How the UL fire studies impact the fire service and individual departments is a very interesting topic of discussion. The initial reaction from many departments, after studies are published, has often been a declaration to change.
Many in the past have seized upon what they felt was a good fix without a more complete perspective. A rush to judgement should ever be applauded in the face of hundreds of pages of documentation. We have learned more about previous tactics, the more they are put to the test, under varied conditions. Additional study on things we do at most, if not all fires, is important for the fire service to mull over. Fire departments need to take a tactical pause regarding broad changes they plan on making without a full picture.
As time moves forward and more areas are examined, a more complete picture is drawn. No final story has be written on any topic so far. Our operations are multi-faceted and will require additional study, as the layers are uncovered, revealing more questions than less. I believe this study, Coordinated Fire Attack, will add critical building blocks for tactical improvement.
Only the private home portion of this study has been released; there are two additional portions commercial and multiple dwelling still to come out. Waiting is the best advice; waiting until the entire study is released before instituting anything prudent.
For panel members, who have intimate knowledge of how these studies work and have taken part in internal debates, we like you, wait. Discussion is always good, it creates questions and moves us forward with new ideas and a search for answers to come.
We should remember that rapidly implemented change may not be the best takeaway from any report. Utilizing all of the information from a completed study and positioning it alongside your current tactical framework with an eye towards improvement is the goal.
We must never be bound by what is presented to us. Let the initial dust settle and be mindful to revisit the information again to discover what may have been overlooked, or requires more attention. I believe we should embrace tactical development over change and foster implementation through informed consensus.
Ray McCormack served as a panel member on both the UL Study of Coordinated Fire Attack Utilizing Acquired Structures and Impact of Fire Attack Utilizing Interior & Exterior Streams on Firefighter Safety & Occupant Survival Study.