How far has the fire service as a whole advanced when it comes to fighting a high-rise fire versus many years ago, when most departments' standard operating procedures (SOPs) and general building codes were written? Are firefighting techniques and procedures refined and more precise? Do they allow for the most efficient means of deploying resources up into a building, while minimizing the time it takes to remove civilians from harm's way and containing fire to its relative area of origin in the shortest time possible? Have we really learned hard-fought lessons from prior fires, so those mistakes are not repeated? Have we truly evolved into a more progressive, highly effective firefighting force, far superior to the troops who passed before us?
After recent fires nationally and personally attending numerous high-rise training exercises in major cities in the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that we must take a strong look at returning to "the basics." Too many things are being missed during training drills that will adversely impact an actual event. Fires have occurred where vital mistakes were made that created a tragic ending. Let's examine some of the things that are happening in many cities which need to be addressed to prevent loss of life or serious injury from occurring to either building occupants or firefighters.