Combat Ready Firefighting

Number 1.Side Adam.SubmittalThis interactive, multi-media based presentation will discuss the presence and effects of complacency in the fire service along with how & why we must combat it. Tips on the readiness of your attitude & equipment will be offered for the engine and truck company, rapid intervention team, & incident commander. Many factors have served to increase complacency in today’s firefighters. A complacent attitude is the first step in a tragic calamity of errors that results in a fire extending beyond where it should have been controlled or preventable civilian or firefighter injuries and deaths.

Firefighting is a “team sport” where we all count on each other to be ready when the moment comes. Firefighters often think that they are “ready”. The scenarios discussed in this presentation will focus on the instructor’s personal experiences at several near-miss fireground incidents and will show how the presence or absence of a “combat ready” mindset positively or negatively influenced the outcome.  Specific tips will be provided on how attendees can improve the readiness of themselves, their company, and their department.  This will include discussion on:

  • Personal attitude
  • Setup, layout, and use of PPE
  • Being “in position” 
  • “Combat Ready” Skills & Setup for Tactical Operations
  • Effective engine company & hoseline setup
  • Truck company tool selection
  • Setup and deployment of ground ladders
  • Planning and equipment for RIT deployment
  • Pre-incident preparation for IC’s

The primary purpose of this course is to motivate firefighters to recognize complacency in their firefighting career, how it “error creeps” it’s way in, and how it has a snow-balling effect on the fireground that can ultimately lead to catastrophe. In addition, the course seeks to provide specific tips on how firefighters can stay sharp, fight complacency, and stay “combat ready”. Having attending this presentation, students will be able to: – Recognize the impact of complacency on fireground operations. – Understand the concept of “error creep”. – Apply the concept of “Practice, Preparation, Anticipation” – Identify the operational need of full use of PPE – Discuss the importance of a “combat ready” attitude and equipment setup – Apply the various presented tips and skills to their equipment and apparatus in order to improve fireground efficiency.

Combat Ready

25 to Survive: The Residential Building Fire


Summary: More firefighters are seriously injured and killed while operating at residential building fires than any other building type.  This dynamic and interactive program will address 25 critical firefighting issues common to the residential building fire.  The program will discuss areas of firefighters preparation, response and operations, all of which are vital to successfully mitigating these deadly fires.  Students will learn “street-smart” tips, tactics and practical company drills to remedy the commonly encountered ‘errors’ and have students garner company level drills, to bring back more than just what they heard.


Our national statistics show that on average 70-80% of our line of duty deaths and the greatest numbers of civilian casualties occur within residential buildings. This grim statistic re-enforces the need for all firefighters, from the probationary firefighter to the Chief officer, to have a thorough knowledge of fires in residential buildings and develop sound strategies and tactics to fight them successfully.

The presentation is based around the soon to be released Fire Engineering Pen-well Publishing tactical handbook entitled “25 to Survive: The Residential Building Fire.”  Capt. Shaw and Lt. Mitchell have taken the tips and techniques refined from personal experiences and in their teaching with Traditions to the next step with effect to the residential building fire.  This lecture program is a dynamic assessment of modern fire behavior in today’s residential buildings and our best practices for operational success.


Recognition & Attack of Basement Fires

Lecture – 4 hour, 90 minute versions available.

Basement fires are among the most hazardous incidents that today’s firefighters respond to.  Delayed recognition, limited access, and limited access make these fires among the most dangerous.  This class will discuss techniques for size-up and attack of basement fires, including considerations for the truck company, engine company, and incident commander.


Each year, firefighters are injured or killed operating at structural fires that originated in the basement.  That the location of these fires is often not immediately recognized and that attack options are limited is further compounded by the fact that the entire structure is a vertical exposure; modern construction materials make these issues only more significant.

This interactive presentation will discuss the hazards of basement fires, size-up techniques to improve early recognition of the fire’s actual location, and various methods of fire attack.  We will discuss the construction and contents of typical basements with the corresponding effects on fire behavior, structural stability, and tactical options.  Specific concepts discussed will include:

  • Building construction considerations regarding basement fires.
  • “Basement-checks” versus  “Circle-checks”.
  • Placement of the initial attack line.
  • Attack scenarios for single and multiple handlines.
  • Coordinated attack methods.
  • Alternatives when the first floor is unstable.
  • Effects of ventilation techniques.
  • Rescue of civilians from upper floors.
  • Considerations of the incident commander.
  • Case studies of several basement fire incidents involving firefighter injuries and fatalities.

Using a highly multimedia intensive presentation including audio, video, and photographs from actual incidents, students will gain a renewed appreciation for the hazards of these fires as well as the need to recognize them quickly and attack them appropriately.

