Editorial: Water - The Most Important Ingredient

"Put the wet stuff on the red stuff." That's the bottom line, whether it's a church fire in Wisconsin or the towering inferno, like the recent eight-alarm fire in Baltimore that gutted portions of four floors in an older high-rise building, killing one person and injuring 11 others.

Sprinklers would certainly help. Only a handful of cities require sprinklers to be retrofitted in high-rises. Apparently many other cities are looking at sprinkler retrofitting - of course, after the fact. See Hal Bruno's Fire Politics column about sprinklers on page 14. As usual, Hal was busy writing on this topic earlier this month before the Baltimore high-rise fire occurred.

On page 70, Battalion Chief John J. Salka Jr. provides another in a series of training articles regarding the important work of the engine company chauffeur. Without the chauffeur, there would be no water for the remaining members of the engine company to confine, control or extinguish the fire.

In this month's in-stallment of Safety & Survival, Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn defines fireground designation systems. This will allow chiefs, officers and firefighters to operate effectively and be on the same page to create good command and control; see page 16. On page 30 we present Fireground Tactics, in which Captain John Norman discusses the reasons why store fires differ so vastly from residential fires. Firefighters must recognize these differences and adapt their fireground tactics when encountering these structures or the potential for a large loss or tragedy for firefighting forces will be great.

Speaking of tragedies, Chief Dennis Rubin reports on a deadly trench collapse with long-lasting consequences. Coverage begins on page 112. On a happier note, we congratulate Chief Rubin and his department on recently receiving an ISO Class 2 rating.

Besides our top-notch fire service writers, one of the many things that sets Firehouse® apart from the rest of the industry is our team of fire photographers. We present a new feature, "Fire Portfolio," in this issue to recognize the hard and grueling work of our fire photographers. They are always on the front lines capturing the human drama and emotion of fire and emergency response. Take a look at some of this fine work on page 78.

The seminar program and the pre-conference workshops are just about set for Firehouse Emergency Services Expo '99. See page 105 for all the details, or check us out on the Internet for all the latest fire news, Expo information and Expo conference sign-up applications, as well as dozens of other interesting fire service items. Thousands of fire and emergency personnel are checking out the site, which is updated daily. Catch us each and every day at www.Firehouse.com. All the fire news, all the time.