Ten Minutes in the Street

A Buildingsonfire.com Series

Interactive Scenarios, Where YOU Make the Call

After a slight hiatus, Ten Minutes in the Street is back, beginning its Summer Tour bringing you insightful and provoking street scenarios for the discriminating and perspective firefighter, where you make the call. You don’t have to have any special rank to participate in this interactive forum, just the desire to learn and expand you knowledge, skills and abilities in order to better yourself, create new insights, while sharing your experience and perspectives to help you and others in the street in making the right call; so everyone has the opportunity of going home.


Ten Minutes in the Street: “I Hear Ya Knockin’; But Nobody’s Home”

Volume 10, Number 7


The bells and tones hit, the radio crackles with the alert of a report of a fire near a building- its 02:45 hours on a warm summer morning. The Communications Dispatcher recites the address a second time when you realize it’s near an address you had a run to right after dinner, earlier in the evening. Your company had a small trash fire outside a vacant building near that address in your second-due area. Nothing big, but your company was in and out of there in a short period of time.


You’re the company officer riding on the ladder truck this morning. As the driver pulls up on street side, you can see the glow of a developing fire from the rear of the structure on the Charlie side. The structure is a two story, brick and joist (Type III) building. The occupancy is unoccupied and the second floor apartments appear vacant. The building is located at the end occupancy in a row of five other party-wall connected buildings.


As you complete a quick 180 degree assessment on the D-C Side it’s obvious you have a rapidly developing fire that is communicating into the building on two floors. It’s more than a fire next to a “the” building. The engine company is a few minutes out and the chief is out a few more minutes than that. So you’re in the street, it’s 02:56 hours and it’s you, your company of three firefighters and your apparatus. Oh, did I mention two patrol cars just arrived?


·         What’s the Risk Profile of the Building and the evolving incident?

·         What inherent factors are present within buildings of Type III construction that all the operating companies need to be aware of?

·         How do you address Vacant or Unoccupied Occupancies? Is there a difference? Do you have SOP/SOG’s that address this?

·         Give us a quick overview of your pending actions; What’s your initial incident action plan (IAP)?

·         What’s the primary tactical profile for this incident, how are you going to address assignments and tasks? What are they and why?

·         What is the Ten Minute milestone; what do you expect to be doing or have happen after ten minutes have elapsed after your arrival?

·         Safety Issues; what are they?

·         Officer’s Choice: Tell us something that you think is mission critical for this incident.




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I'm still a learner, not a planner.
If this is my department's ladder company, I'm doing the following:

1) Report the working fire and call for a second alarm.
2) Establish Command and declare this a DEFENSIVE operation.
3) Do a 360 degree size-up.
4) If the hydrant is close enough, our ladder can stretch a high-rise pack to the rear and see if hydrant pressure is adequate to fight the fire with a smoothbore. If not, nothing lost. If so, we've delayed urban renewal by fire for another day.

5) Have my driver start evacuating the Bravo exposures.
6) Have the cops start evacuating the Delta exposure and keep the evacuees out of the immediate area.

I'm expecting some folks will decide to do a hasty search of this structure without a line, just in case some crackheads are squatting upstairs. Unless I hear something that indicates a rescue problem, I may have the driver wake up the neighborhood with the air horns, but with the information I have now, I'm not sending anyone inside.

I'll save my further analysis for later after others chime in.
Thanks Ben for kicking this off.......I'm interested in seeing the discussion and dialog on operational factors and individual position statements related to "vacant versus unoccupied" occupany status.....
Thanks for taking the time to add to the early stages of the thread, nice to see you back.
Since this is the bread and butter fires that my dept dose. 1st engine lead off 3in line from a plug and stretch a 1 3/4 line thru the front. 2nd engine cover there plug and stretches a 2nd line as a back up for the 1st engine. 3rd engine RIT. 4th engine leads off with a 3in line to the rear 5th engine covers there plug. 1st truck doses search and rescue ladders the building driver opens the roof. 2nd truck takes the rear driver goes to the roof and helps open up. If the rescue is on the box they take the exposer. 1st chief to the front as command. 2nd chief to the rear as safety. Medic stages.

360 of the whole block by the time I am done walking around the block fire will be the the roof and every were elese call for a 5th alarm after 6 hours the fire that started in the end of a group and burned out a whole block will be out.
Nice to see you back, too, Chris. I've found that operating a new Training Center without any expansion in staff takes up time that I previously spent here.

If we have enough hydrant pressure and high-rise pack hose to reach the fire and knock it down, that might be a crux move on this one.

If that knock by the ladder company is possible, it could happen more quickly than a complete primary search without a line, particulary if this unoccupied vacancy is trashed inside.

It will be extremely difficult to implement your engine tactics given the scenario that Chris posted.

You are the ladder officer on scene, you have three firefighters, you have no pump or water tank on the apparatus. It's going to be very difficult for you to implement your four-engine tactics when you don't even have one engine on the scene yet.

