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  1. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP Prepared by Thomas Bartsch, Former Chief of Dept., Valley Stream, NY

  2. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP Introduction

  3. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • What is Size-Up? • “Size-up is the ongoing observation and evaluation of factors that are used to develop strategic goals and tactical objectives”.

  4. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP There are many in the fire service who believe utilizing the traditional “13” point size-up to be lengthy and not practical for the initial “thru the windshield” size-up by the first arriving company officer, and is better suited for the Incident Commander. In most cases, the first arriving officer will not be the overall incident commander, but he/she might find themselves in command and the traditional “13” point size-up will help this officer develop a better over all picture of the incident.

  5. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Yes, there are shorter “Size-Up” acronyms out there than the traditional “13” point “COAL WAS WEALTH” • A sampling such as…………. • BOSE HAS(Chief Walker, Oklahoma City FD, OK) • B – building H - hazards • O – occupancy A - approach • S – smoke S - special • E – exposures • And then there are…………..

  6. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • BELOW(Former Chief of Dept Ed Tracy, Sierra Madre, CA) REVAS(Chief Ramirez, LACFD) • B - building R - rescue • E - extent E - exposures • L - life hazard V - ventilation • O - occupancy A - attack • W - water supply S - salvage • RECEO(Lloyd Layman)RECEO VS(Lloyd Layman) • R - rescue added were • E - exposures V - ventilate • C - confinement S - salvage • E - extinguishment • O - overhaul

  7. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • And lastly, • IDEAL(Capt Knitter, S. Milwaukee FD) • I - indentify arriving unit • D - describe what you see • E - explain what you intend to do • A - assume command • L - let incoming units know what you want them to do or where you want them to go (staging, etc.)

  8. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Whatever acronym you use, the goal is; • information gathering, • to formulate strategy and • successful tactics. • This presentation will be focusing on the traditional “13” point size-up, using the acronym “COAL WAS WEALTH”. (aka WALLACE WAS HOT)


  10. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Size-Up by the initial arriving officer (IC until relieved), can set the tone for the incident. Being able to read what has happened and what will happen after arrival, effects the safety of all FF’s on the scene. • A thorough Size-Up and a risk analysis should be performed before conducting operations at every incident. • The IC should immediately conduct or obtain a 360ₒ Size-Up of the fire ground. (“Rules of Engagement for Structural Firefighting”, International Association of Fire Chiefs)

  11. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • The IC is constantly evaluating, taking note of what actions were taken before his/her arrival and the progress of the fire. • The IC continues to review and re-evaluate during fire operations. • The IC must use appropriate risk management to decide what strategy will be employed.

  12. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Size-Up starts with the receipt of the alarm and continues until the fire is under control. Some advocate the size-up starts when they break ground to construct and pre-plans are formulated. • While responding, monitor your radio for up to the minute information from dispatch or from units already at the scene. • Using the traditional strategic “13” point size-up acronym “COAL WAS WEALTH”, will ease the gathering of information to plan an effective Strategy.

  13. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP First Arriving Officer

  14. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Among the most important duties of the first officer on the scene is conducting an initial size-up. • This information lays the foundation for the entire operation. • It determines the number of FF, apparatus and equipment needed to control the fire, the most effective point of attack and whether the attack will be offensive or defensive. • The size-up must also address an assessment of • “Risk versus Reward”

  15. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • The initial size-up report to dispatch, should be simple and short enough to verbalize the scene. • Necessary details such as; • what type of building is on fire? • the type of occupancy (mercantile, residential, assembly) • fire and smoke conditions • and exposures (exposure protection is second only to life) • Your report will give other responding units needed information to visualize the unfolding scene.

  16. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Let’s try using an example. You are the first officer to arrive on scene, what initial size-up report will you give for the following situation? • Remember, simple and verbalize the scene. • Building construction • Occupancy type • Location and Extent of the fire • Actions you are taking • Instructions for incoming units

  17. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP This is your view “thru the windshield” Photo courtesy Ed Tracy, former Chief of Dept., Sierra Madre, CA

  18. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP Example: “Fire Communications, Engine 342, Signal 22 (On scene) at your address. Signal 10 (Working fire). We have fire out two windows on the second floor, exposure 1 (alpha) side, of a two story Ordinary constructed building with a mixed occupancy. We are stretching a line to the fire floor, have the second due engine stretch a backup line. Instruct the first due truck to ladder the building and inform them there are overhead wires.”

  19. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP Interior Size-Up

  20. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • The size-up of interior conditions is just as important as the exterior size-up. • Interior conditions are monitored by firefighters and company officers and is communicated to the IC as soon as possible. Interior conditions could change the IC initial strategy. • Knowing the interior conditions, such as the size of the fire, sets the foundation for subsequent operations.

