Fun Fire Facts

Below includes common terminology used by Dothan Fire Department members and incident commanders. Terminology varies from department to department but these are the most commonly used within our department. Definition will be accompanied by an example used on the fire-ground/incident scene. Acronyms are spelled out along with a definition and an example.

At all Structure fires a 360 is accomplished by two individuals at a minimum at the fire ground. The Incident Safety Officer should accomplish one looking for additional hazards (power lines, utility locations, pools, etc.). His/her findings are reported to the Incident Commander via radio and/or with a face-to-face.  A second 360 is completed by one of the Rapid Intervention Team members and they are identifying ingress and egress points to save a firefighter if a MAYDAY is declared. 

Air control (doorway control):  newer research has confirmed that leaving doors open will allow more air into the structure, thus feeding the beast. If there is a fire in a room and it cannot be extinguished, shut the door—it will confine for some time.

Air monitoring—two types. First type is for mostly dealing with hazardous materials or confined space/trench rescue incidents where there is a potential for oxygen depleted or toxic fumes. Will help to identify where an Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health atmosphere begins (or ends). The second type is post fire extinguishment and ventilation. Specifically monitoring for Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN). Both gases in high amounts can lead to an IDLH and cause “seizure-coma-death.” HCN is a known carcinogen. This is normally done to know when the IDLH is reduced and firefighters may come out of their SCBA.  

Benchmarks:  points that units work towards in resolving the incident. The following three are used for all incidents:  Water on fire and fire knock-down are used only for fires
ALL-CLEAR:  primary search for victims within the structure; “down and dirty” search going to the areas where victims maybe found/located.
UNDER CONTROL:  stopped the further spread of fire; reduced the hazards of other types of incidents (stopped the leak, contained the run-off, etc.).
LOSS STOP:  stopped from further damage of the incident; this includes water damage, ventilation and overhaul, etc.

Branches—used to keep the span of control within normal limits (3-7 workers to 1 boss; optimal 5:1).  Can be assigned by function (Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement) or geographic (Branch A, Branch C, etc.).

CAN Report—format used to provide updates to the IC and Communications during fire ground operations. Reports are given when requested by the IC and provided to Communications at the 10 minute increments (along with confirming the Mode of Operations), along with PAR.
Conditions:  heavy smoke, high heat, fire knock-down, no smoke or heat, etc.
Actions:  what that group, unit, division, branch, command, etc. is doing.
Needs:  what additional resources are needed by the unit, group, division, branch, incident, etc.

Deck Gun—a Master Stream Device mounted to the top of an engine. The appliance can be removed and attached to a base and hoses to operate away from an engine. 

Divisions—separate the incident into geographical pieces:  sides, floors (basements), certain areas of a structure (Roof). This is where the concept of the sides of the structure moving clockwise:  A (Alpha) division normally the address side, B (Bravo) division, C-(Charlie) division (rear of the structure) and D- (Delta) division. Floors are normally numbers (Division 2, Division 3, etc.).  

Emergency Medical Services—provide advanced life support through paramedic engine companies. All firefighters are trained to the Basic EMT level as a part of their initial training if they are not already certified/licensed.

Engine Company—consists of a four-firefighters and responsible to make interior attack with fire hose. Has preconnected 1 ¾” & 2.5” hose lines (often called “attack lines”) for interior operations, exposure protection and supply lines (5”) to receive water from a hydrant (aka plug) or another engine. Eight engines are staffed for normal operations. Department has capability to staff up to four reserve engines during emergency operations.

Forcible entry—“try before you pry” in a nutshell. Breaking a door down to make entry. Can be accomplished with various hand tools (i.e. irons, axe, Whacker® bar) and hydraulic tools (rabbit tool, Genesis spreaders, etc.).

Hazardous Materials—incident that revolve around something getting out its container from diesel fuel to ethyl-methyl-kill-you-quick and everything in-between. Our duty is to stop the leak and protect the public. We do not perform clean up.  

