Aggressive Destruction

This is not about breaking things, sorry, if that’s what you wanted you should probably leave now.

When a word gets used too many times it loses it’s meaning, Semantic saturation.

Semantic Saturation: “A psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as a repeated meaningless sounds.”

What do you do when you get a letter that say “Urgent open immediately!!!”? That’s right, you throw it out because the words are meaningless, it’s a sales pitch. That’s what is happening to Aggressive. Running a line through a front door is not aggressive, it’s standard. Pushing hard to get the seat of a fire or using a larger line with a smaller crew is aggressive.

I recently read in Strategic and Tactical Firefighting almost every form of fire attack described as aggressive.

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Is this even possible?

If every method of water application were considered aggressive wouldn’t that actually be average or normal? Why is this necessary? Why the push to validate every singe method of fire attack as aggressive, why can’t it just be fire attack? This shift to flowery words has diluted the standards we have had for centuries. When companies operate at a higher level than their peers, that’s aggressive, just like in a real fight. If they stay at a safe distance and soften the target, that’s defensive. Taking a line into a building to the fire is the definition of offensive fire attack, the word aggressive has no business in either definition. It’s the nature in which it happens not the fact that it is happening.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary will help with the definitions;

AGGRESSIVE
1. Marked by combative readiness
2. Marked by obtrusive energy
3. Marked by strong driving forceful energy or initiative
4. More severe, intensive, or comprehensive than usual especially in dosage or extent

DEFENSIVE
5. Serving to defend or protect
6. Devoted to resisting or preventing aggression or attack
7. Of or relating to the attempt to keep an opponent from scoring in a game or contest

Many will vehemently argue that spraying water in a window is an aggressive tactic. When in fact it is the 3rd least aggressive tactic on the fire ground. The least aggressive tactic is evacuating to a safe distance. 2nd least would be protecting the exposures. There is nothing wrong with using these tactics if that’s what’s appropriate for you and your department. Protecting yourself and crew from the “enemy” (fire) is defensive and totally acceptable and understandable. Please stop using the word aggressive for tactics and operations that it does not apply. Every time I see the word aggressive now I assume it’s someone who has no idea what they are talking about or they are selling something.
“I aggressively went back for seconds of that Pastrami last night”

Exterior attack can be aggressive if it’s followed up with immediate hand line advancement. But based on the video evidence that is available it doesn’t happen like that. It’s not just “fast water” or a “quick reset” it’s the whole operation. It’s the mindset and performance standards of the company. Taking your time moving inside is sloppy work. If you are going the “reset” route you need to behave as if there is a time limit on getting to the seat, don’t act like you can just reset it again. Not aggressive.
Please don’t think I’m here to say inside attack is the only “aggressive” attack, because it’s not. The word should be used when appropriate. Inside attack is an offensive fire attack. That’s all. Not aggressive, not heroic, not stupid or cowboy, just an offensive fire attack. Having watched what some firefighters are calling aggressive interior, they should probably do some more drills. Wrestling with a flat line in the front yard for 5 minutes before eventually getting it inside and flowing water is not even close to aggressive. Might as well stay and spray if your training can’t get a line through a door.
Aggressive & Tactical….

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Tactical- Adj, black with Velcro and a 20% upcharge, nothing more.

Is there such thing as “we acted like professionals and put water on the fire”? NOO, it has to be “aggressive”. I never hear the opposite even though it would be a more appropriate description of what some companies and departments do “we passively attacked that fire”, “we milled around and somehow the fire went out”
Nobody says that, even if it is the truth.

There is a list of the “Most Aggressive Fighters of All Time” available on the Internet. Fighters, not firefighters. It’s a slideshow so I won’t post the link. It’s in the nature of contact sports to be aggressive. How can some people who make a living fighting in a ring/octagon/cage be more aggressive than others? Maybe it’s not what they do, but the manner in which they do it.

Here are a few suggestions for determining if your company is aggressive or not.
Not aggressive:
The company that drops 300’ of attack line in a pile of spaghetti and then ties it in knots.
The 1st due company that shows up 3rd
The engine company that cannot seem to get water, ever.
The truck company that never seems to get their stick to the roof or ladders to the building.
The ones who unleash the deck gun and then let the building burn down.
Walking back to the piece for a tool before having even made it inside or to the building
The classic frequent “mask/equipment malfunction”

You know that Fire Company that you hope doesn’t show up at the fire because they always seem to get water faster than you?
They are aggressive and so are these:
The engine that arrives after yours and charges their line before yours.
The company that always finds fire/work when yours can’t
The company that steals your fire.
That 2nd alarm company that somehow pulls into position before the second alarm is done tapping out.
The crew that always gets a water supply or their stick to the roof/ ground ladders deployed.

Why do we have to talk like we are in a movie? “We aggressively grabbed a hydrant and put on our SCBA!!! Get to the Chopper!!!”
Aggressive has become lip service from firefighters trying to defend their poor performance.
Stop it.
Manpower is not an excuse.
Lack of training is a pathetic excuse.
Having low standards/complacency is a possible reason.
Trying to normalize the loss of quality performance is a possibility.

Everyone can see what you are doing. Stop it.
Stop using that word you obviously don’t know what it means.

Your call is important to us please continue to hold

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