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 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.
Another advantage to announcing to incoming units which hydrant you are laying in from, is it identifies that you have captured a water supply and do not require the second in company to provide you with that water supply. Remember, as a first arriving Engine Company you have either captured water supply (Laid In), are getting a water supply (Engineer is hand-jacking) or need a water supply (Second Due bring water in).
Lastly, we will explore more of the tactical advantage of placement of the apparatus design. First Engine Companies have four sides, and each design feature is based upon a number of factors. Yet, for sake of argument, let’s take an L-Shaped strip mall fire with the unit in the direct middle of the long part of the L involved. Placement of the Engine Company should be at a 45 degree angle to the involved unit with the rear 2 ½” hose bed at a tactical advantage to protect the largest exposure of the occupancy. This tactic allows for the most effective use of both cross-lays and the ability to rapidly place in service large hand lines, or branch off into multiple lines from the 2 ½”. It also gives the Engineer the best vantage point to conduct operations and effectively operate as the initial safety officer recognizing Fireground hazards and setbacks which could hinder operations.  Should the fire place companies in d a reactive mode and defensive operations need to be conducted, the Engine placement is at a tactical advantage to accept additional water supply and utilize the wagon battery (deck-gun).
These are just a few of the tactical advantages which should be considered as part of the initial placement of apparatus on the Fireground. We will continue to discuss additional thought sand considerations in the next blog. 

Until then...Sit back and enjoy the Cuppa!!!