Glossary of firefighting

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Note: This list does not include firefighting equipment, i.e., tools and apparatus used by firefighters. Please refer to Glossary of firefighting equipment for such terms. Similarly, although there is much overlap, you may also want to refer to the Glossary of wildfire terms for terminology particular to that type of firefighting.
Note: Many of the terms defined here, particularly relating to systems of work, team names, procedures, careers and policies, seem to originate in the U.S. and are not necessarily applicable to other English-speaking countries' fire and rescue services. For example, Call Firefighter (U.S.) and Retained Firefighter (UK).

Firefighting jargon includes a diverse lexicon of both common and idiosyncratic terms. One problem that exists in trying to create a list such as this is that much of the terminology used by a particular department is specifically defined in their particular standing operating procedures, such that two departments may have completely different terms for the same thing. For example, depending on whom one asks, a safety team may be referred to as a standby, a RIT or RIG or RIC (rapid intervention team/group/crew), or a FAST (firefighter assist and search team). Furthermore, a department may change a definition within its SOP, such that one year it may be RIT, and the next RIG or RIC.

The variability of firefighter jargon should not be taken as a rule; some terms are fairly universal (e.g. stand-pipe, hydrant, chief). But keep in mind that any term defined here may be department- or region-specific, or at least more idiosyncratic than one may realize.



Also, an antiquated term for an alarm system which predated telephones, where boxes were located on street corners in urban areas and connected to the nearest fire station.








To manage the logistical, fiscal, planning, operational, safety and community issues related to the incident/emergency, an Incident Management Team will provide the command and control infrastructure that is required.
Incident management starts as the smallest unit and escalates according to the complexity of the emergency. The five types of IMTs are as follows:
  • Type 5: Local Village and Township Level – a "pool" of primarily fire officers from several neighboring departments trained to serve in Command and General Staff positions during the first 6–12 hours of a major or complex incident.
  • Type 4: City, County or Fire District Level – a designated team of fire, EMS, and possibly law enforcement officers from a larger and generally more populated area, typically within a single jurisdiction (city or county), activated when necessary to manage a major or complex incident during the first 6–12 hours and possibly transition to a Type 3 IMT.
  • Type 3: State or Metropolitan Area Level – a standing team of trained personnel from different departments, organizations, agencies, and jurisdictions within a state or DHS Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) region, activated to support incident management at incidents that extend beyond one operational period. Type 3 IMTs will respond throughout the State or large portions of the State, depending upon State-specific laws, policies, and regulations.
  • Type 2: National and State Level – a Federally or State-certified team; has less training, staffing and experience than Type 1 IMTs, and is typically used on smaller scale national or state incidents. There are 35 Type 2 IMTs currently in existence, and operate through interagency cooperation of federal, state and local land and emergency management agencies.
  • Type 1: National and State Level – a Federally or State-certified team; is the most robust IMT with the most training and experience. Sixteen Type 1 IMTs are now in existence, and operate through interagency cooperation of federal, state and local land and emergency management agencies.
Although the primary purpose is for wildfire response, an Incident Management Team can respond to a wide range of emergencies, including fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunami, riots, spilling of hazardous materials, and other natural or human-caused incidents.
The five subsystems of an incident management team are as follows:
  • Incident command system (ICS) an on-scene structure of management-level positions suitable for managing any incident.
  • Training development and delivery of training courses.
  • Qualifications and certification national standards for qualifications and certification for ICS positions.
  • Publications management development, control, sources, and distribution of NIIMS publications provided by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).
  • Supporting Technology and systems used to support an emergency response, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), orthophoto mapping, National Fire Danger Rating System, remote automatic weather stations, automatic lightning detection systems, infrared technology, and communications










Air supply may limit the heat release rate in the compartment but that unburned gases (those that could not burn in the room) can burn outside of the compartment. But in the late 1970s, fire researcher C. Huggett at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) verified Thornton’s Rule using the oxygen consumption calorimetry technique, developed at NIST in the early 1970s. In “Estimation of Rate of Heat Release by Means of Oxygen Consumption Measurements,” Huggett shows how much energy was released per gram of oxygen for common combustibles. Where Thornton was only able to estimate the energy release based on the oxidation of carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen bonds, Huggett, with modern technology, was able to make actual measurements. Huggett simply verified Thornton’s earlier observation, which is the reason it is known today as Thornton’s Rule.





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