  21. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Especially if the building is constructed of lightweight framing, which must be suspected in newer and renovated buildings. • It is critical that all units are made aware that lightweight construction is present. Strategy and tactics will have to be adjusted if the fire involves the structural components. • The IC must be informed of any structural damage, such as sagging floors and extension to structural components.

  22. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP Communications

  23. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Provide reports and regular updates to the IC, especially when goals are met, such as “we have water on the fire”. • It is also important that interior forces communicate to the IC when the objective can not be met or is delayed, such as “we are having difficulty finding the fire”, or “primary search is delayed due to Collyer like conditions”. • Communications during the fire attack may be difficult due to the noise, but FF must monitor the radio for critical information. (collapse potential, ventilation delays, water supply problems, fire in the cockloft, fire in the shaft or “Mayday” transmissions.)

  24. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Information is continually received and processed so that new decisions can be made and old decisions revised based on new data and information. • The IC can never assume that units engaged in operational activities will just naturally stop what they are doing so they can provide him/her with a continuous supply of information.

  25. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • If the IC requests a progress report from a unit and gets no response, he/she should continue to make contact until they get a satisfactory report. • The IC must do whatever is required to stay effectively informed. • Communicate what the plan is and if it is working…..

  26. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP Objectives

  27. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • The objective of firefighting is life safety, incident stabilization and property conservation. • Implementation of any strategic plan and it’s supporting tactics is dependent on an accurate and ongoing Size-Up. • Strategy and Tactics are defined as: • Strategy - the general plan or course of action in order to achieve firefighting objectives. • Tactics - the operations or actions required to carry out the strategy. (interior attack, ventilation, forcible entry, etc.)

  28. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • In his book, “Strategic Concepts of Firefighting”, Chief of Dept. Edward McAniff, FDNY defines the following; • Offensive Strategy: Direct attack at the seat of fire. Normally at Incipient Stage, this solves all problems. • Offensive/Defensive Strategy: An attack on the main body of fire, while taking measures to control extension. • Defensive/Offensive Strategy: A holding action, it keeps fire in reasonable bounds while more forces are called. • Defensive Strategy: Surround and drown, protect the exposures.

  29. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • Firefighting strategies have been changing in today’s fire service. • With the impact of lightweight construction upon FF safety, a new strategy is evolving, “Offensive Exterior Attack”. • It is used when no immediate rescue is needed or possible, and/or when there is fire involvement of the lightweight structural supports. Especially when a lightweight building is under construction.

  30. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP • The time frame for safe operations has decreased. Once with unprotected dimensional lumber, there was the 20 minute rule, now with unprotected lightweight construction, the time is as little as 5 minutes to collapse. • The “Offensive Exterior Attack” theory is to open up the structure and apply water tactically to gain control of the fire and extinguish from a safe position, due to the uncertainty of the structure. • Essentially, “knock it down from a safe position and after verifying structural conditions are stable enough to proceed, final extinguishment and searches can be done.”


  32. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP The Strategic factors that must be considered in making your size-up are; (not in the order of priority) • Construction • Occupancy • Apparatus/personnel/equipment • Life • Water Supply • Auxiliary appliances • Street conditions and Topography • Weather • Exposures • Area of the building • Location and Extent of the fire • Time • Height COAL WAS WEALTH

  33. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Construction, type of; (construction dictates actions at all fires) • Type 1, Fire Resistive(concrete, fire-protected steel) • Type 2, Non-Combustible(little or no steel protection) • Type 3, Ordinary(block/brick walls, wood floor joists & roof supports) • Type 4, Heavy Timber(masonry load walls, large timber support) • Type 5, Wood Frame(balloon and platform) • (Lightweight construction, manufactured homes and “unitized” truss)

  34. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Buildings will contain voids that may allow fire extension. Alterations may produce larger voids, which will spread fire vertically and horizontally. Also the presence of wood laminate “I” beams, “Unitized” truss, energy efficient windows, insulation, etc.. • Information on the structure itself includes age, condition (evidence of deterioration, weathering, etc.), evidence of renovations, lightweight construction, loads on roofs and walls, and any pre-plan information.

  35. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Construction; Elements of concern: • is the building compartmentalized to minimize the spread of fire? • how will the building contribute to the overall fire scenario? • the location and number of hidden voids? • what is the potential for collapse? • parapet walls, marquees, signs, roof fixtures, etc., that could lead to a collapse in a fire event.

