Scenario #3 in the Survival Essentials series of weekly firefighter drills offers a chance to discuss conditions that would be present at a fire scene that would halt a firefighting company from making an interior or offensive attack. There may be some obvious and easy answers, but add to those and take each consideration and add-in the WHY part of this decision. It's not enough to just be able to say that there is too much fire or that it isn't survivable to occupants--we should always include our rationale for that decision to reinforce the decision. For example, you may say that your crew won't make entry on a fire because of building collapse signs, the WHY part is that NO BUILDING IS WORTH THE LIFE OF A FIREFIGHTER. So correctly stated in this drill, your discussion would look like this:
- We would not enter a structure WHEN signs of possible collapse are present because of heavy fire because no building is worth the life of a firefighter
- We would SAY to incident commander (IC) that this is a defensive fire because a correct incident action plan must be defined by the IC
- We would DO the appropriate incident action plan for a defensive (exclusionary zone) attack because we want to keep our members out of potential collapse zones
- We would expect the IC then broadcast over the radio on all tactical channels the strategy for the fire, confirm that all companies and members are accounted for, and to establish collapse and hot zones for all personnel working.
You might find it useful to grab a photo or magazine cover from a recent Fire Engineering edition to illustrate do not enter types of situations. Continue your discussions using the WHEN -- SAY -- DO -- COMMAND format to guide your discussions.
Forest Reeder began his fire service career in 1979. He currently serves as Division Chief of Training & Safety for the Des Plaines (IL) Fire Department. He is a past recipient of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) prestigious George D. Post Instructor of the Year award and has been responsible for the design, implementation and coordination of in-service firefighter training activities as well as a full-service fire training academy program. Forest holds numerous Illinois fire service certifications and holds a Masters Degree in Public Safety Administration from Lewis University.