Original Post found at: http://community.fireengineering.com/m/blogpost?id=1219672%3ABlogPost%3A620734
I am not known to be big Civil war or military buff. However, after my non-war time enlistment in the U.S.-ARNG including boot camp in FT Knox and advanced training to become an infantry medic I have been in awe at the comparisons between the fire service and the military’s comparison.
I had a conversation with a civil war buff who offered me the following to comparisons between the fire service and the Civil War. He indicated today’s work on research based tactics must but be a priority to be successful, aggressive, smart firefighters who decrease line of duty deaths (LODD’s) and save more civilians and propriety in the process.
Here is what I learned from him that compares today’s fire service to the Civil War.
The Union and Confederate armies suffered more than 51,000 casualties in the 3 days of battle at Gettysburg, PA. The appalling losses were attributed to armies using 18th century tactics against 19th century armaments, especially muskets with rifled barrels.
18th century tactics, like those used during America’s Revolutionary War, centered around lines of soldiers attacking each other in open fields. 18th century muskets used round balls shot from smooth barrels – bullets acted like knuckle balls in baseball – the person firing had little assurance of accuracy. “Mini-ball” equipped muskets were accurate only within 10s of feet.
With the development of the rifled barrel – grooved to spin a bullet so it would “drill” thru air, the accuracy of guns improved dramatically. Rifles could now consistently kill someone hundreds of yards away.
When Civil War armies sent waves of soldiers marching in line (that is, employing 100-year-old tactics) against soldiers, especially those dug in or behind walls, armed with muskets with rifled barrels (and later “repeating” rifles that quickly reloaded), the results were predictably (or should have been predictable) slaughters.
In Picket’s Charge, for example, Confederate soldiers marched nearly a mile across open fields onto a Union army armed with rifles and dug in on a ridge. The marchers became “fish in a barrel” for Union soldiers and their rifles.
Fire officers who employ tactics from the 50s, 60s, and 70’s against 21st century building construction and furnishings make similar mistakes as those Civil War generals, as we’ve discussed. When we deploy those tactics the results are just as predictable.
As they say in risk management: “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable!”
We would be appalled to use SCBA’s, apparatus or protective equipment as pictured above today. Unfortunately, there are some who feel its acceptable to use outdated tactics because they have always worked before. The 1924 Seagrave pumper shown above still pumps like a champ! However, it was replaced many years ago with apparatus that was up to date and more efficient for the fireground.