The Anatomy of Building Construction, Structural Fire Engagement and Firefighter Safety

The one element that is a constant in deployment, response and operations during combat structural fire operations is the interface and interaction with the structure.


The built-environments that form and shape our respective response districts and communities pose unique challenges to the day-to-day responses of fire departments and in their subsequent operations at structural alarms. With the variety of occupancies and building characteristics present, there are definable degrees of risk potential with recognizable strategic and tactical measures that must be taken.

Although each occupancy type presents variables that dictate how a particular incident is handled, most company operations evolve from basic strategic and tactical principles rooted in past performance and operations at similar structures.

The fire and emergency services have consistently exhibited its unique ability to overcome adversity and meet headlong the challenges imposed in satisfying the demands of society and the built environment in which we operate. These demands translate into the methodology and manner in which emergency services are delivered and the strategic and tactical disciplines that we adopt and assimilate.

The primary tenet which the fire and emergency service profession has traditionally focused upon is the protection of life and property. This is the basis from which we provide services to our communities and jurisdictions. Of the many functions these emergency services have evolved into, structural fire suppression and rescue forms the major component within this multi-faceted delivery system.

Combat fire suppression and rescue is typically considered a primary response priority of fire and emergency service agencies. We plan, prepare, train, outfit and anticipate the call for fire suppression services - that alarm dispatch that communicates a possible or actual report of fire in a structure and occupancy and the need to dispatch, deploy and orchestrate the equipment, resources, manpower and expertise necessary to safely handle the fire and incident.

Combat fire suppression and interior rescue and support operations, incident severity, magnitude and frequency can vary widely in their application and potential as an incident response factor. There is one element that is a constant in deployment, response and operations during combat structural fire operations; and that is the interface and interaction with the structure, the occupancy and it's inherent features, hazards, risks and performance characteristics.

Every year, 100 or more firefighters die in the line of duty in the United States - on average, about one every 80 hours. Every six hours, a firefighter is seriously or critically injured on the job. Most of these fatalities and injuries could be prevented if firefighter safety was a primary concern of every firefirefighter, fire department and fire service organization. Recognizing that much can be done to prevent these deaths and injuries, the Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives Program was created to unite the fire service to address the problem, and more importantly, find and apply solutions.

Strong Efforts to Reduce LODDs
Following the goals of the United States Fire Administration to reduce line-of-duty firefighter fatalities by 50 percent by the year 2014, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), partnering with fire organizations and fire service leaders from around the United States, created pathways and programs by which to prevent line-of duty firefighter deaths and, by extension, serious injuries.

These are the Everyone Goes Home Program and the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives, created from the first National Firefighter Life Safety Summit in 2004, and six subsequent mini summits held between 2004 and 2007.

16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives

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