Size-Up: How Do We Use It?

Issue 12 and Volume 160.

BY STEPHEN MARSAR Size-up is the ongoing eval-uation of situations you are confronted with during fires and emergencies. Most firefighter and EMS literature describes the size-up as starting with the alarm and continuing until the fire or emergency is under control. However, proper size-up starts long before you arrive at the station. How well do you know your response area? What changes have occurred? Are there street closings, road construction, or new traffic patterns? Are there new construction or renovation projects? What occupancy types do you have? Where are hazardous materials found? What are the most significant life hazards you may encounter? Most officers, firefighters, EMTs, and officer students learn the “13-point size-up.” I had this drilled into my head during probationary firefighting school; we memorized the acronym “COAL WAS WEALTH,” where each letter related to one of the 13 size-up considerations: Construction. What is the construction type—fire resistive, noncombustible,…

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