When we look at various buildings and occupancies, past operational experiences; those that were successful, and those that were not, give us experiences that define and determine how we access, react and expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm in the future. Naturalistic (or recognition-primed) decision-making forms much of this basis. We predicate certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined (predictable) manner that fire will hold within a room and compartment for a predictable given duration of time; that the fire load and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy, structural system; in addition to having an appropriately trained and skilled staff to perform the requisite evolutions.
Executing tactical plans based upon faulted or inaccurate strategic insights and indicators has proven to be a common apparent cause in numerous case studies, after action reports and LODD reports. Our years of predictable fireground experience have at times clouded our ability to predict, assess, plan and implement incident action plans and ultimately deploy our companies-based upon the predictable performance expected of modern construction and especially those with engineered structural systems.
Today’s incident scene and structural fires are unlike those in past decades and will continue to challenge us operationally when confronted with structural fire engagement and combat operations. Operationally, we need to be doing the right thing, for the right reason in the right place to increase our safety and incident survivability.
The built-environments that form and shape our response districts and communities pose unique challenges to the day-to-day responses of fire departments and their subsequent operations during combat structural fire engagement. With the variety of occupancies and building characteristics present, there are definable degrees of risk potential with recognizable strategic and tactical measures that must be taken.
Although each occupancy type presents variables that dictate how a particular incident is handled, most company operations evolve from basic strategic and tactical principles rooted in past performance and operations at similar structures. This basis is based upon Predictability of Performance.