For the past handful of years, through ongoing fire dynamics research, we've been deconstructing the fireground. This Fireground Genome Project has undoubtedly led us to a much better understanding of fire dynamics and the fireground. An untoward effect of this research is that the fire service is seemingly devolving into a bipartisan system. We can all sense the division. A schism has formed and too many firefighters are spewing their polarizing rhetoric and forcing firefighters to choose a side. These self-promoting zealots may get a ton of Facebook likes, but they're missing the big picture...THEM! Call the sides what you will: Inside/Outside, Science/Street, Brains/Balls, SLICE-RS/DICERS, Old-School/New-School, etc., it's evident that many view the fireground as a dichotomy.
As much as some want them to be, these ideologies are not mutually exclusive. There is no grand unified theory of firefighting. If conditions and resources dictate tactics...then shouldn't there be more than one way to fight fire. The fireground is not black or white...it's made up of infinite shades of gray. If that's the truth, then shouldn't we understand and embrace both sides of the coin? We all claim to have the same agenda - THEM! I'm on their team. If you're going to choose a side, it should be theirs - the unprotected that we've sworn to protect.
"There is never one answer."
- Steve Kerber
Science doesn't need my defense...it's just quantifying the natural world. Neither does aggressive, interior attack...it's been around for generations and has saved countless lives. We're all human, I get it; we all have our biases and our blind spots, but we can learn from each other, we just need to listen. Only through critical thinking, honest discussion, and listening with an open mind can we enhance our understanding of our craft. We need to ask questions and seek truth.
"Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress."
- Mahatma Gandhi
Although we're better informed, there still seems to be a disconnect when attempting to utilize this information on the fireground. To only have a "Plan A" is setting us up for failure. To only train on one tactic is training to fail. Both of these myopic views will ultimately fail THEM. We understand the fireground better, now we need to understand ourselves better. Take the time to dissect this information and see what works for you - your crew, your department, and your community - and what doesn't. Knowledge and skill are directly proportional to safety...not only for us, but for THEM. There's only one way to become knowledgeable, skilled, well-rounded firefighters...repeated, generous helpings of sweat.
Now let's go get sweaty. We owe it to THEM!