The Civil Fire Service War

Hey Cap, I read this article today in fire engineering magazine, can we go out and try it this well hole stretch. Kid what do you think your in New Yorker City that crap don’t work here we are SUBURBAN FIREFIGHTERS. Hey Lou, I read this article from this guy that says attacking from the burned side is OK, yeah shut your pie hole kid we have been doing that forever. There is no guy from down South who is gonna tell me something I don’t know or ever give me a new perspective on the way I do things. I’m a URBAN FIREFIGHTER. OK so are you sick of the BS already so am I. Have we now become such a pretentious service that we are cutting our own throats and DISHONORING OUR GREATEST TRADITION OF TRAINING. You see it makes no logical sense in my mind why FIREFIGHTERS would be caring on, on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and even some articles trying to be Civil, but still all the while stoking the flames of this Civil War. I understand a little of the Civil War, I live in Charleston, SC and in some ways still see the Battle Being Fought Today.

SAFD Eng 2

Symbol Of Humanity

In the picture above one famed author wrote ”

I Can Think of No More Stirring Symbol of Man’s Humanity to Man than a Fire Engine “

Why do you think that was wrote because of the professionals we are suppose to be and act like. I feel almost certain when Fire Service Leaders like Chief Brannigan, Brennan, Clark,  Dunn, Fried, and Layman where not setting out to be Legendary they saw a service that they loved a void that was missing and wanted to be apart of bringing more firefighters home.

Sadly today what is taking place is firefighters are looking to become Fire Service Rock Stars. Coming up with Acronym after Acronym when the Fire Service is rather simple and to me is made of COMMON SENSE AND PREPARATION; Yet it appears we are continuing to try and reinvent the wheel when what is needed is TRAINING. Some fire service leaders are working tirelessly to ensure the Profession of the Fire Service is maintained as Andy Fredrick’s use too say by Research, Research, Research. I not going to post or even began to track down the post or articles I have read with the banter back and forth, but will offer this ” The Fire Service is more in need of Leadership now than the Monumental my First Nozzle, Hook, and Irons Ego’s I see today. To note: It’s not always the people in the spotlight causing the problems.







In the above pictures the Acronyms SLICERS or DICERS don’t really matter to me at all. What matters is that Firefighters Urban or Suburban understand that all Buildings are a six sided box. As one of mentors Chief Tim Stephenson has often said you must know what is above you, behind you, below you, and beside you at all times. He was teaching Situational Awareness before it was Situational Awareness. What was being created was the ” The Thinking Firefighter “. Firefighters also need to Understand as Chief Layman wrote long ago about taking Fog Nozzles and applying the Stream inside of a compartment. Not only did Chief Layman write about it and tell you it was no good, but your BASIC Fire School should have taught you that you have Fire, Heat, and Smoke and they all provide mass filling up the compartment ( Structure ) if introduce the volumes of air that come off  of a fog nozzle into the compartment and it is not ventilated or under ventilated where do those combustion products go. The path of least resistance meaning the doorway you are in.

The other Basics that apply whether you are Suburban or Urban is that petroleum based products and the chemicals involved have more than doubled the BTU’s coming off products burning inside of a structure. Today’s Modern Fire Environment does not allow for you to be flowing any less than 150 gpm or you are simply tickling the fire until it runs out of fuel to burn. So this should help with the debate of Fog vs Smooth.







Firefighters also need to understand in today’s Modern Fire Environment we still have to have the Sense’s of our Forefathers past. Now that we have the PPE like pictures above, we get further deeper into fires, and forget the sense of feel. When the heat is so intense and you have not even found the seat of the fire, what should that tell you? Again another situation in which the fire or gear does not care if you are a Suburban or Urban firefighter.

The point of the post is to simply say God gave you two ears and one mouth. Take the opportunity to learn from all who are willing to share their experiences. Why should it matter where they are from. Evaluate the skill being shown and see if it is effective for your operations. Some will be and some won’t. Learn to appreciate Firefighters from all backgrounds for what they bring to the table and the effort they have given to make the service better. If letters on the Back of a Turnout Coat is what is most important to you, well then BMA!


