Have you ever heard firefighters use the term "Pushing the Fire"? If so, did the firefighter have a clear understanding of the term? Although this is a valid term in the fire service, it seems there are some misconceptions regarding our actual ability to “Push the Fire”. Most commonly I have heard this term used when firefighters are discussing how they attacked a residential fire from one particular entry point because they didn’t want to “push the fire through the house”. These discussions we were having were not referring to the use of master streams on 5000 sq. ft. mansions or firing up a PPV before you have control of the fire. These discussions involved interior operations on 1500 sq. ft. SFD’s. For example; the fire is in the front portion of the residence (Side A) and crews are entering the rear (Side C) with a 1¾” hand line with the intent to “push the fire back where it came from”. Although this tactic would most likely have a successful outcome, you can’t ignore the fact that the added time it takes to stretch a hand line around the rear gives the fire time to grow. This would also require the engine crew to crawl through some portion of the house, most likely in an IDLH atmosphere before they can start putting water on the seat of the fire. Now I realize if we attacked this fire through Side “A” the flow of my hose stream (straight or smooth bore) will cause an increase in heat & smoke to “push” toward the rear, but isn’t that where the Truck Co. would have vented the structure to give the heat and smoke a place to go as we make our push? Personally I have never seen actual fire get “pushed” through a SFD, igniting other areas, with an aggressive head-on attack using a straight or smooth bore stream from a hand line.
I would however, agree to attack the fire from the uninvolved portion of the residence IF we are trying to protect someone who is trapped or firefighters conducting a search, but otherwise I’m going straight toward the fire with a smooth bore. The faster we get water on the fire, the more property and lives we will save.
What’s your department SOP?