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At the urging of Ray, I will present a scenario for everyone to consider and then we would like to hear from all of you concerning your thoughts and ultimately your choice of tactics. Here goes: As the Officer of a first due urban Engine Co with a 500 gallon booster tank, staffed with yourself, a driver, and two firefighters you respond to a reported dumpster fire behind an occupied multiple dwelling at 0200. While responding you note a large plume of smoke and a significant glow. Upon arrival you see occupants fleeing the building. You also see a dumpster, several vehicles, and outbuildings are fully involved. The occupied two story wood frame 10 unit multiple dwelling is severely exposed with several windows in a couple of the center units broken with fire just beginning to extend into them. Fire is quickly impinging upon the roof eaves of the buidling. Residents of the building are scattered throughout the area and a father states to you that his child is in the end unit. You're second due Engine is two minutes away and your first due truck is four minutes away. Well now what?

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well only because i am new to this fourm, thank you jay, i'll jump on a gernade and take a shot at this scenario. i would have to go with my gut here and stretch a line into the occupied exposure. if the fire is coming into the occupied exposure then you are a position to knock it back out. from this position you can place some water on the underside of the eaves and possibly put a knock on the dumpster. In theory it 'should' be an easier stretch through the buildings first floor as opposed to a side of the building. no fences, garbage cans, change in elevation, etc.... i guess the text book answer and real world answer is you put a hose line between the fire and the most severed exosure.
I'd have one man stretch a line to exposed wall (side 3)and wash the eaves and keep the extension from further impinging. The remaining three would split one to a unit, each utilizing a PW (OK only two for us) and check the units with broken windows for fire while ensuring they're evacuated. I'm assuming there was some condition preventing the father from retrieving his child so one firefighter would go there and get him/her. I like the odds that one line can keep the outside fires in check being that cars and dumpsters should not be hard to keep at bay. The outbuildings depending on size, proximity and fireload could present a problem. The second due engine will need to provide the water supply and the rest of their crew will need to either assist the first line and/or stretch a line to the interior where directed by the first crews checking the units.

