The fire's not out until we say it's out!
“Engine 1 arrival on scene, nothing showing and occupant states that the fire is out. Cancel all responding units.” As the company officer begins to ask the occupant for more information, the smoldering fire that the occupant thought was extinguished finds some fresh air and ignites the entire room. The company officer now sees flames and dense smoke pushing from the windows in the room. He quickly gets on the radio and advises dispatch that they have a “working fire” and requests the initial alarm to respond back to the scene.
Tip: The fire’s not out until we say it’s out! First-arriving company officers to a fire call must always investigate the scene before canceling other responding units. Arriving on scene with “nothing showing,” means that you can’t see anything from where you are. Take into consideration what the occupant or persons on scene are telling you, but get inside, look around, ask more questions, and confirm that there is no fire before canceling resources or leaving. Don’t react to a situation without getting all of the information.
Billy Schmidt is a District Chief assigned to the 5th Battalion with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue (Florida). He's an adjunct instructor for the department’s Training and Safety Division and has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and an associate’s degree in Fire Science.