First Due: Size-Up Points for the Engine Company

The size-up for the engine company is a multi-layer task.You are the officer of an engine company responding to a reported fire in a private dwelling and dispatch calls you on the radio and states "Dispatch to Engine 234, it sound like you are going to...

The back-up hoseline is the next consideration. Is it on scene and in place? Is it still responding and you are alone for a while? These factors should influence how aggressive you are going to be with your crew. If there is no help then there is more risk. A good engine boss thinks about his firefighters as they make their decisions.

You should also consider the location of a truck company or suppression support firefighters. As you make a fire attack you want someone opposite the hoseline to ventilate. They will give you a place to channel the products of combustion and allow them to escape the fire building. If they do not escape the products of combustion and the steam they create when mixed with water, it will come right back to you and your crew. The crew will not be happy if the officer burns them.

After taking these critical steps we are now we are ready to begin fire suppression. Even though we have begun fire suppression we still must keep observing what is going on around us. We should never let your guard down until we have returned to the firehouse. Things can change and do at a fire and it only takes a minute. Always maintain your situational or team awareness and keep yourself and your team safe.

Learn from Captain Dugan Live: Captain Dugan will be teaching "Engine & Truck Company Operations: Overcoming Problems on the Fireground", a hands-on training session at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore in July 2008. Michael will also be teaching "Roof Operations in the Fire Service" and "Truck Company Operation: A 'Back to Basics' Review"

MICHAEL M. DUGAN, a Contributing Editor, is the Captain of Ladder Company 123, Brooklyn, NY and has over 30 years in the fire service. He is the lead instructor for "Engine and Truck Company Hands-on Training programs at Firehouse Expo and Firehouse World and serves as an instructor at the FDNY's Annual Education Day, where he developed some of their programs. You can reach Michael by e-mail at or his website: