High heat output of modern fire is very high. Should we hit the fire with Large Caliber Steams while stretching interior handlines? Than shut the L.C.S.s down and then attack the fire with interior handlines as we always have. What are your experances? What are your views?

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Transitional attacks usually work best when the fire is autoventilated to the exterior, but it doesn't necessarily take large-caliber lines.  


The key thing is to hit the fire from the exterior, knock it down, shut down the exterior line, then get inside either by relocating the exterior line or by having a second line stretched, usually by a second company.


The transitional attack doesn't even require that the hose team mask up, as long as they use the stream reach as a stand-off weapon.


Old-school interior attacks are fine, and I advocate using them whenever appropriate.  That includes fires that haven't flashed over or that don't have direct access from the exterior.


Defensive - if it's fully involved and falling apart, it's a Born Loser and there is nothing to gain from going interior.


This always has to be a judgement call by a well-trained, well-prepared officer who bases the attack mode on the building construction, size-up, fire size and conditions, survival profile, reading the smoke, and everything else that goes into making quick decisions with limited resources and inadequate information.


Transitional attacks with 150 GPM, 1.75-inch hand lines can be very effective, especially for flashed-over room and contents fires.  In this age of much hotter fuels and ladder fuels in the smoke layers, it makes (situational) sense to cool the fire prior to entry when necessary and when the fire can be hit from the exterior.



Thanks for the imput. I agree with you. The idea of using a Large Caliber stream mounted on the 1st due Engine Co. means Inline pumping with the Engine in front of the fire building. Hitting the fire with a deck gun or Stang attempts to get quick water on the fire. Put the wet stuff on the red stuff and good things happen. As you said judgement by an experanced good officer is the key to when use any tactic. F.D.N.Y. rates an 1 3/4" line with good hose at 180 G.P.M.  Capt RRR

I agree, hit it first, and it could be an 1 3/4  even. because of the set back we have master stream is not practical........I think it is a sad truth that many times we are too agressive when there are no lives at stake so we put lives at stake by making an interior attack with smoke banked nearly to the floor.



I have always been told that you will push the fire if you do a quick knock through a window.........i never have agreed with not doing it, but as with everything everyone has opinions.


I agree 100% with what Ben has said.......



I want to go home in a fire engine not a body bag.........

I was always told and in my 40 years of firefighting I have seen fire driven towards uninvolved areas of the fire building and perhaps towards trapped civilians. I have also seen firefighters being injured by being hit with outside Tower Ladder streams. But 40 years ago we were not facing the plastics etc. that feed todays fires. Hopefully the current tests will give us some more information and then some guidelines based on these tests.  1 3/4" from the exterior while fast to place in operation often dosen't give enough G.P.M. a 2 1/2 " or better works better to knock town heavy fire. F.D.N.Y. procedures say only use 1 3/4" when it is "compatable with fire conditions." Capt. RRR



Lots of other departments don't have FDNY levels of manpower.  If you don't have the manpower to move the 2-1/2, then there's not a lot of point to pulling it in the first place.  If you're talking an autovented room and contents fire, a 1-3/4 line putting out 150 GPM (straight stream) to 185 GPM (solid stream) will give you pretty fast knockdown. 


The other point is that you don't mix Transitional and Offensive attacks at the same time.  If you start with a master stream from the exterior, you shouldn't have any firefighters inside.  The master stream should be directed ONLY into the rooms with the autoventing fire.  If there are any civilians in those rooms, you can't hurt them - they're already dead.


"Heavy Fire" from one room doesn't necessarily equal a "Large Volume of Fire".   And remember, ANY water cooling the fire is better than none with today's artificial polymer (i/e/ plastic) fuels.

My department uses break-apart combination tips - the Akron Assault series.  The fog tip give you 150 GPM at 50 PSI with only 90 PSI of PDP.


If you remove the fog tip, you get 185 GPM from the smooth bore at 50 PSI, also with 90 PSI of PDP. 


Either will put a quick knock on a room or two venting to the exterior.  It will do a decent job even on a 1,000 square foot open-construction 1st floor of a modern, lightweight engineered construction home.

