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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I will only add to what Ben said with: Paul Grimwood has proven time and time again that you and your hose will NOT put more fire out than a stretched 2-1/2 or more.
Because, if you are not putting enough water on the fire to suppress it, then the fire is growing, which takes more water; more than you have in your hose.
You have to apply enough water.
And you should know that I am from the Safe Extinguishment Culture.
Well, herein lies the problem. The time it takes for a 2 1/2" to be properly stretched and the excessive amount if manpower it takes to lug it around completely defeats the purpose of a fast and aggressive interior attack. I would feel confident saying that 3-4, 1 1/2" handlines could be stretched to the 3rd floor of an apartment building before any 2 1/2" line could be placed into operation. The less time a fire is allowed to burn, the less it grows and ultimately, the less damage it does. The only thing 2 1/2" lines are good for is bailing large amounts of water through windows from a safe distance. At that point you have already surrendered and let the fire control your operation. You have lost the initiative and the battle.
Once again, I'm sure that the FDNY and many other departments who use 2.5 inch lines offensively - and with great success - would disagree with you.

Using small-caliber lines when large-caliber lines are indicated for interior attacks can contribute to very grim consequences...June 18, 2007 is an example. Using room-and-contents hoselines and tactics for large, enclosed structures tends to have equally grim outcomes.

Stretching a 2.5 inch line dry isn't much more difficult than stretching a smaller line dry. Trained crews can do it essentially as fast. Try combining two engine crews on a single 2/5 inch line and see how much faster they can stretch it than they can get two 1.5 inch lines into operation, even on the 3rd floor of an apartment building. If you are stretching a 1.5 inch line up three flights of stairs wet, you're giving your crews an unnecessary beating before they get near the fire.

Stating "The only thing 2 1/2" lines are good for is bailing large amounts of water through windows from a safe distance." is a oft-debunked fallacy.
I'm not sure of how your jurisdiction compiles its assignments for a structure fire, but ours uses 5 engine companies, 2 truck companies, a rescue squad and two chiefs. The 5th engine is committed as part the RIT company. So within a matter of minutes these companies can deploy 2 lines to a fire floor and 2 more wherever else they are needed. There is no way you can tell me, with complete confidence, that any 4 engine companies deploying 2 1/2" hose could do the same. Furthermore, if you need to redeploy your resources to advance the fire attack, a 2 1/2" hose basically cripples that effort because it requires so much manpower to move it. We all know manpower is a critical resource that should not be wasted. If it us wasted in large diameter hand lines, it allows the chance that other critical tasks are not being completed in a timely manner.
If you have four-firefighter engine companies, each with an officer, a driver, and two firefighters, that gives you six firefighters to move a single 2-1/2 hose line with one driver committed to the pump and one to the hydrant. It's not only possible for six firefighters to stretch a single 2-1/2 more quickly than it takes the same number of firefighters to stretch two 1-1/2's you don't have two different companies fighting over the stairs, hallway, or other access.

Same manpower, more water, more firefighting power, and equal or better mobility because the six firefighters can spread out more along a single 1-1/2 than they can on two 1-1/2's.

Either way, the same amount of manpower is involved in the hose stretch, so there's no "wasted" manpower.

My department uses no structural line smaller than 1-3/4 and our smallest structural nozzle is a 50 PSI, 150 GPM fixed gallonage combination tip. We use those lines situationally, but we also use 2-1/2, with a 50 PSI, 250 GPM combination or 50 PSI, 265 GPM smooth bore tip when it's called for. The 2nd engine assists the 1st engine with the hose stretch when it's appropriate and situationally called for by command. When you have working fires in strip malls, apartments-over-commercial, churches, or the local big box store, the bigger lines will generally get the fire knocked down prior to needing to reposition the lines.
Philly, deja vu?
No, no six man wagons here. The engine company has a compliment of 4 men. Officer, technician and two firemen. We run all types of construction and configuration from the 1 story detached to the commercial warehouse and everything in between. All I'm trying to say is, the 1 1/2" line is far superior in ease of deployment as well as manuverability which more than makes up for it's GPM delivery. If it can't be done from the inside with an 1 1/2" then by all means, dump all you have through a window while positioned a safe distance from the ultra hazardous life of real firemen.
Maybe I gave a misleading statement. Anyone can stretch dry hose, regardless of its diameter. However, the ability to manuver after the initial knock down is severely hampered when using 2 1/2" lines. 1 1/2" lines can rapidly redeploy at will while the larger, more cubbersome counterparts get stuck and extra manpower is wasted attempting to reposition them.
The trade-off of the quicker knockdown with better stand-off distance that 2-1/2 gives you gives you the option of extending the line with a smaller-caliber line for mop-up if you need the maneuverability later on.

Once again, I'm not advocating 2-1/2 in all situations, but if you take the 1-1/2 to a big box store, strip mall, warehouse, etc. you're going to lose buildings that you can save with the 2-1/2.

Two officers and four firefighters from two different engine companies, and voila, six firefighters advancing the 2-1/2 line. Or, are "real firemen" so dogmatic that they can't join another company on the line when the situation calls for it?

Size does matter...and the fire understands 2-1/2 is bigger than 1-1/2.
Each company has seperate tasks that need to be accomplished. No where in our general orders does it allow room to waste two engine companies to stretch one line. It's just counter-productive and a foolish waste of valueable resources.
BLPS, Applying more GPM per firefighter is most definately not "counter-productive and a foolish waste of valuable resources"????

It's a lot more "counter-productive and wasteful of resources" to have two seperate engine companies competing for the same hallway or stairwell with two small lines so they can let the fire advance farther and apply fewer GPM per firefighter with more risk.

"Each seperate company has tasks that need to be accomplished"???

Both engines are assigned to fire extinguishment when they're advancing lines on the interior. Whether they do it with two small lines or one big one, they're still performing the same task. We're not talking task specialization here, we're talking how we extinguish the fire. I suppose that next you'll tell me that the building must be "far gone" before we should use 2-1/2 lines or something like that.

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