Thursday, July 19th, 2012 9:07 am
By Brooks Ross
of the Leatherhead Instructors
There are numerous acronyms in the fire service to help us identify the “who, what, when, where and why” of our job. These acronyms pop into our memory when we are trying to make sense out of chaos.
On acronym that I rely on as a size-up tool when I’m the first arriving company officer at a structure fire was presented many years ago while attending a lecture on fire ground strategy and tactics by FDNY Lt. Bob Pressler (ret.). He introduced what he called the Engine Company Officer’s Five-Points of Size-up. After taking a “Reading Smoke” class, put on by retired Battalion Chief Dave Dobson, I decided to add to the acronym – BE SLOW.
B uilding – Construction type and size.
E xposures – Are there any exposure concerns?
S moke conditions – What is the smoke telling you? Volume, Velocity, Density and Color.
L ife hazards/Location of fire – Victims? Where is the fire?
O ccupancy – House, Apartment, Church, Chemical Plant, etc.
W ater supply – Where is it?
When I’m the first arriving company officer at a structure fire, BE SLOW is the tool I use to size up the situation. It is simple to use and easy to remember. Although there are other size-up acronyms out there, I have found them to be too involved for the first-in IC. This officer already has enough on his plate and needs to quickly form an incident action plan and get it moving. You can always add to the size-up information you gather, but this tool should get you started in the right direction.
I want to thank these gentlemen for passing on their knowledge and hope that you may find this size-up tool as helpful as I do.
Remember, BE SLOW allows the first arriving company officer to perform a quick but thorough size-up.
Learn more from the Leatherhead Instructors on their site.