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Mark J. Cotter's Blog (56)

Passion vs. Pragmatism

A lot of discussion was generated by my last post (Worth Dying For?! at http://community.fireengineering.com/profiles/blog/show?xg_source=activity&id=1219672%3ABlogPost%3A641725]), both pro and con, and much of it quite strongly-worded.  (To me, the most amusing comments are from those who claimed to stop reading my post when they reached a point with which they…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on November 6, 2017 at 6:26am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Worth Dying For?!

 

One of the more powerful sentiments I have been hearing and reading in response to suggested firefighting tactical improvements is that it is understood and expected that firefighters risk their lives in the course of their work, and that they need to put their self interests behind in order to save lives and property.  Essentially, the “suggestion”, typically provided in an admonishing tone, is that anything that gets in the way of interior operations constitutes…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on October 23, 2017 at 7:12am — 6 Comments

Farewell to the Chief

The fire service’s sensei has passed from this earth, having left us smarter, safer, and kinder.  Chief Alan Brunacini was a leader on many fronts, while remaining disarmingly, yet sincerely, humble.  Probably the best evidence of the range of his impact and influence will be the plethora of stories you will read from those who had the good fortune to cross his path and benefit from his wisdom.  My direct contact with him was meager, yet he provided me with substantial guidance…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on October 17, 2017 at 5:03pm — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Changing Too Fast!?

Even to this zealot, the arguments against the tactical improvements inspired by fire dynamics research can, at first, sound persuasive:"The aggressive interior attack has proven effectiveness."; "Experiments have little application to the 'real world' of structure fires."; and "Nothing works everywhere” are common examples.  Furthermore, I have heard and read these and similar statements from many fire service leaders, and such pronouncements generally garner more applause…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on September 26, 2017 at 6:14am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Bridging the Tactical Divide

I returned from FDIC 2017 with the nagging impression that the American fire service remains divided into two general camps regarding our tactical approaches: those who embrace the results of research, and have modified their methods accordingly; and those who have little accord for experimental evidence, and continue to embrace familiar methods.  There was even a significant imbalance in the reactions to the different viewpoints: presenters who spoke of the duty, honor, and sacrifice…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on July 18, 2017 at 7:08am — No Comments

FDIC Recharge

If, like me, you are a regular visitor to the FE Community, you will have noticed a sparsity of postings over the past few weeks, my own blog included.  I suspect that the explanation for my slacking is shared by many other regular contributors, and that is the vast amount of ideas and information we are sorting through since returning from FDIC International 2017 in Indianapolis.  While I spent a lot of effort on my own presentation, adding updates right up until my assigned time on the…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on May 17, 2017 at 6:49am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules - Reversing Polarity

So, think you know how to fight fire?  Sure you do!  And, as a reader of this blog, you’ve shown your interest in trying to keep up with all of the advances in knowledge that continue to come out of fire dynamics research.  But, have you translated this information into practical use?  That is, have you or your department made changes to your operational procedures that take advantage of the increased speed, effectiveness, and safety of the various MFA methods?  Even if you are…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on April 21, 2017 at 12:16pm — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: "Attack from the Burned Side"

Today’s example of a revision to a prior firefighting “rule”, inspired by the new perspectives provided by fire dynamics research, regards the direction of our fire attack.  It is a phrase I first saw used by Lieutenant Sean Gray of Cobb County (GA) Fire and Emergency Services in a November, 2011 article in Fire Engineering,…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on April 3, 2017 at 11:21am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Put the Wet Stuff on the HOT Stuff

"Don't spray water on smoke" has been uttered as a dismissive command from generations of instructors, officers, and senior firefighters attempting to stop what was viewed as a useless action, and to instead encourage progress to reach and extinguish the seat of a fire.  A result of the fire service's movement from using almost exclusively exterior streams to the currently-standard interior attack (an evolution that has been ongoing for the past 50 years or so, and which, by…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on March 13, 2017 at 7:00am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Needed changes

I thought it time to leave for awhile the references to tools in the Modern Fire Attack (MFA) arsenal and instead look at a few of the new tactical rules that should be guiding our actions.  First, though, a few words regarding the whole idea of attempting to create strict edicts for something as dynamic and variable as structural firefighting.  Since one of the things that characterizes a true MFA proponent is avoidance of the words “always” and “never”, pretty…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on February 28, 2017 at 7:00am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules: Preconnects

