Tactical Fire Problem – Fire behavior in a small bungalow

This week we ask some questions about fire behavior and fire attack in a small bungalow.

1.) What impact does the small size of this house have on fire growth and flashover potential?

2.) What is the difference in what you see in the two D side windows? One window has fire showing in the top half, clear in the bottom half. What does that indicate to you? The rear window has heavy black smoke pushing out the full height and width of the window. What’s the difference, what can it tell you?

3.) Are the interior doors in these rooms open or closed ?

4.) What size lines and where? What is your plan of attack?

5.) Would any of your decisions change if this was a larger house? How is fire behavior affected by the size of the container? (Size of the structure)

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

The Fire Service Rule of Thirds – Written by Jim Blanchard, retired fire chief Saugus MA

This is a repost of an article written by my friend Jim Blanchard from many years ago. I was in several discussions this week where I verbally made reference to this article, so I thought I would post it again.

Below are Jim’s thoughts and unfortunately I have had some experiences which lead me to say I must agree.


I truly believe that this should be hung on every bulletin board in every firehouse.
The fire service operates on a rule of thirds. Understanding this rule will help you understand the actions of certain members.



They dedicate all of their time and energy to their second job.
They are much to busy to attend a union or association meeting
They can never find the time to serve on a committee. They complain vigorously about everything but won’t do anything to try to improve anything.
The Fire job is an inconvenience to them. They are easy to find at a fire. They are the ones outside near the pump or truck always having trouble with their SCBA.


They never took a class in firefighting. They don’t want to train. If an inservice class is Scheduled on their group, they will take a vacation or sick day. They don’t have time to come to union or association meetings. They know the television schedule for every channel. They know the date and time that the special checks, longevity, holiday, clothing, arrive. They know which vacation schedule has the most days off, especially weekends. They know how many sick days they have left and when they will get more to use. They also know more about maximizing their retirement plan than the commissioner of the board. They are easy to find at fires. They are the ones standing outside with a rake or hook in their hand waiting for the coffee truck.


These members rarely miss a union or an association meeting, they frequently take classes in firefighting, even on their own time. They are eager to drill. They work a second job but always find time to serve on committees, hold office and help out on anything that will benefit the members. The only complaining they do is at union or association meetings and then they always have a suggestion on how to make things better. They might not know the television schedule or how to operate the remote control from the second row. But they do know where all the equipment is on the Company they are assigned and they know how it works. They probably don’t know what day clothing allowance comes but they do know how to get the pump into manual shift override. They also can’t tell you how many sick days they have accrued but you can bet the last one they used wasn’t on a Friday or Saturday Night. They are difficult to find at fires. The only time you see them is when they come out to change their third air bottle.

James L Blanchard
Saugus Fire Department


Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014

Online Training – February 26, 2014 Do You See What I see? Size up Training

Sign up and register for a training event on Wednesday February 26, 2014 at 10:PM Eastern time! This online training session covers principles of size-up and firefighter safety to make all firefighters, and officers more alert and aware on the fireground.

We will talk about, rate of flow, collapse, some tactics and strategy and using manpower effectively.

In addition there will be the ability to interact and live chat with me and have the ability to ask specific questions.

Introductory offer for 2 hour training session of only $ 25.00 per student. Class size is limited for the initial programs.

Register for the event Here:

Fire in the Library

This week a fire in a library of an older building.

1.) What factors such as age, construction type, and layout must be considered during attack?

2.) What would you estimate is the length of the stretch?

3.) Because of the size and area and the occupancy loading will you order additional alarms?

4.) Does salvage operation become any more important because of this occupancy? Often we do not have manpower for salvage, but is it more important here?

5.) What will be your consideration if the fire spreads rapidly into book stacks?

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

The Team Concept

I discovered something this week that I thought I would share. I remember back some years ago my mentor Deputy Chief Paul Anderson made a comparison to the New England Patriots and their “Desire to win”.

I think it is only appropriate to look at the “team concept” approach and how it does not seem to work as well in the fire service.

I say that it does not work well particularly during the non-emergency times. I have not heard of departments that are having major problems at fires but in the down station time there are conflicts.

Let’s make sure we have our comparisons correct by using this baseline:

The city manager would be compared to the owner.

The head coach would be the fire chief.

Other coaches would be division or battalion chiefs.

Squad or team captains would be the fire service equivalent of captains and lieutenants.

A football team has several “squads” or teams within the organization such as offense, defense, special teams etc.

OK so here goes the thought process using the Football as our analogy.

* Do you win the Super bowl by sitting around the locker room criticizing The coach and the owner? Is that tolerated?

* Do the special teams and squads come together as one or do they operate as four separate shifts or groups?

* How many people get to call the plays? Does everyone get a shot or do certain persons make decisions that everyone must play by?

* Do you think members that are not assigned to play were happy they did not get to play? Did they continue to function as a good team members?

* There were members of the team that did not play at all, yet they are still as much champions because they also are members of the team. If a member of your team does a good thing it reflects on all, it a member does a bad thing it also reflects on all.

* The team concept and the overall goal must be kept in perspective each and everyday at every practice (read this as training) and at every meeting. Failure to promote the overall good and team concept of the mission will lead to failure every time.

How many teams are in your fire department and how many do you belong to?

Different groups or working shifts

Union membership

Volunteer or call active members vs.: associate members of the organization

Different stations or substations that do things a certain way

Management or middle management officers such as lieutenants and captains

All of these sub teams must exist and do exist in every fire department organization, the real question is are they always playing on the same team?

The answer is a simple one. No they are not, and in human nature they won’t unless someone at some level steps up to the plate and reminds everyone of what the team concept is and how to reach the overall goal.

That’s a tough thing to do, and you must be vigilant because you will have to do it all the time, but it is a noble and worthwhile role.

What do you do now coach?

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013