October Training Prompt:Delays and Reasons Why

A San Francisco apartment fire garnered a lot of attention from the customers about where the water was. Take this misunderstanding and turn it into a list of ‘What if…” drills.








An apartment fire in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood became a short video sensation as it captured what appeared to be a delay in getting water onto the seat of the fire. As usual most comments about the firefighting, from civilians and firefighters, focused on their ignorance and our blundering attempt to educate. The fire and similar ones afterward give us a number of subjects to use in this month’s training prompt.
Stairway Collapse During Bronx Apartment Fire
Buffalo Firefighters Escape Potentially Explosive Fire

We posed questions on Facebook asking 1. How many reasons can you list of reasons why the interior attack may be delayed? and 2. When was the last time you trained on one of them? Here are some of the replies and other reasons in three simple categories that should give you plenty to work with.

Engine Company
Pump failure
Defective or dead hydrant
Burst length
Stretched short/too much
Inexperienced/excitable driver
Obstructed or defective standpipe riser
Obstruction in the nozzle
Occupants/victims in path of nozzleteam

Ladder Company
Difficulty forcing entry
Multiple doors to force
Scissor gates
Hoarding/Collyer mansion conditions
Booby traps

Fireground Communication
Fire has possession of interior hall and/or stairway
Obvious rescues
Interior collapse
Holes in the floor
Secondary fire or fire in other locations
Understaffed companies
Injured members

How many additional reasons can you think of that would cause a delay in getting water on the fire? Think about the ones that apply to your area and operations and discuss how your members would:
1. Identify the problem
2. Communicate the problem
3. Fix the problem.





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1 Comment

  • Great topics and I hope companies can use this fire as a lesson. As details emerge we discover the delay was due to a barricaded entry door to the fire unit, one blocked by the ignition source it appears. Forcible entry was not so much the issue, but not being able to enter in the usual fashion.
    This fire required crews to do what we are specifically trained not to do, fight a type 5 fire from the outside-in.
    The construction on this building played a large factor in making the call to fight it from the window.
    While the folks downstairs wondered why we weren’t squirting from the ground, the interior crews are attempting to gain access. When they finally give up and decide to go through the window, every indicator of floor integrity, fire spread and area of origin are, forgive me, out the window.

    Even if we sit down on the evening news and explain the difficulties in fighting fires in 100 year old wooden buildings, they’ll still expect the hoses no matter what.

    The list of things that could go wrong is spot on and should be trained at the table and in the field. Just like our checklist for when we can’t seem to get the rig in pump (brake set, PTO, in gear, tank open etc etc) this list should be followed as well.

    Great article.

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Backstep Firefighter

“To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format.”
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