HazMat 2— Provides capability to respond to various hazmat response operations in and around the City of Dothan, along with a deployment asset for the Alabama Mutual Aid System (AMAS). Equipped to do interior/down-range/offensive operations to mitigate (i.e. stop or slow) the leak (escape) of hazardous materials. Has various monitoring, detecting, identifying systems as well as decontamination equipment. HazMat 2 can just respond with the driver or engine 2 will go out of service; providing 5 HM Techs to the incident scene.

Hose reel—1” rubberized pre-connected hose on a reel (thus hose reel); approximately 100-200’ in length (based on the engine). Used to fight ground fires (brush) and normally mounted on the top of the engine. Not used for interior fire attack; flows approximately 60 GPM. Garden hose on steroids.

IDLH—Immediately Dangerous to Life & Health. Bad voodoo happens if you do not wear the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) in this area of an incident: “seizure, coma, death!”  

Incident Command Staff (SO & PIO)—consists of the Safety Officer (also known as the Incident Safety Officer or ISO) and the Public Information Officer (PIO).

Incident General Staff (C-FLOP)—consists of the Incident Commander (IC), Operations Section Chief (OSC), Planning Section Chief (PSC), Logistics Section Chief (LSC) and Finance/Admin Section Chief (FSC).  

“Inch & three-quarter”, 1 ¾”, 1.75”—pre-connected attack line (mid-mount or front bumper) used to extinguish fires, provide exposure protection—basically provides water. Normally in 200’ lengths and provides approximately 125 to 200 gallons per minute (GPM) when flowing; higher amounts can be flown.

“Two and a half”, 2.5”, 2 ½”—there is one pre-connected line (normally at the rear of the engine) for extinguishing fires; flows 250 GPMs (more is possible). There is also additional 2.5” on the engine (loaded on the hose bed) which is used to extend the pre-connected 2.5” line or to supply a fire department connection (FDC). These must be connected (hooked-up) to a discharge on the engine and the FDC.

Jump line—normally the 1 ¾” pre-connected line on the front bumper of an engine; can be 100’ or 200’ in length, based on the engine/territory. Can flow up to 200 GPMs based on need (what it is pumped at).

Master Stream Device (MSD)—water appliance that flows greater than 350GPMs, can have two to three hose lines supplying it. It is mobile. Big fire, big water! Normally for defensive fire operations and protecting exposures.

MAYDAY—Word used for when a firefighter is trapped, missing, injured, etc. Changes the incident to a rescue mode for the firefighter. An additional ambulance and engine company is requested to respond additional. MAY DAY is only used for firefighters, not for civilian victims.

PAR—Personnel Accountability Report. Done at time intervals, benchmarks, if conditions change and anytime the IC (incident commander) requests.

RECEO-VS—strategy (first arriving Battalion Chief) acronym for fire ground operations (normally directed by the IC). This requires a little more explanation than the terms/definitions given. This gives you the basic foundation for fire ground strategy and is not designed to go in order—thus the more explanation! (LIP Principle in italics)
Rescue—pull victims from the fire—Life Safety
Exposure—protect those areas not impacted (or limit the impact) by the fire; can be internal or external exposures—Incident Stabilization
Confinement—keep the fire limited to the area it has already burned—Incident Stabilization
Extinguishment—put the fire out—Incident Stabilization
Overhaul—looking for hidden fires, making sure smoldering materials are pulled out of the structure, pulling ceilings, etc.—Property Conservation

Ventilation—removes the bad air and gets in good air—Incident Stabilization & Property Conservation
Salvage—protecting “stuff” from heat, smoke and water damage inside the structure by either removing it, protecting it with covers.  Property Conservation

Rehab 2—cross-staffed with HazMat 2 driver. Provides rehabilitation capability to an emergency incident scene (water, Gatorade, snacks) with either cooling or heating (based on time of the year). Also carries replacement SCBA bottles to swap on the incident scene. New vehicle has just arrived, working on getting this outfitted. 

Rescue 4—technical rescue unit.  Provides capability for extrication, rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench collapse, and structural collapse incidents. A large tool box on wheels.

Rescue 9—back-up technical rescue unit.

