Offensive Versus Defensive Tactics

If we are to reduce the number of injuries and line of duty deaths relating to firefighting, we must take a better look at the total fireground picture and not just focus on the fire. Topic: Offensive Versus Defensive Tactics Time Required: 2...


• Support area or cold zone - Outermost ring around incident where command post, information officer location, rehab area, and staging area are established; beyond cold zone, outer perimeter is established to provide crowd control and prevent unauthorized personnel from entering

• Other types of protective zones include collapse zone, which is located in hot zone near walls or structures

• Collapse zone should be equal to one and a half times height of building

• Established if structural integrity of building becomes questionable

• Fire Fighting Strategies and Tactics

• Fire fighting strategies and tactics include placement of apparatus, use of attack and support hoselines, ventilation procedures, rescue operations, and forcible entry operations

• Tactics may include carrying any and all of the following duties in the order presented:

• Rescue including associated search and removal of victims

• Exposure protection - interior and exterior exposures

• Confining the fire

• Extinguishing the fire

• Overhaul after the fire has been knocked down

• While the five duties are being carried out in priority order, ventilation and salvage should also be taking place

• If there is a confirmed rescue to be made, the initial responders may have to carry out that rescue without a rapid intervention team being in place; if not, no interior attack should be initiated until the rapid intervention team is in on the scene, in place, and ready if needed

• Necessary personnel and apparatus arrived on scene and ready for operation

IV. RISK BENEFIT ANALYSIS (EO 1-4)

• Managing the Risks

• Incident commander must perform a risk analysis to determine what hazards are present, what are risks to personnel, how can risks be eliminated or reduced, what are chances that something may go wrong, and what benefits are gained based upon strategy employed

• By incorporating risk management into incident management system, basis of emergency incident risk management is built on

• Regular assessment of conditions

• Essential decision making

• Tactical design

• Routine evaluations and modifications

• Procedural command and management

• As an incident continues, incident commander must routinely evaluate incident action plan and modify it as necessary

• Risk assessment ensures that all members operating on incident scene understand incident action plan and are conforming to it

• Risk assessment should be conducted periodically throughout incident, especially when strategic objectives are reached

 Primary search completed

• Fire knocked down

• Patient extrication completed

• Hazardous material spills or leaks contained

• Risk management should consider the following decision-making model

• Each emergency response is begun with the assumption that they can protect lives and property

• They will risk their lives a lot, if necessary, to save savable lives

• They will risk lives a little, and in a calculated manner, to save savable property

• They will not risk their lives at all to save lives and property that has already been lost

• Strategies in Use at an Incident Scene

• When goal is to extinguish a fire, incident commander must decide on an offensive, a marginal, or a defensive strategy based on his evaluation of situation

• An offensive strategy is an aggressive attack on fire is based on stage of fire, its location, structural integrity of building, available resources, etc.

• Marginal strategy, sometimes referred to as transitional or rescue strategy focuses on saving of human life

• Marginal strategy is a drastic choice and may result in violation of such safety procedures as "two-in/two-out rule"

• Charged hoselines are advanced for purpose of supporting rescue and protecting crews, not for fire extinguishment

• Defensive strategy is implemented when stage of fire is advanced or an interior attack would be too dangerous; hose streams are directed at preventing spread of fire beyond initial site, and fire is allowed to burn itself out

• Defensive Mode

• Intended to isolate or stabilize the incident so that it does not get any worse

• May mean sacrificing the building on fire to save others that are not involved

• Generally involves an exterior attack