Section III-11

Service Calls and Miscellaneous Fires

Purpose:  To establish strategic and tactical approach guidelines when responding to service calls and miscellaneous fire calls not otherwise covered by this manual.

Scope:   These guidelines pertain to all Three Star Fire Department personnel when responding as a first-in company or as a mutual aid company.  These procedures shall also be used in lieu of other guidelines authorized in this manual.


Brush & Grass Fires

Brush and grass fires are generally extinguished with booster lines and/or 1¾" hose lines, although larger streams may be utilized due to conditions including but not limited to exposure problems, large fire involvement, and severe wind conditions.

Brush and grass fires should be approached from the upwind side of the fire at the "heel", thereby reducing the possibility of exposure problems for firefighting personnel due to flying embers, smoke, fire travel, etc.  Personnel should begin the attack at the heel and then flank the sides of the fire, thus confining and extinguishing of the fire.

If accessibility to the fire is a factor in the confining and extinguishing of the fire by conventional fire suppression techniques, firefighting personnel may employ the use of brooms, shovels, portable water cans, extinguishers, and bucket relays from a nearby water source.

Officers in charge of brush and grass fires, especially large scale ones, shall be aware of the utilization of mutual aid, State of Tennessee Forestry Department, and Covington Brush Truck in controlling such an incident. 

Incident Commanders will ensure that a proper and thorough overhaul is conducted.

Trash Fires

Trash fires are to be extinguished with lines no smaller than 1¾”, in rare circumstances, the booster line on BT-3 can be utilized.  Personnel should be alert to possible exposure risks that may exist with garbage dumpsters or containers located within close proximity to buildings and any other exposure(s).  Personnel should also be aware of the uncertain nature of the materials burning within trash containers and take whatever precautionary measures they deem necessary, staying upwind when and where possible.  SCBA must always be used at a trash fire unless otherwise advised by a Chief, Lieutenant, or Acting Officer.  All trash fires must be properly and thoroughly extinguished and overhauled.  If necessary, personnel will utilize hand tools to reach the seat of the fire and/or tip over the container to expose the burning material(s).


It is not Three Star Fire Department policy to conduct any wash downs.  If called or requested to perform such functions, Public Works will immediately be notified and requested to make the scene.

It is essential to approach the scene of reported wash-downs or other spill with care, as the spilled product may be unknown or of a hazardous nature.  If the spill is small and the product is common fuel, gasoline, oil, antifreeze, etc., then it is appropriate to apply an absorbent material such as Speedy Dry or sand to the spill, if onhand.  Arrangements must be made to remove the sand or Speedy Dry once the product has been absorbed. 

In the event of a large scale spill or if the substance is of a potentially hazardous nature then the Covington Fire Hazardous Materials Response Team will be notified through Tipton County Dispatch  (See Section V-1 regarding Hazmat Incident Guidelines)

Under no circumstances will Three Star Fire Department wash down spills or vehicle leaks off roadways, driveways, or any other surface.  If immediate containment is necessary, take any appropriate actions but do not wash down with fire hose.

Gas & CO Incidents

Poplar Grove Utility must be notified immediately of all natural gas emergencies and requested to respond to the scene.

Until the arrival of Poplar Grove, Three Star Fire Department personnel and apparatus will be kept a safe distance away from and upwind from the area of origin.  In the event of open fire being fed by natural gas, then no attempt should be made to completely extinguish the fire ball until the gas source is located.  Once the gas supply is shut down the fire may be extinguished.  In the interim, personnel will protect the exposures adjacent to the gas leak and cool the fire ball, as well as any civilian personnel.

Depending on circumstances including the volume, location, time of day, etc., the Three Star Fire Department may be called upon to evacuate civilians from the immediate danger zone.  All Three Star Fire Department firefighters and officers must utilize SCBA and full PPE while evacuating and operating at gas emergencies.  All potential sources of ignition should be neutralized and rendered safe, when possible.  The Incident Commander must ensure that a large enough hot zone is created so that firefighters, apparatus, and civilians are neither exposed nor threatened.

