1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Memphis, Tennessee

    Default High-Rise Firefighting Tactics

    I am currently gathering information for my next EFO Paper for the National Fire Academy. I am interested in hearing from command officers on the subject of high-rise fire fighting tactics. Due to the recent tradedy in New York, do we need to change, modify, or leave current high-rise tactics the same. These questions in no way reflect on New York or their heroic actions and tradegic loss. I am simply curious if we should leave tactics as they are or make moderate changes in the way we respond to high-rise incidents and terrorist acts. I would love to hear from large metropolitan departments with numerous high-rise buildings that could be targets. I am looking for ways we can protect our firefighters even better in the future, if that is possible. We have a very dangerous job and we must attempt to save every life that we safely can.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000


    You may want to research into Philadelphia's One Meridian fire also.

    I know Philadelphia lost three firefighters, and if memory serves me right there was very strong concern that evening for the structural intergrity of the building. The top floors later had to be removed, and I believe the whole building later torn down (someone from the Philly area help me out on the details...)

    WTC proved it could happen, but major fires like Meridian are where the common risk is and more relevant.
    IACOJ Canine Officer

  3. #3
    PaulGRIMWOOD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999



    I think the way fire departments respond to high-rise structures will certainly be influenced by the recent WTC events. After any such conflagration in the past there have always been lessons to learn. At WTC the initial response were not aware of the size of plane that struck the building and thought a light plane was probably involved. Their response was based upon many many years of experience in fighting fires in tall buildings, including the WTC and their SOP cannot be criticised. However, there has been some criticism levelled through the media where structural engineers have suggested they should never have entered the building in the first place - easy to say from a 'lay' point of view and with hindsight! Even FDNY have officially acknowledged that lessons will be learned and LAFD have stated that fires in tall buildings will be handled in similar fashion to previous SOPs although where a plane has struck a building then this may now affect their approach to some extent.

    Whilst I am certainly no expert in this field, I have responded to small fires in the WTC, Sears Tower (Chicago) and visited LAFD and Interstate Bank shortly after the fire there, as well as other 'smaller' high-rise fires in the UK. I have also written extensive research papers covering such fires and related SOPs. I think FDNY acted according to a wealth of previous experience gained in New York and elsewhere in the USA - they acted as we expected - they acted heroically and they acted to the best of their ability with the knowledge they had at that time. No-one could have envisioned those towers would collapse as they did, but with hindsight it is understandable to accept why they did so. However, for anyone to suggest that they could have predicted collapse times is ridiculous....the first tower hit stood for some time....the second tower hit collapsed much quicker. The Incident Commander initiated an evacuation immediately as a reaction to the initial collapse (as the media reports state) - the correct action.

    Visit my website located at www.firetactics.com where you can find a link from the home page to our high-rise information with several reports to download including the Meridian fire Matt refers to above.

    FDNY are amongst the world leaders in high-rise firefighting and I am sure major cities everywhere will follow their lead when the SOP is reviewed.

  4. #4
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Denmark in Europe


    Hi Mr. Grimwood.

    Thank you very much for the link about highrise tactics and papers.

    We are about to have one here in our district - it will be about 106 meters high.

    I was looking for interresting litterature on the subject, and came across your reply. Great.

    Greetings from Denmark.
    René the Firefighting Dane


  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2000



    I'm sure that the response to the events of 9/11 will be thoroughly studied for possible changes in operating procedures. I am not sure what the outcome will be because I don't think that it is possible to forsee all occurences.

    That being said, I believe that we need to re-evaluate the way we respond to ALL incidents. Have we overlooked the potential for "routine" calls to become major incidents? Are we REALLY sure the scene is safe? Is the room and contents fire or the MVA or the EMS run legit, or is it a diversion or even an ambush? Are your response routes and staging areas predictable? Are your SOP's public knowledge? What other ways do we expose ourselves without thinking?

    I don't think anyone has all of the answers, not sure anyone has all of the questions either. I just ask all concerned to give some consideration to the way we operate and when appropriate, make changes to procedures to ensure that everybody goes home.

    Stay Safe,


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