Firefighter Safety Call to Action

“The ISFSI is honored to partner with the IAFC Safety, Health & Survival Section to tackle the tedius process of changing policy in the fire service to accommodate recent research discoveries in fire dynamics and firefighter tactics.  This joint effort between the two organizations is a healthy step to ensure each and every firefighter goes home to their families and that our fire instructors have the support they require to teach these firefighters appropriately.” ISFSI President Doug Cline

Firefighter Safety Call to Action

New Research Informs Need for Updated Procedures, Policies

A joint effort between the International Association of Fire Chiefs Safety, Health, and Survival Section and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors

Given the recent proven research by Underwriter Laboratories and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, this call to action is being issued to fire and emergency service officers to take the following immediate actions:

Update departmental fire ground policies and procedures, deliver training programs and conduct in-service updates to reflect fire dynamic research findings.

·         Water does not push fire or threaten trapped occupants.

a.       Water should be applied to a fire as soon as possible and from the safest location because research has proven it reduces thermal temperatures.

b.       Simply put: if you see fire, put water on it immediately. This greatly increases civilian and firefighter survivability as well as property conservation.

·         The recently created pneumonic, S.L.I.C.E.R.S., should replace RECEO VS as a core component of firefighter training programs. To learn more, see the sample SOG for Residential Firefighting Strategy & Tactics.

·         Coordinate ventilation and fire attack. Ventilation continues to be an important tactic that requires significant coordination and control.  Adding air to a building without the immediate application of water on today’s fires greatly increases fire spread and reduces survivability for victims and firefighters. It is not possible to make statements about the effectiveness of ventilation without consideration for the timing and application of water. Venting does not always lead to cooling; well-timed and coordinated ventilation leads to improved conditions.

·         Control the door, control the flow path. Forcing, or opening, a doorway for entry creates an inflow ventilation flow path. Controlling the door to reduce airflow is an important step to improve the survivability of victims and firefighters, control heat release rates, and reduce the chance of flashover.

·         Closing interior doors to improve compartmentalization is critical to victim and firefighter survivability. What used to be referred to as “Vent-Enter-Search (VES)” is now known as “Vent-Enter-Isolate-Search (VEIS)”. When conducting VEIS tactics, closing the door to an entered compartmentprior to conducting search operations is vital to controlling the flow path.

·         Assess exterior and interior collapse potential.

a.       Structural stability and potential for collapse must be a priority for consideration during size-up and Brief Initial Report’s (BIR) should identify the presence or potential presence of engineered lightweight building materials.

b.      Sounding the floor for stability is not an exclusive reliable indicator of structural stability and therefore should be combined with other tactics to increase safety.

c.       Floor sag is a poor pre-indicator of floor collapse as it may be especially difficult to determine the amount of deflection while moving through a structure.

d.      Thermal imagers are not an exclusive reliable indicator of the presence or absence of fire in a basement and cannot assess structural integrity above floor coverings.

e.       Water application to a fire in a basement should be applied from an exterior access, penetrating nozzle, or via holes cut into the compartment. Conducting an attack on a basement fire from the floor above via interior access is not recommended..

·         Conducting a 360° size-up of the fire occupancy should be completed prior to making entry. Wind-driven fires represent an immediate life-threat to firefighters particularly in light of flow path research. Attacking the fire from the windward side of the structure may be the most effective way to save lives.

·         Discourage and/or eliminate the widely-used term “nothing showing” from the BIR. As a result of modern fuel loads and energy efficient building construction materials, fires in structures can be expected to become ventilation-limited quickly.  Smoke or open flame may not be visible from the exterior by arriving fire companies and the term unintentionally but significantly contributes to complacency.  

B.  Call on standards setting organizations and publishers to update their programs and products immediately to reflect the latest fire dynamic research findings.

Learn more about the fire dynamics research, see the following additional resources:


·         National Institute of Science and Technology

·         Underwriters Laboratories

·         International Society of Fire Service Instructors

·         IAFC Safety, Health, and Survival Section