Posted: August 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


By Brian Butler

“I know I know, yea yea we’re supposed to do a 360° size up upon arriving at a structure fire. Thanks we got it.”

For firefighters in urban environments with rowhomes, taxpayers, semi-detached homes, high rises, MFD’s, or fortified gates and fences that prevent access, the 360° is not always going to be possible. This is where performing a 3 sided 270° is going to have to suffice. When getting to the rear can be difficult for the first arriving engine company, take a quick peek down the sides of the building and look for indicators that the rear will be a major concern.


“Bump outs”

If the only exterior access to the rear are narrow alley walks between the homes, or obstructions are present that will delay your recon of the rear, keep in mind that you may lose your fire. Taking those extra 2 minutes because you feel you just have to get to the rear because “that’s what were supposed to do” or you read it in some tactics book, don’t be surprised when you return to the front of the building and realize that another company “stole” your fire!


The 180° Size Up: Obviously, the first due engine preparing for fire attack will have a difficult time getting to the rear of this taxpayer. The 180° size up looking at the A side and down the B side can tell you alot about this building. From location of fire, obstructions for ground ladders, rear fire escape routes, and construction.

First due company officers will already have their hands full noting numerous size up factors. During a 270°, what signs can we look for on arrival where that report from the rear is going to HAVE to be made a top priority?


Lets say you have fire showing in the front bedroom windows on arrival and the rear looks clear from the B-D side peek down the alley between the homes. That’s a good time to assign another company, the RIT team, or the battalion chief to get you a report from the rear. If you arrive and there’s a column coming from the back of the house or a glow in the rear yard, that’s a sign a report is top priority. It must be checked and a report given to the attack team before entry if possible, or upon advancing would be nice.


In a row of homes there’s usually an alley or street running behind it. This is a perfect opportunity for the chiefs vehicle to drive down and get a report from the rear. Don’t be afraid to assign the arriving chief that duty. He has a smaller vehicle and can quickly assess the conditions from the rear which he is going to need for his strategy and tactics anyway.


Also, companies responding from the direction of the rear should give a radio report if there’s heavy fire, signs of collapse, power lines popping off, occupants hanging off porches/fire escapes, or any other dangers in the rear. This is why we must pay attention to the radio; if that report has NOT been given and you notice dangerous conditions that haven’t been reported to the engine company ready to advance, let them know!


The 180° and the glow in the back

A 360° size up sounds nice, but it isn’t always possible. Doing a 180° or a 270° is very effective, realistic, and should only take 20-30 seconds. While you’re looking down those sides check for that glow in the rear or look for fire coming from side windows, trapped occupants etc..then decide how important that last 90° is going to be.





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