Single Person Evolutions by Training38

What do you think of when you take an Engine Company class? You think of a three or four person crew arriving on the first due apparatus. A lot of departments in South Carolina do not respond with 3 or 4 people on the first arriving apparatus. They arrive with one person and have additional personnel arrive at different intervals, in apparatus, staff vehicles or POV. The latest study shows how effective an engine company can be with 4 and 5 personnel riding on the rig. The study accomplished 22 different tasks. When you have one or two people arriving on scene, the study showed accomplishing those same 22 tasks, increases the work load and the overall time to complete those tasks. One question I have is most departments are fully aware of the increased work load with the initial one or two persons arriving. Does your department practice one person engine drills? Do you honestly train like you fight? What do you expect to accomplish in 3-6 minutes by yourself. Not much you are probably thinking. What if I told you that one person can in less than six minutes complete the following:

  • Arrival on scene with a windshield radio size-up (Time starts when the cab door opens)
  • Pump engagement
  • Donning your structural pants
  • Deploying your 200ft pre-connect
  • Charging your line
  • Donning the rest of your gear, including your SCBA
  • Deploying the PPV close to the front door
  • Donning your mask
  • Conducting an educated exterior attack (Time stops when the handline is flowing water)

Would you believe that this can be accomplished in 3:30 seconds? Right know you are probably saying that can’t happen and are probably asking yourself what about the walk around. In less than 5 minutes with a walk around all of this can be accomplished. It all falls back to technique and having a procedure so you maximize your movements while also being dressed for success. I am not by any means advocating conducting an interior attack alone. STAY OUT until adequate resources is on scene prior to the interior attack! For those firefighters that understand, how the first person arriving can have a dramatic impact on the initial stages of the fire and how multiple people are arriving with in the first five minutes and inundate the scene. This really hits home. For those that run a traditional style engine company you’ll appreciate the techniques of those in a rural environment. In a rural setting a lot of times the person who gets the engine to the scene may or may not be the one who operates the fire pump. With being fully dressed out you can make a safer exterior attack. You may be lucky enough to extinguish the fire or you may keep the fire at bay until additional help arrives. Either way your PPE is in place and provides you with the most protection. Once additional personnel arrive, firefighters fall into place, pump operators, Incident command, Additional attack line, RIT teams, Search crews and the list goes on and on and on. Next time you have a drill night, try this single person evolution and see what you can accomplish. You will be surprised. Understand that this is worst case scenario for a department, most of the time multiple firefighters and tankers are arriving with the engine or within minutes behind the engine. This drill is nothing fancy, no fancy tactics or techniques. Just sticking to the basics and maximizing your movements.


  • Chad Cox says:

    Curious as to your reasoning for setting up ppv. Are u just placing the fan near the front and not turning it in till later? I would think that if ppv was going while still conducting exterior fire attack, u would simply be fighting a “wind driven” fire that you created. Not bashing, just looking for reasoning

  • Training38 says:

    I am not advocating setting up the PPV with an exterior attack. I completely agree, that it would cause a wind driven fire. I am just trying to get the fan close to the front door and as manpower permits that would allow for an interior attack, then if conditions permit place the PPV into operation, only until that decision has been made.
    Limited manpower means it could be missed.
    Limited manpower means that vertical ventilation is out of the question.
    Hopefully, that clears up the “Deploying the PPV close to the front door”.
    Great question and point. Take care and be safe!

  • anchorpoint1 says:

    I always tell my Co-workers that being a firefighter in an large urban area allows for guys to be horrible at their jobs. Looking at your list ,and the fact that it sounds commonplace for you, I cannot imagine half of the people I work with or myself for that matter accomplishing this list of tasks in a timely matter. I know who is useless on my company. But even with them I still get to distribute the work throughout the other personnel. I think I’ll run this drill a couple times just to see who is capable and to help my guys understand what our mutual aid departments go through at every incident.
    Thanks for posting.

  • Jeff says:

    Walk around?

  • Training38 says:

    Jeff: Having either the first arriving firefighter, officer or IC dependant on staffing levels and the way your department operates, conduct a 360 degree walkaround of the structure. Some larger industrial, commercial and residential structures pose some outside of the box thinking. Such as a large strip mall. It may impossible to walk around the complete structure. Make access one or two stores away from the fire building. Walk to the back door and look at the rear of the structure. Or conduct a drive around. Get a reliable experienced firefighter to help. You can have heavy smoke showing from the A side, and heavy fire on the C side. This information should be relayed to the crews conducting searches and fire suppression. We dont need to look at the building from the front and use that only to determine our strategies and tactics. We need to see the whole story. Identify building intergrity issues, secondary means of egress, and most of all any type of hazards that could slow our egress down. Boarded up windows, doors on the C side along with security bars that may be on the C side and not the A side. Your department may call the “walk around” something else. In the event that you are not doing this, try it. It only takes the effort of walking around the structure. Again, this will help with:
    Reading smoke
    Evaluating fire conditions
    Building Construction
    Hazards that could slow an egress down
    These are just a few.
    I have made it a practice to conduct a walkaround on every structure that is toned out as a structure fire when I arrive and establish command or assume command from someone else. Smoke showing or not, a walk around is conducted. A plan is formulated. It seems to work. I hope this clears up your question. And again, if you call it something else, that’s cool. We as firefighters, incident commanders, RIT crews need to understand what we are dealing with and the only way is to conduct the walkaround by the IC and RIT crews.

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