Firefighting in high-rise and standpipe equipped buildings

David M. McGrail 

The training program is a one-day seminar on Firefighting Operations in High-Rise and Standpipe Equipped Buildings.  This seminar is designed to give chief officers, company officers, and firefighters a solid foundation upon which to build a comprehensive operational plan for high-rise firefighting.

Chief McGrail will utilize his 35-years of fire service experience, from nozzleman to incident commander, along with his years of research and development to outline and explain the critical components necessary to successfully, and as safely as possible, combat a high-rise fire.  The lessons learned from several fire service case studies, including numerous high-rise fires that Chief McGrail has operated at, will take attendees from the basics to the battle.

The central theme of Chief McGrail’s training seminar is a proper firefighting mindset, emphasizing the need to continually fight the deadly disease of complacency.  Attendees will be given a brief review of the construction of both high-rise and low-rise (standpipe equipped) buildings, with a focus on the standpipe system, and the dangers associated with standpipe system pressure regulating devices (pressure reducing valves / pressure restricting devices).

A comprehensive discussion of engine company operations, with an emphasis on “proper weapon selection” will highlight the critical tools necessary for successful standpipe operations along with the fundamental techniques and procedures to make these operations extremely user friendly. 

Chief McGrail will also address several of the essential truck company (support) functions, from forcible entry to search operations. This will include Chief McGrail’s Ten, Truck Company, High-Rise, Operational R’s. 

The chorography of the entire operation rests with the incident commander and a solid command structure to achieve overall command and control.  Chief McGrail will provide a recipe for success outlining the six essential areas of command and control utilizing the incident command system (ICS) / national incident management system (NIMS). 

This seminar will provide a comprehensive understanding of the essential components necessary to achieve success at high-rise operations.  Attendees of this seminar will leave armed with vital information, and become re-energized to accomplish our most important mission, fire suppression, in our most complicated fire environment, the high-rise building.           



The engine company standpipe operation is arguably one of the most important functions the engine company will perform.  There must be a pre-established standard operating procedure for this low frequency operation, and there must be an ongoing and continuous program of hands on training. 

This hands on training program will give attendees a comprehensive understanding of the essential appliances, equipment, and tools necessary for successful standpipe operations. Coupled with the appropriate equipment, attendees will be given a solid foundation of operational procedures that can be utilized for their most frequently encountered fire attack situations in high-rise and other standpipe equipped buildings.

This hands on training program will include:

1.   Standpipe Appliances / Equipment: All of the essential standpipe appliances and equipment and its application will be addressed, from the recommended nozzle to the standpipe inline pressure gauge.

2.   Standpipe Hose Packs:  The recommended size (2 1/2-inch) hose will be addressed, including the most efficient and effective methods, for assembling, storing, transporting, and deploying (stretching) the hose packs.  Specifically, the “Denver Hose Pack / Denver Fold” will be taught, utilizing light weight, velcro hose pack straps.

3.   Operating and Advancing 2 1/2-inch Hose:  Attendees will learn the most efficient methods for handling and operating       2 1/2-inch hose.  This will include proper nozzle operation, nozzle mechanics, backup man placement, dealing with friction points, and the use of “hit and move” tactics. 

4.   The “Apartment Stretch”:  Attendees will learn the correct method to quickly and efficiently complete an “Apartment Stretch”, with minimal manpower. This stretch is designed for, and can be utilized for situations where we have control of the door to the fire area, and that door is closed, such as an apartment door in a multiple family dwelling building.  This stretch involves stretching the hoseline dry, as far as it is safely possible, typically up to the point of entry to the fire area (closed and controlled door). 

5.   The “Stairwell Stretch”:  Attendees will learn the correct method to quickly and efficiently complete a “Stairwell Stretch”, with minimal manpower. This stretch is designed for, and can be utilized for situations where we have heavy smoke / fire / heat (an IDLH atmosphere) immediately upon exiting the stairwell onto the fire floor; such as a well involved fire area in a commercial building, or heavy smoke / fire / heat in the public hallway of a multiple family dwelling.

6.   Alternative Fire Attack (Portable Master Streams):  Attendees will learn various methods to apply and utilize portable master stream appliances for offensively attacking a fire off a standpipe (in situations where the fire is beyond the control of a handline). 

This program will take place out in the City ff Harrisburg at a high-rise building. It will be a two-day intensive HOT session where students can expect to work hard and get wet. Enrolled students will receive additional information about this program.