If “more tools in the toolbox” is a good metaphor for new tactics, then our favorite attack hoseline setups might serve as a more specific comparison to our standard fire suppression approaches.  With multiple available combinations of nozzle types and hose diameters, lengths, and folds for structural firefighting, each fire department typically carries one or more arrangements that best suit its needs.  Selecting the ideal configuration requires consideration of staffing and hazard…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on February 20, 2017 at 6:41am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules - Upgrades

Product development and performance improvement are two processes that are alive and well in the fire service, resulting in a continuous stream of proposed “advancements” for our consideration.  Stronger, lighter, smaller, safer, and faster are typical descriptors of “upgrades”.  Most of these "new" items or methods are actually just modifications of equipment or procedures we already have on hand, with only a few being novel, such as the Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) or Rapid…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 24, 2017 at 12:26pm — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules - Having vs. Using

Continuing with our examination of MFA tactics as additional “tools in the toolbox” for the control of structure fires, today’s post will consider the issue of ignoring viable options.  This topic is pertinent to every fire department because, thanks to the hard work of the ISFSI, UL, and many others in developing and distributing information about improvements to firefighting inspired by fire dynamics research, and the fact that these changes are merely modifications of traditional tactics…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 16, 2017 at 9:00am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules - Shiny new things

Note: This is the second in a planned series of blogs using the "tools in the toolbox” model to explore the many facets of the profound changes inspired by ongoing fire dynamics research.  As discussed in my first post in this format, I am a big fan of viewing MFA tactics as additional “options” to use for controlling fires in structures.  Besides being non-threatening and accurate, it allows me to break down the various components into more manageable, blog-sized,…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 13, 2017 at 7:11am — No Comments

MFA Tools and Rules - Introduction

Note: With the dawn of a new year, I'm determined to become a better blogger.  The Modern Fire Attack series has been running as a self-posted blog for about a year and a half now, and I have simultaneously, though less often, been submitting more general fire service articles under the title of my old column "From the Jumpseat".  Other than the topics, the size of the two (and the effort I put in to them) are roughly the same.  Having long ago begun writing for emergency…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on January 10, 2017 at 12:02pm — No Comments

MFA #37: Thinking Firefighters - Intelligent choices

We are learning that the fireground is more complex than we had previously understood, and we probably still don’t know the half of it.  While the recommendations for tactical changes that have arisen from ongoing fire dynamics research have spawned the most discussion amongst members of our profession, the raw information alone was revolutionary in its own right, even absent the practical applications that followed.  Flow paths, smoke as fuel, and the (actual) effects of hose…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on December 12, 2016 at 6:08am — No Comments

MFA #36: Fight Fire With Water - Correctly

From my perspective - that being someone who entered the fire service just as the era of "surround and drown" was being replaced by the "get in and hit it up close" approach - the most immediate and practical operational change inspired by fire dynamics research is the early application of water.  While the recommendation to delay ventilation also has significant benefits - and loud critics - “opening up”, especially vertically, was a tactic that many of us who worked in small departments…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on November 7, 2016 at 6:30am — No Comments

MFA #35: Small Times - An ideal strategy for the minimally staffed

It can be demoralizing to learn that something to which you had dedicated a lot of time and effort studying, practicing, and promoting has been rendered irrelevant, or at least less relevant, and I speak from personal experience.  The tactical modifications inspired by fire dynamics research that have incited the most rancor are those regarding initial water application targets and ventilation timing, with the proponents of still bypassing showing fire in favor of immediate entry, and of…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on September 13, 2016 at 11:39am — No Comments

MFA #34: Life Safety or Life Saving? - Compatible goals

In an example of how far the arguments against the MFA approach have devolved, we now find ourselves facing critics within the fire service who complain that our tactics have become too safe!  More specifically, they contend that the focus has been taken away from rescuing victims and protecting property to instead maintaining our own safety.  Having been an outspoken advocate of these principles for over…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on August 15, 2016 at 7:05am — 2 Comments

MFA #33: Ventilation Justification - More new excuses for old habits

Continuing my theme of rebutting the new reasons traditionalists are coming up with to avoid changing their approach to firefighting, given that many of its original justifications have been effectively disproven, this post will focus on the air flow component of the "How to Control Combustion" equation, commonly referred to as tactical ventilation.  I addressed the resistance to the use of exterior hose streams in MFA #32: Changing the Rules - New excuses for old habits (at…

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Added by Mark J. Cotter on July 18, 2016 at 6:50am — No Comments

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