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MODERN FIRE BEHAVIOR, SLICE-RS & DICERS-VO

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STRATEGIC (RECEO VS):

R –  Rescue

E –  Exposure

C –  Confine

E –  Extinguish

O –  Overhaul

V – Ventilate

S – Salvage

TACTICAL (SLICE-RS & DICERS-VO):

SLICE-RS

S –  Size-Up

L –  Locate

I –   Isolate the Flow Path

C –  Confine the Fire

E –  Extinguish the Fire

R – Rescue

S – Salvage

DICERS-VO

D – Detect  – Detect the location of the fire

I –  Isolate – Isolation of the fire area

C – Confine – Confinement of the fire.

E – Extinguish – Extinguishment of the fire.

R – Rescue – Rescue of those effected by the fire and smoke.

S – Search – Search of the fire area and adjoining spaces.

V – Ventilation – Ventilation coordinated from within and as needed.

O – Overhaul – Overhaul of the fire area for hidden extension.

The attached video was streamed lived exactly a year ago (4-7-14). This is a great conversation about SLICE-RS and DICERS-VO. Both Lt. McCormack and Chief Buchanan are experienced in the fire service and bring good conversation about the two acronyms. Lt. McCormack highlights great points about re-setting the fire, that pertains to “Mainstream USA” structures (Row-housing, multiple dwellings, brownstones, mixed-use occupancies also known as tax-payer structures). These type of structures present different strategic and tactical approaches. Re-setting the fire from the exterior is not always an a viable option when dealing with these types of structures and its construction. The old style mixed-use occupancies are either ordinary or wood construction with lath and plaster walls, have a basement or cellar present, wood joist floors and have some sort of tin and drop ceilings. These types of structures may also have a series of unprotected openings in the cockloft, truss loft or basement ceilings created from years of years of contractor work or renovation.  Some have light or air shafts which create a flue or opening between the two adjacent buildings, so one must keep in mind presence and location of a shaft when the structure has fire involvement. Failure to identify shafts in a structure from the roof or back side of a structure could potentially lead to severe consequences. Strategies should be focused on the where the fire is and traveling (location and extent) upon arrival, the spread potential of the fire and life hazards, not only in the fire building but also the exposed areas both the floor above the fire and adjacent to the fire building. Fire in these types of structures may not present its self from the yard or be visible upon arrival. So a smart aggressive interior attack or interior re-set of the fire is paramount. Either if your strategy is offensive or offensive-defensive (Interior attack from a protected position used to confining the fire to area of origin while other personnel compliment extinguishing the main body of fire). This is one reason why re-setting the fire in these types of structures is somewhat different and slightly more difficult than what you and I would experience in a typical multi-family or mixed-use occupancy structure in Texas or the southern region of the country. What strategies and tactics are applicable with the FDNY may not work in Texas. What is done in Texas may not work in Portland, Maine or Fairfax or Portsmouth, Virginia and etc.

If you pay visit to some departments across the country, you will see some are beginning to revise their structural firefighting SOG’s or SOP’s to take into account implementing or utilizing SLICE-RS. If you take a moment and read some of the SOG’s or SOP’s they give “order” about cooling the fire from the exterior before making entry into the structure. It is mandatory to “hit it from the yard” before making entry, DO NOT pass up fire without putting it out from the exterior or simply said, entry is not permitted until visible fire from any of the structures orifices is knocked down from exterior. UL and NIST have already put to rest that one cannot simply push fire with a hose stream. So what is the problem here? Firefighters I have spoken to across the country have mixed emotions about always cooling or re-setting the fire from the exterior and think that some agencies may be prematurely incorporating SLICE-RS into an SOG or SOP without the completion of the UL study. Their concern lies with possibly pursuing injury to a trapped occupant or victim when applying an exterior hose stream thus steaming the trapped occupant or victim. The next part of the UL study continues this year (2015), which is going to provide the fire service with scientific based knowledge on the impact of interior and re-setting the fire tactics on firefighter safety and trapped occupants to improve training and decision making on the fire ground. Several fire service specialist and consultants state that putting water on smoke will steam the occupants or victims, all this and more will be examined in detail in the context of today’s modern fire environment to provide credible and up-to-date scientific information that can improve decision making on the fire ground. Just like the previous studies, the upcoming study and research will collect important fire data that includes temperatures, heat flux, flow velocities, differential pressure, gas concentrations, and moisture content throughout the structure.

What is known is that sometimes going interior to cool or reset the fire may be the only option. Don’t get me wrong I am an advocate of the science behind SLICER-RS and DICERS-VO with the option of resetting the fire from the exterior when relevant. Today’s modern fire service is undergoing a transitional process. I am a firm believer with the research that has been and that is currently being produced, the fire ground will become safer while still not losing site on our tactical priorities and objectives. The continuation of scientific data will guide us towards excellence and our goal. That goal is achieved through deliberate planning, conduction of studies, the adaptability to embrace challenges and changes while continuing to seek opportunities to serve and be progressive.

