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Every tactical book you read or class you attend tells you to have a preplan for your commercial structures but none tell you what you need or how to do it. I'm trying to put some together but I'm not sure the best way to go about it. Do you make a drawing and include some numbers and info? Or do you write some sort of action plan with detail instructions about apparatous placement and tactics? Or something in between. I've thought of writing some sort of paper on each building with construction features and information to study and then having a simple drawing and plan to carry on the truck. What is everybody else doing?

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Try to gather as much information as you can during a pre-plan visit.  Most owners will allow you to visit their buildings because they know you are trying to better protect their investment.

Develop a form to be used to gather information, based on what kind of info you want to know prior to responding to a call.  Primarily this will be building construction and type, any fire protective measures in place like sprinklers and standpipes and where all of the connections and shut-offs are located, local water supplies (hydrants, ponds, streams etc), type of occupancy and any associated hazards (IE-  Wearehouse storing pallets of chlorine for a pool cleaning company), any special needs for the occupancy class such as manpower for rescue in a nursing/retirement home, any unusual things found in building to make note for future reference such as missing door to elevator shaft on top floor, or holes in the floor or walls that could pose danger.

You could take this information and develop an automatic mutual aid policy with neighboring departments (for volunteer) or an automatic alarm upgrade for the career departments for the dispatchers convenience.  Use a plot plan or site plan to locate possible staging areas for trucks, entry points for mutual aid responding and areas for aerial devices to be deployed.  Get key information such as owners phone number or contact info for a responsible party to contact in case of an alarm during off hours and you need key access, or discuss different programs with the owner such as "Knox Box" and other similar programs for gaining entry.


We generally use pre-plans as a training aid and not as much for a response tool.  We make up pre-plans, than review them at department drills, than set up drills with mutual aid companies to make them aware of the hazards and develop a strategy for future potential calls at that location.  If there is a call we can than rely on memory after having gone through the actual movements at a drill makes it easier to handle the real thing.

Just some of our ideas on our pre-plans, hope thats what you were looking for.

Stay Safe


First step; look at what you have.

Get inside the structure and see how it's put together and laid out.  Are there construction features that can cause serious problems, are there choke points, gorilla racks of product (paper; gets wet and collapses, tires or chemicals), dead ends, etc.  Are there particular hazards that are going to affect what you will have to do when you get there; such as high fuel load (lots of water and towers) or lots of old or young people (manpower for rescue).

Second step; look at who’s coming and what they are brining.

Of course you are going to ring up the world if you have a big fire, but do you know where you are going to stage them until needed, or do the first units jam the scene.  Towers need to work in particular places, have you thought about where you are going to spot them and how to get them into the area.  Do you need to coordinate with Water and Power for extra water volume/pressure and utility control?  Get those phone numbers now.  How many hydrants will you need and once you have them, will the next due run over them?  Get control early.

Third step, get with your people.

Game the fire out with people you will work with.  Get ideas that sound like they will work, then throw a wrench and figure out what to do then.  Have back up plans.  Think worst case.  You don’t need to have the fire flow formula, you need to know that if you need a ton of water, that you can get to it.  Being able to tell a lost crew where they might be and how to get out or give RIT a short cut to get to them.  Also, these things take work, spread the love.  It also ensures that more people are exposed to the information before they might need it.

This is the Reader’s Digest version of this.  Pre planning is nothing more that the plays for a specific fire.  You think about what could happen and front load the answers and store them in any form (MDT, three ring binders) that the IC can access quickly, at O dark thirty in the morning when things are happening fast.

Just my thoughts.

Thanks for the replies. I was thinking of writing a detailed plan for training purposes and then having a quick reference guide for on scene. You guys gave me some stuff to think about.

Hi Kelly

We have 2 degrees of operational plans for use by attending staff:

1.  Site Reports

2.  Tactical Plans

Site reports are for high risk buildings and complexes such as rest homes and hospitals, large schools, large shopping complexes etc.  They contain a basic site plan with information such as the locations of fire alarm panels, stair wells, lift shafts, haz sub's present, means of entrance and egress, priamary and secondary water supply locations and building construction etc.

Tactical plans are for large or extremely high risk complexes that will require specific tactics and crew assignments such as large airports, chemical factories, large ships and port complexes etc.  They are more detailed and specify apparatus and equipment placement, assignments and pre-determined special tactics.

We visit sites and complete a form with the required information.  We then determine wherther we need a site report or tactical plan and complete it using a computer template where it is stored against building information and printed in hard copy for the 1st alarm response.

I can send you examples if you want to send me your e mail address.  They may, or may not, be of assistance to you.



Allow me to add my two cents worth.  Before launching into a Pre-Plan Program, I think the first thing you need to do is get a committment from all the players to start the program (information gathering/reducing it to a usable format) and completing the program which may take several years.  This committment must be from the Fire Chief on down to the junior member of the department.  Why is a committment necessary?  Based on my experiences, most programs are started with enthuaism but at some point stops and it is never completed.  Been there, done that and got the t-shirt.  Develop a form to use to collect information.  You must decide what information you need to collect.  In my view, there are two levels of information required:  1)  Information required for the first in company that will assist the Company Officer to make critical tactical decisions.  One of the first bits of information I would suggest is what type of construction supports the roof.  2)  Information that is needed by the IC as the incident grows. A decision must be made as to how this information is going to be provided responders and managed, manual system or computer system.  We started with a manual system but then changed over to a computer system.  This was back in 1988.  There were very few computer systems available back then so we developed our own which is still used today.   Today, data input should be much easier because of the various computer systems available.  A point to consider regardless whether you use a manual system or computer system:  The Company Officer rides in the front of the cab and assists the engineer/driver in the response, directions, manuvering through traffic, sounding the siren and blowing the air horn.  Question for you to ponder, does the Company Officer have the "time" to do all of this and read and digest the information in the Pre-Plan and develop a tentative action plan based on the dispatch and pre-plan information?  In my department we discovered that they could not.  My Deputy Chief suggested a way to solve that issue.  I have a PPT that explains how we solved this issue, however it is two big to upload.  If anyone is interested in the PPT, E-Mail me and I will provide it,  Identify all your businesses and assign them a number from 1-4 with 4 being your highest hazard (life hazard/large fire load/large amount of hazardous materials etc)  and 1 being the lowest hazard.  All number 4's are done first, then 3's etc.  This will assist you in doing the high risk businesses first and make them available for response.  We also decided that the federal law requiring reporting of hazardous materials was not sufficient.  Why?  Because a little bit of some really bad stuff can be just as dangerous as the minimum amount of product that is required to be reported by federal law. Therefore, we changed our fire prevention code to require a MSDS for any hazardous product used on the premises, regardless of quantity.  Based on the risk of the product, we made the decison whether to request quantity and location of the product..       




Good Morning


In addition to the excellent suggestions in the previous posts , may I offer that a place to begin the process to develop a framework for a plan could be found in NFPA 1620 Standard for Pr4e-Incident Planning , 2010 Edition. The document steopps you thru the process methodically and may be of service to you in developing a framework to establish a process going forward. It also offers sample field information gathering form, building record and a pre-plan format.   I am not sure if it will process thru the system, but I did upload a PDF file copy of this dcument. I believe that you may find it to be useful.






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