Wednesday, January 15, 2014

First Due & Reading the Building-Doug Cline

information is by way of


First-Due: Upon arrival when sizing-up and looking at the building(s) and occupancy, past operational experiences (both good and bad) give the officer and company experiences that define and determine how we further assess, react and expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm.

Consider the ABCD or IDEAL Size Up as well

I - Identify arriving unit (s)

D - Describe what you see

E - Explain what you intend to do

A - Assume Command

L - Let incoming units know what you want them to do or where you want them to go (Staging, etc.)


A- Address

B- Building Description

C- Conditions

D- Deployment and directives


First, confirm the address of the incident.  Many fires are called in by witnesses, neighbors or homeowners with cell phones.  Accurately determining the incident location can affect running routes, layout instructions and apparatus placement.  We responded to a house fire where, based on the dispatch information, the second due would have to pass the incident street (1st St.) and layout from 2nd St. to complete a split lay to us (1st Due).  However, the actual incident location was across the street from a hydrant and we made our own water supply.  This allowed the 2nd due to continue directly to the scene and provide much needed manpower.

Next, provide a useful description of the building.  How many times have you heard someone mark on-scene with a “working house fire” and that’s it!  That does nobody any good.  An adequate description of the building will help incoming engine companies determine line size and length, trucks companies plan their searches, ladders and ventilation and chiefs’ consideration for additional resources.

Going hand in hand with the building description is a report of conditions.  Announcing that you have a “working house fire” is useless to incoming units for determining strategy and tactics.  When describing conditions, paint a picture for incoming units.  Describe how much smoke and/or fire you have and give a specific location within the building. The following provides a vivid mental picture that can be useful to incoming units, “I have heavy smoke showing from the second floor, Alpha/ Delta corner”.

Finally, announce what you are doing and what needs to done (deployment and directives).  This begins with identifying the operational mode (investigating, rescue, offensive or defensive).  This automatically tells incoming units what mindset to be in.  Next, provide any additional instructions to specific units or to dispatch.  This may include layout or placement instructions, announcement of special hazards or requesting additional alarms.

The theory of naturalistic decision-making forms much of this basis and translates into assignments and implemented actions.

The Art and Science of Firefighting is predicated on a fundamental understanding of how fire affects a building, the compartment and its occupants; and the manner in which the companies  engage upon arrival and transition into combat fire suppression at a structure fire.

We predicate with certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined (predictable) manner;
• That the building will react and perform under assumptions of past performance and outcomes,
• That fire will hold within a room and compartment for a predictable given duration of time;
• That the fire load package and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy and structural system,
• And given an appropriately trained and skilled staff to perform the requisite evolutions; we can safely and effectively mitigate a structural fire situation in any given building type and occupancy.
• We assume we will have the adequacy of time to conduct and employ the required tasks identified to be of importance based upon identified or assumed indicators;
• That the building will conform to the rules of firefighting engagement

Today’s incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past, requiring incident commanders; commanding and company officers and firefighters alike, to have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity to fire behavior and fire dynamics, a focus on operational structural stability of the compartment and building envelope and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type and a profound need to understand required fire flow and application rated for effective fire suppression.


Understanding the building;  its complexities in terms of building anatomy, structural systems, building materials, configuration, design, layout, systems, protectives, methods of construction, engineering and inherent features, limitations, challenges and risks are fundamental for operational excellence on the fireground and firefighter safety.


Enhancements in the effectiveness of fire suppression tactical activities; specifically extinguishing  the fire- reduce or eliminate the  problematic fireground challenges and  at time concurrent demands for resources and actions.


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