Pushing Fire Revisited

In my opinion the topic of “Pushing fire with water” is the single greatest piece of fire attack research which has been communicated poorly or misunderstood. UL is elaborating greatly and providing much better context/more clearly stated material for us to understand the early studies. If you have heard the phrase “you can’t push fire with water” don’t stop at this result or statement. There is much more to the story.


Do not take a snippet of information and tailor your training programs to provide the “latest fire attack research and recommendations”. Firefighters have a habit of taking research results (from multiple disciplines) and applying them to training exercises without context. That being said UL is also to blame for this miscommunication. Firefighters typically do not separate their discussions of water application and air entrainment during training. For many firefighters these are one in the same. Even though different patterns yield different results, some create more air entrainment and others much mess, there is no on/off switch to turn the air off at the nozzle.

Firefighters need to understand context, they need to understand the background and significance of these research projects. Reading the first and last paragraph of a 100 page research paper doesn’t provide you with a good foundation. It gives you results without context. To communicate as an instructor you need context and to translate that information into training and drills you need to understand the background and significance of these processes. Without context your drill becomes a training exercise prepped to fail. Adult learning typically happens in phases. 1. Rite, 2. Understanding, 3. Application, and 4. Correlation. Students participating in a drill need to get to the application phase and instructors need to live in the correlation phase. At the beginning of basic training we learn through Rite or memorization. We don’t quite grasp where or why and we have a hard time applying the skills during the initial phases of training. Once a student understands the skills we can apply those skills which provides a much better outcome. Skipping steps will only lead to confusion in the training process. Aaron Fields and I had a discussion one time and he provided me with a great teaching tool. He said, “If you have a student that says [I don’t see where this fits] you have missed the application phase of learning.” The student doesn’t understand how to apply the skill.

Lastly, just because you read it, watch it, or listen to it doesn’t mean it isn’t flawed. Research projects are very difficult to construct without some flaws. Most applied research projects literally have a section in the paper which explains the problems or flaws that might’ve occurred during the process. Make your drills purposeful, give them context, and your crews will perform at a much higher level. Follow the link below to understand this topic in much more detail. 



Training at the Crossroads | HIGHLIGHT VIDEO

We had a great time in Corinth, MS at the 2019 Training at the Crossroads. I teamed up with the guys from Dixie Firemanship to deliver an Engine Ops course over the weekend. The event provided Engine Ops Training, Truck Ops Training, and even Hazardous Materials Training. We had a great group of attendees and I hope to see everyone again. If you’re interested in hosting an event yourself fell free to contact me or the guys at Dixie Firemanship to schedule the next Engine and Truck Ops training event.

Fire Flows from High Pressure to Low Pressure

Great fundamental fire behavior concepts from the Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI). Understanding how fire and gases travel from areas of high pressure towards low pressure will enable you to make better decisions on the fire-ground. The video above is provided by the FSRI. If you would like more information from them you can click here to visit their website or click here to visit their YouTube channel. 

Heat Release Rate vs. Temperature

A topic I discuss very often in classes is the difference between Heat Release Rate and Temperature. This is a fundamental concept all firefighters need to understand in order to make sound decisions on the fireground. We all seem to grasp the reference of temperature very quickly because of how much we rely on temperatures in daily life. However, a candle on fire and a room on fire are two completely different things even if they are burning at the same temperature. The video above offers a very good introduction to the basics of heat release rate and temperature. This video is produced by the Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) and they have many more videos and resources available for you to learn about fire research and science. You can click here to visit the FSRI website or you can click here to visit their YouTube Channel.

5 Fundamental Plays for the Engine Company

Early in my career the fire scene felt like a chaotic place. Every fire looked different and offered unique challenges. As I developed more skills and learned more about incident management and fire attack concepts I realized that the vast majority of the fires we respond to are much more similar than they are different. In order to more effectively evaluate the engine company and the types of attacks we perform let us take a look at 5 fundamental plays for the Engine Company. 

