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Offensive...defensive...or neither?

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  • Offensive...defensive...or neither?

    I guess I'm looking at a terminology issue here.

    In about ten years as a volunteer firefighter, I have seen structure fires at all levels of involvement. But when it comes down to brass tacks, it's one of two things: Tenable, or untenable. The former is judged safe for interior attack; the latter, not safe.

    Yet it seems a quantum leap to go from a one- or two-line interior attack to a full-scale surround-and-drown defensive mode, and such a strategic alteration seems to avoid a lot of middle ground.

    Once we see too much risk for interior attack, clearly we need to back out. But is it really time to raise the pipe or fire up the deck guns? Or do we use a more surgical method of attack, a blending of offensive and defensive--streams placed pinpoint on known fire locations rather than just soaking it down all over? I think we all choose the second option when prudent.

    But what do you call it?!?

  • #2
    I don't know of any middle ground. Once the first line hits fire from the exterior, it's an exterior operation. Our interior work is "surgical", once the call for exterior streams is made, pull out and take care of the exposures, the fire building has been written off.

    I have seen the in/out method,(interior, pull out, exterior, shut down, interior...)
    it just doesn't work.


    • #3
      The difference between a defensive and offensive attack, is you are using aggressive fire tactics in offensive mode (usually interior operations). There are situations in which you could use both, depending on the amount of fire and the size of the structure. A defensive mode doesn't neccessarily mean ladderpipes and deck guns either. A 2 1/2 through a window might work well also. Then if the fire is knocked down, if safe you'd go back in and hit the hot spots. Bottom line....do whatever you have to do to get the job done, and done safely.


      • #4
        The majority of the time when an attack goes from offense to defense, it is a result of not putting the appropriate ammount of water on the fire in the correct method of application. Everything stems from the initial size and placement of the first attack line.

        I too have seen the in and out syndrome and I agree that is does not work. After the defensive operations are done, an assessment must be made before entering areas to accomplish total extinguishment so you don't have to pull out again and again. Plus, you always need to be aware to the building condition after an extensive exterior operation has been performed, no matter what size lines were used.

        I have seen successful attacks started with solid and straight streams from the exterior to make the area tenable and then entering the structure.

        What ever happened to the "blitz attack"?


        • #5
          The "Blitz Attack" is alive and well. We use it and I believe in it strongly. We pull in on an involved structure and hit it hard and heavy. Then we send the interior crews into a much more tenable environment. They hit any spots that the blitz couldn't reach and we finish off with some solid overhaul. We have never had a call back for a rekindle. The people who worry too much about conserving water to use a blitz attack usually end up spending a lot more time trying to gain control.

          I shall fear no evil, for I am a Firefighter


          • #6
            Amen Chief, I wish more people felt that way.


            • #7
              Just because you hit it from the outside doesn't mean defensive mode.

              About a week ago we pulled up on a two story house with heavy fire through two of the windows. The first hoseline made a short and quick knock down through those windows while the RIT assembled. We were in offensive mode all the time. We put maybe 50 gallons through the windows. It really puts the brakes on the fire's advance.

              Defensive attack equals a more fire than you can handle, or a building that's unsafe.


              • #8
                Good point TriTownship, I think we have all done that. Quick knockdown then "get in there."

                [This message has been edited by Plug-Ugly (edited 05-19-2001).]


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