Riding Assignments

You are the officer for the day tour of a newly organized squad company with yourself and a crew of three additional firefighters.


If they arrive and are assigned as the first due truck company, the teams may be divided in this manner. For private dwelling fires where roof operations are not a priority, the first team, in this case the officer and one firefighter (inside team), will be responsible to assist the first engine by forcing entry and than starting searches.

Their tool assignment should be at the minimum, a set of irons, six-foot hook, and water extinguisher. A hydraulic entry tool is also an option, but in PD?s forceable entry is usually not a big problem so the irons should suffice.

The second team (outside or above fire team), including the chauffeur and remaining firefighter should perform as a team with two objectives in mind. One, they should evaluate the possibility of any civilian life hazard. If any is suspected, they should look for an area to perform VES, (vent, enter, and search) usually in the bedroom areas, but remote from the fire room.

If no life hazard is suspected, or conditions prevent VES, than the team should perform horizontal ventilation for the engine company. The tool assignment for the outside team should consist of at least a halligan and six-foot hook for one firefighter and either a halligan and axe or halligan and six-foot hook for the second firefighter. If dragging ladders to the rear of the building means that some tools be left behind, the team should at least assure that one halligan and one six-foot hook reach the position of operation.

Once these tasks are completed, the outside team?s next focus would be to assure that the inside team does not need assistance with any searches and than focus on vertical ventilation if fire conditions dictate the necessity for roof operations.

If the fire is on the first floor of a 2-? story PD, the inside team should still assist the engine and than search the first floor before heading upstairs. The outside team should ladder the building and perform VES on the upstairs bedrooms. This puts firefighters into the most exposed areas of the house, adjacent and above the fire area.

For fires in other than PD?s such as a one-story commercial business, the functions of the squad are different. If first to arrive, the inside team is still responsible for entry and interior searches of the fire occupancy. The outside team is responsible for both horizontal and vertical ventilation. But based on the extent and location of the fire, a decision as to which gets accomplished first must be made.

Tool assignments for a commercial building may differ based on severity of the forceable entry problem and the need for roof ventilation. The water extinguisher may need to be traded in for a power saw equipped with a metal cutting blade for heavy locks or security devices, and roof top operations will require a saw with carbide tip blade as well as a life saving rope to be brought to the roof.

If other than first to arrive, tool assignments will be based more on the specific tasks assigned by the IC, but firefighters, unless ordered otherwise, should report in with full PPE, SCBAs and regular tools.


Bob Pressler is a 28 year veteran of the fire service, retired from the FDNY after attaining the rank of Lieutenant and having previously served in several other Deapartments, both career and volunteer. Bob is a frequent lecturer on fire ground operations at seminars across the country. If You have any questions or comments please feel free to email Bob at bobres3@frontiernet.net