The fire service is full of debates and animated conversations the same way it was long before we all started riding the big shiny trucks. Many of these debates will outlast all of us. Some of these debates will be put to bed but new ones will emerge. This is all part of a cycle where we learn new things and then begin to apply them to the changing fireground.
Sean Gray and I have been accused of creating a divide between the “sides” of fire attack. This blog is not being written to further drive the wedge of divide, it is being written to help those that don’t know which “side” to listen to.
Sean and I want you to listen to both “sides” of the debate. At this point you may be scratching your head and think we are trying to trick or manipulate you. You may also think we are back peddling on our position. Those assumptions cannot be farther from the truth. In all actuality Sean and I don’t feel there are any reasons to take any specific “side” as there really is not a side to choose.
The debates of tactical considerations should not cause anyone to choose or pick a side.
Definition of consideration – “something that you think about when you make a choice or decision”
Each one of our departments have many differences. The resource’s Sean Gray has on a first alarm assignment in Cobb County, GA is very different from what I have in East Haven CT.
Let’s take a look at my department for a moment. I work in a combination department with 11 career firefighters on shift that are supplemented by four volunteer companies. Companies that struggle with all the challenges that affect volunteer companies across the country. East Haven borders New Haven CT who has a first alarm staffing of 24 firefighters.
The border between New Haven and East Haven shares may 2 ½ balloon frame constructed homes. Some of those homes sit only feet away from each other with the city lines going through the middle. Some of these homes, based on feet one direction or the other can have 24 firefighters arrive in 4 to 8 minutes where the home 3 feet away will only get 11 in 4-12 minutes. Based on staffing and resources New Haven and East Haven will choose their tactical considerations differently. The end goal and mission is the same but how we achieve those may be different.
Choosing an interior attack is or a transitional attack doesn’t make either one right or wrong. The incident commander is choosing the best option for the fire he or she is standing in front of with the staffing and resources immediately available. There are also many departments that show up with much less staffing with a much greater response times.
When you are debating the tactical considerations remember there is a place for each tactic based on many factors. From the building construction to the fire behavior, to the staffing and resources to the specific fire the IC is in front of.
So for those of you struggling which “side” of the debate to listen to remember, listen to both as they both have a place. There is no one right answer to any fire. You must evaluate your fire and choose the best tactical plan you can with what you have. Those forcing or advocating you choose a “side” would concern me and intrigue me to look a little deeper into their true motivation. Why would any fire service “professional” try to convince you to choose only one tactic to fight a fire in your community?
Recently during a very engaging social media discussion an International friend Paul Grimwood put this very simply “What is the problem with accepting that we look at things from different perspectives? There is a time and a place for everything.”
Here is my advice to you my brothers and sister; keep debating and keep asking questions but be careful of anyone who tries to sway your thought process to choose a “side”.
A patch on the shoulder, a popular blogger, a regular article contributor, one who has many FaceBook friends, Twitter followers or is a national lecturer doesn’t make them credible. Their ability to understand both sides of the debate who takes their experience, their education, the science and data all into account and presents you with options for your fire are the ones I would listen to.
At the end of the day its your fire and your choice to make the right decisions that are right for you, the members of your department, the civilians and most importantly your family who’s waiting for you to come home to them.