You’re first-due at a residential occupancy for a report of a fire on the number two floor. Sure enough, it’s pretty obvious upon arrival on scene, you confirm a working fire. Observations validate that you have heavy fire on the number two floor; Alpha-Delta side with the likelihood of extension. This is more than just a residential occupancy. The structure is in fact a multiple occupancy, it’s a late Saturday morning and you don’t have a good feeling about this.

You have a four staffed Engine Company, with a mixed crew of seasoned and new personnel, with the second due engine coming in right behind you. (this is a good day..) The first-due truck company has yet to call enroute. As the first-due officer, what’s your size-up and risk profiling of the building, the fire and the incident action plan (IAP) needs? Let’s categorize some of strategic and tactical mission elements for discussion;

Risk Profile and The Size-up

·         What is the Construction Type and characteristics? Describe the building.

·         How would you characterize the degree of observed fire involvement and its expected behavior?

·         What does reading the smoke tell you?

·         What is the probability of fire extension; where, when and how?

·         Occupancy Load Projections?

·         Fire Load Projections?

·         Survivability Profile for trapped or distressed Occupants?

·         Survivability Profile for your companies?


Incident Action Plan

·         Describe the basis for you Incident Action Plan (IAP) Real Simple-What are you going to do?

·         What needs to be done first-Strategically; What, why and where?

·         Resource Needs?

·         Time Considerations?


Tactical Objectives and Tasks

·         OK, you’re the Company Officer on the Engine Company; YOU know what the engine company’s function and responsibilities are. So what are you going to do from a Tactical perspective?

·         What can you do with the resources immediately available ( Two Engine Companies; Eight (8) staffed personnel-some new, some veterans, with a hydrant picked up at the corner upon arrival)

·         What is the projected fire flow needs for this size fire, based upon a street side five minute deployment time to get line(s) in place?

·         What else do you need in a timely fashion? What will happen if you don’t get it when you need it?

·         Describe the challenges to the Engine Company crew related to stretching lines into occupancies such as this and how you expect the lay out to be? What’s typical of these building types and occupancies.


Address any or all of the questions posed. Time’s a wasting, the fire isn’t going

to go out on its own..ohh by the way, that rookie looks like he’s ready to pull an

1.75 line off the rear bed…..


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Here's my shot at it...

Risk Profile and The Size-up

Type V (lighweight wood) construction, possibly balloon-frame, given the apparent age of the structure.

Well involved, autovented, fuel-controlled fire on Floor 2. Probable lateral extension, probable vertical extension to Floor 3 and the attic in progress.

There is a medium amount of gray smoke on the front porch, Floor 2. It indicates lateral extension from the fire location in the D/A corner toward Side B. The rest of the smoke is heavy, hot, turbulent, high-velocity Black Fire, and is a direct threat for quick, very hot vertical extension.

This structure is probably a multi-residential that may have been cut up into more numerous, smaller apartments than the original design. The open front door tells me that the Floor 1 occupants have probably self-evacuated. We may have entrapment on Floor 2 in the uninvolved areas and likely have entrapment on Floor 3. The best way to protect these occupants with what we have is a quick fire knockdown.

The fire load is heavy - it's a wood structure, it is full of furniture, carpet, clothing, etc. and it is a well-vented, fuel-controlled fire.

The Floor 1 survivability profile is good - anyone there has some time. Floor 2 survivability is nonexistant for anyone in the flashed over compartments and is marginal for anyone close. The remote portions may have fair to good survivability as long as there is a solid barrier between the occupants and the fire. Floor 3 surviability is poor, particularly directly over the fire.

The survivability profile for the companies is good as long as we get the fire knocked quickly. This is a solidly-built structure with dimensional lumber. That profile might change if this is a balloon frame structure with a basement fire, but there is no evidence of a basement fire from the one available view.

Incident Action Plan

RECEO-VS should always be the basic IAP.

