Posted: August 17, 2017 in Roof, Suppression, Uncategorized


By Brian Butler

“Yea yea I know, we’re supposed to do a 360° size up upon arriving at a structure fire.” Easier said than done.

For firefighters in urban environments with rowhomes, taxpayers, semi-detached homes, high rises, MFD’s, fortified gates and fences that prevent access, the 360° size up isn’t always going to be possible. This is when performing a 3 sided 270° is going to have to suffice. There are times when you’re initially going to have to go with a 2 sided 180° (photo) size up. When getting to the rear can be difficult for the first arriving company, take a quick peek down the sides of the building and look for indicators that the rear will be of major concern.


“Bump outs”

If the only exterior access to the rear are through 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 few 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 quick 2-sided 180° size up looking at the A side and down the B side while preparing for entry can tell you alot about this building. Determine the location, extent and access to the fire. Truck companies take note of the wires, fence, dumpster, and awning obstructions on the A and B sides. This 180° will quickly indicate difficulty with ground ladder placement.

The first arriving officer will have his 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 or upon advancing if possible.


When the entire row of homes on the block are connected with no access to the rear, there may be an alley or street behind it. This is a perfect opportunity for the smaller chiefs vehicle to drive down and report any dangerous conditions from the rear. This information will also help the responding Battalion Chief with his strategy and tactics plan.


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 a few seconds.


When you’re looking down those B and D sides of a structure, check for that glow or column in the rear, and then determine how important that last 90° is going to be. article on the 270° size-up




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