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Recently there's been a lot of talk about water "pushing" fire. I want to know people's opinions and personal experiences of this phenomena. For instance, consider the following scenario:

-First in engine
-driver/officer on engine only
-Heavy fire showing from side alpha (side c allows access inside)

With a limited crew do you try to knock some of the fire down by stretching to side alpha and hitting it quickly from the exterior until additional crews arrive. Whether you would or not, do you believe that this type of operation can "push" the fire throughout the structure. I've heard several times that "spraying water from the outside into the door way and through windows to attempt to knock the fire before an interior attack" can contribute to fire spread. We're taught fight from unburned to burned but in certain situations can we deviate from standard operating procedures.

If you have an experiences of an incident in which you felt you pushed a fire with your line let me know about it

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Replies to This Discussion

where were they hitting the garage fire from. Gotta be careful w/ attached garage. If there's nowhere for fire to go then its gonna make its way up and out including thru the attached house fog stream or smooth bore. But the higher GPM of smooth-bore might knock it down quicker.

It doesn't matter whether you are pushing fire or not. Time is of the essence as a fire will continue to grow if unchecked. Trying to work unburned to burned only increases the amount of time the fire has to grow. As Tom Brennan used to put it: Go to where you can see the fire. Use the front door, it's closest to you. No matter where the fire is, ingress has to be made, and the sooner the better. Nine times out of ten, using the front door is a good bet.

   In a single family home, I'll go to the front door almost always, and no matter where the fire is. Be it in the front or back, 1st or 2nd floor, I'll use the front door. Thats because single families usually only have one stair, and I need to get to it as quickly as possible, to protect egress, and if an upper storey fire, to get to it. Rear doors, being away from the view of the street, are usually better protected, sturdier for security reasons. Too many times they are blocked by washers, dryers and the like.

   If a single family home has a side door by the driveway, chances are the staircase is there, and goes to the basement and up to the living space, usually the kitchen. The stair up to the second floor is going to be on the back side of this, meaning that through the kitchen and turn opposite of the way you turned coming in will put you at the bottom of the stairs going up to the second floor. However, if that same stair going up to the second floor is also available from the front door, you'll be making less turns with the hose, and be quicker to get up there. I'd use that side door if I suspected a basement fire,or if the front door was a problem getting in, but the front door for the first floor or the second. By the same token, the stair to the attic, if there is a stair, is going to be on the back side of the stair to the second floor. Sometimes this stair will be accessible from the hallway, and sometimes it will be through a bedroom. Often it gets mistaken for a closet. If you keep your hose stream as tight (straight stream) as possible, and take the quickest ingress, you will be at the fire much sooner than if you waste time trying to find a route that takes you from unburned to burned, and a route that may be fraught with security, blockages and excessive hose lays. Pushing fire is less of a problem than delaying getting water on it.

   On a two family, you've got to look at the doors. If you've got two doors side by side and toward the AB or AD corner, the one closest to the corner is going to go up, while the other is going to go to the first floor, probably opening into the living room. If there is only one door at the front, chances are you'll find it's a shared entry, and inside you'll find a stair going up, and another door that ingresses the first floor flat. If there is a hallway that runs alongside the stair that goes up, it may lead to a cellar stair behind the stair that goes up, and if there's a door straight ahead at the end of this hall, there may be a another first floor apartment in the rear.

   In any case, if your fire is on the second floor and there is a door and a stair up to it, use it! If there's some reason you can't, then its important to know that in almost all two family, upper-lower buildings there is a rear stair that stops at every floor. These are often blocked too, as they probably don't get used much and are out of view of the street, and I'll prefer the front door if it's available because of time factors and long hoselays, but remember they are available. Also, knowing this is important to the company that has to check extension and get above the fire. As a caution, if this is the case and the fire is in the second floor rear, better to go up the front like the companies ahead of you, elsewise, if you go up the back, the companies on the second floor are likely to be pushing right toward you as you traverse the rear stair. In recap, in my opinion pushing the fire is a minor concern if you keep your nozzle pattern tight, as close to a straight stream as you can get. I've seen too many times, the hoseline going to the rear with the intention of working from unburned to burned for a fire in the front only to find out they couldn't get through, or were greatly delayed, making the situation worse.TJP

Here is a link to research being done by NIST on this topic: .  I would not presume to speak for them but I believe early results are showing that it is not the fire streams that push the fire but the failure to manage the ventilation pathways.   

Agreed, Alan. I've always preached that, but the guy wanted to know about pushing fire with a hose stream, which in my opinion is pretty negligible compared to delaying extinguishment. TJP


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