In this case, we don't have enough people to search and to fight the fire. The best way to save occupants is immediate extinguishment. Engine 1 is going to establish water supply on the way in, leaving the hydrantman at the hydrant. The driver pumps the engine, the officer makes a 360-degree size up, and the nozzleman conducts a TRANSITIONAL attack on the fire with a 1-3/4 line with a smooth bore nozzle. The stream is directed at the ceilings to avoid pushing the fire, used in short bursts to maximize steam production, and then readied to reposition to the front door.

When the officer completes the 360 he passes Command. The hydrantman and nozzleman shut down the line, reposition to the front door, and advance up the stairs to create a cut-off point in the 2nd floor hallway. The officer goes with them carrying the irons, a short hook, and a TIC. We notify all units that the mode is switching to OFFENSIVE.

Engine 2's nozzleman and hydrantman take a second 1-3/4 line from Engine 1 and advance it up the stairs. If Engine 1 has control of the fire on Floor 2, Engine 2 goes to Floor 3 to extinguish any fire found there. Engine 2's driver throws ladders to Floor 2 for secondary egress. Engine 2's officer establishes COMMAND.

Resource needs include an immediate 2nd alarm on arrival, plus two additional ambulances. With the balance of the 1st alarm, that should give us a total of 6 engines, 2 trucks, a rescue, three chief officers, and 3 ambulances. We need 1 ambulance for Rehab and the other 2 for potential victims.

We don't have a lot of time. If we don't either get a quick knock and/or get more resources quickly, we may not have the manpower to stop this fire without going DEFENSIVE.

Tactics and Tasks

Establish water supply
Darken fire from outside, then establish interior cut-off points, then extiinguish the fire
Search to the fire - if victims found, mode changes to RESCUE
Ladders for secondary egress
Ensure the stairs are solid
Ensure additional resources are enroute

If we can position the engine in the driveway near the D/A corner, a 200-foot preconnect can get the main fire. We may need a 250 preconnect to reach all areas of the interior on Floor 3.

We need to get a quick knock, we don't have the manpower to conduct search and rescue, advance two lines, establish all of the ladders we need, and conduct any additional venting that may be required on Floor 2, Floor 3, and possibly the roof.


Rescue - self rescue for occupants that are able, kill the fire to buy the other occupants time, occupants in the fire compartments are dead.

Exposures - not an immediate problem

Confinement- we can't confine this fire, it is autovented and extending vertically. The only way to confine is to go straight to extinguishment.

Exinguishment - is the best answer for this fire. If we extinguish quickly, it will buy time for rescue of trapped occupants, it will protect exposures, and extinghished fires don't extend. Choosing 1-3/4 lines give the best options for quick deployment, light enough to reposition upwards while charged, and with adequate knockdown power for the volume of fire present.

Overhaul - later, done by 2nd alarm companies

Ventilation - no needed right now, this fire is autovented. We may need additional ventilation later, depending upon our ability to extinguish the fire or not.

Salvage - later
Yeah! What he said!!! lol
I pretty much agree.... except for Ben's statement that it is lightweight wood and the choice of attack line pulled.. That house was built in the days when a 2X4 actually measured 2X4. Due to the age of the building it is a 99% probability that it is balloon frame.

That much fire, I'm going right to the deuce and half with smooth bores. Hit it hard and fast, kill it quick.
Ron, I'm using the USFA definition of lightweight wood. Anything lighter than heavy timber (mill construction) is considered lightweight in that classification system.

Chris advocates for the USFA adding a Type VI (Very Lightweight/Engineered Wood) construction for truss, OSB I-beams, glued truss, and other non-dimensional lumber wood construction systems.

I agree with Chris.
We use low-pressure break-apart nozzles in my department, so we can get 185 GPM from the 1-3/4 line with the 15/16 smoothbore at 50 PSI of nozzle pressure.

We only get 285 GPM from the 1-1/8 tip on the 2-1/2 version.

The big difference is that you give up a little fire-killing power on the outside, but the 1-3/4 is a lot easier to move inside and up the stairs after it's charged.

You could leave the exterior line outside and have Engine 1's crew deploy a third line to the interior, but that takes more time. I'm sticking with moving the charged line from Engine 1's TRANSITIONAL attack.
I'm all for a type VI classification, too.

