You Make the Call

Commercial Warehouse Fire

waarehouse fire

A fire at this commercial warehouse can pose challenges for the fire service.

New Challenge
You face challenging fires all the time. You’ve received training to assess different types of fires and determine the best firefighting approach. In each issue of Community Fire Protection News, we’ll show you a real building fire and ask you to make the call on a number of different measures. Just reply to this e-mail and tell us your answers. We’ll include the results in the next issue.

You respond to a report of fire on the top floor of a nine-story commercial warehouse. The warehouse supervisor reports that after evacuating the building, two workers are reported missing on the seventh floor, and there’s a medium smoke condition. How would you answer the following questions?

    • What incident command safety components do you put in place on arrival?
    • What firefighter tools are available to assist with safely conducting a primary search?
    • Will you need more than one Rapid Intervention Crew for this incident?

Results from our Last Issue

house fire

Jackson Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 responds to this Willow Point working structure fire in Jackson, N.J.

In our last issue, we showed you the house fire pictured here and asked you some questions. Here’s a sampling of responses:

  1. What are your orders to the first-due engine company?
    • Evaluate the building and secure the utilities. The first-due engine should establish a water supply and secure utilities while assisting the incident command with the size-up.
    • Have the quint secure a water supply and put the aerial master stream in operation.
    • Tell Engine 1 they have a two-story townhouse with fire showing on the second floor and roof area on the A side. They will be the primary search team.
    • Assess life safety issues and determine if there is anyone trapped in the house. If no one knows, initiate interior search if deemed safe. Do a 360 walk-around, disconnect/cut off power to the house, establish two attack lines, and form a rapid intervention team (RIT).
  2. What are your orders to the second-due apparatus (ladder, squad, rescue, tanker, etc.)?
    • Raise ladders on the back side of the building and cut access into the attic. Once firefighters knock down the fire, move inside to complete extinguishment.
    • Second-due apparatus would be a mutual-aid engine. Pull two 2” lines off the quint for interior attack. Stop ladder master stream operations on the structure and go interior. Use the master stream on the B-side exposure where the fire is extending.
    • Establish vertical ventilation.
    • Implement positive pressure ventilation (PPV).
    • Use the Engine 1 preconnect to protect the B-side exposure. If the exposure is controlled, establish the line as Attack Team 1 on the A side.
    • Establish a water supply line to the first-due engine and begin an interior attack.
  3. What are your immediate safety concerns for responding firefighters?
    • head count of the responding police and where they are in the evaluation process
    • occupants remaining in the building
    • entrapment
    • rapid ventilation of the attic space to remove heat to prevent structural failure of the roof and curtail the horizontal spread of fire
    • roof collapse given the involvement of the attic
    • respiratory protection
    • to establish incident command and expand the incident command system as resources arrive
    • additional manpower/rehab
    • getting the Engine 1 crew out as soon as possible after the primary search
    • securing gas meters and calling for electric shutoff
    • utilities status
    • structure weakness
    • outside fuel source
    • to establish an RIT
  4. What is your initial strategy — offensive attack, defensive attack, or combination?
    • Defensive attack. Establish two 1-3/4” hand lines using F-500; this should knock down the fire and would be the safest position of attack.
    • A combination. The first-due engine should establish hand lines for protection while containing the spread of the fire.
    • A combination. Use an initial knockdown with an aerial master stream and/or a blitz attack with master stream followed by interior attack pending roof evaluation.
    • Offensive attack. Establish/direct operational mode on the initial size-up.
    • A combination. Use an offensive attack from the back of the structure. Set up a water curtain between the two houses to help stop fire spread to the next-door unit. Use a defensive attack on the outside of the structure away from the interior team.

ISO Fire Suppression Rating Schedule

Our Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) is free to chiefs and other fire officials. It's a manual containing the criteria Verisk uses in reviewing the fire prevention and fire suppression capabilities of individual communities or fire protection areas. To recieve a copy of the FSRS, contact our National Processing Center at 1-800-444-4554 and select Option 2.

H2O and Verisk

Water supply and distribution systems are important factors in determining a community’s ISO Public Protection Classification (PPC®). We provide complimentary educational training and seminars to water providers and associations throughout the country. Contact Hugh Gibson, national water resources manager, at for more information.

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