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My buddy Eddie Buchanan (VA) continues to write about transitional attack and the good work the “da guys” (Steve K and Danny M) from UL and NIST have done. He has also discussed S.L.I.C.E.R.S. at length. While Eddie is calling for calm, I’d like step in, support and agree with him. This new found information (which some guys wrote about a long time ago too) is in fact another tool in the tool box. It doesn’t work for everyone, it doesn’t work in all cases and it’s not the magic bullet. It’s one way of doing what we do and it seems to be working when applied the right way at the right time for the right situation all based on the science and the current fuels loads. I went back in my journal (#18) and wanted to pull up some considerations and to things to think about and try, within our new tactical thinking. 

  • Knowing what we know now, we may be bringing a pea shooter to a gun fight. Hey, we evolved albeit slowly and went from 1 ½” line to 1 ¾” line. (Some even use 2” attack lines today.) With fires in “mini tank farms” (that would be today’s homes or businesses full of hydrocarbon materials) should we be thinking a 2 ½” for a few rooms of fire in a house? My guest blogger in Entry 19, Jim Murtagh, talked about the pitfalls of stretching a 2 1/12” line and the manpower involved with same. While I agree with Jim, consider the open floor plan McMansion with vaulted ceilings, now looking like a church. For that first floor fire with little obstructions, turns or lack of things that may get in the way, a 2 ½” or whatever your blitz line is (provided you have enough people on scene) may work better than a 1 ¾” line. For a bedroom or two on the second level, the good old 1 ¾” should work nicely. (For an in-depth discussion on stretching a two-and-a-half, go to my Journal Entry 19 and read what Murtagh wrote.)  
  • How about a shot of dry chemical in a window for knock down? A 20lb ABC dry chemical unit discharged on a first floor fire through an open window will slow things down while you’re stretching a line, securing a water supply and performing size-up. Try it.
  • How about a shot of foam (Class A or B) in the window for quick knock down? Remember that only about 10% of the water you use actually puts the fire out. The rest becomes a water feature rolling down the stairs and out the front door. Foam sticks to surfaces and soaks in. Ask the guys that use Class A Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS). If you’re worried about cost (foam is not cheap) use it for knock down through the window, and as you transition in to the structure for an interior attack, shut the foam valve and go to water. Or spend a few more bucks and stay with foam for knock down and extinguishment and give the fire a good punch in the face. Out of the box? Sure. Will it work? Sure. 

Just because no one has done any of this in the past with regularity, it doesn’t mean we can’t try it now or try it again. With limited staffing, which is what most fire departments look like around the country, these could be some of the tools that will work for you. Hey we thought we were pushing fire for 100 years or so. Now we know better. I urge you again to get out of the box and consider some different tactics. Remember, transitional attack, cooling from the outside, dry chemical and foam are just more tools in the box. 

As we head towards year end, I’d like to wish all of you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and new year. Let’s head in to the new year thinking safety, accident free, injury free and LODD prevention as goals. Do everything you can to get in between an injury or LODD of a department member and take good care of yourselves as well. We’ve got lots more work to do so we need everyone around for a long time and healthy.


Take care, be well, be safe,

Ronnie K

(Keep up the good work Eddie B!)


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Comment by JK Slupski on December 2, 2014 at 4:31pm

Davis wrote about the studies in Alaska using dry chemical for structure extinguishment. It's still part of their toolbox. He also wrote of the Swedes doing an initial hit through the mail slot.

Foam works-use it. If you can't man a 2.5", get a portable attack monitor. There's an article from the past about cities such as Chicago doing a quick outside hit through the window w/ an apparatus-mounted master stream. Chicago used this on high rises. A lot of this stuff is not new.

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