This program is dedicated to the memory of two District of Columbia firefighters that were killed in a basement fire in 1999 (the departments most recent two operational line of duty deaths) a third DC fire sergeant killed in 1997, also at a basement fire.  Many of the issues discussed in this presentation were factors at these incidents.  Lessons learned from these incidents and resulting tactical procedures utilized by the District of Columbia Fire Department will be discussed, analyzing how these concepts can be applied in any department.


The instructor will draw on both positive and negative personal experiences at actual basement fire incidents, including a RIT incident with severe firefighter injury, to further illustrate the concepts discussed.

Firefighters of all rank, background, and experience level will benefit from this presentation.  Topics discussed will range from tips for the nozzleman to tactical concerns for the incident commander.    Students will regain appreciation for the hazards associated with basement fires and leave with techniques that will improve their ability to recognize and attack these fires.

Effective Use of Tower Ladders in Tactical Operations

Lecture (Hands-On Available) – 8hrs, 4hrs, 90min versions available

Different types of aerial apparatus offer varied capabilities and restrictions in various firefighting scenarios.  The elevated platform, or “tower ladder” has gained popularity nationwide and is an aerial device with unique capabilities, however its maximum functionality comes only with proper use.  This program will discuss proper tower ladder use in various fireground scenarios.

Proper placement and deployment of aerial apparatus is essential to the success of many truck company operations.  While the popularity of tower ladders has grown, they are still less common than traditional “straight stick” aerial apparatus and their optimum use is not always understood.  To obtain maximum benefit from this versatile apparatus it is necessary that firefighters, officers, and incident commanders understand the capabilities of tower ladders and how they can most effectively be integrated into the fireground.  The program is designed for both departments with tower ladders and those without, as it is essential that fire service leaders understand the abilities of apparatus that may respond to their incidents as part of mutual aid agreements.

This program will discuss proper use of tower ladders in several fireground scenarios including firefighter access, rescue of civilians or firefighters, elevated master streams, and technical rescue.  Using a multimedia-rich, interactive presentation we will discuss a variety of incidents and scenarios regarding the proper or improper use and placement of tower ladders.  This will include discussion of rear-mount and mid-mount devices and comparisons of “ladder towers” versus “tower ladders”.  The program will also discuss some essentials of aerial positioning that are unique to this type of device.


Comparisons will also be drawn between tower ladders and straight aerials, contrasting the pro’s and con’s of each in the above situations.  Using the presenter’s experience as a firefighter and driver of both straight aerial and tower ladder devices, the advantages and disadvantages of each will be discussed in a case-study format.  The program will also discuss the integration of tower ladder operations into the tactical procedures of both the District of Columbia Fire Department as well as the Prince George’s County (MD) Fire Department.

The program will be of interest to all, from firefighters to the chief officer level.  Firefighters and driver/operators will learn various uses, positions, and options for these devices.  Chief level officers will come to further understand the tactical opportunities that a well placed and well used tower ladder present.

Attendees presently using tower ladders in their department, those considering purchasing tower ladders, and departments who work with tower ladders at mutual aid incidents will all benefit from this program.

Forcible Enty Academy

“Combat Ready” Firefighting

This unique classroom seminar will cover a variety of topics affecting today’s firefighters. We will cover operational issues with an emphasis on real-world firefighting tricks and techniques. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • combatGoing the Distance” – Extended length attack lines and getting water to the fire, quickly. Discussion on the “how” and the “why” these techniques can improve the operations of any engine company.
  • Hydraulics vs. Halligans” – A discussion on the appropriate use and selection of forcible entry tools, as well as discussion on “street-smart” tool modifications and creations.
  • Tradition & Morale in the Firehouse” – An interactive discussion on firehouse life & morale as well as the mindset of today’s firefighter.
  • Two-Team Trucks” – During the attack phase of a fire, there are many jobs that the truck company must accomplish. We will discuss how to use your resources to accomplish this efficiently and quickly.
  • The Combat-Ready Firefighter” – Getting your mind and equipment “in the zone” to be as effective and efficient as possible.

Strategy & Tactics

Fighting Fires in Residential Buildings

ffirbFor most firefighters, fires in a detached residential building are one of the most common incidents. Still, as routine as these fires may be, often times they do not go as we have planned and trained for. Limited manpower, construction challenges, and other issues present challenges that we must think “out of the box” about before the fire, if we are to be successful. In addition, yearly statistics show that the greatest numbers of injuries and deaths to firefighters occur in these residential dwellings.

This 8-hour interactive discussion will focus on operations and tactics at these incidents. We will focus on “street smart tactics and tips” and apply universal principals that have been proven on the fireground around the country. Our down to earth, experienced and dynamic instructors will deliver “beyond the book” information that will improve your effectiveness, efficiency, and safety on the fire ground.

