Size ups and You: Getting the job started right

If you are reading this article, then you probably already have a really good idea as to why initial on-scene size ups are important. But humor me, for a small fraction of your time, and let’s have a discussion on Initial scene size up, and why its an important tool in the ol tool box. How many times, By JEEBUS HOW MANY TIMES, have you listened to the radio and heard an initial size up go something like this: ” Engine two ninety-six dash eight point three on scene, working fire.” And as you sit there, on the edge of your seat as though watching the kick off to the biggest super bowl in known history, that’s it. That’s it? What on earth just happened?  We saw it! He just kicked the ball, and it never dropped out of the sky into the waiting arms the receiver! Rewind! REWIND! Where did the ball go? It’s just floating out there somewhere in limbo! If you have ever done this, given a two-word size up of a working fire, this is exactly what has happened. But there is no receiver waiting to catch a sun baked pork loin to run it down a field. There are other trucks, full of men and women dashing to your location to put their safety on the line. Those brothers and sisters are coming and have no clue whats going on, other than there is a fire. Now, granted, ten seconds ago so were you. But now, there is already a plan of action on the way, and all others en-route have no clue what it is. When I am riding the rig, or driving it, my mind is already working toward what needs to be done. I like to think about priorities, water supply, and the conditions I am currently presented with. I like to fill in as many blanks as I can, before I get there. Obviously, the size up cannot go on for five minuets, but the more relevant information I can get, the better prepared I am going to be to perform during that first 5 mins.There are tons of extremely smart guys out there who can hear an address and no matter if its their first due area, or 25th due area, know ” oh that’s a residential area, full of single story 800- 1200 square foot homes”. Unfortunately, I am not one of them, and im sure there are many like me. I like to know what im rolling up on, especially if there is already a unit on scene getting the game plan together. Dont be selfish with the radio waves, but don’t sound silly either. I don’t want to know the color of the house, or size of the tree in the front yard. Just give me an idea of whats going on. Id like some readers tell me what your department does as far as initial radio transmitted size ups? Please don’t read this and leave it chicken turd! Dont use your real name if you don’t want to! Just help continue the discussion! Put yourself in that 2nd or 3rd due engine, with that first “working fire” size up. What are you thinking? What would you LIKE to know? Now, lets say you’re in that same engine, and instead hear a size up that goes more like this ” Engine two ninety-six dash eight point three on scene, Two story light frame residential, Heave smoke pushing from the D side, heavy fire on the A D Corner. Going into a offensive mode.” Does this size up give you any better of an idea of whats going on? Should there be more said, or maybe less? Do you think it even matters? The Chaos what you think!


Stay safe out there leather heads!

-Captain Chaos


3 responses to “Size ups and You: Getting the job started right”

  1. captainchaos01 says :

    Also stay tuned in, Becuae Fire Engineering had an AWESOME article this month on Department morale that I plan to to touch base on! Dont forget to actually leave a comment and tell me how your department works in this area!


  2. black helemt franklin says :

    my dept. gives good size ups and some bad ones…depends on who the FF is…if i was to hear “working fire” and thats it i would be PISSED…i would want to know what kind of house it was…how many stories…where the smoke is comin from and where the fire is if it is visible…or at least thats the the info i would give if i was to give a size up


    • captainchaos01 says :

      Well Mr. Franklin, they do say great minds think alike! Does your department do any kind of training in reference to size ups? Im currently working on a size up class that would be useful in my mind, but I find some difficulty getting through to the upper brass about the importance of sizing up a structure. How does your department train on the subject?


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