1. The Pre-Connected Attack

The Pre-Connected Attack is the most used line on our Engines. This line is a predetermined length and size hose-line that is connected to a discharge. Most of the time these lines are setup for your department's most common occupancy types. The most common pre-connected attack line I see is the 200' 1.75" hand-line. The pre-connected attack line offers many advantages including a predetermined flow requirement and length. The pre-connected line provides firefighters with a quick solution for the majority of fires they will fight. However, the pre-connected line can also develop bad habits. Many firefighters pull the pre-connect on every fire regardless if the fire is large or more complex.

2. The Extended Attack

The extended attack is something every engine should have the ability to perform. In the simplest form, the extended attack is simply for attacking fires that are out of reach of your pre-connected lines. The extended attack is very good for long set-backs, apartment complexes, narrow alleys, and providing you with a flexible solution for a multitude of fires. 

3. The Big Line

The big line is for fires with heavier fire loads. This style of attack comes typically in the form of a 2.5" hand-line. This attack method increases the flow rate for fires with more energy.

4. The Blitz Attack

A blitz attack can be defined in two different ways. In some parts of the country a blitz attack would be a 2.5" hand-line but in others it may be a rapid attack style monitor. Regardless of the tool used, this method is designed to "Blitz" a fire with a lot of water during the initial stages of fire attack. Many crews will perform a blitz attack with larger lines and then transition to smaller attack lines like the 1.75".

5. The Master Stream Attack

Often viewed as a defensive operation, the master stream attack is for throwing a lot of water at a fire very quickly. This method of fire attack works really well for building that have a detached section with heavy fire. For example, a detached garage may produce a tremendous amount of heat energy that a smaller attack line simply cannot handle. A master stream can flow around 500 gallons of water at a fire in only 30 seconds. This can knock down a lot of heat energy for you to transition to your smaller attack lines. Detroit performs this attack method very often and they refer to it as "dumping the monitor". 


Take a look at the video and evaluate your ability as an engine company to perform these styles of fire attack. This is a great time to sit with your crew and discuss your ability to perform these plays. 

How to go to FDIC on the Cheap


How to go to FDIC on the Cheap? FDICThe easiest way to go to FDIC and not break the bank is to only attend the exhibits. The exhibits at FDIC are pretty incredible. It can take days just to see everything on the floor. A lot of firefighters do not see any educational value in going to see the exhibits but the reality is there are many subject matter experts at nearly every booth waiting to answer any questions you have. I highly recommend getting a group together and staying in a hotel outside the downtown area. You just commute into the downtown area each day and enjoy the show. If you see us on the floor stop and say hello.

For registration information CLICK HERE.



You can watch the video below to learn more:


How to Label Sides of a Structure


Over the years we have seen several different methods of labeling sides of a structure. They range from numerical to alphabetical and even by compass heading. However, it does not matter which way you choose to label sides of a building if the companies arriving label the sides differently. If the first arriving company does not establish their location and side, the incoming companies can easily become confused and disoriented. The best practice right now is to label the sides of a structure alphabetically in a clockwise fashion. Some firefighters will tell you the Alpha side would be the address or street side and you would label the remaining sides after that determination. This can become a major problem if you arrive on scene with a building that is oddly shaped or lands in the middle of a parking lot where there is no clear "address side".

In the video below we will clarify how to properly label and identify sides of a structure. We will also show a couple of examples where labeling the side by the initial arriving company is of the utmost importance.


Understanding the Time-Temperature Curve


The Time-Temperature Curve is something that we have seen in textbooks for many years. Many people do not know that the original time-temperature curve dates back to around 1908. The graph depicts the stages of fire growth in time showing how temperature increases and decreases throughout the stages of development. Due to research on modern fire behavior we now use a different style time-temperature curve. The new time-temp curve shows something called ventilation limited conditions which depicts how temperature will drop due to the limited oxygen rather than the limited fuel. This is a common occurrence in modern fires due to newer construction techniques and newer products which provide much more fuel for combustion.

