The Week’s After Action Review


The following video provides a great opportunity to conduct an after-action review of a garbage truck fire parked adjacent to a commercial building. In the video, bystanders are filming the incident prior to the arrival of the fire department (department is unknown and undeterminable in the video).

You can see fire exposing the overhang of the exposure building over the sidewalk and the bystanders even notice extension to the building. Around the 2:45 mark, the first-due engine is seen arriving on-scene and immediately stretching a 1 ¾” hoseline. You can hear the primer being operated on the engine around the 2:54 mark which means they opted for tank water, right away. The engine seems to be the only unit on-scene for quite some time and they get a good knockdown on the garbage truck. The engine seems to operate by itself during the entire video, but you do hear later arriving companies’ sirens in the distance.

As you watch the video, fire extension to the structure has taken-hold and is spreading via the concealed space in the overhang and into the steel bar joist bays. Smoke is seen pushing the entire length of the building and some visible fire that is found when the engine company that attacked the fire exposes the concealed space in the overhang.

After viewing the video, discuss with your company(s) what you see, and watch some of it again to verify your anecdotes. Although there is an obvious hindsight bias with any after-action review, consider some of the following, and let us know how you would manage this incident as the officer on this engine company. Here’s a few of my thoughts, questions and observations for your consideration:

1)      Fire department arrives to find garbage truck cab and saddle tanks on fire already exposing a commercial structure for some time prior to their arrival

2)      Fire department opts to stretch 1 ¾” hoseline off tank water

3)      Fire department operates hoseline for the entire duration of the video, thereby indicating that the pump operator was able to gain a sustainable water supply. Should they have opted to switch to a 2 ½” hoseline once this water supply was established?

4)      How would have operated the hoseline? On the structure, first? Garbage truck first, to knock down the fire? Operate the stream simultaneously between the truck and building?

5)      What would your first-arriving size-up and initial radio report include? What kind of request would be made to the dispatcher? Second alarm for extension to building?

6)      Where would you deploy the first arriving truck company?

7)      With the smoke and fire condition found in the overhang, you know where the fire was, is and where it’s going. Where would you deploy the balance of a first-alarm assignment as a result? What support are you going to give the first-arriving engine company? Back-up hoseline, or stretch the second and successive hoselines into the structure?

8)      Where are your search priorities in this building? What would you ask the bystanders as the first-arriving officer?

9)      What did PPE use look like in this video?

10)   What would your status-report to the first-arriving chief officer be as the only unit on-scene and working?

These are but a few questions and ideas for you to ask at any fire, but we will be bringing you videos, each week, to conduct your own after-action reviews in conjunction with ours’. Let us know what you come up with on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and feel free to send us your videos, as well.

And please, no negative comments or placement of blame on the individual(s). Our fire departments are complex systems and those in the video are operating in the one they’re conditioned and trained to operate in, so we’re here to focus on the outcome and things that could have changed or supported it.

Clarion UX