The following article is offered as a training tool to improve fireground operations by encouraging thought and discussion on assignments, operations, and performance when responding to a multiple-alarm fire. The operation presented is not intended to be a perfect, one-way-to-do-it exercise; rather, it is an example that can be critiqued and used as a springboard for comparison with your own operations.

Please note:

fireground person-to-person conversations/communications and descriptions of events are in roman (regular) type;

fireground radio communications (Channel 2) are in bold type;

communications from/with the emergency communications center (“Headquarters”) (Channel 1) are in italic type; and

identification of units are in parentheses (). T=Truck; E=Engine; R=Rescue; B=Battalion Chief; D=Deputy Chief; A=Assistant Chief; Ch=Chief of Department.

To use this program properly, the following procedure should be followed:

1. Review and study the operation presented.

2. List your views on various aspects of the operation, such as radio and personal communications; the comments in brackets; the actions of companies and officers; any standard operating procedures you perceive; any suggestions about firefighter safety; the overall general fireground operation, that is, incident command, truck work, engine work, etc.; how your department would handle the various operations and communications differently; whether your department could benefit from any procedures or operations in this program; and any other comments you wish to make.

3. Compare all information, questions, comments, answers, etc. for discussion of fireground operations, standard operating procedures, or whatever might best apply to your department, company, or situation.

References used for this presentation were Brunacini, Alan V. Fire Command. (National Fire Protection Association, 19xx.)

Clark, William E. Firefighting Principles and Practices, Second Edition. (Fire Engineering Books and Videos, 1991.)

Richman, Harold. Engine Company Fireground Operations, Second Edition. (National Fire Protection Association, 1986.)

Richman, Harold. Truck Company Fireground Operations, Second Edition. (National Fire Protection Association, 1986.)

Command and Control of Fire Department Major Operations. National Fire Academy

Beeeep! “In the alley rear of 827 Main Street–trash fire–Engine 5 respond–in the rear of 827 Main Street, 2112 hours.”

“Engine 5 responding, rear of 827 Main Street.”

“Okay, Engine 5, 2112 hours.”

(E5) Coming up on Main, George–look out for Friday night traffic.”

“Gotcha, Lieu, give it to them on the air horns.”

The pumper swings into Main Street at Fourth.

“Man! What kind of trash fire does that look like to you?”

“Geez, I don`t believe it!”

“Engine 5 to Headquarters.”

“Go ahead, Engine 5.”

“Fill the box on Main Street. We see a heavy glow. Plenty of smoke from 4th.”

“Okay, Engine 5. Striking the box now, 2114 hours. Beep, beep. Box alarm 1-5-2, 8th and Main Street. Engines 5, 1, and 2; Trucks 3 and 1; Rescue 1; Ambulance 2; Battalion 1–respond to box 1-5-2, 2114 hours.”

“Battalion 1 to Headquarters: Report!”

“Headquarters to Battalion 1: Engine 5 request to fill the box after trash fire dispatch, report heavy fire and smoke from 4th Street.”

“Battalion 1: Okay, have all units go to Channel 2.”

“Okay Battalion 1. All units responding to Box 1-5-2 go to Channel 2.”

(E5) “Got a store really off. George, we`ll lay a line in. You and I will get the deck gun going, see if we can kill this thing.”

“Okay, Lieu, got it.”

“Engine 5 on scene: Store fully involved under two floors of apartments. People at windows. Using deck gun. Give us a second alarm.”

“Okay, Engine 5. Second alarm on Box 1-5-2, 2115 hours. Headquarters to Battalion 1: You okay on Engine 5`s message?”

“Battalion 1: Okay.”

“Beep, beep. Beep, beep. Signal 2-2-1-5-2. 8th and Main. Engines 3, 4, and 6; Truck 2; Battalion 2; Deputy 1; Ambulances 1 and 4: Respond to 8th and Main. Second alarm on Box 1-5-2. 2115 hours.

Engine 5 positions in front of involved store. A three-inch supply line is clamped. The deck gun with 112-inch tip is released and aimed. The pump is engaged. The deck gun is charged from the booster tank, operated by the officer. The driver hooks up the supply line, opens the clamp, and sets the pump and pressure. Then he goes for a 24-foot ladder to reach people in the building above the fire. The second firefighter arrives from the hydrant and relieves the officer, who now assists with rescue.

(E5) “Let`s get those closest to the fire on the second floor, George.”

“Okay, Lieu, looks like those two over here.”

“Check. Oh good, the truck`s coming in now.

