Throw Back to Basics: Transitional Attack

Transitional attack: Fire vents from a house's windows with a fire apparatus in the foreground.

By Brian Zaitz

Unless you have been hiding under a rock or had your head in the sand, you are well aware of all the research and scientific testing that is being done to assist the fire service to be more effective, efficient, and safer. Yes, they are working to improve our job, affording us the opportunity to be better at what we do on a daily basis. One tactic emerging from the research that was not new but was quantified by science is the concept of “Transitional Attack.” Again, many in the fire service have been doing this for years with great results and by various other names.

The concept is that the first-due crew arrives on scene, immediately locates the fire either from a venting window or door, and begins to flow water towards the ceiling. (This stream MUST be a solid stream as the entrained air in a fog pattern will push the fire; likewise the stream should not be swirled or moved about, as again this will create entrained air that will potentially push the fire. Note that this is why it is so critical to read the data and not simply listen to social media.) This can be accomplished during the officer’s 360 so no time is lost and the crew is essentially multitasking, gaining situational awareness about the scene (360 size-up) and fire attack (transitional attack). The water is flowed into the room, darkening the fire room and creating a more tenable atmosphere for victims and fire attack crews. This follows a similar theory from basic recruit school: “Never pass up a fire with a hoseline.” Simple enough: if you find fire either on the inside or the outside of the structure and you can begin to extinguish it, that is the best practice.

Once the fire has darkened down, the crew begins operations for total fire control and full extinguishment. This same practice would work making a push down a hallway, example you are making access to a well-involved bedroom with fire showing out the bedroom door and into the hallway. In this scenario, you would use the reach of the stream to begin to extinguish the fire that is showing, creating a more tenable atmosphere for you to precede and fully extinguish the bedroom fire. Again, the concept is not inside or outside, it is extinguishing fire when you see it.

As with anything in the fire service, there are no “always” and “nevers,” so for transitional attack to be to accomplished it must be fully understood through reflection on the research and practice on the training grounds  Note that this tactic is one with an offensive strategy so as to quickly contain and extinguish the fire. Take time to read the findings and determine what is truly being said and practice this sound tactic so if needed it can be quickly and effectively implemented on the fireground. 

Download this training bulletin as a PDF HERE (690 KB)

Brian Zaitz Brian Zaitzis a 15-year student of the fire service and the Captain-Training Officer with the Metro West Fire Protection District. Zaitz is also an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC , an instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy, and the Board of Director with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He has several degrees including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelor’s in fire science management, and master’s in human resource development. Zaitz is also a credentialed chief training officer through the Center for Public Safety Excellence as well as a student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.


Fireground Communications

Gear Cleaning and Inspection

Preconnect Hose Loads

Utility Control

Deck Gun Operations

Fireground Decon

No posts to display