Reality Training: Commanding the first 5 minutes


By Robert Avsec

Would your fire attack tactics be any different, especially in the first five minutes?

Incidents involving heavy fire involvement of single-family dwellings, constructed of lightweight building materials present several significant fire suppression and fireground safety issues to arriving companies. The first arriving incident commander must conduct a 360-degree size-up of the situation as the first step in developing a safe, effective and efficient incident action plan.

Incident commanders and firefighters must be especially cognizant when hostile fire has significantly attacked the building’s attic area and roof support assembly.

  • Describe the building construction of the fire building.
  • Based on the observed fire conditions, what would be your projection for fire travel within the structure?
  • Based on the conditions observed as the arriving commander, what should be your initial mode of operations: offensive, marginal or defensive?
  • There are three key functions for the incident commander: communication, control and coordination. How would you assess the commanders’ performance of these three key functions? What did they do well and what would you improve upon?
  • What are your thoughts regarding the amount of time that the fire was allowed to free burn while initial tactical operations were being set up on Side A of the structure?
  • What changes, if any, would you have made in the first five minutes of the scenario if you were the incident commander?
  • The interior fire attack was conducted using Class A foam as the extinguishing agent. What is your understanding of the advantages of Class A foam or Compressed Air Foam as an extinguishing agent compared to plain water?

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