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...

• May be chosen because there are no resources available to conduct a safe and effective an offensive attack

• Burning building may not be worth the risk to firefighter

• Building abandon or derelict

• Building so heavily involved in fire that no reasonable expectation that anyone inside could survive

• Too few firefighters to mount an effective attack

• Offensive Mode

• Involves taking direct action to mitigate the problem

• Includes an aggressive interior attack by one or more engine companies

• Involves a reasonable chance that occupants inside the building are still alive

• If there are occupants still unaccounted for and that may be trapped inside but still be alive, then an offensive mode is indicated

• Planning for Protective and Supportive Resources

• Incidents that occur during civil unrest may require an increase in police protection for fire fighting forces

• To implement the incident action plan, procedures should be in place and communicated to all personnel as part of standard operating procedures and area emergency management system

• Long-term events or those occurring during adverse weather conditions may require additional logistical support

• Procedures for acquiring auxiliary power and lighting for night operations must also be in place

• Other Considerations

• Is the building under renovation that would cause questioning the structural stability

• Is truss construction involves, especially the use of lightweight trusses

• Can the fire be controlled and extinguished safely or is it a controlled burn

• Can the available personnel continue the operation that is currently being undertaken or are replacement personnel needed


Review: It would be good to review articles on incidents where there may have been a firefighter injury or death to see if there are any lessons to be learned regarding offensive or defensive operations.

Offensive Versus Defensive Tactics

• Building Construction

• Operational Readiness

• On Scene Capability

• Risk Benefit Analysis

Remotivation: It is better to err on the side of safety and make sure that the number priority on the fire scene, the emergency responders, are not placed in a situation where life is traded for saving property. No property is worth the value of a firefighter's life. We should also not be in a situation of potentially trading the lives of firefighters for the lives of victims who may not be savable.