You Make the Call

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 fire and ask you to make the call on a number of different measures. In this issue, you can view a video of a fire in a commercial building with lightweight truss construction.

Watch the video and reply to the questions below. We’ll include your answers in the next issue.

A recent report estimated that commercial building fires in 2011 caused more than $2.5 billion dollars of property loss, 80 deaths, and 1,100 injuries.

  1. With the advent of lightweight wood and metal construction used to build commercial properties, what new strategies and/or tactics do you use on the fireground?
  2. Should you commit firefighters to search and rescue during fire attack or wait until the fire is controlled?
  3. Would you commit firefighters to roof ventilation before you knew the roof construction?
  4. Does your state mandate truss placards for floor and roof construction? (Please answer yes or no and give your state.)
  5. With the increase in unoccupied commercial buildings, does your overall strategy change if you know the building is vacant (offensive vs. defensive)?
  6. How important is preplanning to determining the correct “game plan” at commercial building fires?

Results from Last Issue

In our last issue, you watched the residential fire video pictured here, and we asked you some questions. Here’s a summary of responses:

  1. What strategic and/or tactical changes have you made when faced with reduced manpower (volunteer or career)?
    • applied more importance to offensive/defensive actions when manpower is reduced
    • used the transitional attack method when confronted with less manpower
    • arranged for additional automatic aid to respond
    • considered all size-up factors before changing  
  • What tactical changes are necessary when operating at a residential fire with lightweight construction, floor, and roof?
    • not ventilating the roof in some cases because of the early collapse potential
    • not operating on the floor space above a basement fire when lightweight construction is known
    • making initial attack from the exterior when an attic is involved
    • being less aggressive, especially if the house isn’t occupied
    • not operating under trusses involved in the fire
  • Have you used or considered a transitional fire attack?
    • We haven’t used it yet, but transitional attack should be in the tool box for use under certain conditions.
    • We should use a transitional attack, especially when manpower is lacking. It’s part of our size-up, and we consider all factors.
    • We’ve read about it and will train on the method. We’re actively considering it.
    •  We’re considering it but haven’t had an opportunity to try.
    • We feel it’s too soon to evaluate changing.
  • 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.

    Other Verisk websites