Denver Working: Apartment Fire, Transitional Attack?

Denver apartment fire video and more consideration.

Note: The video below is not intended to be specifically critiqued, but to offer a mental picture for you as you consider more about this tactic.

Another video catches the eye and the honest question, "can transitional attack work here?' comes to mind, not because it cannot be determined personally, but because the classical culture divide seems to not be able to. Past posts here, "Reader Definitions of Transitional Attack" and seen on other sites and forums only offer slight concensus on practical application; when staffing is low and when the interior line is making only slow progress or none at all.

So why the divide when it is first mentioned? Why is it considered a poor tactic if it is not endorsed by chiefs from large urban departments? In their own right, it is a poor initial tactic to use when you arrive bringing four engines, three ladders and a rescue company with all their staffing and a clear, unobstructed path to the fire room. Unfortunately much of the country doesn't bring this massive first alarm response. Would it work here, in Prince George's County? Honestly it would depend on where in the county the fire is and the staffing in that area. I wouldn't expect it in the inside Beltway battalions. Out past Upper Marlboro, past Croom, down near Charles County? I'd at least consider it, especially if the first engine is arriving with just the Technician and the Officer.

So why turn your nose to a tactic that could work? What would you do if your assumed routine single-story private dwelling fire turned out to be a pack-rat job where you were not going in even 1-inch past the front door? Would you still be slugging away at it, climbing over mounds of junk all because an urban boss said transitional attack wouldn't work in his area?



You can't call a time out on the fireground. But you can keep an open mind and bring all your options with you to the fight. So, again we ask you, how do you define "transitional attack"? Is it a tactical tool available if your "routine" fire attack hits a wall? Is it an offensive move you and your driver can use while you wait for the other department's volunteers to respond to the station and get the engine/tankers on the road?


Or is it a weak, cowardly move that says you have no balls when it comes to being an "aggressive firefighter"?




Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

We encourage and support constructive dialogue and debate. View our comment policy.

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  • Robert Davis says:

    "Transitional attack"? What is it?  It's just a defensive to offensive attack.  Someone thought they would come up with a new name for something that has been done since we fought fire with buckets.  When you show up on the fire scene without enough man power or without interior (real) firefighters, this is what you do instead of standing there with you thumd in your ass. 

  • Robby Owens says:

    This tactic flat out works when used in the right situation….Just the other day the A shift at my station got dispatched for an apartment fire with people trapped. When they arrived they have fire venting out of a first floor window auto exposing the second floor and the soffit from the AB corner all the way to the breeze way.
    On the 360 the officer noticed the ridge vent already beginning to melt and sag and smoke coming from second floor windows.
    He and his 3 man crew pulled a 2 1/2 and an 1 3/4 line. The used the 2 1/2 to knock down the visible fire and cut it off from getting into the attic (common attic no sprinklers), Once they had a good hit on the fire they took the 1 3/4 interior and knocked down the rest of the fire on the 1st floor while other crews took care of any other fire the 2nd floor and the special service companies searched.
    With there swift action only 2 apartments out of 8 had any damage and the second floor aparmtment damage was mostly smoke related.
    It was a super job and proves that in the right circumstances that this technique will work. The rest of the country is not blessed with 5 man engines and 5 engines on a first alarm house fire.
    I have great respect for Urban fire Chiefs and Departments and take many classes from them. However any lesson learned has to be applicable to my (your) department and staffing situation.
    Stay Safe brothers

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Backstep Firefighter

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