Pre-Fire Skull Sessions Help Miami Prepare for the Big Ones

Pre-Fire Skull Sessions Help Miami Prepare for the Big Ones

Instructors comment on sketches showing exterior features of target building

-Miami F. D. photos.

Floor plans show fire area for discussion of stairs, shaftways and other details.

Company inspections gather information about buildings used in Operation Hot Stuff tactical training of officers

The Miami, Fla., Fire Department, along with most other progressive fire departments, has recognized the need for fire companies to inspect buildings for pre-fire planning and has been engaged in such a program for many years. Each company is required to inspect one building each month and submit a report.

This report includes information concerning the location of utility shutoffs, flammable storage, private protection systems and control valves, and other information relative to fire control. The report is completed in quadruplicate, with copies maintained in the station, the district chief’s car, the fire operations information center, and the fire prevention bureau. The station copy is the basis for company instruction, and the copy carried in the district chief’s car is readily available for his use at a fire.

To further emphasize the need for pre-fire planning and tactical preparedness for major fires, the Miami Fire College has devoted considerable time to training company officers. Tactical drills, dubbed Operation Hot Stuff, are part of this program. These drills require company officers to assume command of and coordinate fireground operations of several companies involved in a complex situation.

As a followup to the tactical drills, the fire college instituted one-day training classes in pre-fire planning and tactical operations for major fires. These classes are conducted for all onduty fire officers, including district chiefs. Each duty day, all company officers from a district, with their district chief, assemble at the fire college. The morning session is devoted to instruction in the factors to be considered in pre-fire planning and the sizeup of major fireground problems. The afternoon session is devoted to the showing of the film, “Coordinated Fire Attack,” and a blackboard session fighting a multi-alarm fire in an occupancy to which the company officers present would normally respond.

In preparation for these afternoon skull sessions, the fire college instructors consult the fire prevention bureau before selecting the target occupancies. Nine hazardous building locations are selected, one for each district on each platoon.

Each class is shown sketches prepared by the instructors that illustrate: Exterior characteristics of the building from several elevations; the fire conditions that could be expected on arrival, giving the time, day of week and other specific information; building location, exposures, hydrants and approach routes; the layout of the building, showing fire area, shaftways, entrance doors, etc.

Each company officer, in order of arrival, indicates his approach route, the placement of his apparatus, and his initial outside operations. Then each company officer, under the direction of the district chief, indicates his fire fighting operations, including rescue, line advancement, ventilation, etc. After the blackboard session, the group reviews the procedures, outlining the sequence of operations and reasons for the tactical decisions.

As a followup in this tactical program, each district on each platoon, under the direction of the district chief, is required each month to prefire plan a major target hazard in its district. A typewritten tactical plan for each target is submitted in triplicate. One copy is retained at the station submitting the tactical plan, one copy is forwarded to the district chief’s office for use by other platoons in that district, and the third copy is forwarded to the assistant chief for review and comment.

There has been considerable interest shown in this program, and it is the feeling that it should certainly better prepare Miami fire officers to fight that “big one.”

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