Safety Officer (ISO)—all sergeants and above are certified as incident safety officers for all types of incidents. Normally the second arriving engine company officer (captain or acting captain) assumes the ISO for structure fires but ICs can make changes based on incident conditions. Later arriving staff officers can assume ISO duties as well freeing the captain up to do other duties. Other types of incidents the IC identifies the Safety Officer. If the IC does not appoint an ISO then he/he assumes responsibilities as the ISO. If an injury and/or accident occurs, the ISO begins the initial investigation process as soon as acceptable based on incident conditions.

SCBA—Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus; air pack. Used by those entering an IDLH (immediately dangerous to life & health) atmosphere to provide respiratory protection.

SLICE-RS—tactics acronym used by the first arriving engine or truck (initial IC) for fire ground operations. Normally the first five are done in sequential order; the sixth and seventh are “actions of opportunity” and may occur at any time. Again, this requires a little more explanation but does give a basic foundation of initial tactics for the first arriving unit.
    Size-up—what do you got, what will you need, where is the incident going.
    Locate the fire—use the Thermal Imager Camera (TIC)
Identify and control the flow path—doorway control; “vent limited”.
Cool from a safe location—exterior application of water (“hit it hard from the yard”).
Extinguish the fire—once cooled, rapidly move to the interior to extinguish.
Rescue—highest priority, complete primary and secondary search , door control.

Salvage—compartmentalization and throwing salvage covers to protect property.

Strategic modes:  Offensive, defensive, investigating
Offensive—interior operations to put the fire out; search and rescue victims, ventilate the structure, etc. When declared allows other responding units to get to their pre-assigned (SOG) assignments or as directed by the incident commander (IC).
Rescue Mode—form of offensive, but if declared all resources work to the rescue of victims; pre-assigned duties (SOG) are not followed. For example if the first arriving unit arrives on scene and a victim is hanging out of the second story window, the Company Officer while giving his B.I.R. declares rescue mode.  Instead of pulling an attack line, the get a ground ladder to do the rescue. Second arriving engine will not do safety and RIT. Risk Management is based on:  Risk a lot to save a lot!
Defensive—no interior operations due to there is too much fire (think fire out of every single window and door); potential for collapse due to weakening of structural members (roofs, walls, etc.) or building has been deemed unsafe for interior operations based on info from fire inspectors.
Investigating—nothing is showing, fire alarm (“bells and smells”) upon arrival of the first arriving unit. In investigating mode, the first due/arriving engine company, truck company and BC go to the incident scene with the other two engines staging (level I) approximately one block away at or near a hydrant. Truck Company can be staged if the initial IC directs them to. There could be for not enough space in front of the building or other reasons.  

Supply line—hose used to connect the engine to the hydrant, engine to an aerial apparatus (ladder truck) or other engines when “relay pumping.”  5” diameter.

Technical Rescue—includes the following disciplines:  rope rescue (low & high angle), confined space, trench, structural collapse, water and dive rescue.

Truck Company—consists of two firefighters (minimum) and responsible for various fire ground tasks—primarily search and rescue; may go directly to aerial operations (using the big ladder or platform). Two trucks are in service at all times with one in reserve that can be staffed during a recall. During storm prep we will “up-staff” the ladder trucks to four firefighters. The sizes of the trucks:  Truck 1 75’ ladder; Truck 3 100’Platform and Reserve Truck 100’ ladder.  Each aerial device has a MSD nozzle at the end for elevated MSD operations. Big fire, …

Ventilation—”good air in, bad air out.” Maybe accomplished in several different ways. Most common for DFD is positive pressure ventilation (PPV). This is a gas-powered fan that pushes air in, and other normal holes (windows, doorways, etc.) allow the smoke and heat escape (have to be open). Rehab 2, Rescue 4, and HazMat 2 have electric (boogey woogey woogey) fans to reduce the CO being pumped in by a gas-powered PPV fan. Vertical ventilation is when a hole is cut in the roof to allow the heat and smoke to escape based on the chimney effect (heat rises).  Think microwave popcorn when it’s done, place your face over the bag then open it.

Share this page