Contradictions in Atlanta

Rescue challenges those who cling to absolutes in fear and tradition.

Atlanta firefighters rescued a man from a house fire on 4 March 2013. The facts reported should remind us all that many of the supposed absolutes being shared and debated over on the internet are most always subject to an event that says otherwise.

CBS Atlanta 46

Hitting the fire from the outside first means you are weak and are contributing to the downfall of the fire service’s aggressive interior attack.

Fox Street, “Things were so bad they had to go into a defensive effort to get the flames knocked down,”

You’ll steam them, hitting it from the outside, which is if they are alive in the first place. With those conditions on arrival, anyone inside is already dead.

Fox Street, “They got him out, took him to Grady Memorial Hospital, conscious and breathing,”

Assistant Chief Chris Wessels “For the amount of fire that was in this building upon the arrival of our first units, it’s a great thing that we were able to actually find someone alive inside,”

Vacant building fires should be fought with defensive operations only; surround and drown; risk little to save little.

Fox Street, “This structure was abandoned and there was a homeless person trying to stay warm because it has been extremely cold all night and this morning.”


Think it over, each time you preach an absolute in the name of safety or tradition.

“Atlanta firefighters rescue man from burning building” CBS Atlanta
“Man rescued from burning house”


Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for PennWell Public Safety Group (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.

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1 Comment

  • Doug Mitchell says:

    Bill… As always, nicely played.
    I like to say the fire service needs to have a certain 'Rigid Flexibilllity' if you will.  Those two words, as the title of your blog states are contradictions themselves.  
    The framework must be pre-set (in the creation of SOG's, i.e. Rigidity).  However, while SOG's are absolutely paramout and needed for providing standards and expectations for operations, they are 'guidelines' and should not be confused with the 'always and nevers' as Mr LeBlank stated in his reply.  There must be a level of 'Flexibillity' that as long as communicated properly, allows for units to perhaps deviate from the initial plan, re-adjust, and make it happen.
    This is why the 'Combat Ready' approach to our fireground operations are so paramount.  Our bodies, minds, rigs, tools and equipment must be conditioned to; as you say 'expect fire' or as brother Ray McCormack preaches 'keep fire in your life.'  For those slogans are more than catch phrases on a shirt or a hat, doing so will better prepare you for the firefight.  
    SOG's dont put out fires or make grabs, they do however establish a rigid framework for expectations… if there is a need for deviation, or flexibillity in actions,  clearly communicate it and move in…  

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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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