My department has an SOG on Two in - Two out, as do many. Which in Florida it's also law. Considering your department has a four person engine company and you adhere to the regulation/guideline/law...will the company officer of the first in unit (initial command) go in or stay out? This has nothing to do with a "confrimed rescue", which negates the Two out. Offensive fire attack - no rescue!

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I understand the sentiment, really I do, yet I'm also not going to come into a public internet forum and make believe that it is OK for such a minimalistic crew to be utilized with strictly 2 in 2 out.


So yes, as I replied here, this is the stuff which would be done and realistically, by the time that is done, you would be having other crews arriving.



My whole point of this thread is that firefighter safety is to be first. There is no reason to be making an interior attack unless there is a rescue priority in this situation. Now if you go back a couple responses, you will see my disclaimer too, so I'm not going to sit here and argue about doing things with small crews, defend such actions or tactics, when reality is there should be more resources on scene.


Now, most likely your dept(s) are going to be sending enough resources right away and like ours, probably getting on scene relatively quick. Most likely you have several stations with multiple companies, all of which creates a team which can be more aggressive. Even in those situations with a single company with a quick arrival time and second due arriving shortly, there is still lines to be pulled, size up done, etc. By the time you get that done, other companies should be arriving on scene.

This is one of the big issues with forums like this.

I have no idea where you work. Maybe you work for a career department that gets 3 fully staffed engines, a truck, a squad and a battalion chief on every alarm. You may even get one or two more pieces and have quick access to even more companies on a second alarm.

Maybe you volunteer for a well staffed VFD, very much like my previous VFD where we would get at least 3 staffed engines (and usually 4) and a truck from our own company on just about every evening alarm, plus a couple of AMA companies. Even during the day we could count on at least 15 trained bodies on-scene for the initial page between ourselves and AMA.

Or maybe you work or volunteer for a combo department, very much like the one I work for, where we have 5 full-time folks during the day or 2 at night, and we'll easily pull at least 10 volunteers during the day and 15-20 at night for a reported structure fire. And while we don't have hydrants in most of our district, we'll easily get 8,000-10,000 gallons of water on the road with a couple of 3000g tankers and 2-4 1000g engines.

Ya, in departments such as those, that single room and contents fire is pretty much a bread and butter kind of fire that really is fairly routine event. And likely the choice you have to make between going interior or not when you only have 4 people for several moments, or longer, is not a choice you have to make very often, if ever.

However, in the rural department I volunteer for, and likely hundreds of other rural VFDs in this state, and thousands around the country, it is a very real and very possibly, a very frequent choice as our manpower, especially daytime is limited, and mutual iad, with the exception of one department is distant, and quite limited in terms of interior support. There may be days that we can field 2-3 full crews and can easily take care of that room and contents fire, but unfortunately, that is more often the exception as compared to the rule. And we are one of the better off departments in the parish.

For those departments, who often may have resource and training issues as well, and that IS the reality, that single room and contents fire is not a simple routine, bread and butter incident, and it does pose far more danger than likely, if you fall into one of the three well-staffed categories I described above, you will likely ever imagine. I know .. "they should be better trained" ... "they should be better staffed" ... "the community should provide more funding for resources and/or staffing" ... "blah, blah, blah".

The issue is that "should" does not put out fires. Bodies and resources do. And if the bodies and resources do not exist for a department to safely take those risks for property, the best choice, like it or not, is for them to stay outside and do what they can without committing to interior operations. The trick here is that the department's ultimate responsibility is not to to the homeowner or the community, but it is to the families of the members. And if the manpower on-scene does not exist for an effective rapid intervention team, the obligation to the family overrides the obligation to the homeowner.

Maybe in your world, this discussion is quite simple. In ours, it's much more complex.