  • Sean Gray says:

    Great article! Amen! As the kid from down south that talks about the Burned side. I’m tired of defending my class and have come to ignore social media so that I dont find myself involved in a FB battle with Urban guys trying to bait me into a conversation. Glad to see that you mentioned so many of my mentors. They all have great books and articles and much of my knowledge should be credited to them. There doesn’t need to be two sides. We’ve been talking about this stuff for years. It’s just a new age of realizing that a Blitz Attack is a good thing for the fires we have today. The fires are different, they flash faster and can change at moments notice if an appropriate vent opening is made. Out tactics should be evaluated based on research. All of these tactics are just another tool in the toolbox. I’m not the first person to say that putting a policy in place for fireground operations is a bad idea! Just use them as tools.
    Sean Gray
    Attack from the BURNED Side

  • Russ Randolph says:

    WOW! excellent article and RIGHT ON! Forget the north/south debate (because I’m from NY and made my professional career in south Florida)– SO–because we are a MAGNET for “up north” retired or visiting FF’s who see how we work and are quick to criticize how we do it to which we say, “you ain’t in NY no more son, you’s in the south now”, then the education debate begins. You are correct that the leaders of the past are who we need to listen to today either by reprinting their books or getting them out of storage. I was honored to have Frank Brannigan as a guest instructor when I was in college and he said something I never forgot. “As firefighters we know our craft very well and how to do it that is fighting fire, BUT the real enemy is the BUILDING. Construction standards are to the BUILDING CODE not the fire code, so the building is the problem from a standpoint of failure and fire flow. Fire is what we are there to control, we have no control over what the building does”… So how does those old words figure into today? In Florida and in other states we “scarlet letter” buildings with known construction hazards of the roof and floor. Many of my colleagues believe it was a waste of time because it does not change how we will fight a fire–and they have a point–BUT I say how would you respond if there was a sign on a building that said, “this is a terrorist stronghold” would that change your tactics? of course it would like a placard on a haz-mat vehicle so I see the scarlet letter as a “nice to know” which dovetails nicely into what Brannigan said all those years ago about the building being our enemy….Sometimes we need to go back in order to advance forward

  • Firestudent1 says:

    Sean Gray thank you for you comments and I am truly pleased that you understood your work is respected. Russ thank you for you comments as well. I am over firefighters not taking what they learn testing it to see if it applies to their desired application. Without name dropping I have learned lots from firefighters from both sides of the coin because I opened my mind to take in a new perspective and trained on it to see if it would work for my staffing and skill set in which they carried as well. Thank you both for your comments and God Bless.

  • Captain Kevin C. Ross says:

    I have been a firefighter for 40+ years and now you want to start this new way crap! No just kidding, great article.
    I have been a firefighter for 40+ years, and still love to train and like to try new things. I look forward to the new guys coming out of the academy with new ways, new equipment, etc. Sometimes the new ways and equipment is better than the old way, sometimes the new way and the old way together are better, and sometimes the old way is best. but we owe to ourselves, to are newest firefighters, and our oldest grumpiest firefighters, to be up on the latest techniques and equipment available, not to mention that we certainly owe it to the public we serve. I myself go to as many training sessions as possible from the state, county, NYSAFC, FASNY, many other fire related organizations, also manufacture training or demonstrations, I also read all the new things and new ways in the trade magazines. I like to try the new ways, and new equipment. So at my company the Probies, Newbies, whatever they are being called this week and anyone else who has training, equipment and/or idea’s that they want to try are welcome to bring forth, and lets train, lets fined new ways new equipment to do the oldest profession in the world.( Oh no the oldest is something else) We are the second oldest profession.

  • Jim Perdue says:

    Great article, in the past 30 years, I too have been fortunate to work for and learn from some of the best. I have seen a lot of flash in the pan ideas, new ways and acronyms come and go. It always falls back on the basics, as you said, common sense and preparation. Good doctors become great doctors, because they start out as med students, then interns and continue to learn, develop and mentor. They aren’t just appointed doctors because they are and EMT, or some other Wantabe. You have to be a good firefighter before you can be a great chief. Leave the Slicing and Dicing to the chefs.

  • Jeff M., Volley F.F. 1977-2007 says:

    The late Chief Layman used the “Layman Theory” in that if one introduced a low velocity fog applicator into an enclosed room, it would produce steam that would smother the fire, under certain conditions. Does anyone out there know what a low velocity fog applicator is that was used on the old NAVY fog nozzles. We had them on the ship I served on plus we used them out at Fire school as late as 1977.

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