Take a look at the video below which will explain the differences in the two time-temp curves. We will also explain the differences between fuel limited and vent limited fires.


Bernoulli's Principle Applied to Firefighting | Box Alarm Training


Bernoulli's Principle is not the first thing that comes to our minds when discussing firefighting tactics. However, it directly affects many of our operations. In fire behavior courses we learn about how fire will travel from areas of high pressure to areas of lower pressure. This is the basis of understanding how ventilation and flow paths work. Before we discuss Bernoulli's Principle and how it applies to our tactics let's look at a couple of fireground operations that are affected by Bernoulli's Principle.

Traditional Ventilation

You were probably taught that ventilation was the systematic removal of hot gases, smoke, etc.  This definition led to a general misunderstanding of what ventilation actually does inside of a structure. Discussions in classes often communicated that ventilation cools things down and makes our operations easier. The discussion deserves a little more time in order to clarify. Modern fires are generally limited by ventilation and not fuel. This means that when we ventilate things actually heat up, they do not cool down. However, traditional ventilation still offers many advantages, like controlling the flow path or creating lift from low areas. These are often huge topics presented by firefighters because lifting gases can increase victim survivability.  In general when we ventilate a structure we are creating an area of low pressure for the fire to travel to and exit. When we break a window typically the fire will move toward the window you just broke. However, if the window is broken revealing a higher pressure area outside, such as a wind driven fire, you will be opening a new inlet for air to move into the structure. This can cause the fire to travel to another outlet and in many cases creates a very dangerous environment for crews working inside of the structure.

Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPA)

Positive Pressure Ventilation attempts to create a significantly higher pressure area inside the structure than outside of the structure. This will force fire and gases out of the structure as they seek areas of lower pressure. This can also create problems by forcefully pushing gases and fire into void spaces that are difficult to detect. Many departments all over the United States use positive pressure successfully but these departments also understand some of the concerns with using positive pressure. Once a fire leaves a confined area, such as a bedroom, positive pressure can create a chase for the fire attack team. The fire will rapidly seek low pressure and can outrun an interior fire attack crew very quickly.

Nozzle Operations

When we use our nozzle we are not only flowing water, we are flowing air. This air can create areas of higher pressure just like positive pressure fans and cause fire to travel towards areas of lower pressure. A nozzle can very quickly over pressurize a room causing the exhaust to push back on the fire attack team.

Bernoulli's Principle

Bernoulli's Principle states "an increase in the velocity of a stream of fluid results in a decrease in pressure". Water flowing from a nozzle will create an area of low pressure and draw even more air into the area you are directing the stream. This is significant when fighting fires in under ventilated spaces or flowing water into a structure from the exterior.

In the video below we will discuss Bernoulli's Principle and how it relates to fire attack concepts.


Drones for the Fire Service | Part 2 and 3 | Getting Started


Drones are growing increasingly popular as tools for firefighters and emergency responders. Getting started into drone operations can be very difficult without the guidance of someone who knows the process. This new technology grabs the attention of many of us in the field and we immediately see all the ways we could start using them. However, within a couple hours of shopping for the latest and greatest drone, our dreams are shattered by rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). I have personally experienced these processes and I believe I can help you move in the right direction. My initial reactions to the FAA rules and regulations were negative. I had a hard time understanding how a kid could receive a drone as a birthday present and fly it that afternoon but we couldn't perform search and rescue operations with the exact same drone. While I still have my opinions about certain operations, I understand why the FAA created these regulations and how important they are in order to integrate drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).

In the two videos below I will cover the two primary routes to take when establishing a fire service drone program. These two routes both allow you to fly for many emergency operations and each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. The first is Part 107 which is the commercial drone operations certificate. This certificate allows you to perform many different operations but requires you to take and pass the Part 107 exam. The second method is to apply for a Public Certificate of Authorization (COA) which will allow your fire department to operate a drone for public operations.

