You've arrived on scene at a working structure fire in a single family residential occupancy. It's an early evening on a weekday, there are two cars in the driveway, no one has greeted you upon your arrival. The call originated from the adjacent home.

What's your Risk Assessment and Size-Up Gauges telling you?
What's your incident action plan...strategy and tactics?

[Select one..]
If this is a hydrant serviced area, how will y0u handle the alarm?
If this is a NON-hydrant service area, how will you handle the alarm?

[Select a Role...]
If you're the first-due Engine Company, your the Company're it for the next five minutes...

If you're the first arriving command officer, and you've assumed're it for the next five minutes...

What are you going to do...?
What are the three (3) most significant actions you must take, within these first five -ten minutes?

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I don't like the looks of that smoke. It's very dark and acrid, and seems to be pushing hard from the picture. The fire load is growing, and fast. This sucker could flash at any moment.
There are subtle clues on house vintage from our vantage point....the style of the dormer, the vinyl skin, the "gas" fireplace box on the delta side...garage style, location and roof style... (lets say it's circa 2004)

Assumptions are correct engineered systems for roof definite, floors highly probable...
Anyone see the slightly pronounced flame plume on the Charlie side?....smoke profile and color are expected...hight fuel load...we're going to need some fire flow as this is progressing-rapidly....some good comments so far...let's keep this going....lots more to talk about. If you're not sure about layout/floor plan...and you happen to see a similar home next door....ever think about a quick once over to get some bearings on movement? ...IF time and assignment permits...( this is especially useful for RIT OPS, if you're the RIT team leader.....

I'm going with the modern (2000 or more recent) lightweight construction with engineered systems for the 2nd floor. We don't have basements here, due to the sand and the high water table, but I'll assume that this one has a basement with the smoke from ground level on Side D. The dormer over the garage is either a fake (I hope) or more likely, a bonus room. These bonus rooms are usually either used for a game room or upstairs den, or for a kid's bedroom.

Our area is hydranted, so I'm going with a hydrant that flows at least 1,000 GPM around 200 feet down the street to the right and another one around 500 feet down the street to the left.

The attack mode is Offensive/Marginal.

The smoke is Volume - heavy, Velocity - pushing very fast, Color - BLACK FIRE from Side D and from the C-D corner, Division 2. There is also light smoke from the Side D basement windows. Density is Heavy. This one isn't far from complete flashover. Quick intervention by one line could possibly make a big difference.

If I'm the B/C, I have one engine on scene. They laid in right to left, and are set up at the A-B corner. I have 2 more engines, a truck, another B/C, and a medic on the 1st alarm. With the likely occupancy, I'm adding an engine, 2 more medics, 2 more chiefs, and extra cops and utility support.

Engine 1's nozzleman and officer are going to take a 1.75 inch line, irons, and TIC, force the front door, and enter to cut off the fire from the rest of the house, if possible. I want a quick report of conditions from the officer. Their assignment is Search To The Fire. If they can't get a big push with their one line, they'll have to rescue anyone they find in the main egress route and bail out. I don't think this is a garage fire - it looks as if the fire is on the rear side of the garage partition wall, probably in a laundry room or mud room.

Engine 1's pump operator is going to charge the attack line, then make the supply line hookup to the engine, then charge the hydrant, then get back to the pump.

I'm going to do a 360, and I'm going to get a quick report on the occupancy potential from the neighbors. If they think the family is home, we're probably looking at a multi-fatal here. As I make the 360, I'm going to verbally recon for occupants - I'm going to yell for anyone in the house to yell back to me if they can hear me. More importantly, I'm going to listen to anyone screaming for help, or for any other human sounds that may be audible over the fire and water noise.

360 complete, I'm going to establish a fixed Command Post across the street and start making assignments via the radio...these are below.

Engine 2 will stage at the first hydrant. Engine 1 has made some good progress and the garage fire is darkening, but they can't make the stairs. Engine 2 has four firefighters, so they'll split. The officer and hydrantman will raise an extension to the gable window and conduct VES if they can. The nozzleman and driver will take a second 1.75 inch line and attempt to make the interior stairs.

Truck 1's officer and irons take a TIC, tools, and a search rope and start a primary search of the downstairs.
Truck 1's driver and tillerman go to Side C and throw ground ladders to the second floor for secondary egress for Engine 2.

Engine 3 takes a 3rd 1.75 inch line in and checks the basement stairs for smoke, heat, and fire. It doesn't look like there's much there, so I want them to get down the stairs, take a quick peek around with a TIC, hit any fire they see, and get out.

Engine 4 is RIT.

