This is a term I hear used by the Detroit Fire Department a lot when they go to box alarms for fire.  They show up, have a well involved house, get a water supply going and just dump the gun before making their push into the house.  Now DFD is definitely their own breed.  And they do things very differently.  But in this case I think it makes sense.

Around here in MA and a few other places, that I know of, the fire departments will show up to a well involved house and grab a water supply and stretch a 2 1/2 on the dwelling and attempt to start knocking it down.  Which is not a bad thing at all but, everyone is tight on man power these days.  And the 2 1/2 can take a lot of energy for the first 2 guys arriving on scene to grab a hydrant, stretch, set up and run the pump.    

If there is a good water supply coming in to the first due truck, especially in times when man power is such an issue, would the best choice be to dump the gun if possible, make the quick knock down and then when more man power arrives, attempt to make a push for the interior (if safe to do so) or at that time stretch the 2 1/2 lines for exposure and the surround and drown?

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This would be called a transitional attack here. Same concept, hit the bulk with a master stream or 2 1/2 and then go in. Works well, helps keep fire from spreading to exposures. I know if flowing a 2 1/2 continuous, we have 3 minutes and 30 seconds before the tank water on the pump is depleted. That does give quite a bit of knockdown. With a deck gun, we have less time, but works well for a fire in the front or with limited crews (or waiting for other companies) where lines can be pulled etc. IMO, this is a solid tactic.

Actually, many times in Detroit that first engine uses its deluge gun in a blitz attack BEFORE a water supply is established to buy time to get one established and get lines in place.  The second in engine reverse lays to the hydrant.  At least this was my understanding of their tactics.

Don, you beat me to it.

In my experience this is called the "Blitz Attack" and is just as Don explained it.  You get on scene and "blitz" the fire with the water in your tank via the deck gun in hopes of knocking it down enough to establish a water supply and form up sufficient manpower to attack the fire interior.

John Crabbe;  Isnt the transition style of attack more commonly used to describe going from one form of operation (Offensive to Defensive) to another, or one method of attack (Indirect, Direct, Combination) to another?  Granted, using the blitz attack is a transition from exterior indirect attack to an interior direct attack but I feel thats why we call it the "Blitz" attack, because its quick and furious with the water you have in order to buy you time to transition to interior ops.  Just a thought of mine to spark conversation.

Blitz Attack

Seems to me that a Blitz attack is one kind of transitional attack.

The Blitz attack was used to knock down a well involved fire with a heavy hit, generally from a mounted deck gun, or a 2 1/2 inch handline.  In most cases it was roughly 1/2 to 3/4 the water tank on the engine with the remaining water used for exposure protection, or mop-up, while a water supply was secured.


A transitional attack is when entry to kill the fire is the primary tactic.  It is a hit on the fire from the exterior to knock the fre back enough to buy time and allow entry.  Generally this hit is made with a handline, either a 1 3/4 that is then advanced interior, or a 2 1/2 to allow the smaller line to enter and finish killing the fire.

Don't they enter with a handline after the Blitz?

Yes they do here.  We used it quite a few times effectively, and others not so effectively.  Usually advance a large bore line like 2 1/2" after the gun is shut so you gain a quick foothold on it.

Thanks for the Info Don, I had forgotten what the transitional was exactly, thanks.

Stay Safe.

I'm still going with blitz as a type of transitional. You are still transitioning from an exterior attack to an interior attack.

Really just semantics. Blitz attacks (we don't use that term) are fairly rare for us. When we start with large caliber exterior stream it's almost always as part of an overall defensive strategy. Transitional was avoided due to the fear of "pushing" fire. We are just beginning to abandon that notion.

Also being a MA firefighter in a small community (watching the 5 alarm fire in a South End Boston Church with interest) I have been invovled with attacks that start with either a gun or a large bore (2 1/2 or bigger) befoe entering.  Because we are a small department I have gone so far as to be the single member on the line with a 3 inch attack line at the front door while waiting on more personnel.

A gun is truly when you arive and know you do not have the manpower to put on an effective attack in a rapid time frame with a handline.  This can knock down a ton of fire in a short period while you establish a water supply and put lines and perosnnel into place 



Technically you are correct in that hopefully a blitz attack transitions into an interior attack for mop-up, but it may not.  The difference is clear, with the Blitz you are hitting a WELL involved fire with the deck gun hoping to break its back while the rest of the operation is set up, with a transitional attack the intent is to have the lines that are going to go interior make a quick hit from the exterior to darken down the fire to allow for an easier entry.  While it doesn't seem like a great difference it really is.

Thanks for the explanation. I see your point.

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