The modern fireground is changing. Studies show fires are burning hotter, faster. The modern firefighter needs to be aware of the changing fuel types and fuel loads and how to size up a situation.

Gone are the days of typical structure fires or room and contents fires being comprised of wood, wool and cotton. The rise in the use of synthetic materials, plastics, etc has created a completely new environment for the modern firefighter. Today, fires burn much faster and much hotter and the off gassing and smoke produced is far more toxic than anything our firefighting ancestors were ever exposed to.

Building/construction considerations: With the mass construction and prefab designs employed today, the modern firefighter needs to be much more conscious of building types, fuel loads, burn times and collapse potential. Solar power and back up generators are another potential hazard firefighters need to be educated on.

Even on traffic collisions and vehicle rescues, todays modern firefighter faces challenges not previously encountered. With the increase of hybrid and electric vehicles, firefighters need to be aware of the schematics of the various new models and become familiar with the locations of battery banks and high voltage cables before crews start cutting cars apart.

Findings of recent UL and NIST studies have changed the way we size up and approach fires now. Modern Firefighters need to be able to read the structure, the fire and the smoke and be conscious of the fire load, the flow path and the influence their actions will have on the fire.

Nearly every facet of firefighting has gone through changes over the years. As firefighters, we need to continually evaluate and educate ourselves and our crews on the changing environment of the world around us. These changes will affect how we train, how respond and successful we are as individuals and a profession.