Providing a brief fire attack video to pick your brain on what you think transitional attack is.

Earlier we wrote about the Facebook comments from John Salka (FDNY Ret.) on 
his view of the transitional attack. It received interesting moderate debate and also provided many differing interpretations of the tactic as well as views of what one says based on their own work experience.

Below are some of the comments from that earlier post,

"Doesn't make sense to me! I have seen FDNY guys work for minutes trying to force a door on a ranch style home while a fireman stands nearby with a charged handline waiting... Meanwhile a little pee pee bedroom fire grows when all they had to do is stick the line in the window and put the thing out.
And I don't want to hear anything about "pushing fire" because it simply doesn't happen. The new Underwriters Labratory report proves this. Here is a link... I am all about interior firefighting ops, but it's time to dispell some myths."

"It seems that in some areas that we are going back to the tatics that our grandfathers and fathers used. Is it the right or wrong thing, maybe that depends on the situation you are facing on hand. I have seen it done and it worked and I have seen it done when it wasnt needed. coming from a comibation dept, which there is only 2 ffs on a pumper and your next rig is a few mins out and not to mention that the truck you are getting on the mutal box has 2 if your lucky, our only option is to do the transitional attack. Maybe a quick wash down on the outside is best so you slow down the verticle spread up the vinyl siding then into the attic/cockloft. Nothing wrong with having a few other tatics in the toolbox."

"As demonstrated in the UL study on the influence of ventilation on fire behavior (an also examining the question of if you can "push" fire), application of water into the fire compartment improves interior conditions. As demonstrated in these experiments, it did not matter if you used a straight stream or fog pattern, application of water into the fire compartment improved conditions in all cases. Putting a hoseline between the fire an occupants and/or uninvolved property is an important tactical consideration, but if you put water on the fire, things will generally improve!"

What has been interesting, personally, to observe from this is that there are some who believe that the tactic is a poor definition of who they are ("interior firefighters") and that recent articles on the research of fire behavior and ventilation have largely only been skimmed as opposed to fully read; at least it appears so based on comments where this tactic is discussed.

Having read many of these discussions and asking you to share what you know about transitional attack, could it apply to this fire?

Why or why not?


Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation,
JEMS and
LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

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Do I understand you to be asking if a transitional attack applies here, will it work? Is it "best'?. It's hard to base an answer on this limited view (size-up). I think the whole "pushing fire" concept cannot be defined or quantified easily. There are test conditions, labratory studies, constants and replications that have been used yet there are just too many variables with regards to weather (wind, humidity, temp.) structural materials, configurations, furnishings that affect fire spread...smoke movement. Interior doors, open closed, and so on. Perhaps "fire" may not be pushed but the direction of hot gases, steam, smoke and the like may well change the atmosphere from survivable to fatal with a misapplication of transitional attack. Transitional attack begins as an exterior attack.

From my view of the video it would appear that the fire has spread beyond the room that is free-venting. It is likely that the application of a hoseline into the window may knock down fire to avoid auto-exposure. However, considering no entrappment and the staffing absolute ( 4 in the video) and it so appears that a line can be put into service through the  door. There is fire overhead showing out the door. I will base my answer on only what I see. With the 4 on scene, the fire and smoke conditions, not knowing what is above the fire floor...a hoseline of significant flow ( 2" @ 220gpm or 1.75" @ 180gpm minimum) may be best advanced into the door to make a knock-down. A transitional attack would likely result in knocking it down as well, however entry will obviously still need to be done to achieve extinguishment, etc.

I could see it being a viable option for limited staffing resources, an engine "company" with less than 4 starting off that way waiting for additional resources to arrive.

There are few areas in firefighting where we say always to this or always do that. I do know this, put enough water on the fire and things change for the better. I'm a 31 year veteran of the F.D.N.Y. and understand what my friend Chief John Salka is saying. Most of the time "get your ass in there and put the dam fire out" is the right way to go. But should we consider that when fire has self vented in a modern building with todays fire loads we need to take a look at hitting the fire with a large caliber stream from the outside. Once the fire is reduced quickly shut the outside stream, by that time an agressive interior attack hopefully can be mounted and further knocked down and extinguished remaining fire. We need to consider that an 1 3/4" hoselines alone may not be enough alone to control an advanced fire. The fire loading is now high and the buildings are often crap. Firefighting is an art and good judgement will tell us when hit from the outside and when not to use this tactic. Avalability of fireifghters is one factor in this decision. Capt. RRR

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