I agree lack of manpower creates all kinds of problems & a 2 1/2" line requires more help. In NYC this means pairing of the 1 & 2 due Engine to streach the first line, the 3rd & 4th Engines the 2nd handline etc. etc.. If you do it right, under the right conditions no firefighters are endangered. The firefighters are still streaching the 1st handline while the advanced fire is hit quickly and for only a little time, from the outside via a deck gun, Stang or Tower Ladder. I have used this attack for advanced fires in both Manhattan and the South Bronx and if you do it right it can be both safe and effective. If you going from what was an Interior attack and are transitioning to an outside/exterior attack, yes remove all members, and hold a roll call to ensure everyones out. Heavy fire in the FDNY is defined as requiring the use of 3 or more handlines. Capt. RRR

I agree with everything you said.  


I'd add one other consideration.  If you have low station density, then combining the 2nd-due engine with the 1st due to move a 2-1/2 means the fire burns unchecked for a few extra minutes.


In those situations, a Transitional attack with a single 1-3/4 line may be the only reasonable option, especially if no pre-piped deck guns are available.



How many people does it take to move a dry 2 1/2 to  a set position outside of a structure to apply water into a window?

Depending on the length of the line it could easily be accomplished with one person if need be.  That person could use a rope hose tool to help control the line while flowing, or they could loop it and sit on it while flowing.  Obviously any amount after one makes that attack quicker and safer while flowing water.

I am not at all saying that 2 1/2 inch line would then go interior but the MPO could stretch a smaller line, 1 1/2, 13/4, or even 2 inch to the door way for the members of the 2 1/2 inch line to take inside after knockdown. When you are initially short staffed you have to be creative in your tactics and traditional MPO staying at the pump panel may have to be changed for a short period while he lays out the second line.  

The point isn't how many it takes to move the line when outside, the point is how many it takes to then move that same line inside after it is charged and accomplishes the exterior half of the transitional attack.


The second line generally isn't an option, as the pump operator is either completing water supply if a hydrant is nearby, or is assisting with stretching the first line if the engine laid in and left the 3rd crew member at the hydrant.


Given that the 1-3/4 generally knocks down most of the fire, it's simply easier to move it inside.  We use breakapart Akron Assault nozzles, so if we run out of hose it's simple to extend the line from the nozzle.


Keenan hose loops?  We practice them on a regular basis, but rarely use them due to the above.

MY VFD has just adopted a transistional attack policy on all structure fires where fire is showing from multiple openings.


One firefighter is assigned to stretch a 100' 21/2" deadload with a smooth bore tip while the other members pack up (we have only commercial cab and members must pack up on-scene). After they pack up they will either advance that line interior for a commercial fire or stretch an 1 3/4" for a residental fire, assuming that fire needs and conditions require/allow interior operations.


This allows us to get water rapidly on the fire if only 2 members are there initially, which is not uncommon for the department . In the future, we will be training on this as a single-member evolution. It also allows us to put significant water on the fire in a short period of time.


While we have yet to use it on an incident, we have committed quite a bit of training time to this evolution and we are confident that it will work

Not every fire is alike so you have to consider these few factors on any fire, large or small.


  • Life safety considerations?
  • Where is the fire?
  • What type of structure?
  • Is the fire vented or needs venting?
  • What are your resources, equipment and personnel?
  • What is your water supply?
  • How close will your other companies arrive to assist?

In today’s fire service I see the misuse of resources.  Ventilation and attack need to be coordinated. If you vent in the wrong location or at the wrong time you can make worse than better for your operation. Vent in the wrong area and you can actually pull the fire towards the interior crews. A vent hole is like opening the flue in your chimney. Make a vent hole and the fire will travel towards the opening.

 I would not make a blanket policy that you hit the fire from the outside first and then go in to mop up. We are here to save lives and property. By hitting it from the outside every time is not the answer.  This is a dangerous job and at times you must take risks in order to accomplish the task. Risk a little to save a little and risk a lot to save a lot.

Myth, you will push the fire if not attack from the unburned side. This was true when we used a wide fog pattern to generate steam. Keep the nozzle on solid or straight stream and this won’t happen.

 Unless you are staffed like the FDNY, pulling the 2 ½ will keep you in the front yard. This line is very difficult to advance interior. If you want the big GPMs from the exterior than pull two 1 ¾” lines instead of the 2 ½”. You get more water with the 2 lines and when you have knock down you can move your lines inside.

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