Size Up Drill

There is a lot of talk about the different kinds of size up in regards to survivability profiling.  Although I respect those views, I just don’t think we are doing ourselves in the fire service justice by creating an additional “method” for performing your size up.

I still believe that a size up is a size up and the information you gather during it, along with experience, training and knowledge, will direct you into the right direction.  If the building is tenable or not; if it has burned before; if it is in poor condition; it doesn’t change how you size up. What changes is how you use the information.

That is if you have trained properly.  Let’s face it, not all company and chief officers are adequately trained in giving a thorough size up and applying that information into your strategy and tactics.

So, here is a little drill that is simple but yet effective.  I am going to give you four sides of a single-family dwelling and you need to size it up.

In addition, what can you tell about the layout of the house just by looking from the outside?  What are the indicators or clues that you are using to make these educated guesses?

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Share your experience and techniques, new officers and firefighters need this  stuff, so be generous.

Train often and stay safe.

1 Comment

  • Nate Q. says:

    This house (or something similar) is a common sight in my first-due. Here’s my take from the walk-around…

    First it’s a manufactured house (think double wide without the wheels). To me, this means crappy small-dimension construction and hot/fast progressing fire (lots of synthetics and glue). Possible disabled occupants (ramp in the front). Most likely living/dining kitchen area in the front and bedrooms in the back.

    B-side confirms construction type (crawl space opening), and gas meter going into house (most in our area have 500# LP tanks too).

    C-side symmetry also confirms construction type.

    D-side door and carport location confirms layout (side entry 99% leads to small utility hall off kitchen (can see furnace stack on roof). Also shows electric meter (for us, main breaker is usually just below the meter box).

    In a fire situation, we commonly enter from the D-side, being that the driveway gives you a straight stretch along with quicker access to the bedrooms. The nozzle FF (or search crew) can flip the breaker while preparing for entry, and I can fliip the gas valve on my walk-around and possibly take a window on C if needed (walk-around is quick and my guys are quick with the line on these).

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Jason Hoevelmann

Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal with the Sullivan Fire Protection District, a combination department, and a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County.

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