Part 107 Getting Started


Public COA Getting Started


Preparing to Teach as a New Instructor | Box Alarm Training


You find yourself as a new instructor trying to deliver training at the fire house. This is not an easy task when you are first getting started. Many new instructors have a good idea about the topic they want to cover or the techniques they want to teach but lack a good plan to deliver the material so that the firefighters understand. If we walk into a training session unprepared our fellow firefighters will see it from a mile away. In order to help out new instructors we put together a short video discussing some basic teaching principles. Something a good friend of mine taught me years ago was a very simple structure for delivering instruction:

  1. Tell them what you are about to tell them
  2. Tell them
  3. Tell them what you told them

This is very basic concept and forces your instruction to have a beginning, middle and an end. However, we can take this a step further and look at a four step teaching method below:

TELL = Explain Theory

SHOW = Demonstrate Skills

DO = Practice those Skills

APPLY = Provide a practical application and assessment method for the skills taught

Personally I believe all instructors should explain the "why's" first. This provides firefighters with a reason for understanding the upcoming concepts or skills. Once we have given our firefighters a reason for training it will be much easier to provide the solutions or skills that address the "why's".

In the video below I will cover these basic instructional processes.


Introduction to Drone Operations


Drone operations have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years for firefighters and emergency responders. They offer tremendous value for search and rescue operations, hazardous materials responses, and even structural firefighting. In this Introduction to Drone Operations we will go over the three primary categories of flying a drone. These categories are provided by the FAA and define the flight you will be conducting. We will also go over the registration process so you can get your drone properly registered.

Categories of Flight

In order to conduct drone operations you need to define your flight operations. The most common categories of flights for drones are listed below:

  • Recreational
  • Commercial
  • Public

In the video below we explain these categories of flight and how they are defined.

Register Your Drone

Any drone that is between .55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA. If you are considering performing commercial operations or public operations you must register the drone as a commercial drone. You cannot commercially or publicly operate a drone with a recreational registration number. I explain more in the video below. You can CLICK HERE to go to the registration site for your drone.


Determining Flow Through Nozzle Reaction


Determining Flow Through Nozzle Reaction

Recently I completed my first year of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy. If you are unfamiliar with the EFO program you must submit an Applied Research Project (ARP) for each year during the process. I wanted my ARP to identify a unique problem that really hasn't been discussed much in order to provide the fire service with some new information regarding the way we train firefighters to operate the nozzle during interior fire attack operations.

During my time as a firefighter and instructor I have noticed very few firefighters actually pay attention to the amount of water they are delivering at the nozzle. They just take it for granted that the water leaving the nozzle is what it is "supposed to be". During early stages of Driver Operator training we learn about friction loss and proper pump discharge pressure in order to achieve the proper nozzle pressure which in turn delivers the target flow we need. However, no one really discusses what happens at the nozzle and whether or not the firefighter can actually feel the difference in flow to know if something isn't operating correctly. We tend to look at nozzle reaction as a theoretical math problem instead of a tool we could use to identify problems that occur on the fire-ground.

The first step involved in this research process was to determine if there actually is a problem. A problem with curriculum, training, or even drills that have left the firefighter unprepared. My first ARP was to identify this problem so that in subsequent ARPs I could address solutions to this problem. However, I have tested some solutions and we are already seeing a trend which I believe can better prepare interior firefighters.

In the first ARP I tested an NFPA 1001-I-II class in their final week of training to see if they were able to identify critical reductions in flow. The results showed that 46% of the students were unable to detect a 25% reduction in flow using nozzle reaction. This test reduced a 125gpm @ 100psi nozzle by 25% simulating a 180 degree kink which could occur on the fire-ground. This 25% reduction drops the flow of the nozzle to around 94gpm which is below the recommended flow rate in NFPA 1710.

I believe my results show that we could do more to train firefighters working on the nozzle to identify potential problems. That being said we performed the same test to a group of students that just finished a week long advanced Engine Company Operations course and we found that 90% of our students detected a 10% reduction in flow. These firefighters received training in several nozzle operation techniques and performed a very high number of repetitions throughout their week of training. The feedback we received from the course was very positive and the firefighters that participated felt like they truly refined their skill sets.

