A local news story Wednesday, questioning Houston Fire Department policies on aggressive fast attacks. They interview Chief Brunacini, and were probably surprised at his responses.


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This is very disheartening. I cannot believe they think it is o.k. to risk lives.

We risk lives everyday in all that we do..It IS part of the job.

To an interior firefighter...AGGRESSIVE INTERIOR ATTACKS are a way of life. We save countless lives doing that.

Im not saying that it is always done correctly.

What the chief said was WHEN DONE PROPERLY!
he listed
TRAINING, as is often discussed in these forums
Risk v. Gain...ALWAYS
SOPs on thermal imaging

Agressive interior attacks are a way of life for structural firefighters. When done properly and safely there are many great rewards. Unfortunately they are very dangerous, just like a wildland fire, just like a Haz Mat event, or a MVI.

One of the MOST important factors to me as an officer or IC is Risk v. Gain. Is the risk we are taking or about to take worth what we MAY gain. Sometimes it is an easy call, sometimes it is not.

I wasnt in Houston at this fire so I won't comment nor will I second guess the commanders that were there.

But, when done properly, considering ALL factors Aggressive Interior Attacks are a good tool to use on these types of fires.,
Very true Jake. I guess I really didn't think it through.
Jake an Jack, well said. I sat in a lecture not that long ago where Mr Brunacini spoke on this very subject. You hit right on the head. Unfortunately the media will take a segment of what is said and twist it to say what ever their twisted minds can interpret. That you guys for bringing this discussion back to reality.
Chief Brunacini, his experience and knowledge are PRICELESS!
AMEN! I think Brunacini did wonders for the fire service and I can't think of a better compliment to the Houston FD than Brunacini saying, "If I were is a house fire, I would want the HFD coming to get me".
I read Bruno's comments, and he did NOT say that you should never engage in offensive firefights.
What he said was essentially that you need to do a serious risk-benefit analysis prior to engaging in offensive attacks and not just blindly go inside every burning building.

He also refused to comment specifically about the two recent HFD LODDs.

Taken together and in context, Bruno was a) praising HFD and b) reiterating what Phoenix FD did while he was the chief there...go inside when the building hadn't yet reached Born Loser status and only when there was a risk worth taking.

Offensive Firefights = Calculated Risk
Transitional Firefights = Calculated and Recalculated Risk
Defensive Firefights = Minimimal Risk


Automatic Offensive Firefights = big, fancy funerals.
What is curious, the station didn't rebroadcast that report Thursday am, or make any more mention of it since it aired.

My guess is, Chief B didn't give them the answers they wanted to hear.
The media will always take and manipulate what is said to do what is in their best interest
This fire was text book at the start. There were reports of people being inside at the arrival of the 1st crew and initial conditions where not out of the ordinary. RIT was on standby at the front door and the roof had already opened up allowing all the heat and smoke out. In life safety techniques, that is the 1st thing you do; punch a hole in the roof to allow heat out. The thing in my opion (Again it is only an opion) is that the winds blowing at 30 mph was able to get in the hole and fuel the fire. If not for that, things would not have been what they are now.
I am thinking that when the Chief saw what the winds where doing and causing conditions to worsen is when he called for the bail out. Unfortunalty it was to late and they where not able to get out. I am thinking a flash over from the winds but i am just GUESSING. I was not there but have spoke to many that either know people from the station or around there.

But everything i have heard is that it was a text book fire upon arrival with possible people trapped. Each of us would have probably done the same thing if we where there. It is what we do, it is what we are trained for, and it is everyones desire to save lives and property when we are called to do so.

Just my opion and i know it is like a butt hole, everyone has them.

Not sure what the fuss is... at least for as long as I can remember in fire training (that is about 16 years) we have discussed these issues in Size-Up and Command/Control. Fast Attack Mode has its place and time, (not everytime) and when chosen the line officer making those decisions needs to calculate what his crew can reasonably handle. Risk verse Gain. Without it, firefighters would push in on a fully involved house and flip side, every waste paperbasket fire in an unoccupied dwelling would become a full blown defensive attack if we choose to not go in. Heck, lets just not show up and eventualy the fire will go out too.

With respect to HFD (and the brothers put out alot of fires without suffering injury or LODD) Yes they have been in the news but not everyone of their past decades, LODD occurred in the fast attack mode. The defination of fast attack alone should quantify that statistic.

Once the box compliment arrives on scene with a formal Incident Commander; another thorough size-up must be obtained to justify the actions set forth by the first due line officer.

At that point the fireground has three modes of operation: OFFENSIVE / MARGINAL / DEFENSIVE
I wonder if the media is aware of members that are killed in apparatus crashes. I suggest maybe we quit driving the rigs to the incident and we teach everyone to put out their own fires. That way no one will get hurt or killed driving the rig. Of course aggressive interior attacks are needed. If you remember, our job is to protect lives AND property. With that in mind, NO FIREFIGHTERS LIFE IS WORTH ANY STRUCURE!!! EVER!!!! But, the first half of our mission is to protect lives. The lessons we learn in interior firefighting are invaluable. It is very different than training burns. My Point is, let’s say you take the stance of not putting lives in danger and your department agrees to fight all fires from the exterior with aggressive ventilation. Now you get reports of victims trapped, any firefighter that has any type of dedication is going in for the search and rescue. Do you want that to be the first time that you learn what interior firefighting conditions are like for real? Is that going to be one of the few times that you learned how to advance a line or do a search under real fire conditions in a structure that has an unfamiliar layout? We need to go in to sharpen our skills at every level. We have the best job in the world. But the sad fact is that each year, some of us do not come home. We must learn from our fire ground experiences in order to pass on the knowledge and make sure we lose less every year.

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