When I see the words "lightweight wood" I immediately thing of engineered wood, glu/lam, osb, etc.

Got 360 views?

I'm mentally picturing a photo of you with a soot mustache in one of them. :-)
Transitional attack. Auto-exposing is an immediate concern. 2.5", darken it down from the exterior, advance to the stairs. For most of us around here, this a two and half only-job from the beginning, knock down first, then we can get a 1.75" to the floor above, and another 1.75" to progress ahead of the 2.5", which will then be relagated to a back-up line provided we are making good progress.

We're going up the interior stairs with the big line, and depending upon the conficuration, we be able to make a 'well stretch' which would eliminate the problems of the stair turns. With two-four staffed engines, 4 on the big line is no problem. The fourth will take the doorway position after securing the hydrant supply.

Confining and control of the fire is the best chance to accomplish everything else. A primary search with 2 can begin searching closest to the fire on the fire floor fisrt, taken into consideration survivability factors. Fllor above is obviously next. The two rooms' windows on the fire floor maybe a kitchen area, may be living spaces.
Search above the fire floor should be done with a can if possible.

The first-due truck needs to ladder the building for egress/entry, splitting two and two, with search and ventilation assigned to the second crew. After the building is laddered, (will need to grab someone to help with the 35'), vertical ventilation, over the stairs, needs to begin.

May be balloon construction, in which case two lines per floor, along with heavy truck work is required to get it opened up. This will make it a very labor-intensive job. Ballon-frame dwelling fires can be challenging. Opening up from the putside as well as inside is advantageous.

This fire is spreading quickly, and has possession of the 2nd floor apartment, for the most part. It may be possible to come in off the back, where it is "unburned" as it appears. However, time is crucial here, and with a transitional attack using a flow that will allow you to actually knock-down the fire as oppossed to making you 'fight' with it, seems to be the key. This is certainly a job in which we may be able to control depending upon the amount of unseen extention.

Actually it's not at all an uncommon scenario here in these parts, in fact looks familiar to an extent. And it actually went just as I described.
I'm not going to respond to this because the manpower limitations are foreign to me. But I do wonder if Chris might have been suggesting with his last sentence that 1 3/4" might not be appropriate for this fire. It's been my experience that 1 3/4" can easily put out enough water to handle this fire - not to mention ease of moving the line through the interior.

Other than that, God bless you guys who have to handle these jobs without a ladder company (or two) right behind you.
The plot thickens...your astute observations are correct...the rookie was prematurely pulling the “wrong” line based upon habit (and lack of experience) and not reflecting the risk assessment, needed fire flows based upon fire load, severity and manpower limitations and fire growth potential ( which is large). The other replies in each their own rights are very good…I really like the way everyone attempted to “think’ this one through.

I’m going to post a change up on this in a separate post to see if we can get some additional insights and mileage….Great work guys…
OK Guys...great insights and replies....

Let's take this in a different direction. There are a number of locals around the country that are experiencing a renaissance in “nostalgia”. In this case it’s designing and constructing buildings that “look old” like the 1930-1949 vintage “Sear’s Catalog” home. They look just like balloon frame structures from the outside, but in fact are constructed of engineered structural systems (ESS) and lack the degree of compartmentation typically found in these mid twentieth century structures.

With that being said, you now are arriving on scene with fire showing, at a residential multiple occupancy (see the four meter boxes on the Delta side..)that you know factually is constructed with engineered structural systems (ESS). The floor systems are a combination of wooden I beam joists (GPI Series - LVL Flanges) and parallel chord trusses with galvanized metal webs. Additionally Broadspan® laminated veneer lumber (LVL) are being used. This is located in a trendly part of the district. It looks old, but in fact is very "new". ( Just go with me on this....)

In addition, you now have a truck company first-due in four minutes (four staffed) followed by a third engine company. Let’s see where this takes us…..
BTW, the original scenario was in fact based upon a 1940's vintage balloon frame structure..

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