I have provided a short video discussing these results and some recommendations I have for training your firefighters to identify critical reductions in flow. If you would like to read the full ARP you can CLICK HERE to read all of the details.


Nozzle Air Entrainment - The Cause and Effect


We have recently produced a video series discussing Nozzle Air Entrainment for firefighters. In this series we took a look at 3 pairs of tests for a total of 6 videos. In this video we take an in depth look at nozzle air entrainment and hope this overall instructional video sheds a little light on the topic. Remember, you can reference the other test videos by viewing them in the overall Nozzle Air Entrainment Playlist. We will provide that playlist at the bottom of this article, but you will also be able to find the playlist on our website by clicking here or on our YouTube channel.

Nozzle Air Entrainment - The Cause and Effect


If you missed the other videos you can find them in our playlist below:


Nozzle Air Entrainment Round 3 - Video Series


This is the third round of videos in our Nozzle Air Entrainment Video Series. In this round of test videos we will look at interior ventilated attacks with both the fog nozzle and the smoothbore nozzle. If you haven't seen the first or second round of tests you can view them by clicking here: First Round, Second Round

TEST 5 - Fog Nozzle Ventilated Attack


TEST 6 - Smoothbore Nozzle Ventilated Attack


Thank you for watching. Keep an eye out for the next video in this series which will recap all the test and review the nozzle types and attack methods. We will also include some thermal imaging footage during some test burns. If you would like to view the entire playlist on YouTube you can view it below:

The Entire Nozzle Air Entrainment Playlist:


True Hose Spec Push 2016


Flow DailyFor many of us we find ourselves slipping into conversations that have to do with firemanship, passion, commitment, tactics and change. If any of those describe you, it is time to make a push. Dennis LeGear from LeGear Engineering F.D. Consulting has been making waves with many ideas such as the 1 3/16" nozzle and the potential for making a true hose spec built for purpose. The True Hose Spec Project is an effort to manufacture hose with true internal diameter which will greatly benefit all of us by reducing hose whip, kinking, elongation and many other problems associated with "swelled" diameter hose.

So, how can you help? Dennis needs support for this project and wants to show the manufacturers that all of us desperately need a better hose spec. All you have to do is go to the link below and fill out the form. He will take this information straight to the manufacturers to continue the push for True Hose Spec.



Nozzle Air Entrainment Round 2 - Video Series


This is the second round of videos from our Nozzle Air Entrainment Video Series. In these two videos we will look at the interior attack of a vent limited situation. This will give you a good idea of how a nozzle can over pressurize a space regardless of fire or heat. This is simply air entrainment causing this over pressurization. We will use two videos, one for the smoothbore and one for the fog nozzle. This will pick up where we left off with Tests 1 & 2. If you haven't seen the first two tests click here to watch those videos.

TEST 3 - Fog Nozzle Interior Attack Vent Limited


TEST 4 - Smoothbore Nozzle Interior Attack Vent Limited


Thank you for watching and keep an eye out for the next round of videos. We still have two more experiments to go and will release those next week.

If you would like to view all of the videos in the video series you can see them below in our playlist:

Entire Nozzle Air Entrainment Playlist


Nozzle Air Entrainment - Video Series


Today we have released the beginning of a 7 part video series on Nozzle Air Entrainment. These videos will walk through some of the basic concepts of nozzle air entrainment and how you can deliver some hands-on practical drills demonstrating air entrainment with various nozzle types. We will release all of these videos over the next few weeks so keep an eye out as we move along. You will see below Test 1 and 2 which will begin our video series.


Test 1 is an exterior attack through a window using a fog nozzle. We will begin the attack with a straight stream directed at the ceiling and then move the pattern through 30 degrees and towards full fog. You will see a drastic increase in air entrainment as we change the pattern of the nozzle. This fog nozzle was flowing 125 GPM at 100 psi nozzle pressure.