(T3) “Man, look at the upper-level smoke on this one. Get the tractor just outboard and back of the engine. John, aerial to the roof–get this place vented. I`ll get Miller with you right away.”

“Okay, Cap.”

“Truck 3 on scene.”

“Okay, Truck 3. 2117 hours.”

(T3) “Kelly, Miller, get a ladder to these over here on the third floor. I`m checking the hallway.”

“Okay, Cap, we got `em.”

“Miller, get up with John as soon as you get these people out.”

“Okay, will do.”

(Channel 1) “Engine 9 to Engine 5.”

“Okay, Engine 9. 2117 hours.”

“Truck 4 to Truck 1.”

“Okay, Truck 4. 2117 hours. Headquarters to Engine 2.”

“Engine 2.”

“Box 1-5-3, 10th and Main, has been pulled. Check the box.

“Engine 2, okay.”

“2117 hours.”

“Engine 1 on scene in rear. Heavy fire outside, fire on all floors inside. Using a 212-inch back here.”

“Headquarters to Battalion 1: Engine 1 reports fire on all floors inside.”

“Battalion 1, okay. Will be 1-5-2 command at 8th and Main. We have a block-long three-story ordinary, 125 feet deep. One store fully involved. People being taken down ladders now.”

“Okay, Battalion 1. Deputy 1: You okay on Battalion 1`s message?”

“Deputy 1, okay.”

“2118 hours.”

“Chief 1 to Headquarters. We have something working?”

“Affirmative, Chief 1. Second alarm on Box 1-5-2, 8th and Main, three-story ordinary stores and apartments, people being removed.”

“Is Deputy 1 responding?”

“Affirmative, Chief 1.”

“Chief 1, okay.”

“2118 hours.”

“Battalion 1 to Rescue 1, Engine 2: Take the second floor.”

“Rescue 1 on the scene, second floor.”

“Okay, Rescue 1. 2119 hours.”

(E2) “We`ll lay our five-inch in on this one, troops. Nose right up to the truck, Hank. We`ll take the solid-tip 1 3/4-inch in.”

“Okay, Cap. Got it.”

“Engine 2 to Headquarters, Box 1-5-3 for same fire. We`re on the scene. Five-inch hose laid, second floor.”

“Okay, Engine 2. 2119 hours.”

“Truck 3 to Battalion 1: We have people down in second floor corridor.”

“Okay, Truck 3. Engine 2, Rescue 1 on the way in now.”

“Battalion 1 to Ambulance 2: Set up in the parking lot across from the fire toward the 9th Avenue side. We have four people taken out on ladders.”

“Ambulance 2, okay.”

(R1 to T3) “Rescue, Cap.”

(T3) “I got this victim. Get on those two and get a search going.”

“Okay, we`re on `em.”

(T3) “Oh, George–good. Get your line down the corridor, see if we can keep this thing toward the back.”

(E2) “Okay, good as done. Let`s go with our line.”

“Truck 1 to Headquarters: On the scene in the rear. Notify Battalion 2 fire appears to be running a utility shaft, center-rear of the building.”

“Okay, Truck 1 on scene, fire running shaft, 2120 hours. Headquarters to Battalion 1: You okay on Truck 1`s message?”

“Battalion 1, okay.”

“Battalion 1 to Engine 1, Truck 1: Get to the top floor.”

“Truck 1, okay Battalion 1. Engine 1 has outside fire knocked down. We`ll advance their line by our aerial.”

“Battalion 1, okay.”

(T1) “Man, you must have had a boatload of fire here, Lieu.”

(E1) “We did, Cap. Knocked it down and drove the fire back from the second- and third-story windows, but it still is going good in there. We`ll put our solid-tip 134 to take up the aerial.”

(T1) “Good idea. They`re about hitting the sill with it now. Mac, get up there and check the area and floor at the window. The rest of us will help with the line.”

“Okay, Cap, on the way.”

“Ambulance 2 at Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay Ambulance 2, 2120 hours.”

“Ambulance 2 to Battalion 1.”

“Go ahead, Ambulance 2.”

“Chief, we have five victims here–at least three to be transported–and they`re bringing more.”

“Okay, Ambulance 2. Battalion 1 to Headquarters: Get another ambulance on this box.”

“Okay, Battalion 1. That`ll be Ambulance 5. 2121 hours. Headquarters to Ambulance 1: Respond to second-alarm Box 1-5-2, 8th and Main. Several victims. Go to Channel 2.”

“Ambulance 5, okay. Responding from Eastside General.”

“2121 hours.”

“Deputy 1 on scene, 1-5-2 command.”

“Okay, Deputy 1, 1-5-2 command. 2122 hours.”

“Battalion 1 to Engine 4.”

“Engine 4.”

“Engine 4 come to front.”

“Engine 4, okay.”

(D1) “What have we got, Bob?”

(B1) “Fire on all floors to the rear in the apartments, eight people taken out. Search still ongoing in second and third floor units. Engine 5 has store pretty well knocked down.”

(D1) “Okay, get inside and let me know something.”


“Engine 3 on scene.”

“Okay, Engine 3. 2123 hours.”

“Deputy 1 to Engine 3: Take a line off Engine 2 to the third floor.”

“Engine 3, okay.”

(T3) “Smoke`s coming out of everything up here. I`ll get this scuttle.”

“Forget the scuttle for now Kelly–get this row of skylights opened up. They`re probably over the top-floor corridor.”

“Gotcha, John.”

“Get them opened. We`ll punch out the returns if we can or else get the roof opened up to check the cockloft.”

“Deputy 1 to Engine 4.”

“Engine 4.”

“On arrival take a line from Engine 2 to the second floor. Ladder in place.”

“Engine 4, okay.”

“Engine 5, Chief, we`re shutting down the deck gun and getting a line inside.”

“Okay, good. I`ll get some truck people with you, get that ceiling pulled and check for extension.”

“Engine 4 on the scene.”

“Truck 2 on the scene.”

“Okay, Engine 4, Truck 2. 2125 hours.”

“Truck 3A to Truck 3.”

“Go ahead, Truck 3A.”

“Cap, we got this opened up good–skylights, shaft, and all, but we got fire in the cockloft–may be going to each side.”

“Okay, open up exposures and let me know something. All three of you up there?”

“Affirmative. We`ll open up.”

“Truck 2, Chief.”

“Yeah, Lieu, get your troops in the store with Engine 5. Get that ceiling checked, make sure there is no fire under our people.”

“Okay, chief, on the way.”

“Ambulance 1 at Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay, Ambulance 1. 2126 hours.”

“Battalion 1 to 1-5-2 command.”

“Go ahead, Battalion 1.”

“Chief, we have a good amount of fire in the back half of the second floor. All apartments that could be reached are clear–oh, here`s another line coming in. That`ll help.”

“Okay, Battalion 1.”

“Engine 6 on the scene.”

“Okay, Engine 6. 2126 hours.”

“Battalion 2 on the scene.”

“Okay, Battalion 2. 2126 hours.”

“1-5-2 Command to Engine 6: Get a

212-inch backup line into the second floor. Should be one on Engine 5 in front of the building.”

“Engine 6, okay.”

“Ambulance 4 on the scene.”

“Okay, Ambulance 4. 2127 hours.”

(T3A–roof) “John, I got this scuttle opened; we got fire in the cockloft.”

“I was hoping these old walls would hold it.”

“You got anything, Kelly?”

“Yeah, I got a soft, sticky roof and smoke around the scuttle cover.”

“Just what we needed.”

“Truck 3A to Truck 3.”

“Go ahead, Truck 3.”

“Cap, we got fire on both sides, exposures 2 and 4.”

“Okay on the message, 3A.”

“Truck 3 to 1-5-2 Command. Chief, my troops report fire in cocklofts of 2 and 4.”

(D1) “I knew it!”

“Battalion 1 to 1-5-2 Command.”

“Go ahead!”

“Chief, we have a partial ceiling collapse on the third floor. Both lines working on the fire. Truck has found extension everywhere. Rescue is bringing out another victim.”

“Okay, Battalion 1. Engine 6, get that 2 1/2 to the fire area and open up with it or we`re going to have a real problem.”

“Okay, Chief.”

(B2) “Chief…”

(D1) “Roger! Good, didn`t hear you arrive. First off, get me an overall view of the building condition and the troops. I don`t want anyone getting hurt for one of these old fire traps. Also monitor Air 1 when they get here. I`m going to pop a third, what with everybody working and fire in the xposure cocklofts.”

“Okay, Chief, I`ll get back to you.”

“Air 1 on the scene.”

“Okay, Air 1. 2128 hours.”

“1-5-2 Command to Headquarters.”

“Go ahead, 1-5-2 Command.”

“Third alarm on Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay, 1-5-2 Command. Third alarm on Box 1-5-2. Headquarters to Engine 9 and Truck 4, respond to a third alarm on Box 1-5-2, 8th and Main. Engine 9, you are first due.”

