Tools For Your Firefighting Tool Box: Commercial Building Fires

I'm writing this article with a heavy heart. Once again the FDNY lost another brother fighting a fire in a commercial building.

3) If you can see the fire that probably means it is advanced and you are going to need a lot of water for an interior attack. That 1" ? line with a task force nozzle is not going to do it. Big fire, Big water. Don't try it.

4) You have just received a detailed firefighter from another company and have given him his assignment. Could you remember his face when you have been ordered out of the structure and the Incident Commander has order a roll call? Probably not. So what do you do? Make sure that this firefighter stays with you and not to leave your side. If you are the firefighter make sure someone in that company knows who you are.


  • Respect commercial buildings they are killers.

  • Size-up the structure, I don't care if you are a probie or the Incident Commander everyone must size up the building

  • If heavy smoke exits the entrance after you have forced the front door be careful a back draft might occur

  • If you are going to conduct a search use a search rope. I don't care who makes fun of you or says we don't need that. I always carried 75' of 3/8 webbing with clips at each end rolled in my pocket. I used it as a firefighter and kept it in my pocket until I retired as a Battalion Chief using it numerous times. Take care of yourself.

  • As you enter the building try to remember how far you have gone from the front door. If you use your rope have knots tied every ten feet so it will give an indication as to how far you have gone.

  • If you start to feel heat thru your bunker gear its time to put on the brakes. Remember it's not an exposure suit it can and will heat up and the only way to relive the heat is to take it off which you can't or get out which you can. The further you go in the longer it will take to get out.

  • When the line or lines are charged and ready to advance all personnel must be ordered out of the building. At this point the incident commander should order the front glass to be removed and than wait a few seconds to see if it lights up or back draft occurs. Now advance as an attack team, truck and engine together no free lancers.

  • Listen to the radio, if you hear the incident commander requesting additional alarms it means the fire is advancing and you could be in its path.

  • Try and keep a mental time frame as to how long the fire has been burning and how long you have been operating

  • If you get in trouble don't wait until you are out of air to let someone know. Give the brothers a chance to get you . You know when you are in trouble, tell someone early. I would rather be embarrassed then dead.

  • If you are on the roof conducting roof cutting operations and you feel the roof getting spongy immediately notify the incident commander. The Incident Commanders next transmission should be all firefighters of the roof followed by a second transmission all firefighters back out. Remember if it is too dangerous to be on the roof than it is to dangerous to be operating under it.

Well I hope I haven't offended anyone, I could keep going on and on but I will leave that until another article. So stay safe keep the troop's safe and pay attention to detail. Don't become complacent, don't become a statistic's and don't forget the basics. Keep Training