The problem is many on here want it both ways.  There are some volunteers that say our jobs are exactly the same and we operate in the same way.  Then you say that we are very different.  It's hard to reply to both types at the same time.  That's why some on here think I'm trying to brag at times if I talk about us being aggressive and how we go interior for many fires that others may not for.  I'm not trying to brag but that's just how we do things at our department.  I usually even specify that it's because we do have better staffing and A LOT more training.  It's just how it is.

HOWEVER if a volunteer department does show up to only a room off, I do NOT see how that is any different.  If it's bread and butter for a career department, why isn't it for a volunteer department?  It's not like the extra resources will help anyway with that considering it really only takes one engine company to put out a room. 

If that "one room off" is in a lightweight, engineered construction SFD with the open architecture common in the southeast (including some of the D.C. suburbs) then it might not be a "bread and butter" call at all.


Some of those fires are actually void space fires that eventually extend to a compartment, but are actually delayed-discovery fires that originated either in the void (i.e. electrical fires) or that were exterior fires (decks, outside trash, etc) that extended into the structure via bay window overhangs, exterior penetrations, or a glass failure.  In those cases, that fire that would be a basic interior attack fire in a D.C. row house might actually be a much more serious fire with a potential for sudden structural collapse.


If the void space fire isn't addressed immediately, those fires tend to be fought by tower ladders or ladder pipes, not just by the 1st-due engine. 


Being aggressive is great - in solid mass, legacy-construction buildings that are well subdivided and that don't have engineered trusses with large void spaces between floors.  You have a lot of that older, more solid construction in D.C. 


On the other hand, you probably don't have a lot of fires in 4,000 square foot, truss-built SFDs with open architecture or even central lanais. 


My vote is for "different".


You pretty much verified what I said though.  I say something about departments being different and then a volly complains that they are the same.  I say something and expect the same and they say they are different.  I don't get it.

Like someone else stated once.  How often do you hear a sheriff in a rural area compare himself to the NYPD?  You don't because it's not the same job.

Like I said, my vote is for "different".  I can't speak for anyone else.

And I agree with you for once.  I've worked in both suburbs of a major city and in one of the busiest departments in the country.  Those departments were completely different and a small rural folly department is most likely even more different.  

I've worked in a fairly big city (not D.C. sized, admittedly, but 22 stations isn't small), a large urban county, small volly departments, and the mid-sized department where I am now.


The differences boil down to a) urban, b) suburban/hydranted, and c) suburban/rural, mostly unhydranted.  The manpower range was about the same - lots, medium amounts, and few.  The structures were mostly legacy construction for the first 20+ years, then increasingly engineered construction lightweight for the past 15 or so.


That makes the variables pretty complex, and it doesn't make firefighting lend itself to simple, absolute answers.

The reasoning for my comments here regarding awaiting other rigs is because when looking at such a topic and trying to simplify who stays out etc, doesn't account for the bigger picture and creates a tunnel vision. In almost every RIT and MAYDAY situation it takes more resources than something as simplistic as 2 people.....which is why I stated I believe 2 in 2 out is an archaic "feel good" policy.


The issue about my statements regarding "doing the same job" is in response to a post regarding a crew could be on scene for upwards of 20 minutes in a rural setting etc. If second in companies are going to be that far off, the reality is you really can't be as aggressive as a dept with resources arriving quickly. Of which we saw another poster confirming as well as the reality that many times in such a setting the fire is beyond such a paited scenario. The analogy with the LE aspect is you don't really see that rural backwoods county deputy comparing themselves with the NYPD with "we do the same job" because reality is they don't. One can afford to be more aggressive with backup right there as opposed to one who would have to wait and so tactics would change. That is the point with the in context to this topic, when asking something simplistic as 2 in 2 out...who's out....doesn't account for the larger picture.


That is why when a scenario was thus given and while simplistic in painting the picture as something in which a single engine company could handle, is why I still gave my response. There will still be things to do on scene and getting things in place and ready and by the time you are ready to make entry, other crews should thus be arriving on scene.....especially with a 4 minute lag time.


....HOWEVER if a volunteer department does show up to only a room off, I do NOT see how that is any different.  If it's bread and butter for a career department, why isn't it for a volunteer department?  It's not like the extra resources will help anyway with that considering it really only takes one engine company to put out a room....


The issue isn't that such a scenario would be a bread and butter fire, the issue is that everything depends upon the bigger picture. Like I mentioned about when the call goes out, I can state with absolute certainty (not even being with the same dept) that there will be more than a single engine company of 4 personnel toned out to such a fire call. What is found upon arrival will dictate the operations and decisions......and I would be willing to bet my pension that even in an aggressive, large city dept, that if the same scenario being painted here, was actually encountered..... that first in pump would NOT be calling off other companies.


Sure there may be little for other rigs to do on scene but then again the NFPA standard is 15 to 18 personnel at a minimum for such a fire.....NOT 4.


I think Ben did put things in a good perspective as well because there are and will be variables encountered which should be accounted for before a decision is made. Of which such variables can only be addressed on an individual basis as opposed to some blanketed "who's out" scenario being depicted with just 2 in 2 out and a 4 man engine company.


This is why I will remain adament that if a fire is encountered by a 4 person company and there is no rescue priority, other crews 4 minutes out, then there is no need to be making the decision on who is going in or who would stay out......especially when there are things that should be done before making entry anyway. Even if a single engine company can easily handle the knockdown of such a fire, doesn't mean there shouldn't be backup ready, nor a RIT team standing by, truck company, etc. Sure you aren't going to fit everyone into the room, but you aren't going to be sending away such resources until the incident is controlled. If a truck company sits idle at such a scene because a pump was able to make quick work of such a fire, then the truck can be easily sent back. The bottom line is that there should not be such a question as to how to operate a fire with only 4 people, because there should be other resources coming in.



As I have stated earlier, I have never worked for an all-career department of any size.


I currently work for a combo department with 3 line and 2 admin (Deputy Chief and myself - Public Education & Training roles), who also respond to fires in supression roles, during the day (4 suppression on weekend days - no admin) and 2 line personnel nights. In the past, I volunteered for a 3-station combo department with 12 line personnel per shift plus a small volunteer component.

I have also volunteered at 6 volunteer departments, ranging from very rural with very limited resources, manpower, experiende, and yes, interior capabilities to a very well-run, well equipped VFD with well trained aggressive personnel suppoorted by 24/7 automatic aid.


Based on that, how often RIT is used and who staffs it are all very different animals. During the first half of my career, the concept of RIT was very unfamiliar to most departments, career or volunteer, and was very sparsley used.


During the past few years, obviously that has changed, and now it is far more commonplace. That being said, I would not yet say that it is common as there are a large number of departments that either don't use a RIT, either at all, or very infrequently, or if they have a RIT, it is extremly limited in it's abilities to perform effectivly if needed, for some of the following reasons:

Lack of trained manpower. In many rural VFD the manpower barely exists to field a single interior crew. Like it or not, that, in many places is still the case. And in many cases, the surrounding VFDs are not much better off. So when the manpower from the first-in mutual aid company arrives, often they need to go into action not as RIT, or not as a second or third crew in, but as the replacement crew for that now exhauseted first crew. And then when that second MA crew arrives, it many times, is just in time to repace the first MA crew. At some point, there may be enough interior manpower to staff a dedicated RIT, but often that is not during the initial stages of the incident, and often, they are staffed with already tired crews coming out of rehab after working interior.


Lack of RIT trained manpower. SCBA. Water Supply. Ventilation. Extrication.EMS. Ice and Water Rescue. Vehicle Maintainence. Department Administration. Fundraising. And RIT. There's a lot on the plate, that in many small VFDs, have to be done by a bunch of folks. In many places,, the time simply does not exist for members to be trained on advanced RIT operations. Again, maybe that's not your world, but like it or not, it is the world on thousands of small VFDs around the country. The other issue is a lack of basic firefighting skills, due to limited trained, to build on to create highly effective RIT teams. Again, in a perfect world, this would not be an issue, but in the real world it is, and likely always will be.