“Engine 9 to 1-5-2.”

“Truck 4 to 1-5-2.”

“Okay, Engine 9, Truck 4. 2129 hours.”

“Chief 1 to Headquarters.”

“Go ahead, Chief 1.”

“Chief 1 responding to 3-3-1-5-2.”

“Okay, Chief 1. Attention all companies: Chief of Department responding to third alarm on Box 1-5-2. 2130 hours.”

“Light 1 at Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay, Light 1. 2131 hours.”

“Ambulance 1 to Eastside General. Two adult victims, smoke inhalation, fall injuries.”

“Okay, Ambulance 1. Will notify. 2131 hours.”

“Ambulance 4 to Eastside General. One adult, two children, ages seven and 10. Smoke inhalation, bruises.”

“Okay, Ambulance 4, will notify. 2132 hours.”

“Engine 11 to Engine 5.”

“Truck 5 to Truck 1.”

“Okay, Engine 11, Truck 5.”

“Engine 12 to Engine 3.”

“Okay, Engine 12. 2132 hours.”

“1-5-2 Command to Truck 4.”

“Truck 4.”

“On arrival, get ladders to the top floor of exposures 2 and 4 for fire attack in the cockloft.”

“Truck 4, okay.”

“1-5-2 Command to Engine 9.”

“Engine 9.”

“On arrival, get a line to the top floor of exposure 2.”

“Engine 9, okay.”

“1-5-2 Command to Engine 7.”

“Engine 7.”

“On arrival, get a line to the top floor of exposure 4.”

“Engine 7, okay.”

“1-5-2 Command to Engine 8 and Rescue 2: Report to command post.”

“Engine 8, okay.”

“Rescue 2, okay.”

“Fire Marshal 3 on the scene.”

“Okay, FM3. 2133 hours.”

(T4) “We`ll put our aerial to 2 and a ground ladder to 4–ease it in for that set-up.”

“Gotcha, Lieu, we`ll put her in right in here.”

“Truck 4 on the scene.”

“Okay, Truck 4. 2133 hours.”

“Truck 3 to Truck 3A.”

“Go ahead, Cap.”

“Open up exposure 2.”

“Okay, Cap. We already pulled the scuttle cover; we`ll lay it open good now.”

“Okay, standby on 4.”

“We`re ready–one skylight and returns already opened.”

Engine 9 advances a 134-inch line up a ladder to the top floor, as ordered.

“Ambulance 5 on the scene.”

“Okay, Ambulance 5. 2134 hours.”

“Battalion 3 on the scene.”

“Okay, Batttalion 3. 2134 hours.”

(T2) “Engine 5! We got fire in the ceiling back here–really rolling!”

(E5) “Okay, on the way…. Let`s get the line back there, right under the rear apartment areas where they`re working.”

“Got it, Lieu.”

“Okay, let`s hit it!”

(B3) “Battalion 3, Chief.”

(D1) “Oh, good. Take over on the exposure attack. Make sure it doesn`t get out of hand. If you need help, let me know. I want this kept in these three buildings!”

“Truck 3a to Truck 3.”

“Go ahead, 3A.”

“Cap, we opened up and are clearing both roofs. They`re getting weak near the rear at the dividing walls.”

“Okay, get down now.”

“On the way.”

“Engine 7 on the scene.”

“Okay, Engine 7. 2136 hours.”

“Truck 3 to Engine 9…Truck 3 to Engine 9…Truck 3 to Truck 4…Truck 3 to Truck 4…”

(T4) “It`s really rolling in the cockloft back here!”

(E9) “Okay, pull some more ceiling and we`ll blast it.

(T4) “All right, 9. Hit it, hit it!”

(T3) “Engine 7!”

(E7) “Yeah, cap?”

(T3) “My troops report roof weakening in the rear near exposed walls. Watch yourself up there. They`re coming down now. I`ll get a couple of them with you.”

(E7) “Good, I`m sure we can use them.”

Engine 7 advances a 134-inch line (solid tip) up the ladder to the top floor of the exposure as ordered.

(T3) “Kelly!”

“Yeah, Cap?”

“Get up there and warn Engine 9 about the roof conditions. I can`t get them on the radio.”

“On the way.”

“Engine 8 at Box 1-5-2.”

“Rescue 2 at Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay, Engine 8, Rescue 2 at Box 1-5-2. 2139 hours.”

(T3, Kelly) “Engine 9!”

“Yeah, here.”

