Tactical Deployment & Command

The most Common Causal Factors of Traumatic Firefighter Life Losses are -

  • Lack of Incident Command from the first response onwards

  • Inadequate Risk Assessment

  • Lack of Accountability or SCBA Air Management (BA Control)

  • Inadequate Communication

  • Inadequate or ineffective SOPs

  • Lack of Situational Awareness

'The shifting paradigms of the fire service, over 1484 LODD (US Firefighter life losses) in the period of 1999-2009, evolved building construction, occupancies, construction and materials, fire behavior, fire loading, community profiles, fire dynamics, risk, staffing and resource levels, personnel and skills sets…

Aggressive: Assertive, bold, and energetic, forceful, determined, confident, marked by driving forceful energy or initiative, marked by combative readiness, assured, direct, dominate…

Measured: Calculated; deliberate, careful; restrained, think, considered, confident, alternatives, reasoned actions, in control, self assured, calm…

What’s the optimum definition that would define a highly skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated firefighter in 2009? Where do you fit in? . . . . '

Chris Naum May 2009

Firefighter Life Losses on the Increase
In 1999 the website's and were established as information portals for firefighters. The purpose of these websites were to raise attention and increase awareness to the ever increasing risks posed to firefighters globally. As prescriptive fire code enforcement and fire engineered solutions make our homes and workplaces relatively safer and the number of structure fires reduces, the levels of fire-ground experience amongst serving fire officers diminishes by each generation.

In order to counter this effect it became necessary to increase and improve tactical and command training for firefighters. However, in the USA, Europe and most other countries this transition in replacing hard earned fire-ground experience with advanced training failed to take place. Although the number of building fires are reducing we now have a situation where the death rate amongst firefighters (traumatic life losses versus the number of building fires) is spiraling to the highest levels for thirty years. This trend is clearly seen through statistics both in the USA and the UK.

This website has not only campaigned for ten years for improvements in firefighter training and safety but has further pioneered various tactical and command training for firefighters, introducing new and innovative training and operational concepts such as -

  • Tactical Ventilation

  • 3D Firefighting (Gas-phase .v. Fuel phase firefighting)

  • Compartment Fire Behavior Training (CFBT & 'Flashover' Training)

  • Proactive High-rise Firefighting Tactics (reducing intervention times)

  • Minimum Tactical & Critical Firefighting (water) Flow-rate Requirements

  • Optimizing Limited Resources/Staffing using Critical Task Analysis

  • Tactical Command Decision Making 

LOOK!! Review Paul Grimwood's latest book EURO-FIREFIGHTER HERE


Systemic Failure
Various tactical and command failings have directly evolved from a triangle of complacency that is rife throughout the Fire Service. The result has been catastrophic system failure in numerous situations that have ended in tragedy. This issue is at the very root of the vast majority of traumatic fire-ground deaths and injuries amongst firefighters.

1. Lack of firefighting experience
2. Inadequate firefighter and command training
3. Complacency (Lack of discipline)

Whilst not every firefighter life loss is caused through direct strategic or tactical errors, here are some of the most common tactical failings that lead to firefighters injuries and Line Of Duty Deaths, over and over again!
  • Failure to confine the fire until a charged hose-line is in place
  • Failure to deploy resources effectively
  • Failure to provide adequate flow-rate at the primary attack nozzle
  • Failure to effectively brief crews prior to deployment
  • Deviation from documented operating procedure without good reason
  • Failure to implement tactical venting actions in the right place at the right time
  • Failure to provide a back-up support hose-line
  • Failure to communicate effectively
  • Failure to apply safe BA working practices
  • Failure to undertake effective search patterns
  • Failure to establish a tactical mode (offensive/defensive) at the outset
  • Failure to maintain team integrity (work with a buddy and keep together)
  • Failure to establish effective command & control from the outset

There are now several other excellent website resources dedicated to the aim of reducing firefighter life losses and we will not hesitate to place links to them below. Please take some time to research the content on this website and at the other excellent web resources as the information provided is absolutely critical to keeping your firefighters alive! 

One thing is certain in the global fire service and that is that we are very good at repeating the same tactical errors over and over again and this failing is contributing unnecessarily to further firefighter life losses.


'Too much safety makes Johnny a poor leader and a terrible rescuer' ... said Lt. McCormack. He went on to say that firefighters are being taught to place their own safety above all else, saying that the lives of civilians could be put at risk because of this.

I would simply say to Lt. McCormack (FDNY) that he is wrong! Firefighter safety is all about being calm, controlled and taking sensible precautions or implementing risk control measures. Its about following procedure or making sure where procedure cannot be followed that essential fire-ground needs are met. Firefighter safety is about effective deployment of resources and staffing, especially where resources are limited. It's a fact that the vast majority of Line of Duty Firefighter Deaths (LODD) are NOT down to fate or destiny. More likely that a lack of tactical and command training is the root cause. Take a good look at this web-page/website and see what safety means in real terms. If firefighters rush in past a first floor fire and advance to the floor above to search, but fail to close a door that might keep the spread of fire and smoke in check they may not live to fight another fire. Mr McCormack has missed the point in that clearly so many tragic LODD are preventable and making firefighter safety as a primary consideration is not about staying outside until the fire is out but more about taking the most effective option to achieve the best outcome - Paul Grimwood DEBATE HERE


High-rise Firefighting 2009
In January 2009 Paul Grimwood presented a paper on new command and response techniques, aimed at reducing fire service intervention times at high-rise tower fires, at the INTERSEC conference in Dubai, UAE. This conference paper is now available HERE

In November of 2008 Paul was in Kuala Lumpur for the purposes of training and assisting a squad of specialist high-rise firefighting instructors in upgrading the city's high-rise procedures. The transition to a new 'proactive' command system ensures that limited crew deployments are optimized in order to reduce reflex and intervention times, allowing a more rapid response to the fire floor; a continual flow of water onto the fire and rapid deployment of secondary search teams to clear all locations within a tall building of remaining occupants.