Lack if funding, which ties into most of the above. The departments don't have the funding for specialized RIT equipment, the funding to train thier members completly on basic skills, and don't have the funding to send their members or bring in basic RIT training.


Lack of experience. Like it or not, an effective RIT requires a team composed of experienced personnel who have operated in many high-pressure situations. They need to have acted in more than 5 or 10 working fires, and need to have significant experience in a number of situations.  Solid RIT members aren't formed from classes, even those with the most realistic high-pressure situations. The problem is in a rural area, the fires simply aren't there to form a solid enough base to perform effectivlly in most RIT situations, except in that rare long-term member who is still physically capable of operating in those high-pressure interior situations. 


Lack of emphasis on RIT by department leadership. "It's never happened here". "RIT isn't something we need in our department". "We don't have time to teach RIT". There are departments where RIT simply isn't importance, and many times, that is because it's not important to the leadership.


All of that being said, my current combo department has the manpower, in almost all situations, to staff a RIT very early in the incident. We have well trained volunteer base that can perform RIT. And we have some money to put into RIT. And our members, especially the significant number that work full-time in other combo or all career departmenst have the skill and experience base to support advanced RIT operations training. Am I conficent that we will likely be able to save our own in a residental fire, yes, and I would say that we have a btter chance than most departments in a commercial fire.


On the other hand, volunteer department more often than not does simply not have the intial staffing for a dedicated rapid intervention team, and we are very well aware of that. We are lucky that we have a small combo department very close to our west that will give us all thier entire on-duty staffing of 5, plus volunteer staffing, if we request it, plus my combo department to the east, with a longer response time, that will also give us staffing on request. Because of that a dedicated RIT does often does get formed in the later early stages of a working fire, but we are certainly the exception in my volunteer parish because of our proximity to those resources, not the rule. Yes, we my rural VFD does train on RIT, but are we profecient? No, and likely we never will be as there is simply too much to do in a vvery limted time period, and again, we recognize that.


Am i saying that VFDs are incompentnt. Not at all. There are hundreds if not thousands of very professional effective VFDs. There are hundreds if not thousands that operate effectivly most of the time. But yes, there are VFDs that simply do not peerform, and RIT is an area where if called on to perform, will likely not perform very well. Some of these are due to factors they can shange, but won't. Others are because of the factors they simply have no control over.

Dont forget that 2 in 2 out was the rule long before we started taking RIT or RICE classes. Even in Indiana it would be law because it was an OSHA mandate (if Indiana is not an OSHA state by federal law the OSHA standard has to be adopted verbatim by EPA).

@Derrill- officer outside doing sizeup, utility control and communicating with other incoming units.

@Capcity-  i'll agree with you that one guy should be able to handle that with ease...99 out of 100 times, its just that that 1 time will make a much longer lasting impression. With the number of street corner chemists increasing in the suburban and rural areas, what started out as a bedroom is now the cook room. 

My two cents worth: forgret the SOP on 2 in2 out and develop a SOP that states something along the lines of no interior operations until a designated RIT team (2nd engine) is on scene. 2 in 2 out is automatically met and you get to throw a page out of SOP book

as a florida firefighter i laughed that its a "law". In this age of layoffs, is a cop obliged to "arrest me" if i go in a working fire without 2 others waiting outside? And if i decide to stay in, is he obliged to come in and arrest me?


sorry, just had to get that out because we have some laws that defy logic here in the sunshine state...such as (my personal favorite) you cant be charged with DUI unless you're behind the wheel and its witnessed

2 in 2 out is intended to enhance safety and in understaffed dept's its accomplished with mutual aid on the initial tone out. it goes out the window when entrapment is indicated

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