"Fight Fire Aggressively, but Provide for Safety First"

“…my level of engagement changes based on my crew and the rest of the personal working in the Battalion that day.”

Very well stated, and a sound tactical practice. This also applies to large fire management. As an OSC or a OPBD, I didn’t always have the luxury of multiple hotshot crews and agency engines to complete the objectives for the shift. Take what you can get with what you have…which sounds like a key part of “Fight fire Aggressively, But Provide for Safety First”.


I’m glad to hear this! Back in the Day us captains would call each other after morning staffing was done over the radio and do the exact same thing. Based a lot of IA on who was first, second and third in etc. As much as some things have changed some are still the some.


Fighting fire aggressively while providing for safety is an absolute must during the initial attack. Successful IA dramatically reduces risk to many more who are exposed to hazards in an extended attack scenario. Lack of IA experience in many Company officers (this includes FAE’s when they are in that role) is not an excuse to delay IA when there is the greatest opportunity to keep a fire small. Because the fire service has lost so much experience is not an excuse, in the old days we built capabilities with a combination of training and experience. COVID changed training opportunities, it is time to step up and provide extensive quality multi day scenario training courses with quality interactive simulators at the level of Incident Management 3 and alike. Hire some of the retired old, experienced folk to come back as instructors and proctors. Simply staging until an experienced Officer arrives is not a solution it is a problem.


To play devils advocate where are you guys seeing nobody taking action during IA? Im at a loss here.


Thank you. Again, I don’t ever have a problem with over staging on IA’s on my local district. Neither Fed, state or LG incidents. Extended attack fires is a whole different topic.


I don’t think it’s too much safety, rather trying to eliminate all risk, couple in the lack of experience and the newish reliance of aircraft and we start seeing real problems in IA. It was always beaten into my head “if your plan relies on aircraft, you’ve already failed”. Hot Shot brewery has a great anchor and flank sticker now as a reminder😂. Fight fire having eliminated all risk is never gonna work.

As Ehoss eluded to, lots of people don’t want to do wildland. It’s hot dirty work, takes a lot of effort, and let’s face it, can be very boring. But the boring work is often some of the most important, securing the line.

AJ, we see this actually quite a bit, being in the big red army and getting to run IA all over we see it. Excuses are access (like type 3 only when the only access is chevrolegs), not safe, see what the aircraft can do, I don’t have the experience, etc. So they sit when they could have done something, like securing a flank, the heel.


Its seems like back in the olden days we put a lot more fire on the ground. An engine company could independently make a decision to “fire out” a head of advancing flames. Now if you want to put some fire on the ground, you have to take a firing class, develop a plan, advise the division and operations of your plan, have “Safety” sign off on the plan, and be damn sure that it doesn’t get away from you. By the time you get all that done the flames have moved on to the next subdivision and is now another division’s problem. Back in the day, it was watch one, do one, then teach one. Firing classes are hard to get and often don’t offer actual firing. This limits the number of firefighters that are approved to actually fire anything off. The ICS classification system is good and makes better firefighters, however paper work, task books, and sign off’s prevent good firefighters from taking aggressive action because they are not “certified”.


Overstaging… That is an interesting term, and one that clearly defines the issue being discussed.

The Principle of Reserves should not be confused with staging resources because there is no assignment for them or the IC is unable to keep up with the volume of resources arriving on an incident.


Once upon a time, CDF resources didn’t stage. Now, CalFire has blended in with the wallpaper. No longer the department with wildland expertise, but just another department parked along side the road.

I sure hope this is not the case! There are still some units with great IA skills that will bring people in on different parts of a fire (envelopment) and work to contain it. Far to often you will see a Pincer attack going on with units staged waiting to come in and help. Live shots from a Copter and you are thinking get an engine two or three and go after that hot shoulder and head and knock some heat out of it. Slow the rate of spread. Some fires you will not be able to do that because of conditions that are present. But a lot you can. As Flyron stated build your own anchor point, and you can have several different anchor points when building line.


In MHO, to engage successfully, safely, and effectively, you need three things. 1) resources, 2) someone to take charge (assume the IC role) and develop a plan for the incoming resources so they aren’t counterproductive, nonproductive, unsafe, and 3) communications, because, regardless of the size of the incident, you need the engaging resources to hear, understand, commit – and stay – on the same page.

I believe what you are hearing from some folks is that with the diminished number of experienced officers (to take on #2 above) some agencies/units/battalions/areas, are experiencing “Staging Fright,” a close cousin to stage fright. They get on stage (the incident), don’t have enough experience or know their lines (IA tactics and organization), and freeze until the director shows up to tell them what they are supposed to do. The end result is a very herky-jerky performance that takes a lot longer to get through, leaves the audience wondering what is going on, and results in some not too bueno reviews by the wildland version of Rotten Tomatoes (aka Wildfire Intel.)


Take what you can get with what you have…

Very true… Often times it may not be feasible to accomplish the desired tactical objective (TO) outright because the size or complexity of the fire makes it too difficult, logistically impossible, or tactically complex. During the initial attack phase of fires or during active fire years it is often a lack of sufficient resources at scene that restricts your ability to directly achieve the objectives you have established. In that case you should establish Intermediate Tactical Objectives. If they are used, Intermediate Tactical Objectives (ITOs) must contribute toward its tactical objective in terms of both speed and effectiveness. The purpose of ITOs is to break down the desired TO into smaller, more easily attainable “mini-objectives” that if added together provide the end-result of the original objective you wanted to achieve but could not for some reason.

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Anchor and flank good buddy.


Agreed. I also realized that some context was lacking in my original post. I work in an area where waiting for that experienced person means limited action for less that 10 minutes.

I also never meant that I don’t expect anchor and flank to always take place. But if the fire won’t be caught with a hose lays or hand tools then that’s where the IA phase can go sideways due to lack of experience both at the officer and firefighter level.


The American culture teaches a “Risk Adverse” mindset.
Combine that with the “everyone gets a trophy” culture since thea 90’s early 2000’s and this is what you get.




It has been too long since I have heard that. Still true today.