This post is about what to do before the first engine arrives.
I am only an explorer, so if i dont give you everything, sorry. Here is what i have....any good??

First things first, give a sizeup

"OCD from truck1, we have a 2 story apparments over buisness with heavy fire showing from the rear. We have a possible exposure on the bravo side as well. Go ahead and add 3 more engine companys, 2 rescue ambulances, and another truck. Truck one will be command at this time." If battalion desides to add more then he may, this is just waht i would add for an intial attack.
(if there is only a truck, engine and battalion responding I would add these units).

Next i would have PD start to conduct evacuations and set up a preimeter to keep everyone far back. While PD is doing that, i would have two of my firefighters see if its possible to attach a highrise hose pact to a near by hydrant. I would then have my other firefighter and my A/O or Engineer (what ever you would like to call it) start laddering the building and doing ventilation on the ground and second story windows. I would not allow them to go to the roof because there is No RIT/RIC team yet, and the fire seems to be lapping up onto the roof. If i get my hose line set up and extended to the fire i would have them start attacking the fire from the rear. After they had laddered and ventilated the building I would have my A/O and the other firefighter start to cut away that gate thats around the building. I would have one of them with a saw, the other with an ABC extinguisher.

While this is all going on, I would be in communication with Battalion giving them all the details. I would advise the chief that this is an attackable fire, but due to resources we are going defensible until more engine companies arrive. I would also let battalion know again that we have possible exposures on the Bravo side.

Once the first engine company gets on scene, I would let them take over fire attack and send my A/O and the other firefighter to the roof to start roof ventilation and to look for extension. I would then have my two firefighters that were on the highrise hose pact switch with engine company memebers and grab a 1 3/4" line and to a quck search of the building. I would then suggest to the engine company commander to get a large 2 1/2" line to the back of the building.

Once battalion arrives on scene, I would turn over command to him and work with him until my men complete the search. If my firefighters found nothing on there search I would have them begin fire attack with the engine company. I wouild then proceed to the roof and assist the firefighters with ventilation.

I would then coordinate with the other truck company to help with ventilation and SAR when they get on scene.

Hope this is ok!

Marc, why do you start out by addressing "Obssessive-Compulsive Disorder"?

Just kidding, I know that's the LA term for "Dispatch", but it does sound a little, well, OCD to the non-LA folks among us.
I'll take a crack at it.
What I see; heavy fire in the rear with little to no advancment into the body of the building. Already vented. Even though its vacant its still savable.

1- On this run in our area we would have a ladder 2 engines and rescue responding. I would call for an upgrade (2 engines and ladder) establish command.
2- establish water supply If possible. Don't know if ladder carries water or hose.
3- have police start to evacuate exposures. I wouldn't have FF's do it they have the fire to put out.
4- Set up ladder 2 doors down out of the way but still in a position to be used.
5- pull 2 1/2" line from first arriving engine, attack fire from inside so fire isn't pushed inside casuing more damage.
6- Pull addition 2 1/2 line from next engine to the 2nd floor.
7- Put fire out Mop up
8- Take picture of crew standing in front of engine.....just couldn't resist.
Another tidbit on this one...

From the Charlie side photo, it is evident that there are materials burning in the back yard. This brings three different possibilities to mind:

1) This is an outside trash fire that extended into the rear of the building.
2) This is an arson fire, and we're seeing the results of an accelerant trail.
3) This fire has been burning long enough to partially collapse the rear porch into the rear yard.

Each of these will increase my caution, particularly the last two possibilities.
hahahaha, got that a few times. Operational Central Dispatch.
External origin fire, vacant building, previous incident, time of day all point to a likely arson fire. This increases the associated risks because the intent is malicious but to what extent.
This is a type III building, so that means void and concealed spaces. There is a very high probability that this fire is already working it's way through the building via the cockloft and 2nd story floor spaces. I would be very hesitant to start opening up until attack lines are in place. The delta side photo seems to show black smoke starting to appear on the alpha side.
Delta side exposure is not a concern yet, bravo side is. I will use help from the police in determining their status.

Initial tasks will be based off basic truck company functions.
Search and Rescue - 2 guys will conduct an exterior search looking for evidence of entry into the involved building. ie; forced doors or windows. This will be a VES style operation, assessing likelihood of occupation, survivability and access. It will be up to them to determine if situational evidence and interior conditions warrant a complete primary search. Use a TIC!! Throw ladders to the delta side for 2nd story access. These 2 guys will be extremely busy and must work fast.
Forcible entry - The engine monkeys will be chomping at the bit to get inside when they arrive. My third guy will remove locks or whatever for when they arrive. May also want to assess charlie side access through the fence and inspect the overhead wire attached to the c/d corner. Also prepare the bananas to be thrown inside for the monkeys to go get. :)

The guys must remain aware that any openings or ventilation on the delta or alpha sides will likely draw the fire further into the building towards those openings.

After 10 mins I would expect the building to be laddered, access points prepared, exposure evacuations completed, and to have a limited primary search complete or nearing completion. And an engine better be on scene too.

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