“The mission of the first-arriving response (the PDA) is to locate and secure, or to establish and maintain, a means of egress from the building.”
Here is a key statement that every firefighter should explore further and be curious about. It makes for a great hour-long interactive lecture. There are so many ways you can analyse this statement but from a tactical perspective, it makes so much sense. Apply it to any fire situation. As firefighters we need to get in, ensure and protect our egress routes and in doing so, establish, protect, and maintain a means of egress for building occupants. There are many ways this might be achieved but that statement on it’s own, on a lecture slide, will start the ball rolling.
I’ve always said in my books and teachings through the years, that protecting the means of egress in a fire building is a primary objective on arrival. However, Chief Pete Van Dorpe of Chicago Fire Department emphasises the point so well in his 2015 article.
‘If you were in a room where Ray Hoff (Chicago FD) was talking tactics and if you had any brain at all, you just shut the heck up and listened. That man (God rest his soul) would accidentally lay more golden eggs of practical knowledge in an afternoon than most of us can manage in a lifetime.
I remember that class as if it were yesterday’.
“I was a firefighter and an officer with nearly 20 years of experience in the country’s second largest fire department when I first heard those words and remember thinking to myself (yet again), “How could I have lived so long and remained so dumb?” It was an epiphany for me. I immediately recalled a dozen incidents where things would have gone better if I had just used that basic mission statement to guide my decisions”.
‘Ray asked the group to write down the answers to two questions regarding structure fires. First, “What is the mission of the first-arriving engine company?” Most responses went something like, “Locate, confine, and extinguish the fire.”
Ray would acknowledge those answers but would point out that those were actions. He was looking for the guiding principle, which he usually rendered as’, “The mission of the first-arriving engine is to locate and secure, or to establish and maintain, a means of egress from the building.”