Ultra-High Pressure Firefighting; The Fastest Attack

The term ‘Transitional Attack’ proposes changes in the way firefighters gain entry and approach room and content compartment fires, within the confinement of a burning building. It addresses issues such as tactical venting of structures, and proposes alternative means of alleviating worsening conditions in some circumstances. It encourages a risk–based approach to interior firefighting where the concept of personal risk versus gain must be seriously considered. It also proposes the idea that firefighters, prior to entering the structure, must attempt to assert control of the interior fire conditions before entering the involved fire zone or structure.

This new culture of asserting control on the fire prior entering is a key aspect of “Transitional Fire Attack” and the overall strategy toward increased fire fighter safety. The firefighter is encouraged to differentiate between modes of attack and on scene actions that can be described in offensive and defensive terms. While using the Lance, it is possible to be in an offensive mode while maintaining a defensive position.

At the very root of “Transitional Fire Attack” is the safe person concept that views the safety of fire fighters as a priority while still providing them with tools, techniques, and tactics that allow them to be highly effective in their approach.

It is about providing them with a system of work to achieve their objectives in a safe and efficient manner.


In 1982 following the loss of two Stockholm firefighters in a flashover, two Swedish fire engineers proposed changes to the tactical approach employed during structural fire attack in an effort to counter the hazards associated with flashover. Mats Rosander, of the Helsingborg Fire Department, and Kris Giselsson had been working on a research project that was aimed at addressing combustion in the gaseous-phase in an effort to optimize the application of water fog for firefighting purposes.

In relation to gas-phase fire suppression and optimal water placement by Lloyd Layman, this approach may not have appeared particularly innovative at the time as earlier research had been undertaken in the USA during the 1940s and 1950s.

Layman’s pioneering research into indirect extinguishment and atmospheric displacement was subsequently taken up by Iowa State University when Keith Royer and Floyd Nelson advanced the theories further. The Iowa State University research concentrated on methods and techniques of applying water in finely divided form onto superheated surfaces within a compartment, in an effort to hinder the combustion process and displace the oxygen content within a room through the creation of large amounts of steam. The principals involved were scientifically proven but the practical applications by firefighters were often misunderstood. The intention was for indirect extinguishing techniques (transitional attack) to be used in unoccupied structures, and this form of indirect attack remains an effective and safe tactical attack strategy when correctly applied under a specific range of fire conditions. (Excerpt 3D Fire Fighting, first edition, fpp)