Test 2

Test 2 is the same test but we are using a 7/8" smoothbore nozzle. You will see a decrease in the air entrainment even with the increase in flow. This 7/8" tip was flowing 160 GPM at 50 psi nozzle pressure.


You will see several more of these tests coming out over the next few weeks. The next tests include interior attacks both ventilated and non ventilated.

If you would like to view all of the videos in the video series you can see them below in our playlist:

Entire Nozzle Air Entrainment Playlist


Halligan Tuning Guide - Search and Destroy Training


S&D LogoMany of you probably saw this guide floating around on Facebook but this is by far one of the best tool guides I have ever seen. This piece of work does not surprise me because it came from Search and Destroy Training. S&D has been my go to for tools and questions regarding their specifics. They have graciously provided us with a pdf version of the guide for you all to use. You can find the guide below but we also wanted to provide you with several other links to get to their training resources. Search and Destroy's Website

Search and Destroy on YouTube

Search and Destroy on Facebook


Halligan Tuning Guide Photo

S&D Tool Flier

Tricks of the Trade


One of the unfortunate short-comings of the U.S. fire and rescue services is the lack of central location for information and media on tools, techniques, and tactics. Standing around 1.2 million firefighters strong, much information remains in cliques, fringe groups, regionalized, or even within a select few organizations. It is almost tragic, that there is not a one-stop resource for all things under a fire-rescue related topic. In my rescue circles, I have found my “go-to” resources of information. Rope rescue for example- as big a topic as rope rescue is, at its heart- there are relatively few authors, instructors, and innovators putting out original content. From the 1980s to now, there are probably less than two dozen names of noteworthy recognition. Even a smaller group of those have a fire-rescue background. We have put together a video below discussing this very topic as well as an included trick of the trade we picked up along the way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XsFDJ0CBgQ

If I were to start with all things rope, I would first gather around six or more major texts. Then I would start sorting through periodicals at the National Emergency Training Center Learning Resource Center(LRC). The LRC at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg MD, is the closest thing to a centrally located library for the fire service. They have a host of librarians that offer research assistance and will be happy to copy or send you material on interlibrary loan. You can search the library through their website. This would yield periodicals dealing with rope rescue such as Fire Rescue Magazine, Fire Engineering, Technical Rescue Magazine, the National Speleological Society Vertical Section, and old NASAR publications.

These sources have some great authors and will show you the history of modern rescue. But if you really want to geek-out and get in the weeds- you have got to study the material coming out of the International Technical Rescue Symposium(ITRS). Here you can study many works from the O.G.s of rescue. Dill, Larson, Hudson, Frank, Thorne, Vines, Mauthner, Smith, Padgette, and more all reside here. This annual symposium is limited to 150 participants, has 15-20 presenters, and it is here that information and research gets its peer-reviewed acid test before it goes mainstream. In order to take your research beyond this level, you probably have to talk to the “original gangstas” themselves or perform original research on your own. . .

SurveyThere is a huge need to capture some of this institutional knowledge before key organizational members hang up their gear for the last time. Regional barriers that prevent the spread of life-saving information must be overcome. We need platforms to share a disseminate tools, techniques, and tricks of the trade. One of these areas that seems very regionalized is heavy rescue. What is a trick that makes your life easier and no one seems to know about it, but your team? Do you have method for running a breaching tool that saves time and maintenance? Is there a new tool that you found closes a capability gap? Have you learned new tricks from an old tool- such as the Griphoist? As US&R teams immerse themselves in flood and swiftwater rescues, do you have a lesson that can save future lives? We want to collect these ideas from all walks of technical rescue and share it with the community. Fill out all the information in the Training Bulletin survey and share with others. We will take top tips and post them here on BoxalarmTraining. Additionally, we are looking for tips and trick that could be share with the National US&R System. If pertinent and valuable, your content could appear in classes or the US&R Field Operations Guide(FOG). We may contact you for more pictures or clarifications. Credit will be given and cited and intellectual property will be honored. We are looking to foster a since of sharing of rescue knowledge- especially when seconds and lives matter.