It is likely that Poplar Grove will be delayed.  In such cases, the Incident Commander may elect to shut the gas source involved.  Only trained personnel will perform this function.

Electrical Emergencies

SHUT OFF power immediately, if needed!

When the Three Star Fire Department is dispatched to electrical emergencies, Southwest Tennessee Electric must immediately be notified and requested to respond to the scene.

If electrical power lines are involved, ensure that the apparatus, firefighter, and all civilians are kept a safe distance away.  All wires should be treated as if live and fully charged, despite any indications from “hot sticks” or any other monitoring devices.  It should be noted that live wires arc and can jump, creating an even greater hazard.  Three Star Fire Department personnel shall NOT attempt to place any object on top of a downed wire in order to restrict its movement.  Only properly trained Southwest Tennessee Electric or other utility responders should approach or handle power lines.

If a downed wire ignites combustible materials adjacent to it, water is NOT to be used to extinguish the fire.  Protection of exposures will be maintained at a safe distance.

If wires are burning on the service poles, Three Star Fire Department personnel must keep themselves, apparatus, and civilians a safe distance away from (and never under) these wires.  It is important to always be aware of the possibility of burning insulation, wire, etc. falling to the ground.  Apparatus will block off the street and keep no less than two service poles between responders and the burning wire in all directions.

If electrical wires are burning within a structure, then the above listed guidelines will be followed.  The use of the Thermal Imaging Camera will be used to assist the Incident Commander.  However, if an interior attack on the fire must be commenced then personnel will do so utilizing full PPE (including SCBA).  Personnel should be aware of PCB's that are often emitted from various types of wire insulation, along with ballasts and other older electrical fixtures.

Bomb Threats

In the unlikely event that Three Star Fire Department is dispatched to a reported bomb threat, then responding personnel will remain with the apparatus at the firehouse and standby until requested to respond or released by the Fire Chief or his designated representative.  The Fire Chief or his designee ONLY will respond to the scene of the bomb threat and coordinate with the senior law enforcement official.  Together they will determine the appropriate course of action.  The Officer standing-by at the firestation will advise the Chief of the number of personnel available.

If the Three Star Fire Department is dispatched to a bomb detonation, then no firefighting evolutions will take place until the Incident Commander consults with the senior law enforcement officials at the scene to determine if entry is safe for firefighting personnel.  Secondary detonations and explosions are a serious risk, so care must be taken.  Instructions given by law enforcement officials will be followed with approval of the Three Star Fire Department Incident Commander.

Automobile / Vehicle Fires

When responding to reported automobile/vehicle fires, all personnel should be aware of the possibility that the involved vehicle is carrying or transporting hazardous materials.  It is essential to ascertain as soon as possible if there is a hazardous material(s) issue or threat involved.  If confirmation cannot be obtained prior to arrival on scene, then all personnel will approach the scene cautiously, always prepared to evacuate to a safe distance.

If an accident or other incident is located on an inclined surface, then Three Star Fire Department apparatus should be located uphill.

When operating at car fires, Three Star Fire Department personnel are required to wear full PPE including SCBA.  Prior to extinguishing any vehicle fire, attempts should be made to "chock" the wheels and stabilize the involved vehicle.

If flames are visible, then Three Star Fire Department personnel will utilize two (2) 1¾ attack lines.  Firefighters will approach the fire vehicle from the sides in order to minimize exposure to the front and rear bumpers in the event of an explosion.

Prior to breaking the windows or doors of the involved vehicle, attempt to locate the keys from the operator of the vehicle.  Likewise, when access to the engine compartment is appropriate, first try the hood release located in the passenger compartment of the vehicle prior to forcing the hood open.

After the fire has been extinguished, the NEGATIVE side of the battery terminal of the vehicle must be disconnected and/or cut.

Drivers of the apparatus will, if possible, stop the fire apparatus a minimum of 75’ from burning vehicle as to provide adequate space for fire operations.

In many vehicle fires situations, hydrants are not readily available, necessitating careful conservation of water.  Both the driver and the Incident Commander need to be aware of potential water supply issues as part of their incident size-up.