The First-Due and The Building

The First-Due Company and Officer: Fire Engagement Photo by Kevin Brautlacht

The First-Due: Upon arrival when sizing-up and looking at the building(s) and occupancy, past operational experiences (both good and bad) give the officer and company experiences that define and determine how we further assess, react and expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm.

The theory of naturalistic decision-making forms much of this basis and translates into assignments and implemented actions.

The Art and Science of Firefighting is predicated on a fundamental understanding of how fire affects a building, the compartment and its occupants; and the manner in which the companies engage upon arrival and transition into combat fire suppression at a structure fire.

We predicate with certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined (predictable) manner;

  •  That the building will react and perform under assumptions of past performance and outcomes,
  •  That fire will hold within a room and compartment for a predictable given duration of time;
  •  That the fire load package and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity  of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy and structural system,
  •  And given an appropriately trained and skilled staff to perform the requisite evolutions; we can safely and  effectively mitigate a structural fire situation in any given building type and occupancy.
  •  We assume we will have the adequacy of time to conduct and employ the required tasks identified to be of  importance based upon identified or assumed indicators;
  •  That the building will conform to the rules of firefighting engagement
Today’s incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past, requiring incident commanders; commanding and company officers and firefighters alike, to have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity to fire behavior and fire dynamics, a focus on operational structural stability of the compartment and building envelope and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type and a profound need to understand required fire flow and application rated for effective fire suppression.
Understanding the building;  its complexities in terms of building anatomy, structural systems, building materials, configuration, design, layout, systems, protectives, methods of construction, engineering and inherent features, limitations, challenges and risks are fundamental for operational excellence on the fireground and firefighter safety.
Enhancements in the effectiveness of fire suppression tactical activities; specifically extinguishing the fire- reduce or eliminate the problematic fireground challenges and at time concurrent demands for resources and actions.

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