We will discuss the concerns, tactics, and operations of three unique perspectives:

Company Officers
Chief Officers

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Construction Features of Residences: Cape Cod’s to McMansion’s and the effect of the building on your tactics.
  • “Combat-Ready” Firefighting: Preparing yourself and your equipment for efficient, street-smart firefighting.
  • Engine & Truck Work at Residential Fires:Positioning, deployment strategy, equipment selection and more.
  • Real-World Incident Command: Creating a manageable incident, the “Down-to-Earth” IC, resource assignment, objective based firefighting, and tactical considerations for residential fires.
  • Much more…

This lecture will cover strategic, tactical, and operational concerns for the most common types of residential fires:


  • Basement fires.
  • First-floor fires.
  • Upper-floor / attic fires.
  • Attached garage fires.

This program is designed with fireground-tested universal principals that will improve the effectiveness of the modern-day suburban firefighter and fire department. The diverse experience and backgrounds of our instructors and our dynamic presentation style will send you home with fresh, exciting ideas that you can put to work at your next fire.

Company Officer Development


The Officer Development School will focus on a number of skills that are necessary to be successful in the role of a company officer or a chief fire officer. A good fire officer has the ability and responsibility to lead on the fireground and in the firehouse. This 16-hour course will focus on those traits that are needed to achieve that success in both those places. We will start off with a leadership portion for all students to understand the responsibility of the position and how to avoid the pitfalls of not practicing good leadership. We will then move to breaking the incidents into manageable portions by reviewing critical factors, risk management and the radio script. Students will be run through scenarios to provide information to the responding units and the incident commander, so as to make sound fireground decisions. All participants will be engaged with the class and will be interactive with the instructors and the scenarios.

Topics discussed include:

  • Leadership
  • So You Want to be an Officer
  • Critical Factors Recognition
  • Incident Size-up
  • Risk Management
  • OnScene Reports
  • 360 Reports
  • CAN Reports
  • Initial Fireground Operations
  • Engine Work
  • Truck Work
  • Rapid Intervention
  • Incident Command
  • Personal and Company Accountability
  • Basic Mayday Management 
  • Documentation Techniques
  • Understanding Fire Attack

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Classes can also be customized to meet your department needs or standard operating procedures. Please contact us at to discuss the class or schedule one today…

Firefighter Survival

This class is designed as an introductory program in firefighter survival and self-rescue. Students will attain knowledge and techniques that will enhance their ability to “self-rescue” in response to a variety of fireground emergency situations. Emphasis will be on recognition and prevention of dangerous situations. Students will have the opportunity to practice a variety of survival and self-rescue techniques under simulated conditions. At the completion of the class, students will be able to:

  • Recognize warning signs of various hazardous situations and take preventative measures.
  • Utilize built in features of the department’s SCBA as well as additional techniques to overcome air-related emergencies.
  • Evacuate untenable conditions using various techniques.
  • Take emergency shelter measures.
  • Transmit a MAYDAY and recognize when to call one.
  • Function as a team-member in difficult situations.

Class will consist of 16-hours of instruction, of which approximately four (4) hours are classroom and the remaining twelve (12) hours are “hands-on”. Classroom discussion will focus on several case studies as well as the recognition and prevention of hazardous situations. During the practical evolutions, students will receive instruction in various “self-rescue” techniques and have ample opportunity to practice those skills.

Advanced Level Rapid Intervention

This 16-hour class is designed for firefighters with “moderate” level experience in rapid intervention techniques and firefighter survival. The goal is to update the student on issues and techniques related to rapid intervention. The first day is designed to provide the student with some “street-smart” theories and techniques on rapid intervention and to prepare the students for day two. The second day is dedicated entirely to rapid intervention scenarios of increasing difficulty. These are designed to challenge the student’s mind, teamwork, and skills.

survivalThis course will challenge the student with advanced RIT scenarios requiring excellent teamwork and ingenuity. We will review skills for “specific” scenarios such as:

  • FF thru / stuck in the floor.
  • Removing FF out an upper floor via windows.
  • Limited space evolutions.
  • Multiple downed FF’s.

To insure that students are successful and prepared for this class, it is recommended that prior to this class, students have “operational-level” RIT training or experience including knowledge of:

  • History of & Need for RIT
  • RIT-Related Equipment
  • Basic RIT deployment skills (locating the downed FF)
  • Basic Skills for Moving the Downed Firefighter
  • Basic SCBA problem resolution skills

During practical exercises there will be a minimum of one instructor for every ten (10) students. Students will work in rotating groups of approximately ten (10) each. Class will include approximately four (4) hours of classroom and twelve (12) hours of practical training. The practical training is designed to occur in an acquired structure to facilitate the creation of challenging, “real-world” scenarios.