We need to look at the clues and cues of what is happening around us. Is the room that we are operating in showing signs of an impending flashover?
Is the temperature in the compartment that we are operating within increasing by the second? What information is the thermal imaging camera showing us?
This is where the term “Tactical Patience” becomes extremely important!
What Is Tactical Patience?
This term refers to the practice of controlling the environment before it can control us and dictate our tactics. Some might say that there isn’t time to slow down or be patient when we are staring down a working fire with our adrenaline pumping and hearts pounding, but trust me there is!
Recognizing And Implementing YOUR Tactical Patience
Why is it so important for us to recognize the need for tactical patience? How can we as fire officers teach others how to do the same or maybe the more pressing question is; how can we afford not to?
Many of our fires are burning hotter and faster all around us with the current new building construction features designed to fail in so little time; be patient! Flashover is occurring earlier and more violently with the materials producing more energy than years past injuring and or killing us daily; be patient!
How do we employ this tactic?
It starts with developing operational discipline. Avoid the danger of turning into a checklist firefighter.
Always perform a 360 degree walk around when we arrive on scene. Just obtaining a three sided view from the street while still inside the apparatus as we are arriving is not thorough enough. This will give us at least a minute to develop our initial company action plan. We will need to decide if this is a go/no go situation.
There are many clues that we should be looking for such as a flow path, bi-directional flow, and thermal signatures so we can employ tactics such as gas cooling, conditioning and compartment isolation to assist with the fire reaching the decay phase.
Think of taking that window out to obtain lift?
That ventilation point can severely alter the behavior of the fire. Now there is the school of thought that the faster we put water on the fire everything else will get better.
This is a true statement and a sound tactic when done correctly but are we simply performing this because it’s next on the checklist?
The majority of fire behavior that we have learned as firefighters is misunderstood.
What if I told you that our own actions are contributing to flashovers and smoke explosions, would you believe me? If there is no known life hazard in the structure, what is the rush?
Take the extra few minutes to think about the outcome of our actions, anticipate the movement of smoke which is unburned fuel waiting to obtain that right balance and mixture to support flaming combustion.
Fire behavior as we know it is changing rapidly. It is our responsibility to become students of this known phenomenon and learn how to identify and use science to further educate us and ultimately become safer on the fire ground.
Thinking firefighters do it differently! – Chief Shane Ray, South Carolina Fire Academy