Not to be overly dramatic, but to me, fire attack is combat. Not much different than any other type of fight. My intention is to present an overwhelming force that ends the fight quickly and in my favor. This isn’t to be confused with fighting sports. In the sporting environment, it’s often my turn, your turn, then my turn, and so on. As my favorite defensive instructor says, “In a real fight, it’s my turn, my turn and my turn.” The enemy never gets a chance beyond the ambush! Also, I’ll use any force multiplier available; from technology, to traditional weapons, to improvised weapons that are present in the environment. Once engaged, it’s full throttle until it’s over.
I take that same “my turn” mindset to the fireground. My intent is to take out the fire and secure any victims as quickly as possible. I’ll take every advantage to win that fight that might be available. I’ll use traditional tactics, research-based concepts, experience, any other advantage I can leverage on arrival. And, I’ll be ready to improvise based on the circumstances at that moment. (Seldom does a fight go as planned)
Thus, I am often amused by the interior/exterior fire attack debate. The best weapon to use in any fight is the one you have with you. With research, study and practice, we have the ability to carry multiple weapons to the fireground. I’d use my “long gun” because of its effective range and accuracy. I’d rather engage that enemy before they realize I’m there. I have my side arm as I get in closer, or lose the long gun for some reason. And if that side arm fails too, I have my knife. As I approach a fire, the sooner I can get water into the heated environment, the better. I’ll use the reach of my stream and nozzle selection to engage as soon as possible. But what about “friendly fire,” you say? Both experience and research have shown us that while steam can be “uncomfortable,” a PROPERLY placed fire stream makes conditions better for everyone involved. Can I apply water in a way that can worsen conditions? Sure! So don’t do that. Just like muzzle discipline is key to safe operations, so is proper application of water.
In the combat context, interior vs. exterior is reminiscent of the smooth bore vs. fog debate. Which is similar to the 9mm vs. 45mm round debate. Both are effective rounds with a properly placed shot. Master all of the weapon systems so that you leverage them when appropriate. Those proficient with the 1 3/4,” or the larger, 2 1/2” weapon system can place a effective shot on the enemy from anywhere within its effective range, inside or outside of the building. They understand how to account for the environment and conditions to place an effective kill shot. They are skilled in maneuvering and manipulating these systems. (Nozzle Forward) They also understand that inappropriate use of these systems can have a negative effect and weaken your position. But which fighter is wiser, the one who killed the enemy hand-to-hand and is covered in blood, or the one who fired a round from 100 yards and walked in to take his weapons, ammo?
So, saying interior attack is the only way, is like saying you’ll leave your long gun behind because you don’t like it. Train with the long gun and I’m confident you’ll get good at it. Likewise, the long gun alone won’t do the job either. You’ll have to get up close an personal with the enemy and look him in the eye as you end him. In my mind, no one tactic is necessarily better than the other. They are just different. Each has its place and preference. I’ll use the advantage of distance when I can, and I’ll go close when the situation calls for that. But ultimately, my intention is to win.
It’s too easy to get caught up focusing on 9mm vs. 45mm, 556 vs. 223, smooth vs. fog, interior vs. exterior. All of those tools are effective with the proper application to win the fight, battle and war. It’s your job to master all of them. Sure, you’ll have your preferences, just like we have our favorite “hardware;” but that doesn’t mean we discard the weapons we don’t favor. The wise fighter would focus on their weaknesses so they can leverage all advantages proficiently the next time a fight comes along.
But anyway, Happy Holidays and be safe!