The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is committed to reducing firefighter fatalities and injuries. As part of that effort, the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival (SHS) Section has developed DRAFT “Rules of Engagement for Structural Firefighting” to provide guidance to individual firefighters and incident commanders regarding risk and safety issues when operating on the fireground.

The intent is to provide a set of model procedures to be made available by the IAFC to fire departments as a guide for their own standard operating procedures development.

The direction provided to the project team by the Section leadership was to develop rules of engagement with the following conceptual points:
• Rules should be a short, specific set of bullets
• Rules should be easily taught and remembered
• Rules should define critical risk issues
• Rules should define “go” ‐ “no‐go situations
• A champion lesson plan should be provided

Early in development the rules of engagement, it was recognized that two separate rules were needed –one set for the firefighter, and another set for the incident commander. Thus, the two sets of rules of engagement described in this document. Each set has several commonly stated bullets, but the explanations are described somewhat differently based on the level of responsibility (i.e., firefighter vs. incident commanders).

The draft documents are currently open for public comment until the FRI conference in Dallas (August 25‐29, 2009).

The reader may direct comments to Chief Gary Morris, the project lead, at

The originating IAFC Rules of Structural Engagement, HERE
IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section Home Page, HERE

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Some of these so called rules can not be applied rationaly in some juristictions
I don't understand your statement Engine?
1. Size up Tactical Area of Ops- Prefire have a station training identifying the type of construction in your area. Life safety and target hazard buildings. Do you have a Nursing home, industry, balloon frame construction prevalent in your area? Talk about them a head of time. When you arrive on scene the Officer should be talking to the crew "Pull the deuce-in-a-half boys we're going defensive." "People still inside guys." Just as firefighters should be speaking up. "Capt you see that oily black smoke pushing out of that second floor window?"

2. Victim Survival Profile- If fire is blowing out of all the windows anyone still in there is dead! Doesn't take a degree from MIT to see on arrival IF people could still be alive or not.

3. If fire is blowing out of all the windows GO DEFENSIVE

4. Limited RISK to protect SAVABLE property- Do I have the manpower, water supply & time to save 1/4 or more of this structure? If yes to all the above, go interior. But a no to any or unsure then go defensive till you can say YES to all the above.

5. Extend very CALCULATED risk to protect SAVABLE lives- See #2

6. Be Continuously Aware of Your Surroundings & Fireground Communication- Give every firefighter a radio. If you're dept can't afford to give everyone a radio then ensure everyone is paired up with a FF that has a radio. Train, train, train, train & yes train some more on fireground operations & safety. 'Help your fellow smoke eater by assisting them in pulling their head outta of their #@$!'

7. You are Authorized to say NO- Doh!!!

8. You are authorized to abandoned your Position & retreat- ummm Yes! oh and see #6

9. Never hesitate to Declare a May-Day if needed- Again, 'Here let me help you brother. Your head appears to be really wedged in there!!'

There is nothing special about these rules. I can't believe we actually have to put together a group to come up with these. This should be standard Firefighter 101 stuff being taught, practiced and enforced in every department across this Nation. If not, then you or your department is a LODD statistic waiting to happen.
I see two very big holes in the Command rules of engagement. The Rules are good, but they don't go far enough..We should lobby on a serious and continuing basis to add at least those two bullets to the list.

1) Ensure that enough qualified resources are present to establish an Incident Safety Officer at every working structural fire incident, especially when offensive fire attack is takingn place.

2) Ensure that enough qualified resources are present to maintain a 360-degree view of the incident in order to observe conditions or changes that are not visible from the Command Post.

The absence of those two things were big contributors to several high-profile LODDs, including the Charleston 9, and they're well worth adding to he Rules of Engagement.
Truckie Jay- "There is nothing special about these rules. I can't believe we actually have to put together a group to come up with these. This should be standard Firefighter 101 stuff being taught, practiced and enforced in every department across this Nation. If not, then you or your department is a LODD statistic waiting to happen."

I could not agree more!!!


I agree that it should be standard Firefighter 101 stuff, too, but in some places it obviously isn't.
Look around at the debate about "Safety Culture vs. Extinguishment Culture", pushing in with more firefighters staffing small lines vs. fewer people hitting the fire while less committed with larger-caliber lines, the admiration for truckie close calls when venting roofs that are already vomiting volcanoes of fire a few yards some places, the Rules Of Engagement obviously are not Firefighting 101.

Unfortunately, sometimes groups of us die at a single fire proving that point.
I agree 10000% with you. DO NOT TAKE STUPID CHANCES!!! If your gut says NO then dont go is my motto and I am sittinghere typing not in a coffin. Just my two cents worth. TCSS
Hey Ben,
You are right on with the statement "Ensure that enough qualified resources are present" That is a tough one, especially now that they are making us do even more with less. They are trying to make us take time off to help reduce the budget short fall, but the union is saying, we cannot as it is a firefighter safety issue.
If you run out of resources due to cutbacks, the next step might just have to be more transitional attacks instead of initial offensive operations. Fire prevention and sprinkler ordinances are great, but there will always be bad things going on, and if we don't have enough people to operate with a reasonable safety margin, are we going to commit suicide for a paycheck...or for free?

Staffing is indeed a firefighter safety issue, as it is a civilian safety issue.

We also need to start painting this as what it is...a community economic issue. When businesses go up in smoke, it hurts the economy, not just the business owner and employees. All of the money that business previously made is gone until they reopen, and all of the taxes they generated are gone as well.
Thank you, Never heard of the 10 rules of engagement!! But they are awsome, thank you !!!
Ben is absolutely right the lastest edition at in Milwaukee has a great segment on just this issue. A Lt on T-12 in Milwaukee talks about it in simple language that should be aired for all the people of Milwaukee in my opinion. Minneapolis last year went out and educated the citizens when the Mayor talked about reducing staffing on apparatus. Their efforts succeeded and the Mayor didn't reduce staffing and closing of stations.

Watch the full episode OR fast forward to 12:12 to hear what the Lt. has to say.
A trained fireman on an in and a half line can and will put out more fire than the three to four people it takes to deploy and stretch your heavy, cumbersome and anchor-like two and a half. I am not talking about dragging it to a window and squirting water into it. Aggressive interior firefighting has done more to save lives (civilian and member) and property than anyone standing outside on a curb has ever dreamed of. What's next? We don't fight fires inside structures reported to be vacant?

I do enjoy reading these. I am proud to say I am from the Extinguishment Culture. I have been a fireman since 1994 and just like Ray McCormack put it, I like to go to fires. I don't have a problem with safety at all. I just take issue when safety issues tie my hands and pin me into a corner and hamper me doing the job I came to do in the first place.

My safety and the safety of my men is paramount. The good thing is each one of us knows the other will put out a fire. No questions asked. We have total faith in each other through training and experience. I can take them to the gates of hell without question day after day. Bottom line is, the job gets done every time we go to work.

We openly risk a lot to save the world for the citizens of our neighborhoods. If we don't, we lose their confidence. If they lose confidence in us, then we have failed our biggest supporters. We see the people in their worst point of their lives. We come to do a job and we'll finish it every time.
Apparently the FDNY disagrees with you on the relative merits of 2.5 inch lines on the interior.

As for "I like to go to fires", I seriously doubt that is the desired goal of fire protection for your community.

And...sprinkler systems do a lot more to save lives and property than interior firefighting in the places where they're installed, and with lots less risk to the firefighters.

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