The Principles of Fireground Battle (Part 1)

In 1912 British Major General J.F.C. Fuller published nine tenets known as, “The Principles of War”. In 1921 the United States Army published discussion papers on Fullers works. In 2010, almost 100 years later it is important for the Fire Service to...


In 1912 British Major General J.F.C. Fuller published nine tenets known as, “The Principles of War”. In 1921 the United States Army published discussion papers on Fullers works. In 2010, almost 100 years later it is important for the Fire Service to take the time tested lessons and absolute battled tested tenets to heart, while understanding how these tenets create effective Fireground strategies.

Fuller’s original tenets include; Maneuver, Objective, Offensive, Simplicity, Economy of Force, Mass, Unity of Command, Surprise and Security. These have been and continue to be referred to in military circles as MOOSMUSS. For the fire service to understand and utilize these tenets, we will refer in terms of our understanding. They are:
Original Terms                                  Fire Service Terms
Maneuver                     =             Placement & Positioning
Objective                      =             Strategy (Mission of Purpose)
Offensive                       =             Pro-Active Advantage
Simplicity                       =            Simplicity
Economy of Force         =            Resource Allocation
Mass                             =           Tactical Coordination
Unity of Command        =           Command Structure
Surprise                        =            Support Functions
Security                        =             Safe Fireground Behaviors
 
To better understand how these battle tested tenets create more effective Fireground behaviors, we will address them one by one discussing the importance of each function to capture the whole picture of those Critical Fireground Factors. 
 Maneuver = Placement/Positioning of Personnel and Apparatus:
Often we find this concept is an afterthought, or not given the importance it should on the Fireground. This is the baseline of fundamental Fireground operations. Taken from the tactical advantage standpoint, all operations must have a base. Our base is the apparatus placement and initial personnel deployment to engage the firefight. It takes a number of items to engage in a firefight, yet, without water, and equipment all the personnel n the world will not put the fire out. Simply stated, apparatus and personnel must be placed (Spotted/Positioned) to gain the greatest tactical advantage. Take a simple single family dwelling fire. Some organizations which are afforded the opportunity to have Truck Companies respond as part of the first alarm assignment, continually neglect effective truck company placement. Often the excuse and I do mean excuse is this type of fire does not require the aerial device. Great observation! However, the remaining ground ladder packaging and tool assortment assigned to the truck is critical to change the behavior of the fire in a swift effort to allow the Engine Companies the opportunity to rapidly engage in the firefight and aggressively search the occupancy for victim while confining the fires origin through the excellence of extension and exposure control.
If the first arriving Engine Company announced the location in which they were laying a water supply from, (i.e. Engine 1 laying a 4” from 1313 Mockingbird Lane) this would allow the Truck Officer the opportunity to identify if they should approach from the opposite direction. Often, laying the 4” down the street to the fire will block out all other apparatus and remove tactical placement for the Truck. If the Engine 1 Officer recognizes this, he should pull short of the occupancy and leave the front of the structure for the Truck, since the Truck will be responding from the opposite direction. I realize this cannot always occur, but it gives us the opportunity t o address these issues. On the other hand, if laying into the fire will not block additional responding companies out, i.e. if the hydrant is on the same side of the street as the fire. Then the Engine 1 Officer should pull long on the fire and leave the front of the structure for the Truck.
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