The essence of fire service suppression operations is predicated upon the deployment and application of water as an extinguishing agent, in sufficient quantities, location and duration to extinguish a fire within an enclosed structural compartment. The universal engine company correlation of: “putting the wet stuff on the red stuff” is fundamental to structural fire suppression operations but is ambiguous at best in the context of today’s modern building construction, occupancies, structural systems and building features.
We used to discern with a measured degree of predictability, how buildings would perform, react and fail under most fire conditions. Implementing fundamentals of firefighting and engine company operations built upon eight decades of time tested and experience proven strategies and tactics continues to be the model of suppression operations. These same fundamental strategies continue to drive methodologies and curriculums in our current training programs and academies of instructions.
The lack of appreciation and the understanding of correlating principles involving fire behavior, fuel and rate of heat release and the growth stages of compartment fires within a structural occupancy are the defining paths from which the fire service must reexamine engine company operations in order to identify with the predictability of occupancy performance during fire suppression operations thus increasing suppression effectiveness and firefighter safety.
Our buildings have changed; the structural systems of support, the degree of compartmentation, the characteristics of materials and the magnitude of fire loading. The structural anatomy, predictability of building performance under fire conditions, structural integrity and the extreme fire behavior; accelerated growth rate and intensively levels typically encountered in buildings of modern construction during initial and sustained fire suppression have given new meaning to the term combat fire engagement.