We train all our officers to commit John Norman's five basic concepts, and utilize these when making initial action decisions. This situation clearly screams "when you cannot do it all, do that which protects the most lives."
Without question that first line goes to protect the dwelling, given the fact that the fire has extended into the dwelling you must bring the line into the most serious exposed rooms. You would have to use that water judiciously. At 180 GPM you might have 2 1/2 minutes. If the windows had not failed I would say that you can get away with bringing the line to protect that outside, but since the fire had already extended inside, the line must go inside. I have been to a fire once where I have passed a small closet fire and came back a minute later after a search and the whole bedroom was going. My concern here is that the building is wood, the exterior is an exposure and the fire is at the eaves. I would bring the line to the window and try to keep the fire in check. If you could spare a FF, send him to 2nd floor with a hook to pull the ceilings. You should have enough water to hold off the fire from taking off until the second engine can establish water supply. The rest of the outbuildings, dumpster and cars are all secondary.
If , in your opinion the glow you see on approach indicates more than a dumpster, drop your own supply lines. This will reduce the pressure on the rest of your decision making process. if possible, position your rig to operate the deck gun on the body of fire impinging on the exposure. This will maximize your punch with the fewest personnel. You can then split off 2 members of your company to begin a primary search in the most endangered portion of the building. The scenario can certainly play out differently if you can't use the deck gun. Stretching a 2 1/2 will be more time consuming and labor intensive, but more lives are saved by a well placed line than any other fireground activity. Make the fire smaller and all your other issues will get smaller too.
If I see a 'glow' in the sky, I am thinking big fire and changing my tactics. Upgrade the alarm and go to work. I use the BAG method of thinking when I get there. Where has the fire Been, where is it At and where is it Going. I am not to worried about where it has been, where it is at is number two on my list, but where it is going is number one. If where it is at is not to bad, it is not my focus area. I will drop one f/f off at the plug and have the driver go to quick water with the deck gun. Myself and one f/f will enter the building for search and recon. I will have my TIC, so searching will be fast. We will go to the confirmed victim first. I will inform my driver to have engine two lead in with a supply line to him. My engine will put the deck gun to work on any fire that directly threatens the building only. My other f/f will then stretch a crosslay to the building and get set to advance inside once the line is charged. With positive water feeding my engine, the driver can lock the gun in position on the fire, hop down and charge the line for f/f three, then climb back up and operate the gun again. A lot of work but not far fetched. I will instruct the truck to split. 3 to the search and two to the roof when they get there. Since fire is still 'outside', I am not that worried about the roof being opened up, but I still want it addressed and the main thrown.I don't want anyone to open any walls or ceiling yet due to not having any water. We will advance with our piss cans and rely on engine two to get us the water we will need. Search and quick water will be my main methods of attack at first. The fire is only starting to impinge on the building. I have a confirmed victim that will be my main focus. Without seeing the fire first hand, I must say life and a quick punch is what I am going for. The building can burn a while and still be alright. Dead people cannot be brought back. This is a fire where the engine must do the job of search first, not line stretch. An engine 2 minutes out can take care of that.
Joe, I appreciate your response. Please consider that there is no CONFIRMED victim....only a report of. Thanks again.
I figure when a father tells me HIS child is missing and the exact place where HIS child is, that to me is confirmed and my main focus. A person from another unit telling me that someone might be missing is cause for speculation, but where I come from, DAD telling me HIS child is still in the building obligates me and my crew to go take a look see.
Thanks PJ.
Be safe
It's obvious that the dumpster & adjacent exposures become irrelevant once fire has spread onto a structure. Parts of the structure itself become less relevant with reports of victims. Caveat emptor: less relevant unless they have the potential to escalate the situation beyond the reported victim (e.g. fire spreading towards an LPG tank). The rest of comments I mainly agree with - best course of action with the given resources is to put out the fire - fast (large hose!) until extra manpower arrives to cover the rest of the exposures and begin interior operations.
Based on the alarm rooms dispatch and to see what you are describing, I am up grading this alarm even before I arrive.I would lay into this fire, I would have one firefighter operate the deckgun for no more than 25 seconds knocking down the main body of the exterior fires closests to the building. At the same time I would with the other firefighter grab an 1 3/4 handline and preapre to enter the structure to conduct the primary and knockdown any fire inside. My orders to the second engine would be to establish water supply if my Engineer has not done so already and then assemble for advancing a back-up line and search. Our engineers if able to are encouraged to secure their own hydrant if it is with in reach.
The glow observed before arrival indicates the need to upgrade the alarm. The father insisting that his child is missing is 90% plus confirmation. You should try to put water between the fire and the trapped victim. As Joe said, the BAG strategy would make sense; where the fire has been is already burned, where the fire is at will show how the fire is developing, and where it is going - towards the victim tells you where to initiate the attack, between the fire and the frightened and hopefully alive child. The four person crew may well indeed be a luxury, how would this situation be affected with three person crews?
I would drop a supply line from a hydrant going into location, but I would not leave a crew member at the hydrant. I would immediatley request a full box assigment with rescue plus an additional engine and truck. If possible I would position my engine so we could operate the prepiped deck gun between the main body of fire and the exposure. The rest of the crew would focus on stretching the primary interior attack and gaining entry so we could do an agressive primary search for the child in the end unit under the protection of the attack line. I would advise the second engine to stop at the hydrant from which we dropped a line and get water started in the supply line,and I would have the rest of the crew report to the first engine to put a back up line in service. I would advise the truck of the report of a child trapped so the inside team can start an aggressive primary search and also advise them of the fire impinging on the roof eaves. Depending on progress reports receied from the first engine and truck a 2nd alarm would be necessary.


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