Fire Doesn’t Fight

Hydrant

Sometimes, when talking shop, I start to hear a brother talking about the fire like it’s out to get us.  Like the fire wants us to be hurt or injured.  As though, when a building burns, the flames are maliciously planning the ways in which they can accomplish your demise.

While I appreciate the need to have a healthy respect for the inherent danger associated with any fire incident, I don’t really believe in characterizing the fire as a villain with malicious intent.

It isn’t.

It’s not out to get you.  It doesn’t want to hurt you.  It doesn’t care about you.

In some ways, that’s scarier.

And a whole lot more manageable.

Fire follows rules and obeys laws.  ALWAYS.  There are not exceptions to this.  The behavior of fire, be it  a residential structure, a commercial structure, a flammable liquids fire, or a brush fire, is always determined by the laws of physics and the variables present that enact those laws.

If the fire is behaving in a way that you don’t understand, it means that you are missing a piece of the puzzle.

It means that you don’t know every law, or you haven’t assembled all the variables.

In EMS, any paramedic, given the choice between 20 more paramedics in the back of the ambulance or a full and complete history of a patient, would probably rather have the information.

Why not in fire?

We constantly lament over manpower issues, but never bother to maximize the people we do have by coupling their abilities with the right information.

The information you need:

  • You need to know the rules fire plays by.
    • Take the time to educate yourself.  Experience isn’t enough anymore, especially since there isn’t enough to go around.  GO GET THE INFORMATION.
  • You need to know what your team can do.
    • Train together.  Do it often.  Work more, talk less.  Learn each other.
  • You need to get every piece of information you can, on every call.
    • For any IC, information is the name of the game.  You have two jobs in this arena:  Gather information, and spread information.  Practice both.

Fire is predictable.  It will always do the same things in the same conditions.  It’s a cop-out to blame the fire when we get burned.  We knew it was hot.

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