Throw Back to Basics: Exposures

By Brian Zaitz

As a fire service member, whether you are a probie or a veteran, you are aware of the dangers of lightweight construction, making you intimately familiar with the terms “engineered,” “prefabricated,” and “synthetic.”

Today’s homes are being built larger with greater open spaces, vaulted and cathedral ceilings, and larger furnishings. Although all these items present their own set of issues, one idea that is rarely discussed: the location of these homes and the size of the lots on which they are built.


Homes built in the 1960s and 1970s were vastly different than those built today. Homes of that era were of traditional construction with true dimensional lumber. They were normally around 1,000 to 1,600 square feet and typically situated on large lots of usually more than 10,000 square feet. This leaves the lot-to-home ratio at roughly 10:1.

Today’s homes are much larger, and premium land is being developed on lot sizes of 8,000 square feet. Although this is not a great difference, consider that today’s homes are typically 2,500 square feet or more, resulting in a lot-to-home ratio of roughly 3:1.

So, what does this lot-to-home ratio mean for us in the fire service? EXPOSURES.


Today’s homes are being built closer together than ever before, with most of the lot space being in the front and back yards. Take into account the vinyl sidings and synthetic insulations, and exposure protection must be a priority for well-involved structure fires in these neighborhoods. The key to success in these situations is planning; it is imperative that you get out and learn your community, understand construction, and prepare for the fire before it happens.

Take the time today, to be better tomorrow.

Download this drill as a PDF HERE


Brian Zaitz is a 14-year student of the fire service, currently assigned as the captain/training officer with the Metro West (MO) Fire Protection District. Brian is an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC as well as instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy.  Brian holds several degrees, including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelors in fire science management, and a masters in human resource development. Brian is currently and accredited chief training officer and student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.



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