we respond to a house fire there are many critical decisions to be made.
Such as should a water supply be established? What size attack line should
be pulled? And, what form of ventilation should be used? One of the most
important decisions that an officer or acting officer can make on the fireground
is where to place apparatus. By properly placing rigs during the formative
stages of an incident, a plan of attack can be developed. This correct
placement will allow for each type of apparatus, whether it is engines
or aerials, to be utilized to their full capacity. If the first-arriving
apparatus is in the correct position, then other units will be able to
this country, the vast majority of the working structure fires are located
in single-family dwellings. Based on this knowledge, many facts about these
structures must be considered. The first item to consider is the style
in which the roof is constructed.
because of potential heavy snow loads or contemporary architecture, the
majority of these dwellings will have peaked roofs. Some of these roofs
will likely be at very steep angles to keep snow and rain from accumulating.
The slope may be to such a degree that it will be unsafe to operate on
it without an aerial apparatus.
crucial factor to be evaluated is the way in which the dwelling is constructed.
With the increase in population growth in many communities, these homes
are built using lightweight construction techniques. Techniques that are
directly attributed to the collapse of the roof occur after only several
minutes of direct flame contact. Again, it very well may be hazardous to
perform roof operations without the use of an aerial ladder.
responding units also must take into account that statistically, an engine
company will be the first unit to arrive on the scene.This implies that
the actions of the officer on that first-arriving unit will set the tone
for the rest of the incident.The first arriving officer must be forward
thinking enough to assure that the incident will unfold in a desirable
fashion. John Mittendorf says it best in this book, Truck Company Operations,
he states, “The first-in officer must ssume the responsibility for considering
both engine and truck company responsibilities.” He also goes on
to say, “If the first-in Truck Company cannot spot properly to a building
due to a poor engine company placement, it is normally the fault of the
this poses the question, where should that engine park?The majority of
the time the ideal scenario is for the engine to pull past the house. This
has a number of benefits; the first being that it allows the person conducting
the size-up to view the alpha, bravo, and delta sides of the structure.
a complete 360-degree survey is encouraged, the three-sided size-up will
at least allow the officer to gather enough information to start establishing
some strategic priorities. Furthermore, by pulling past the house, the
first-arriving Truck Company will be able to spot in front of the house.This
will enhance the “scrub” area for the aerial ladder. In the Fire Officer’s
Handbook of Tactics, 2nd Ed., John Norman defines the “scrub”
area as “the area that can be physically contacted by an aerial device.
The positioning of the apparatus has direct bearing on the scrub area.”
having a larger scrub area, the aerial apparatus can be utilized to its
full potential. Rather than trying to use multiple firefighters to move
multiple ground ladders to affect rescue, one engineer could effortlessly
and expediently move the aerial ladder.Also, as previously mentioned, the
aerial ladder provides a much more stable work platform for roof operations.Without
the use of the much safer ladder, firefighters could be needlessly endangered
by slipping off a roof or falling if a building collapses.
additional options for engine company placement are to pull short of the
fire address or to position themselves across the street.Although this
does not allow for a view of the third side of the house, it still provides
adequate room for the soon-to-be-arriving Truck Company.
there are a number of advantages to the trucks being positioned in front
of the house. However, there are no apparent reasons that can be listed
for the engine to be placed there.It becomes an issue of mathematics; the
engine companies are carrying 200-250 feet of pre-connected hose; the truck
companies come equipped with a 100-foot ladder.It is important to remember
that more hose can always be stretched, but no matter how hard you pull,
you will not stretch the ladder one more inch!
conclusion, it is imperative that the fire attack is begun in a manner
in which sets crews up for success. If the rigs are not placed appropriately
from the onset of the incident, the fire crews will be forced to endure
this mistake for the duration of the call. That being said, all officers
and acting officers need to be deliberate in their decision-making when
arriving on scene. Remember, Pumpers, Please Pull Past!