Whether you would conduct this search or you wouldn't is ultimately a decision based on your training, experience, and the on-scene information presented. Either way, you'll only get one shot at it. W
Mike Lombardo, Commissioner (retired) -- Buffalo, NY, Fire Department
Risk analysis models influence much of the fireground decision making in the fire service today. But at times we are called to go against these models, act against the odds. The results of such actions are sometimes tragic and sometimes successful. Regardless of the outcome, the fire service must remember that we are a human service, and a standard set of rules or guidelines cannot always dictate the actions of firefighters who serve the public.
We were part of the full first-alarm assignment dispatched to a report of a fire on Townsend Street in Buffalo, New York. The assignment consisted of three engine companies, two truck companies, a rescue company, and a battalion chief.
Truck 11 arrived right behind Battalion 3; the fire was only two blocks from the unit’s quarters. It is a single unit stationed only with the chief; it carries no water and was staffed that evening with five firefighters and an officer. On arrival, the fire was observed venting from two doors and two windows on the number 4 side, from the first-floor rear apartment of this two-story wood-frame dwelling.
With very heavy fire venting from every opening on the number 4 side of the building except one and no engine company yet on location, the prudent decision would have been to await the arrival of an engine and the stretching of a line. However, there were also a frantic mother and father screaming that one of their children was not yet out of the apartment.
Battalion Chief Tom McNaughton also relayed to us that a child was indeed inside the building. He requested that we attempt to enter and search for the child.
There were no openings on the number 3 side of the structure, and windows on the number 2 side were immediately inaccessible by security bars (doors to the apartment were on the number 4 side).
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by Bob Pressler, Lieutenant (retired) – FDNY
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The introduction of the Incident Command System (ICS) has lead to fireground operations being more efficiently managed. Unfortunately the ICS will manage the operation even if the tactics that are being employed are incorrect and sometimes even dangerous to our operating companies.
The Incident Tactics System (ITS) is being developed so that Fire Departments that use the ICS to manage their fires will also have a system in place to help them select and manage the tactics that are needed to successfully bring the incident under control.
The “ITS” identifies the tactics needed to operate on the fireground by breaking down the typical fires that most departments respond to. The fires are classified by the expected resources needed to safely and efficiently bring the operation under control and, through the system, to expand the tactics as the incident conditions change. The tactics that are identified are not to be considered the hard and fast solution to all fire problems but are meant to try to help give a starting point for both a tactical approach to fire attack and a training program, to get the desired results.