Usually it is the first due front line officers responsibility to make the initial tactical decision. These acronyms should give the officer another tool in their tool box. As the front line officer, one must be smart and stay abreast of current research and data and not fall subject to functional fixity. Improvise; be able to think outside of the box. Be decisive about your decision making, don’t be foolish. Lives are in your hands and as the first in officer your initial actions usually set the tone for the duration of the incident. The fire ground presents many barriers, hazards and is very dynamic in nature.  Do not be opposed to cooling or re-setting the fire from the interior if needed, especially if you are in the rescue mode and have reports of victims trapped. Be aggressive, but be aggressively smart and if needed attack from a protected position like previously stated, remember to utilize a solid or straight stream for you application, this as well goes for re-setting the fire from the exterior. Don’t be afraid while you are advancing the line while interior to open up the nozzle to cool the environment. IT IS OKAY! By doing so you will be cooling the environment, thus preventing any intiment flashover. As a front line officer, you must always keep in mind the “actions of opportunity.” R- Rescue and S- Salvage. These two “letters” are allowed to be placed in any order within the acronym “SLICE-RS” at any time during an incident. This is why they are called actions of opportunity.

Everything we do should be based on “Tactical Priorities.” Some organizations say there 3 Tactical Priorities others say there are 4 Tactical Priorities. Organizations that utilize the 3 tactical priority approach may combine Firefighters and Civilians in the 1st tactical priority  of “Life Safety.” Regardless safety, accountability and welfare of personnel shall be a top priority that continues throughout the duration of an incident:

3 Tactical Priorities:

1st  Life Safety (Firefighters & Civilian)

2nd Incident Stabilization

3rd Property Conservation

4 Tactical Priorities:

1st Firefighter Safety

2nd Civilian Safety

3rd Incident Stabilization

4th Property Conservation

While continually asking and reevaluating the following:

  • Is what we are about to do safe for our firefighters?
  • Are we able to protect or save occupants?
  • Will the results of our activities stabilize the incident(s)?
  • Will we be able to save property through our actions?
  • These must be addressed, in the above order for every incident.

We must consider the Critical Fire Ground Factors at every incident to which we respond. The list is very lengthy and generally situational, but we must consider those factors while not losing sight on the Tactical Priorities:

  • Wind
  • Occupancy
  • Occupied
  • Height
  • Exposures
  • Fire Load
  • Flow Path
  • Manpower
  • Communications
  • Water Supply

Aside from the safety of personnel, “Rescue” of the occupants  is still our “top” objective when it comes to our tactical priorities, always remember you the “responder” or “firefighter” is ultimately number one! Keep yourself safe and don’t become part of the problem. If you become part of the problem you are not helping anyone!

Door Control: Door control is absolutely paramount. Having sufficient or insufficient door control can make or break a structure fire incident. Ensuring door or doors providing access to the fire area are controlled after crews enter the structure. Measures must be taken to prevent the door from closing thus potentially locking once the members have entered the structure. This action controls the flow path from the high pressure fire area to the low pressure area outside of the room of origin (remember bi-directional flow). Door control reduces fire development by limiting the amount of fresh air entering the lower level of the open door, moving towards the seat of the fire. Don’t lose track. Maintaining door control is one of the main things to remember when utilizing SLICE-RS or DICERS-VO.

Lt. McCormack said it best; use both acronyms to decide what your fire attack will be.

Fire Engineering Editor-in-Chief Bobby Halton brought up a lot of valid and key points. SLAP CHOP is a good acronym to use if it works for you. Try them all see what is best fitting for your organization and train in simulation, train to build better decision makers so it becomes second nature on the fire ground. Don’t lose sight of RECEO- VS. This is still a valid acronym that has been around the fire service for years. If you are not to use it for your tactical approach use it for your strategic approach, from a command perspective. It certainly has its place on the fire ground.

Since I have been with my department I have experienced 12 LODD’s within the organization, 9 of these LODD’s were lives lost during a fire fight. I know the profession of firefighting is dangerous and comes with a lot of risk, but there comes a time when tactics have to be re-evaluated while embracing the basics of firefighting. Building construction and products are changing all around us, so why not look at a change in tactics? Change surely won’t happen overnight and I don’t expect it to. I encourage you to read case studies and lessons learned on previous NIOSH LODD reports. Stay abreast of current UL, NIST, ISFSI research, data and information. Doing so for me has been a catalyst to be smarter and progressive in the way I look at fire behavior and attack the fire. There is such a thing of being aggressively smart. Be a role model for the younger generation in the fire service. Change is intimate regardless if one likes it or not, so embrace it and learn.

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