Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

Size Up Begins with an Honest Look in the Mirror

Often we are asked, "When does size up begin?"  Many times when asked this, most fire officers and firefighters answer: at the receipt of the alarm.  Very true, but it begins way before this.  In the realm of situational awareness it begins with a very honest look in the mirror.  Simply stated; however, sometimes difficult and painful.

Even though I find it beneficial and necessary to differentiate your capabilities by your circumstance or particular demographic (often stereotyped by  Rural, Urban, and Suburban) , the real difference can be found  within your situational observation.  This Situational Awareness begins by understanding your capabilities and being honest about your assessment.

Let's look at an example.   I work in a suburban environment which does not utilize truck companies.  Is it important for me as a Battalion Chief to know the capabilities of my companies before the alarm hits?  Is it important for me to know the system which I operate to make sure all the essential fire ground functions are met and implemented every fire?  Is my safety net of functions (back up lines, RIC, IRIC, softening the structure, egress considerations, hose line facilitation, etc.) provided at every fire?

1.  What is the capability of every company at the single resource level?

Can we effectively place a hand line (alone) with our staffing and training levels?

What impacts can the companies make?

How many functions can each company realistically implement on a  fireground?  Is it realistic to believe a single company of 3 or 4 firefighters can: locate a fire, conduct forcible entry, get water supply, and deploy multiple (if not a single) hand lines?   BE HONEST, but we have seen this attempted.

2.  Are all essential truck company functions being performed on a consistent basis?

How does this happen if you do not have dedicated truck companies?  Do you have SOPs or direction in place to make this happen?

3.  Are your training levels adequate for the functions which you are trying to accomplish?  If you decide to conduct

Searches above a fire or VES, have you been trained and do you have all the other essential functions in place to

support it?

4.  Do you know your response area?

These are just a few questions which can test your honest, mirror observation.  There are many more.  Of course, this approach is very important for agencies who are heavily constrained by manpower, resources, and experience.  But isn't it applicable to all fire agencies?   

So, Is it necessary to stereotype your demographic?  I leave it up to you the reader, firefighter, leader, and policy maker.

Views: 1621


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton
We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our policy page. -- Bobby Halton

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2022   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service