Getting “back” to the “rear”…

Whatever you call it on your fire-ground; the “Charlie Sector”, “Side 3”, “the rear”, “out-back”….it does not matter to me.  And, to the point of this post, it really doesn’t matter at all (this isnt a NIMS exercise). What does matter is that someone, must get to the rear.  

Because we normally operate with our rigs, hose, and personnel coming from the street side of most buildings, the rear is usually not given a high priority.  Often it is not addressed until much later into the fire operation.  Many times however, what is…. or is not…. going on in the rear will have a major impact on operations.

The member sent (whether it is an fireman, officer, or a complete company) has to size up the rear and communicate the information.  When you get there YOU MUST….. calmly, concisely, and completely relay what may be or become critical information Before you key that mic, stop, take a breath, formulate your thoughts.  Commanders and operating units must listen up for this report…. this information may have a huge impact on overall operations.

What are some of these critical information points?  Here are a few that I think are valid:  

~Life Hazards: Is there and obvious life hazard not seen from the front, a person at a window, a jumper in the rear yard? Immediate action will be necessary!!

Exposure problem?

~Fire/Smoke:  Where is it showing?  What does it look like?  Is the fire advancing?  Is it venting?  Is it extending?  

~Building Grade:  Are there more/less floors due to changes in topography?  Is there a walkout basement? No basement?  Do we need longer portable ladders (35′) to get to the upper floor for VES?  

~Access/Egress:  Private Dwellings:  is there below grade/at grade access or is there no access from the rear at this fire?  Bilco doors?  Casement widows?  BARS?  Multiple Dwellings: No fire escapes on the rear?  Party wall fire escapes?  BARS?  Gates on windows?

Getting “back” to the “rear”:…  get there early on in the fire, get the info, get the info out…. What and how you describe what is going on in the rear will provide the IC and other operating units a clearer picture of the overall operation.  Stay safe…


4 Responses

  1. Another Big thing that I see missed a lot of the times are ladders to the rear. Everyone throws them on the street side and thats it. Looks good in the pictures but does the people inside no good when they are working on the back side and need to bail.

  2. And bring water!

  3. Mr. Rayner: Water does indeed solve just about all the problems at a fire.

    My only hesitation or concern with water to the rear lies in communication. We do not want to wind up with opposing handlines or an inside engine company roasted as you push the fire and heated gasses on them as they are moving in from the front.
    Just because fire is showing in the rear, you cannot arbitrarily go and start flowing water, just because you have a line there! Fire out a window is good, its is releasing its energy, smoke, heated gasses to the environment….let it blow, let the brothers get it from the inside. If it is extending up the exterior siding, sweep the building walls and let the water run down DO NOT push the fire back in on the advancing and searching teams!!!!
    If you are going to let that line from the rear take the fire (due to easier access, topography, etc) YOU MUST COMMUNICATE IT TO ALL MEMBERS ON THE FIREGROUND!!!!

  4. Remember, the reason you, as the first engine company officer, are looking at the rear is to fully know your opponant and what he may have in store for you. I perfer seeing the conditons myself so I can quickley decide if this fire is “do-able” from an interior attack. This “do-able ” decision is based on many instant pieces of information that is gain by the picture in the rear, or any side for that matter, and your ability to get in and stop it in a timely manner. Too big, too much or too late should stop even the best trained and aggressive companies, and that will be your decsion as you hustle back to the front and your waiting hose crew.

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