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Building Construction Concerns for Firefighters: The 20-Minute Rule

Article and photo by Gregory Havel In his book Fireground Tactics, Emmanuel Fried stated in 1972: "When the fire has substantially involved more than one floor and is out of control after 20 minutes of inside operation, back all companies out and resort to the use of exterior streams. You may lose the building, but you may save your men."1 This "20-minute rule" is still included in many of today's firefighting textbooks. It is the basis of structural firefighting tactics and strategy of many of today's fire departments.  It matches the periodic time check we receive from the dispatcher during fire operations, as recommended by the Incident Command System. The &quo...

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