“Lieu, watch out for the roof on the righthand side near the back. it didn`t look good from the top.”

“Yeah, okay, we got it pretty well knocked down now. Everybody! Watch out for the roof on the right rear!”

“Oh, Lieu, the captain can`t get you on the portable.”

“What? Oh, for the love of… it`s not on. Okay, he can get me now.”

“Looks like you have plenty of help from Truck 4. I`ll get back to my bunch.”

(E8) “Engine 8, Chief.”

(D1) “Okay, Cap, just standby. Looks like things are beginning to simmer down a bit. Just be ready to go in if we need some quick help.”

“Same for Rescue 2, Chief?”

“Yeah. Be masked up, ready to go in if I need you.”

“Assistant 1 on scene, 1-5-2 Command.”

“Okay, Assistant 1 1-5-2 Command. 2140 hours.”

(A1) “Good evening, Carl. What seems to be going on here?”

(D1) “Chief, didn`t hear you arrive. Things are quieting down now. We have a burned-out store, about eight or nine victims from upstairs apartments, most treated here for smoke and some transported. We should be getting reports on them soon. The press is beginning to get a bit annoying–think we put these shows on just for them.

(A1) “Just keep doing what you`re doing, I`ll take care of the press and any other distractions.”

(D1) “Thanks, Chief, we`ll take care of everything.”

“Chief 1 at 3-3-1-5-2.”

“Okay, Chief 1 at third alarm Box 1-5-2. 2146 hours.”

(A1) “Chief.”

(Ch1) “Gentlemen, how are things going?”

(A1) “Looks pretty good. Carl here seems to have everything under good control.”

(Ch1) “Well, just keep operating. I`m going to take a look around.”

“Battalion 2 to 1-5-2 Command.”

“Go ahead, Battalion 2.”

“We need some fresh troops on these lines in here–fire building. Most of them are on their second air bottle.”

“Okay, Battalion 2. On the way. Engine 8, Rescue 2: Get into the fire building. They need help on the lines. Report to Battalion 2.”

“Okay, Chief. On the way.”

“1-5-2 Command to Headquarters.”

“Go ahead, 1-5-2 Command.”

“Get another engine and truck down here, report to command post, 8th and Main.”

“Okay, 1-5-2 Command. That`ll be Engine 11 and Truck 5. 2155 hours. Engine 11, Truck 5: Respond on special call to 3-3-1-5-2, 8th Avenue and Main Street. 2155 hours.”

“Engine 11 responding.”

“Truck 5 responding.”

“Okay, Engine 11, Truck 5 responding at 2156 hours.”

(Ch1) “I heard Battalion 2`s message–suppose everything is okay?”

(D1) “Should be all right, Chief. He didn`t sound too excited.

“Who`s in the second tonight?”

“Brown, Chief.”

“Brown! He wouldn`t be or sound excited if the world was collapsing on him!”

“Yeah, he never gets too worked up about anything, but from the looks of things, everything should be okay. Just wanted to relieve some of the troops, I believe.”

“Engine 11 at Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay, Engine 11. 2159 hours.”

“Truck 5 at Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay, Truck 5. 2201 hours.”

“Battalion 3 to 1-5-2 Command.”

“Go ahead.”

“Exposure fires knocked down in both 2 and 4, areas well vented.”

“Okay, Battalion 3.”

“Battalion 1 to 1-5-2 Command.”

“Go ahead.”

“Main fires knocked down. Building well opened up. All clear..”

“Okay, Battalion 1.”

“Battalion 2 to 1-5-2 Command.”

“Go ahead.”

“Everything has settled down pretty well, fire out. Suggest we get troops out and check for overhaul operations.”

“Okay, Battalion 2. Set for fireground rehab.”

“Battalion 2, okay.”

(D1) “Chief, you want to give the `under control`?”

(A1) “Yes, sure seems that way.”

“1-5-2 Command to Headquarters.”

“Go ahead, 1-5-2 Command.”

“Under control at Box 1-5-2.”

“Okay, 1-5-2 Command. Under control at 2214 hours. [All channels] Signal 7-7-1-5-2. Under control at third alarm on Box 1-5-2. 2214 hours.” n

HAROLD RICHMAN, whose fire service career spanned 35 years, served as fire chief for xxxxx and xxxx fire departments and is a past president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He began his career with the xxxxx Fire Department and served several departments, including the City of New York (NY) Fire Department. He is a recognized author and fire service leader and is the author of the well-known Truck Company Fireground Operations and Engine Company Fireground Operations, both published by the National Fire Protection Association.

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