truck in is 10 minutes away. You have public water supply.

The neighbor got up to go to work and noticed smoke coming from the house next door. Exposure B and D are about 15 feet away on both sides.

What do you do?

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If anything screams coordinated fire attack, this does. What you don't want to do here is create a backdraft situation. Sure looks like the fire just needs some oxygen to take off. This thing looks like a time bomb ready to go off. And look at the smoke, it's all the way down to the floor. You have to prioritize getting the heat out through vertical ventilation with a coordinated interior attack. You need to have a RIC team in place and a Rescue Group to look for victims, but you can't do any of this in a charged house of smoke, still in the smoldering phase, just waiting for air to enable complete and total combustion, often times with a lot of energy being created. To charge the house with air could be a disaster.

Use your truck company to prioritize cutting a hole in the roof of this structure first and possibly the adjacent structure next, depending on whether it is also fully involved. I know there's only one photo here and it could just be a single room and contents fire, but what the heck, it never hurts to be safe, wait for the appropriate resources, do what you can with what you have and remember that not all fire start because of an 'accident' or natural causes... This incident to me again makes me think arson.

Also, considering that you have some significant exposure problems and smoke coming from inside the house next door, I would immediately call for an investigator and law enforcement because two houses catching on fire from the inside is just a little suspicious... something's not right here.

CBz
Let me clarify, the neighbor called in this fire. I was letting you know how the call came in. The fire you see is the fire the neighbor called in. Sorry for the confusion, my bad.
I misread it as well, thinking that there were two structure fires... this is what I get for not having a cup of coffee onboard before doing any critical thinking... Still, I'd call for an investigator which may be from the state fire marshal's office, so response time is always a factor.

I say this also because judging from the amount of smoke, the color, the intensity and the fact that the smoke level has dropped to the ground, the chances of finding survivors is very minimal, and if you do find anyone alive, the damage to their lungs alone minimize any chances for survival not to mention burns.

My point here is that you need to think fatalities and crime scene. I would mention this to crews focusing on areas of the most intense burning, reminding them to use fog patterns as much as possible to prevent penciling into the walls, potentially damaging the crime scene and the evidence needed to do cause and determination.

And by the way, if you are a new company officer, and yes, the type of thinking you have to do is much different that sitting in the rear or left seat... Get used to it. It usually sucks... The good news is that if you have a good relationship with your engineer and they know their job, then you will always have a good sounding board to assist you when making decisions. We have headsets so the conversations are calm, low keyed and to the point. I hope you have this type of world. It makes it a l lot more fun in the long run. And besides... it's not about who wins the game but where you go afterwards for pizza!

CBz
First, kepp the PPV Fan on the truck. Unless, of course you want to burn the house down quickly. If I read this right, the entire available staff is assembled in front of the house? That tells me a total of 5 personnel responded on 3 pieces of equipment, correct? No matter how you slice that up, you have only 1 actual 'company' on location, so I cannot see what the advantage is of bringing 3 pieces of apparatus with only 5 firefighters. But...it IS done, so...

Not being able to make any real size-up with this one, limited picture, it's difficult to committ personnel. But with the information I have, it's obvious I do NOT have enough personnel to make a safe, coordinated fire attack. Is there at least ONE firefighter not depicted that is operating a pumper, and securing a water supply? If not, we are down to 4 firefighters.

Charge a 1.75" hoseline, and after completing the 360 (which leaves more questions), assign 2 firefighters as outside vent, after forcing the front door, and begin an exterior attack. Be preparred for rapid fire growth, and flash under the roof/overhang area, as if fire vents, it will ignite those gases accumuating under that roof. The fire may very well be close to that area. Certainly it could be in the basement, but there does not appear to be any smoke venting from the visible basement window.

The outside vent team needs to progress rapidly around the dwelling, and look for an entry point behind the fire to access, and begin the search.

There are not enough personnel on scene to cover the required tactical assignments. So the roof is not a priority. There are not enough firefighters on scene to even begin an offensive FIRE attack. The priority would be to initiate a primary search, and attempt to contain the fire without committing crews to penetrate the interior too far. Opening up strategically, to prevent flash, should accelerate the fire growth, which SHOULD enable us to locate it easier. But we have to attempt to get the line between the unburned side, and the fire.

