The Wrong Dragon.....Hey, just look over your shoulder!

I’ve commented and posted on some various blog sites on the issues related to engineer building construction components and assemblies. I posed some questions related to Engineered Structural Assemblies & Systems (ESS) and asked if you knew what they represent and how these components, assemblies and systems may affect or influence incident operations?

I also presented some information on the pioneering efforts and quantitative results of the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) engineers and fire service representatives from the Chicago Fire Department, HERE and HERE.


If you’ve spent any amount of time reading through the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, LODD Reports or have invested time and effort to look through the data base of near miss reports and ROTW at the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System, you’d recognize the magnitude of the issues and multi-faceted challenges confronting the U.S. Fire Services in the areas of engineered structural assemblies, components and building features.

Paul Comb’s editorial image provides a poignant and distressing reality that the fire service needs to come to terms with, addressing and implementing the necessary components that assimilating refined combat firefighting techniques and methodologies; that align with the risks and hazards presented by current and emerging construction techniques, materials and consumer lifestyles that comprise our buildings and occupancies. We need to start looking over our shoulders; we need redefined strategies and tactics for today's buildings and occupancies.

When we do have the opportunity to engage in firefighting with the dragon; we may not recognize the dragon has changed, it has evolved. Yet we stand poised to engage or take-on the dragon with faulted incident operations, strategic plans and tactical intentions that provide less than adequate results.

In those situations where we are deficient or we achieved less than expected results, we continue to miss the apparent or root causes and fall back on perceived notions and excuses. Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety; Understanding today’s building construction, fire dynamics, fire loading and behaviors and instituting appropriate firefighting methodologies, we can achieve safe and successful fireground operations. Remember, the Predictability of Performance and the combat firefighting based upon Occupancy Risk not Occupany Type.

Have you and your company, battalion or department discussed limiting factors, enhanced firefighting tactics or operational experiences related to engineered systems, past fires, observed new construction or renovations and what it all means to your assigned duties or company assignments?

Are you and your company adequately trained to address “modern” construction, occupancies and conditions or is a much bigger dragon lurking in the shadows?