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There is a lot of debate about what is and what is not aggressive. A lot of people determine aggressive based on their location on the fire ground. I have often thought that aggressive should be defined as the actions you are taking not where you are standing.

As I have been debating this for several years I have begun to think that perhaps we are defining our fire service “actions” with the wrong words. I have seen very non aggressive moves right next to a fire, some very aggressive ones on the exterior, and vice versa.

Take a look at the definition of aggressive

adjective: aggressive
ready or likely to attack or confront; characterized by or resulting from aggression.
“he’s very uncooperative and aggressive”
Some of the synonyms are hostile, belligerent. One of the definitions included the words destructive and often harmful!
Are these things we really want to be viewed as?
I think the term I want to be most identified with is effective.
adjective: effective
successful in producing a desired or intended result

Some synonyms include successful, powerful, and potent.

These are words I want to be associated with. I want to be able to handle anything thrown my way and be successful at it.
I think as a service we need to judge our tactics and actions based on effectiveness, not location, or our perceived definition of aggression. I have worked in fire departments on a 2 person engine with no back up where interior operations where a lot of times not an option. So we would work on flowing large-caliber hand lines from the exterior. Flowing 300+ gals a min from the exterior then transitioning to the interior may not seem aggressive to some (I disagree) but I guarantee you it is effective and those fires went out, probably faster than some who may have gone interior with 1 person initially.
I have also seen departments take undersized lines interior to very large fires only to get overwhelmed and chased out. They where trying to meet the definition of “aggressive interior firefighters” but where not effective in putting the fire out so what was the point?
The fire service is VAST and dynamic! There is not and should not be one way to handle fires as each fire department is a little different. The tactics of the FDNY guy with 5 man engines usually do not work on the two or three-man engine.
So when evaluating your tactics and actions focus on how effective they are vs. where you may be standing (interior or exterior). Always take whatever you may see on the internet, YouTube, blogs, etc. and put it in practice at YOUR fire house, with your crew, and your equipment.
I always have and always will love going inside on a fire building, however it may not always be the best option for your staffing, or your department. Even as well staffed (first in assignments) as my department is with our actual rig manning (3 driver, officer, firefighter) it may not always be feasible.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

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