We have a written, well thought out S.O.P. for Basement Operations. First Line goes into the First Floor and Covers the interior stairway. Second line goes in thru the Exterior door and begins the Fire Attack. Most of our Basement Fires are handled this way, without problems. There are very few homes in this area without an Exterior-to-Basement Door, (my home is one) BUT, as has been pointed out, there are the "Packrats". We vent quickly and aggressively, but with lines in place. With 4 Engines (Pumps to Paul :) ) 2 Ladder Trucks, A Heavy Rescue, anywhere from 2 to 6 or 7 Chiefs, and EMS Units, Adequately Staffed, our attendance is very heavy, compared to many other places. We, if all crews are intact at time of dispatch, get a minimum of Thirty people, and at times when Volunteer participation is greatest (nights and weekends) you can get Forty to Fifty.
Venting basement/cellar fires
Heer's another method, using power venting..
1st attack line goes to the room over or closest to the fire
2nd attack line waits at the cellar stairs to make entry.
Truck company takes out the window, then cuts a hole in the floor directly under the window.
As the smoke and heat rise from the hole, the 1st attack line power vents it out the window, enabling the second attack line to make it down the stairs and to attack the fire.
Of course, if the floor joists are plywood I beams, floor may be gone by the time the first due rigs arrive....