In part two (2) of Principles of Fireground Battle, we will discuss and give insight into the second of the nine (9) tenets of battle. The second tenet in the original works from General Fuller would be Objective. Yet, as we take into consideration the Fire Service terms of those particular tents we capture Objective in the term of Strategy/Mission of Purpose.
In previous articles I have spoken to Mission of Purpose and have clearly indicated the firm belief in the accepted three primary functions of the Fire Service. They are and remain, Life Safety, Incident Stabilization and Property Conservation. These three tenets speak to our Mission of Purpose on the fireground, and in all other All-Risk functions we have accepted as part of our growing responsibility as the Thin Red Line of defense and the protectors of our community and abroad. Do not take our Mission of Purpose lightly, we the American Fire Service where some of the first American Forces into Haiti following the devastating earthquake. It was the American Fire Service who within a matter of 48 hours was mobilized and airborne to help find those buried under the masses of rubble. In this incident it was the ICS (NIMS) system in place and operable within moments of the first Task Force members phone ringing telling them of the deployment. My point here is to clearly demonstrate the magnitude of Mission of Purpose. Whether it a Single Family Dwelling Fire or a multiple Task Force response to another country, the tenets of battle remain the same, Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, Property Conservation, I.E. Mission of Purpose.
So why is it, if this principle of Fireground Battle seems so apparent and simple, then why is it so messed up so often on the fireground? Why does it seem that Primary Search is an afterthought? Why is ventilation considered a support function and not part of the primary attack component to the fireground? Why is ICS thrown out like the baby with the bath water for some newfound fad of hybrid strategy concepts somebody is peddling to make a buck? To tell you the truth, I really don’t know, because it is so foreign to my thought process that I really can’t comprehend why these things occur, but I can tell you they do!
So here it is plan and simple, at least in my mind. First, why do people call the fire department? Typically it is due to the fact that they can think of nobody else to solve their problem. Therefore, we suddenly become the experts in all fields and endeavors, hence All-Risk or as I like to think All-Do. In the case of a structure fire or fireground battle, they call for three primary purposes. 1. Save their lives or the lives of someone in the path of the fire. Sounds simple enough, Life Safety! Next, put the fire out and stop it from spreading. Again, pretty simple, Incident Stabilization. Third, stop the destruction of their personal belonging due to the hazardous affects of the fire. Hummm, sounds a lot like Property Conservation.
OK, so we accept that as our Strategy/Mission of Purpose, so how do we accomplish it in simple term. Easy, ever hear someone say, “Just put the fire out and the problem goes away”? Well they are right. A good friend of mine happens to spend a great deal of time in a foreign country keeping bad people from doing further bad things to the United States. His goal is simple. First, the goal of any operations is mission first, men or me are second. Now I know some will say that’s wrong, well, I disagree. The American Fire Service is a volunteer organization, no matter if you receive compensation (Paid) or not (Volunteer), nobody and I mean nobody is forced to accept the hazards of this noble profession. With that said, you accept the same hazards as our brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement and the Military. You have accepted the fact that you are willing to lay down your life for the life of another. Failure to accept that responsibility is dereliction of duty and a dishonor to those you have sworn to protect.