OFM - 04-14-12

Structural Fire Fighting Including Rescue

Public Fire Safety Guidelines

Subject Coding

PFSG 04-14-12


Emergency Response


January 1998


Structural Fire Fighting Including Rescue


Under Review

Schematic diagram illustrating options for increasing the fire suppression capacity of a municipality. Options for fire suppression include the following: no fire suppression capacity built-in automatic extinguishing systems portable pumps structural firefighting with limited resources (no rescue expected) (consider automatic adi as an option) aggressive interior structural firefighting and rescue (consider automatic aid as an option)  aggressive interior structural firefighting and rescuestructural firefighting with limited resources (no rescue expected)portable pumpsbuilt-in automatic extinguishing systems automatic aid The option involving aggressive interior structural firefighting and rescue has been highlighted.


To provide municipalities and fire departments with suggested procedures for structural firefighting with aggressive interior structural firefighting and rescue

Aggressive Interior Structural Firefighting:


  • Provides the highest level of fire suppression and rescue capability1


  • This option requires a higher level of training as well as increased fireground staffing requirements.
  • High public fire safety along with lower firefighter risk is achieved.


  • Any alternatives will lead to a reduction in fire suppression and rescue capability.
  • Automatic aid2 from neighbouring fire departments may be used to achieve the greatest efficiency in delivering aggressive interior structural firefighting and rescue.

Special Delivery Considerations:

  • The provision of fire suppression3 is an important component of the Comprehensive Fire Safety Effectiveness Model, however, due to a variety of influences, not all communities are capable of or should consider delivering the same level of service.

1 An early aggressive and offensive initial interior attack on a working structural fire results in greatly reduced loss of life and property damage. Consequently, given that the progression of a structural fire to the point of "flashover" (the very rapid spreading of fire due to superheating of room contents and other combustibles) generally occurs in less than 10 minutes, one of the most important elements in limiting fire spread are the quick arrival of sufficient personnel and equipment to attack and extinguish the fire as close to the point of origin as possible.

2 Automatic aid is an option to provide the quickest availability of appropriate resources through co-operation. This timely supplement to limited local resources is an option for ensuring quick initial fire suppression capability.

3 Suppression capability is an extension of how much firefighting power can be put into action when there is a fire. It includes the amount of apparatus, equipment and personnel available; the time needed to respond and place equipment in action; the water supply; the application of strategies and tactics; the level of training; and all of the components that add up to effective fireground operations (NFPA 1201).

  • Fire suppression capability will vary from defensive to offensive, such as an aggressive interior structural firefighting and rescue with effective firefighting apparatus and adequate fireground staffing.
  • It is the responsibility of every council to determine the level of fire suppression that is provided and then to ensure that the fire department is to be provided with appropriate equipment, personnel and training to safely and effectively deliver the service.
  • The level of fire suppression being delivered in the community must be thoroughly evaluated to determine if it is being delivered in a safe and effective manner and that it is appropriate for the needs and circumstances of the community.

• Fire suppression operations need to be organized to ensure the fire department's fire suppression capability includes sufficient personnel, equipment and resources to efficiently, effectively and safely deploy both initial attack operations that can address marginal situations before they get out of control and sustained firefighting operations that can be assembled and placed into operation against major fires.

• The fire department shall have an initial attack capability, including application of water to the fire; engagement in search and rescue, forcible entry, ventilation, preservation of property; incident command; accountability for personnel; and provision of additional support activities as required by the situation. 


Structural firefighting operations have three functions:

  • rescue
  • ladder, forcible entry and ventilation
  • application of water through hose lines

In addition the following factors must be considered:

  • public and firefighter safety
  • establishing a continuous water supply
  • size-up
  • exposure protection
  • property and environment conservation

Key Points:

  • A prudent response pattern needs quick response times as well as a sufficient number of firefighters for the immediate attack.
    A relatively high percentage of fire calls are handled successfully by the first arriving suppression vehicle, provided that:
  • it arrives quickly
  • it has a sufficiently large crew
  • it does not have to perform multiple duties such as search and rescue or laddering as well as
  • Adequate water supply for firefighting is established by determining minimum rates of fire flow needed to control potential fires in representative structures and exposures in the fire area

• the fire flow rates are based on estimates of the number of hose streams needed to control potential fires

• includes demand for hose streams together with water for automatic fire sprinkler systems

• significant reductions in needed fire flow often can be achieved by the installation of an approved automatic fire sprinkler system throughout the building

• fire department should predetermine fire flow needs for proposed projects

• need to co-ordinate with Building Department and Building Code requirements

• satisfactory water flows should be a condition of issuing a building permit

• see OFM Communiqu; 96-022 re water supply requirements and the Ontario Building Code

Policy Requirements:

  • Departmental regulations and operating procedures and orders should be developed for the purpose of ensuring uniformity and effectiveness in department actions and operations.
  • These should be published and circulated to all members, and training should be provided whenever major changes or additions are made.
  • A system should be established that requires each member to read and acknowledge existing and revised regulations and procedures

Related Functions:

  • communications
  • apparatus and equipment
  • maintenance
  • administration
  • training
  • fire prevention
  • public education
  • community fire safety team
  • support services
  • selection of appropriate apparatus and equipment
  • staffing
  • Occupational Health & Safety Act
  • Section 21 guidelines

Codes, Standards and Best Practices:

Codes, Standards and Best Practices resources available to assist in establishing local policy on this assessment are listed below. All are available at http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca . Please feel free to copy and distribute this document. We ask that the document not be altered in any way, that the Office of the Fire Marshal be credited and that the documents be used for non-commercial purposes only.

See also PFSG
02-03-01 Economic Circumstances
02-02-12 &
02-02-03 Risk Assessment
04-04-12 Automatic Aid
04-12-13 Core Services
04-03-12 Service Providers