Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

I have a sincere tactic question,,,When a fire is present in the rear of a taxpayer & the engine company is ready to mounted an attack. When should the truck crew take out the front display window to vent? after fire knocked down?prior to entering?

Should truck crew back off venting window to avoid feeding the fire oxygen?


Views: 969

Replies to This Discussion

I just attended a class presented by John Norman on this exact topic. Allow me to channel the chief when I say, Depends!
Can you attack the fire from the rear where it is located? Crawling from one end of a commercial structure to the other over an uncertain floor/basement situation with smoke and heat gives the fire time to create more of both while extending into other floors, exposures, etc. If the rear can be opened and is accessible, why not reduce heat and therefore flashover potential from the outside and relative safety before continuing into this occupancy?
Is the fire really in the rear? Or is it extending out of the basement and will be burning under you as you make the long crawl to get to it?
Is the roof not an option? From your question I could infer you have a two story traditional taxpayer or a single story Type 2 construction stripmall, making vertical venting over the fire impractical/unsafe. Recon of the Roof Division is still vital.
What is the status of the cockloft? One story buildings of any construction will probably have a void space between the roof and the ceiling of some, possibly great size. Has the fire in the rear that you know about, extended through the cockloft, is trying to burn the front wall off the building and drop it on your head? This must be checked immediately with eyes, tools or TICs before any one goes further than the front door.
Can the fire in the rear be reached with the 2 1/2"or 3" fire stream from the front door? If the store is shallow enough, maybe 40 or 50' of 250gpm can hit the fire and begin the cooling process before any advance is made.
Just more questions and lots of right answers for something like this. I certainly will not tell you those windows don't get taken, or that one of your three options for when they get taken is wrong. You must have more intel before committing to hunting this beast down on it's own turf. I really appreciate you have already got your Engine Company charged and ready before this question comes up. Chief Norman made one thing very clear, when attacking a taxpayer fire, do nothing without water, lots of water.
I apologize for the length of my comment, but I have been fighting these fires in my head for a few years and every time I learn something new, I learn how the last time I ran through it, I made a mistake.
Stay Safe!

Tim thanks for your input,,


I like your Norman quote "Need for lots of Water"  I know our engine guys will pull 13/4" every time there is just Smoke ( no visible fire)  In my modest sized paid dept, the idea has become, get "some water" on it quickly as we can, ( the best we can do with staffing) other wise, the building was doomed before we got there, due to our staffing levels.



I am in a little midwestern town with low staffing too. We are an aggressive interior (when appropriate) fire department, but many of these buildings...not worth our lives. Using "some water" can get us into situations where the fire cuts us off too deep inside the building without the ammo we need to fight our way out. We must do everything we can to determine the location of the fire before entry is made; otherwise all we are doing is creating a life hazard that may not have existed before we arrived.
Kevin, The way the question is presented makes it difficult to provide a simple answer. There are too many variables that could change the way vent. 1) where is the fire and how big is it? If there is a rear door in the room the fire is in, or a natural vent opening above the fire, you may not need to take out the front windows. How heavy is the smoke condition? What contants are in the building? If a truss roof involved? Do you have a backup line and secondary water supply available? How many Ladder companies do you have on scene? Is there a life hazard? etc... The only accurate answer I could provide would be that the vent crew MUST work in coordination with the Engine company. Each must know what the other is doing. If the Engine company is attacking from the front, vent from the rear or from above. I had in mixed occupany fire (stores on the first floor, apartments above) where I asked the Ladder company to take out the front windows, but this was only because the room was fully charged with thick black smoke, which was pouring out into the street, making it extremely difficult to find the fire. To the credit of the Ladder co., they removed the windows without breaking them. Keep in mind, this fire turned out to be in the front store (as we expected), but I agree with Tim Bullards comments above, where he talks about the importance of determining the location of the fire (which could be in the basement) before making a tactical error. I hope this answer helps.  


Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2024   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service