Let me say first that I have not had much time as a firefighter.  Being new and impressionable I have been told that first and foremost, firefighter safety is the number one priority on the fireground.  I started my volunteer career fully believing that.  The other day I watched Lt. McCormack give a speech at FDIC on youtube about the problems facing the fireservice.  He went on to talk about how we have put firefighter safety above the safety and well being of the people we have sworn to protect.  That idea goes against everything I had been taught as a firefighter.  But now, having thought about it I wonder if he is right.  Most everything I have read talks about how the fireground has changed and occupants are less likely to be viable anyway, but I still read news stories about firefighters still saving viable people from structure fires.  Are we really more important than the people we swore to protect?  I am sure Lt. McCormack is not advocating firefighter suicide, but I worry that the new safety push is used as an excuse to not train and become proficient in size up and interior tactics.  I say that because I have seen that trend in the volunteer side of things.  I have heard people say " the victim probably wont be viable anyway when we get there so why should we be interior firefighters and risk our lives?" 

What do you guys think?

I am nearly alone in my dept. in thinking this way.

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Capcityff, I was only stating what I have read about from the safety crowd.  I read about a lot of saves myself.  I was only stating that there seems to be a lot of excuses around for not going interior.  Worst of all, volunteers seem to be taking what they learn about the modern fireground and deciding not to waste time on training for interior attack because they have been told it is too dangerous and useless because the occupant is already dead because of lightweight construction. 


That's not how it is in my area.  We are aggressive interior firefighters.  We try to be a s safe as we can but that starts with a proper size up and a strong action plan.  Of course there are times when we can't enter, but they are very few.

We used to be known as basement savers before the new chief took control about ten years ago.  We have started doing a lot more training to become interior firefighters because the community was tired of all the houses burning down.  Having said that we still have a sizable faction of volunteers in our dept. and surrounding depts. that wish to remain exterior firefighters out of sheer laziness.  Laziness for hard work and training.  We don't always get to the scene fast enough but with a transitional attack can often make entry.  Our state fire school trainer has repeatedly tried to convince the dept. to be exterior firefighters for the reasons of building construction and training.  Some of us have not accepted that and continually train on size up, tactics, and safety.

It just seems to be a continuous battle between the safety crowd, the lazy ones, and the ones who are not satisfied to stand in the yard.  We do not have anyone on the dept. certified at ff1 but have a lot of members with over twenty years and the chief has thirty five and these members have fought a lot of fire interior and are students of fire, and I am a good listener.  So because we did not pay the 1400 dollars for each member to get FF1 our state guy does not think we should operate interior.  I am not saying we should not be certified to FF1 but the dept. has never had enough money to send everyone to the academy so the interest was never there until now when I told the Chief that I want to get certified and that I would pay for it myself if needed.  He agreed to pay for it and to send two firefighters per year to the academy. 

Wow, that turned into a long post.

Keep fighting the good fight!  Progress usually starts with a small core group and spreads from there.



The occupants are never dead because of lightweight construction. Unless of course the building has already collapsed on them. Construction type is not really an issue until fire somehow penetrates through walls,ceilings or floors. Until this happens we only have a contents fire. This can kill people but it's the fire that gets them, not the construction type.

A cellar or basement with an unfinished ceiling would obviously be an exception, because contents fire would immediately expose floor support.


When talking viability of people caught in a fire go to youtube look under UL Legacy versus new . The video is abouot 6 min. long. And I think every newbie or old guy should watch. Its amazing!

I disagree with the Essentials/ Delmar classes now 2 pallets and some hay...REALLY!  No wonder we are killing firefighters there is no real heat to those fires. Then a young ff gets on a real job and bails at the heat.

I agree with" risk alot to save alot and risk nothing to save nothing"

My 2 cents

We used A LOT more than two pallets.  haha  More like eight in multiple rooms at a time.  We were told our live burns were going to be the hottest fires of our careers. Why not push the limit in a controlled atmosphere? 

Doesn't matter how many pallets you use. Burning wood does not replicate the burning of contents of a modern home. The synthetic products prevalent in the average American home burn faster and hotter than the wood and other natural materials of years past. They produce smoke that is heavy with unburned fuel. This hot smoke spreads throughout the building just looking for some air to mix with so it can light up. There is no way your pallet fire will be the hottest fire you ever go to. These modern materials also need more oxygen to burn than the natural materials of the past. This means that when you vent you are not only letting heat and smoke out but you are allowing fresh air in. This fresh air is pulled in by the fire and used to increase burn rate. That is why ventilation MUST be coordinated with advance of charged hoseline.

Any department that is teaching their firefighters that their burn tower or so called flashover simulator is any thing like a real fire ground environment is doing a major disservice to it's members. These training events should be used only to practice hoseline advancement, nozzle reaction, nozzle handling techniques, search tactics, SCBA usage and other routine fireground  activities.

You can push the limits all you want in a controlled atmosphere, but it is still a CONTROLLED atmosphere. What you experience there will not fully prepare you for modern interior firefighting.

I agree with C. Moyer in that we must all be familiar with the research done (and continuing to be done) by NIST, UL, etc.

This is per our state fire academy and any live burns have to have like 5 instructors there. I've been to 2 burns in the past yr one in a conex box and the other in an acquired structure both were done the same way. The acquired structure obviosly burt anyways but that was all we could use.

We take our live burn training in a controlled atmosphere as that; A controlled atmosphere. After 12 years I have never been to two fires that were the same. We have instructors around here that will tell you that they are going to bulldoze the home anyways so we should use discretion when to do a interior attack. I am glad that my chiefs and my fellow line officers do not feel the same way. We go to our own calls and mutual aid calls with the same mission every time. TO SAFE HAS MUCH HAS POSSIBLE! If the home owner decides to bulldoze it down later that is their prerogative. We went and did what we have trained and swore to do. We do not run in like a bunch of suicide junkies we do the job we have been trained to do. Have we done things and gone in places we probably shouldn't have. Yes, but we have also saved property doing so. Could someone got hurt of worse? Yes, but we go in knowing the risk and monitoring the conditions and we trust are life's with the guys monitoring things outside. Have we gone in and found it just to bad to precede. Yes, and we have backed out like we should do. I feel bad for guys like you Jim that know what should be done and want to do it and you get your hands tied by Chiefs-Instructors or anyone else. Keep fighting the fight you are on the right track. 

I work for a very busy urban fire department that goes to fire almost daily.  I can honestly say I'd rank my academy fires as some of the hottest I've ever been in.  I understand we can't have the same materials burning as a normal house fire.  I know, conditions aren't exactly the same.  I work in the hood where many residents are pack rats.  

I don't think anyone was doing a disservice to anyone.  I'm just saying that it's definitely possible to make your training burns very hot.  

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