Engine 5 takes the second hydrant and lays in. I'll hold them at the engine for possible assignment for rescue assistance, exposure protection for the Side D exposure, or other assignment that might pop up.

Medic 1, 2, and 3 stage immediately to the right of the first hydrant. Medic 1 establishes a Medical Group.

The 2nd Chief gets Division C so that I have eyes on the back of the fire. I need updates on extension, building conditions, and our progress in turning that Black Fire to steam.

The 3rd Chief gets Safety.

I realize that there will be a gap of two to three minutes from Engine 1's assignment until I start getting other units on scene.

This fire is bad, but the 3 most significant moves are 1) Engine 1 getting water on the fire very quickly,and keeping it going while searching to the fire, 2) Engine 1's driver getting water supply established by himself, and 3) Command (me) keeping it together, watching conditions, and making assignments so that the other companies don't waste time when they arrive. . If Engine 1 can't make progress with one line, we're likely looking at going Defensive and that dreaded multi-fatal fire.

Regardless, anyone in the immediate fire area is dead. Anyone in the basement is trapped, unless there are outside stairs in a well on Side C. Anyone in Division 2 is trapped, and if they're in the C-D corner bedroom, they may be dead, too.
"Heavy Smoke's not an adequate description!"

Was just my first impression, which another poster seems to agree with below.
i have been at many fires like this. i would call for a second alarmand at least two ALS trucks. I see one car in the driveway, so that tells me that a quick search need to be done. one the first floor and the second. and see if anyone is home next door to see if they know if any one could be home. once the search is complete then try and do a quick fire attack. ventilzation need to be done quick from the garage to hit the main fire source. it's not only in the garage but the first and second floor. possible the base ment too. soo this fire is going south very quick so there is no time to stand around with your thumbs up your ass. someone life could be on the line.
I'm not pulling a 2.5 on this one, but it's a maneuverability issue for the two firefighters I have available for the interior, not a water volume issue. I'd rather have 150 GPM going right on this fire than 250 GPM that we might not be able to get on the main body of fire.

These houses are really cut up, tend to have stairs with one or more bends, and have tight, angled upstairs hallways. Hitting the Division 1 fire with a lot of water will help, but Engine 1's crew is going to be stuck on one level if they don't take the smaller, more maneuverable line.

We have a 2.5 preconnect with a nozzle and another one set up as a leader line with a gated wye...but they'd stay on the engine for this one.


For a minute, I thought you were going to spot a portable monitor inside the front door. :-)

I'm with Alan Brunacini on this one..."We can dry out water damage, but it's pretty difficult to unburn a building."

ok here I go as I pull up I have a single family dwelling with heavy fire on sides C & D I will drop in and since there is no one out to greet me I will initated a search and start fire attack. The first in truck will start ventaltion and start a secondary search. The next in engine will pressurize the hydrant and the crew will pull a back up line and the rit team will stage in front of side a
It looks as if the fire is spreading fast, I would have a team go to the front door and report back on conditions just inside the door, seeing as there appears to be extension at the back of the building this may be a defensive fire depending on what the crew reports back. and maybe a recover and not a rescue, depending on the first crew at the front door. I would be calling for a second and maybe a third alarm, and starting ops to protect the exposers as well.
All great thoughts, I also agree the smoke bugs me. Does not seem like a normal fire load. Seems like the entire D side is involved and C also has significant heavy black smoke. Based upon the wind direction (toward the B side) I would also suspect heavy penitration toward that area. Based upon the time for the second due, and the fact that we can not confirm occupants I would not make entry until we could confirm victims or have at least two teams and RIT to back them up. Too many of us die getting no one out of vacant structures. They may just be on vacation. Due to the fact that it is day time and the call came from the neighbor not the home. Even if they are elderly and can't get out, they would call 911 and cry for help. I love fighting fires on an interior attack but we have got to get smarter about it....
If you don't make entry on this one until you can confirm victims, you might waste the small window of opportunity this fire gives you for rescue.

With the car in the driveway and the time of day, you have to assume that "this house is occupied unless dad, mom, 2.5 kids, Rover the dog, and Fluffy the cat meet you at the mailbox."
Christopher Naum, South Carolina Firefighters Safety and Health Conference, January 2009.
First due engine.

Size up and then set up command.


1. Is it safe enough for the crews to work?
2. Where Are the occupants?
3. Is this a possible rescue situation? Do the neighbors know anything about the residence? Maybe V.E.S.
4. Do you have enough personell responding?
5. Is there a water supply?
6. defensive or offensive attack?
7. Exposures?

There is all kind of questions that could be asked. Its hard to say just looking at a picture. We can "what if" all day. Good questions Chris.

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