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Life safety is the most important task on the fireground. That term “Life Safety” is in the fire service’s mission statement and it is found in the mission statements of most career and volunteer departments as well. Most of us have probably heard that statement; “ Look out for #1!” and know that the # 1 we’re talking about is us the firefighter. We then look out for our partner or crew and then take care of the victims in the public.  Over the past thirty years, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard on the radio, “Leave room for the truck.”  I also can’t recall how many times I have heard that in training sessions or drills. And yet, it is still something that needs to be addressed or perhaps practiced more as it still sometimes doesn’t happen.

     Consider what many first due engine companies do: ( Not necessarily in this order)

  1.      Size up and set up the ICS
  2.      Stretch initial attack line
  3.      Perform a search ( If indicated )
  4.      Secure a water supply ( May be the 2nd due Eng. Co.’s chore)

Consider the 2nd engine company’s tasks:

  1.      Establish initial or secondary water supply
  2.     Support initial engine company with back up lines
  3.     Secondary search ( If indicated )

Consider the 1st and 2nd due truck company’s tasks:

  1.     Forcible Entry ( To let the engine company in, if indicated)
  2.     Primary Search and Rescue
  3.     Outside Vent and Roof Ventilation
  4.     Laddering the structure
  5.    Salvage work
  6.    Overhaul and extension work
  7.    Otherwise support operations

Now all of the above tasks may or may not take place and of course will be covered in your department’s own standard operating guidelines. And also note that engine companies may be charged with truck work until the truck company arrives.

Engine companies are charged with life safety; crew integrity; suppression and extinguishment tasks and tactics.

Truck companies are charged with life safety and crew integrity as well and in addition to that, the many tasks already outlined. I lend to those tasks the following thought. The life safety and crew integrity aspects, of a truck company, come with increased responsibilities. “Truckies” are working for the life safety and crew integrity of themselves, their engine crews and the victims. They help to make access easier, help to make visibility more clearer and help to reduce heat conditions quickly and provide secondary means of egress for the interior crews and victims. Truck companies are a valuable resource to have right up in front.  I’m not making an argument here and make it seem truck companies are more valuable. The fact of the matter is we are all charged with saving lives. We are all valuable ! Each company has their given tasks once we arrive on scene. What I am saying is, leave room for the truck. By doing so, it potentially gives the truck company three sides of the structure to size up and address with truck work accordingly. When truck work and engine company work seamlessly occur on the fireground, good things happen. Don’t allow your company to rely on a RIT company for your egress. Make it safer to begin with ! Remember, at the time the tones are dropped, we are already behind the eight ball. Continue to train. Continue to pre-plan. Continue to work on prevention efforts.  And please, please, please, leave room for the truck.

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