Actions Seen at a Box Alarm for a "Light Smoking" (Throwback)

This post is from 2015, but is still a great demonstration on what it really means to be "Combat Ready" and have ANTICIPATION of that "worst fire of your career" when the box drops. I'm reaching back into some archives to re-share this information for those who missed it.


As you read it - challenge yourself to think, "what would my department do at an incident such as this? Are you going there just to "check it out"? Or are you going EXPECTING and READY for a fire?


Around mid-day, a structural response was transmitted for "a light smoking" inside of a gym facility. One of those dispatches where so many are tempted to judge the outcome of the call before they even get on the fire truck, and their conduct on the scene then reflects that attitude.


Nationally, this complacency too often results in a predictable surprise that we call a tragedy. As I was in the area, I responded on the call and noted the following actions being carried out by responding companies:


  • Full & proper size-up from the 1st in companies, including initial size-up, 360, and interior reports.

  • First in engine already knowing where the FDC was and positioning on the FDC & hydrant (even though that meant they'd have to walk 200' to the front door).

  • The 1st in ladder (a straight stick) dropped its inside crew off and then drove straight to the back of the building. As the 2nd in ladder (a rear mount tower) arrived, I connected that this was because these companies had already talked about strip mall fires and the tower would have the front while the ladder had the rear.

  • All other arriving units positioned properly and took their assignments per SOG's.

  • As members entered to investigate, they were in full PPE, SCBA, with the proper tools to fight a working fire in this structure.

  • Battalion chief setup command at his vehicle.


As you might imagine, it was a smoking light ballast and was quickly scaled back to 1 & 1. As companies picked up, the tower company continued to set their rig up. They practiced positioning for a storefront fire, tilting the rig to maximize scrub, and flying the bucket to the roof, ground off the rear, and over the front - giving several crew members a turn at the controls. I am proud to say that none of this is an uncommon occurrence in the Department.


What's the point?


"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle



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