Breaking down S.L.I.C.E.R.S for the street smart fire officer
By: Deputy Chief Kevin D. Schulz
What is S.L.I.C.E.R.S? Letâ€™s start with the fact that itâ€™s an acronym. The definition of S.L.I.C.E.R.S. is a fire attack tactic used to reduce temperatures inside a building prior to entry by firefighting personnel for extinguishment or rescue. This is not meant to be a replacement for aggressive interior fire attack; it is to be used in conjunction with and assist the aggressive interior attack.
So what does that mean? Letâ€™s break down the acronym and see how it applies to tactics.
A size-up or first due report must occur every time we arrive at a fire or an automatic fire alarm. Every fire deserves a proper and complete size-up. The result of our size-up determines what resources are needed coupled with the available resources at our disposal. The size-up also must include local weather, terrain and anything that might hamper the fire attack
Once the size-up has been completed a plan (or tactics) must be developed for this incident. It is imperative that the plan or tactics that you choose to adopt are communicated to all companies working on the fire ground and any incoming units.
- Initial size-up report
- Declare plan or tactic: 1) Rescue Mode 2) Fire Attack Mode 3) Defensive Mode 4) Investigative Mode
(L) Locate the Fire.
Before we can attack the fire we must locate the fire. First arriving officers must use all resources necessary to make this determination. A Thermal Imager, should be used for the initial 360 of the structure. The location of the fire and its extent will dictate the best place and method to attack the fire.
(I) Identify the Flow Path
The initial incident commander should identify the presence and if possible the location of the flow path. (This is critical!) Every effort should be taken to control the flow path and the ventilation of the structure to help prevent fire growth and protect victims. If the initial companies are able to identify the flow path they should consider closing doors and windows to limit the air flow.
(C) Cool the Space from the Safest Location
Once you have completed your 360 size-up and determined what tactics youâ€™re going to apply, the (IC) incident commander needs to determine if there are high heat conditions within the structure. When high heat conditions are found to be present the IC with the assistance with the working companies need to decide the most direct way to cool or â€œResetâ€ the fire keeping safety in mind. The primary goal of cooling the fire space is to reduce the thermal threat to occupants within the structure and the interior working companies.
- Fire has been â€œResetâ€
- Communicate tactics for the continuance of operations
Â (E) Extinguish the Fire
Once the threat of high heat has been controlled, the fire should be extinguished in a direct and expedient manner, ensuring that all companies on the fire ground are not only extinguishing the fire but revealing any hidden fires or void spaces that may contain high heat conditions.
- Â â€œWater on the Fireâ€
The next two steps are called â€œActions of Opportunity.â€ These actions can be completed at any time during initial operations.
The priority for life safety is always paramount. The incident commander should always consider the potential for victims and rescues. Companies working on the fire ground should be prepared to make rescues and assist occupants in exiting the structure. Remember that units assigned to fire suppression need to remain on fire suppression details. If we donâ€™t suppress the fire the problem will only continue to grow. A decision will have to be made to assign or split crews between fire suppression and victim rescue and removal. Life safety should always be the primary goal.
Fire ground companies should use compartmentalization to control fire spread and smoke
whenever possible. Traditional tactics of salvage and overhaul should be applied when applicable.
Below are links to two videos. The first is the much anticipated training video which is a culmination of years of fire research. It outlines plans that incorporate the latest fire dynamic research from UL FSRI and NIST and introduces S.L.I.C.E.R.S. to the fire community. The second is a video created by the Penn Township Fire Department in Indiana and is a working presentation on how the S.L.I.C.E.R.S program works at the company level. Please share these videos with all the members in your firehouse.
In summation this program is not designed to replace your departmentâ€™s tactics but to add to the arsenal of tools that you have when you pull up on location at your next fire.
Stay safe brothers and sisters!
About the author:
Kevin Schulz, Deputy Fire Chief has been in the fire service for 19 years. Chief Schulz has worked in the volunteer, part-time and full time fire service industry serving in small rural communities, small and mid-size suburban type communities and now is Deputy Chief of Operations for the Des Moines Iowa International Airport Fire Department.
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