  36. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Occupancy; (may determine severity of life & the intensity of the fire*) • Assembly(theatres, restaurants, house of worship, night clubs) • Business(banks, post office, doctors, lawyers, colleges, town halls) • Educational(schools thru 12th grade) • Factory(assembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, etc.) • High Hazard(flammable, combustible, corrosive, explosive) * A mixed occupancy building containing commercial use below and a residential use above, with an increased fire load in the commercial, would increase the danger to residents above.

  37. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Occupancy; (may determine severity of life & the intensity of the fire) • Institutional(hospitals, jails, nursing homes, assisted living) • Mercantile(drug, retail, wholesale stores) • Residential(hotels, motels, apartment houses, private dwellings) • Storage(non-hazard warehouses) • Utility and Miscellaneous(barns, green houses, sheds)

  38. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Apparatus/Personnel/Equipment; • Apparatus: • adequacy of responding units (pumpers, ladders, tankers, etc.) • response time(re-flex time and availability of mutual aid) • any changes in response patterns • the need for large caliber streams and/or large diameter hose • staging (location, enough units, security) • What units are responding or on scene? It is imperative to know who has arrived and who is responding, as well the types of apparatus at the scene or requested to the scene.

  39. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Apparatus/Personnel/Equipment; • Personnel: • sufficient FF manpower* (greater or resound the alarm, mutual aid) • rehab (Red Cross, Salvation Army, Ladies Auxiliary) • Safety Officer • FAST/RIT/RIC unit(s) • EMS (ALS & BLS) • other agencies (Health, PD, Sanitation, Highway) • * With insufficient manpower, rescue takes precedence.

  40. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Apparatus/Personnel/Equipment; • Equipment: • to handle hazard materials • foam, Purple K • medical • positive pressure fans • scene flood lighting • extra SCBA tanks • heavy machinery (bulldozers, payloaders, cranes)

  41. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Life; OUR PRIMARY priority at any operation! • both FF’s and occupants (how many, location, condition, accessibility, available resources) • residential occupancy (day time versus night time) • commercial occupancy (day time versus night time) • institutional occupancy (ambulatory or non-ambulatory) • assembly occupancy (houses of worship, restaurants, arenas, large crowds) • vacant (risk?) “Don’t risk FF’s lives for what is already lost. Use a Calculated risk of FF’s lives to protect Savable lives.” “Rules of Engagement for Structural Firefighting” IAFC

  42. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Water supply; • availability of a positive water source • the location, serviceability and is it sufficient • hydrants (the pressure, spacing, is it a dry or dead-end hydrant) • tanks, ponds, pools and cisterns • tanker shuttles • drafting

  43. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Auxiliary Appliances; • sprinkler systems and standpipe systems • wet and dry chemical systems • total flooding systems, (Halon, CO2, Nitrogen) • fire pumps • foam systems • Consider; • what is the status of the system(s)? • is it working automatically? • can it be manually operated? The location of shut-off valves? • are there FD connections? and there location?

  44. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Street conditions and Topography; • Street conditions: • placement of apparatus • overhead wires, elevated roads, railways • snow, water conditions • construction trenches, road repaving • double parked cars, delivery trucks • dead ends, narrow streets • limited access (industrial parks, gated communities)

  45. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Street conditions and Topography; • Topography: • grade elevation, building set backs (ground ladder and aerial ladder placement difficulty) • steepness of the slope (ladder placement) • is there a creek, pond, or river behind the building Note: There are some buildings where the lobby is on one floor and at the rear of the building, this level is higher or lower. As an example……

  46. Two California FF died while operating at this structure – NIOSH 2011-13 report TOPOGRAPHY

  47. Two California FF died while operating at this structure – NIOSH 2011-13 report Severe topography situation, the fire floor was one floor below street level

  48. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Weather conditions; • weather conditions can hamper response • wind/velocity/direction (wind impacted fire, convection carrying embers) • heat and humidity (heat exhaustion, heat stroke) • snow accumulations (slower response, hinder ladder placement) • wet and ice conditions (black ice, slower response) • freezing temperature ( wind chill, hypothermia, mechanical issues, frozen hydrants)

  49. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP COAL WAS WEALTH • Exposures; • distance (nearer the exposure, a greater chance of fire, convection and radiant heat) • six sides of a fire, (room and building) • most severely threatened versus most threatened life exposure • property and environment conservation • exposed surface material (it’s combustibility) • other exposures such as storage tanks (propane) Convection, Conduction and Radiation

  50. MAKE A GOOD SIZE-UP Exposure #2 or Bravo side Exposure #3 or Charlie side EXPOSURES Exposure #1 or Alpha side Exposure #4 or Delta side