The Trench Cut - When, Where and How

Many of the ventilation tactics used on today's fireground are in support of an offensive fire attack, while the trench cut is used in many capacities.


The trench cut is a valuable tool that is in the IC's "tool cache". Much consideration should be made before deciding to incorporate this tactic. The defensive posture of saving a portion of the building will result in writing off a section of the structure. The manpower and equipment needs of this tactic will require the progressive IC to call for multiple alarm companies early in the incident so they are on-hand to be deployed early in the fire. Delaying the start of this tactic will increase the loss of the property, to a potential level that the entire structure may be a total loss. Thanks to today's technology, it is not necessary to go out for hours on end and do roof surveys; programs like Google Earth and Bing Maps can allow you to view your first due response area for potential trench cut operations, and preplan alarm assignments before the fire.

Until next time, stay focused and stay safe.

MICHAEL P. DALEY is a lieutenant and training officer with the Monroe Township, NJ, Fire District No. 3, and is an instructor with the Middlesex County Fire Academy, where he is responsible for rescue training curriculum development. Mike has an extensive background in fire service operations and holds degrees in business management and public safety administration. Mike serves as a rescue officer with the New Jersey Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 and is a managing member for Fire Service Performance Concepts, a consultant group that provides assistance and support to fire departments with their training programs and course development. Mike has been guest on several podcasts including:Successful Rescue Operations in Today's Fire ServicePreparing for Tomorrow's RIT Deployment Today and Basement Fire Tactics Roundtable podcasts. View all of Michael's articles and podcasts here. You can reach Michael by e-mail at: