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Fireground Action Considerations for survivability

Upon arrival at the scene of a structural fire our initial actions will require us to revert to the National Fire Academy’s RISK vs REWARD analysis model “Risk a lot to save a lot, Risk little to save little, risk nothing to save nothing”. We all have heard this many times, but do we utilize it in all our action decisions? If not we should! Remember that risk is not a chance, it is an acceptable risk we take in order to save a life, and it is dependent upon several factors. What type of construction is the building? What type of occupancy is the structure? What is the extent of the fire? And where is it going? Has it involved enough of the structure to deem it unsafe to enter? Are conditions tenable enough to support survivability of any victims? Is our water supply adequate to support the fire flow we will require to suppress the fire? Do we have the manpower to sustain operations and staff a Rapid Intervention Team? If you think about it, we make these considerations in a very short amount of time given the magnitude of the situation and the probability of failure if our actions don’t work as we had planned. We as firefighters assume a certain degree of risk on every incident we run, and we cannot change that, however the AMOUNT of risk we take is controllable. We respond to provide the best possible solution to our community’s problems. We mitigate and control events that before our arrival are often times chaotic and out of control. We must protect ourselves in order to achieve these objectives and not become part of the problem we are called to mitigate. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION AND NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM!.... BE SAFE!!


Danny Oliver is a lieutenant with the Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services located at Fort Belvoir Army base in Fairfax County, VA, and is a certified fire officer and fire instructor. Danny has an extensive background in fire service operations and holds a PhD in Utilizing Common Sense, and a Masters degree in I’m not Doing That Again. He is currently working towards a Bachelors Degree in KISS- Keeping It Simple Stupid you can reach Danny by e-mail at:

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