1. #1
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    May 2000
    Lincoln, NE

    Default The Element of Timing

    I understand that there are an infinite number of variables leading to fireground successes and failures. Training, Tools, Talent, and Teamwork all play a big part. My question is this...what about timing? We often talk about the timing of ventilation, coordinated attack, etc. How do you teach/implement decisions based on timing? I realize that due to staffing shortages, etc. we have to perform a lot of our tasks based on priorities (sequentially) rather than simultaneously. How do you (we) develop skills necessary to do the right things at the right time?

    Perhaps I'm being too philosophical, I just thought it would be interesting to kick around.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2007

    Default training and experience...

    One of the first things I learned many years ago, is the only constant thing in the fire service is change. Your question is great and I look forward to reading some of the replies. As for my two cents...Experience and training will play a large role in making those tough decisions. Every situation is going to present a different set of variables that will have to be evaluated by the officer in charge, and a decision made based on his personnel's training and resource availability.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2005


    I would say that the more experience and knowledge that your FF's have will lead them to do the required tasks at the right times. It is through that knowledge that they have learned on the fireground when certain tasks should be completed and in what priority.

  4. #4
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    ndvfdff33's Avatar
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    Apr 2004
    Winterpeg Manitoba


    Quote Originally Posted by GFDLT1 View Post
    I would say that the more experience and knowledge that your FF's have will lead them to do the required tasks at the right times. It is through that knowledge that they have learned on the fireground when certain tasks should be completed and in what priority.
    I gotta go with these guys on this. Experiance and knowledge are by far the biggest factors in almost anything you do on the fire ground
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?


  5. #5
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    Oct 2005
    Tallahassee, Florida


    Experience is by far the most important factor. Knowing what to do and when to do it comes from good training, sound tactical policies and procedures, and from learning both from past mistakes, as well as from past successes.

    Having a good idea of what to expect, right from the start based upon available signs such as smoke conditions (color, volume, pressure, etc.), location of the fire, fire behavior, rescue considerations, construction type, available resources and the possible need for more (2nd, 3rd alarm...) and knowing the abilities of the crews operating at the scene are all things that can ONLY be learned through experience. There are books that can be read that outline all of these things in great depth and detail, but when the BRT pulls up on scene, it's the officer and his crew that go to work...No book ever published has actually put out a fire.

    Communication is likely the second most important factor. Communicating the immediate needs of crews, and reporting progress and changing conditions seen from all sectors will allow the individual crews and the IC to coordinate actions to best support both the current operation(s), and will indicate the need for potential future operations that may need to be implemented.

    Without both of these factors being utilized, the fireground will quickly turn into a chaotic, dangerous mess that will be difficult at best, to ever recover from. (monkeys and footballs come to mind).

    Fire Lieutenant/E.M.T.
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  6. #6
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    Shoreman22's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Mantoloking, NJ, USA

    Default Training

    Training and experience are definitely the key elements.

    I try to go a step farther to have the members in my company think proactively as we respond to a scene. In my opinion, the officer should not have to turn around and assign specific tasks to individual members. The officer should be able to tell the crew "we're going to vent" and the crew should be able to work out on their own who's going to get what tool and what they'll do when they get there. I've had success here. I can here the guys talking it up behind me as we respond. The result is that once we're on scene, we hit the ground running, as the saying goes. Some companies go with assigned seating by task. Personally, I'm not a fan of this, but if it works for a particular company, amen.

    One time waster that I have encountered is people forgetting where the tools are on the rigs (yes - veterans included). To keep this to a minimum, I will pull a member aside randomly and give a "pop quiz". So far, it's been effective.

  7. #7
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    Apr 2000

    Default Training, education and experience

    The first thing that you must remember (and I think most here would agree with me) there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. You could take a group of good officers and give them the exact same scenario and their answers will vary based on training, knowledge and experience. Doesn’t necessarily mean that any one of them is right or wrong.

    Always ensure when operating at the scene that someone has established command. Just like a football team, if you have ten or twenty players on the field all doing their own separate thing you will rarely achieve success.

    If you are talking specifically about the order of tactical priorities I can offer the tactical worksheet that I use. (Disclaimer – No fire is alike. Countless variables will change tactical priorities. And as stated previously there is more than one way to get the job done).

    Rescue/Evacuate- Rescue anyone that is visible and in harms way. If the building has not been evacuated, do so.

    Exposures/Confinement- Cover any exposure that is threatened and confine the fire to the building of origin.

    Ventilate/Attack- Ventilate first if working on a hot smoky fire showing signs of impending flashover or rapid fire spread. If it is a simple room and content fire or the fire has already sufficiently ventilated itself move on to attack. Numerous authors state the best way to save lives in to get an attack line between the fire and any victims.

    Back-up/Search- Get a back-up line in place to cover the attack crew. Initiate a search. Manpower and fire conditions will dictate the search. However, always search the most severely threatened first. This usually means moving up toward the attack line and searching backwards from the attack line. If it is in the middle of the night and manpower allows a second or even third team could VES potential bedrooms.

    Extension/Utilities- If you make it this far, you have nearly won the battle………. unless you’re working at a balloon frame home. It that case extension may require several more attack lines.

    Secondary/Salvage- These are both self-explanatory.

    Try to remember a couple of important rules.
    -Conduct a risk/benefit analysis. Risk nothing to save nothing.
    -Training and manpower should match tactics and aggression. I’m not sure what your department profile is like however, if you are on a slow department that doesn’t see much fire and understaffed running two-man engines then don’t try to play like the big dogs. This is not a slam in any way shape or form. I am simply stating the truth. A small department that shows up with three engines and six firefighters should not operate like a busy department with three engines, two ladders, a rescue and two BC’s on the assignment.
    -Read the building. New homes=truss construction=early failure.

    If you want more information there are several good books worth reading. Fire Officer’s Handbook of Tactics by Norman is a good one.

    One last thing. The phrase "professional firefighter" has nothing to do with being paid or volunteer. It is a reflection of training, education and experience.

    Stay safe. Hope this helps
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