With only a crew of 5, this is a loosing situation. Considering your next-in comopany is 10 minutes away, it's very easy to get in trouble here, and help...however limited it may be...is too far away.

Fire department have to operate within their ability, the REALISTIC ability. And if that means you cannot conduct an aggressive, interior/offensive fire attack, then so be it. We have to work within our limits. It's up to the community to decide how much fire protection they are willing to fund.

This situation seems to require at least double of the staff available. TWO hoselines, equating to at least 4 firefighters, an IC, an exterior vent/ladder crew(2), and inside vent/search crew(2), a pump operator for at least 1 engine, and at least the initial '2-out' before the arrival of a RIC team.
Jeez, this response is just dripping with insider know how from a seasoned Fire Captain. Folks here on the FFN need to check out this response... it just doesn't get any better.

CBz
I don't think there's nearly enough information from this one photo to determine the strategy and tactics for this fire. We can only see one part of one side of the fire, nothing of the other three sides, nothing about exposures, and a little information nabout the basement.

If the layout is typical for Type V cottage-over-basement construction, the door with the heaviest smoke might be the worst possible place to enter this one.

Is more information and/or additinal photos available?
Dunno about keeping the PPV fan on the truck. I'm not generally in favor of PPA attacks, but in this case, with a ventilation-controlled fire, PPA in a small structure like this one can provide fresh air to any victims, clear the smoke to make the advance to the fire a piece of cake, and push the bulk of the heat away the primary entry door and route to the fire.

That may limit the outside vent to a single opening and make a quick knockdown with a single line possible. With a potential rescue, whether the house burns down or not is a secondary consideration.

Regardless, I don't have enough information to determine my tactics from a shot that doesn't show me 85% of the outside and nothing about access or exposures.
Ben,
I agree, this is not a perfect picture, but it is just to use for practice. I do not have an additional pictures, but, I will give you this: It is a ranch house that has the garage to the left and the rest of the house to the right. The basement has a bulk head entrance in the rear. The exposures are on both sides and same kind of houses. You have no fire showing, just smoke. Smoke is pushing from every seam it can find but is heaviest with what you see in the picture.
Hope that helps, thanks for replying, it really is appreciated. It is always good info.
In that case, I'd probably use the PPV fan for PPA in the door we're seeing in the photo.
That will push the smoke back enough to bring fresh air to victims on the floor and get a line in to the fire if it's on the first floor. If it is a basement fire, the pressurized first floor will help keep the fire pushed into the basement for a few minutes.

I'm only committing two firefighters to the interior on a Search to the Fire assignment. If they find the fire, they extinguish it. If they find a victim, they leave the nozzle in place and make the rescue. At that point, the structure (and the hoseline and nozzle) are of secondary importance.
basements don't exist in suburbia... at least not on the west coast for the most part, so any tactics involving a structure with a basement would automatically be defaulted to what Chief Waller's calls are.

I too would make use of PPV but only after the vertical/horizontal ventilation + interior attack/rescue were coordinated. All the points about visibility and providing fresh air to victims is spot on.

From looking at just one photograph and one side of the building, I have to go on the structure pouring a lot of smoke, and down low at the front door. My key concern is dumping a lot of air on a smoldering fire has had some disastrous results for firefighters and the occupants inside the building.

CBz
Basements are everywhere in the Midwest, sorry. But, my brother lives in TN and they don't have any either. Where do you put all your stuff?
Here is my take. You have to do an attack line search. I would suggest two for that. I am a believer in vertical ventilation on a deal like this. Coordinate a vertical vent with the interior team. PPV worries me for blowing fire horizontally on top of victims until the fire is located. An outside VES guy that is experienced. He has to coordinate with the interior crew.
Interior guys, put out fire if you find, remove victims if you find it. Take a TIC and make sure you search fast. This is a speedy deal until you can isolate the fire location.
I think vent high and go in low on this deal.
360 is a must.
So, two inside, two on roof and one VES. All coordinated. Vent needs to happen ASAP for interior conditions to improve. Don't forget the pike pole to bust down the drywall, have seen that happen lots.

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