Jay Bonnifield and Pat Williams

Anatomy of a Push

Course Description:

The Anatomy Of A Push is designed for any firefighter that may find themselves on the nozzle at a fire, as well as the company officers and training officers who are building curriculum and driving company-level training. The class begins by confronting the topics of how we view “risk” and “safety” in the fire service, as well as the optimal mindset that provides a firm foundation for the skills covered later. We discuss why it is important to simplify and give a clear mission to the nozzle person so that human factors that come from the dynamic fireground can be accounted for and so everyone from the most junior firefighter to the most senior can understand how to quickly and simply read the fire behavior and know intuitively what to do with their handline in order to positively affect searchable space. We will work to build basic fire attack decision algorithms that are based on experienced and proven methods in order to capitalize on and build a bias for action in ourselves and our crews. We will also focus on what an “optimistic and opportunistic mindset” looks like and why it is important for us to have in order to build and maintain operational momentum. After discussing overall the overall mission and mindset, we move to looking at “game film” or thermal imaging footage recorded in heavy fire conditions in multiple acquired structure burns to dissect line placement, fire behavior, water mapping, hit and move vs flowing while moving and how we can enhance and protect life space and search efforts just by how we use and move our line through the building. We discuss the various pieces of “anatomy” that make for a high-quality fire attack on single or multiple rooms of fire in residential structures where we exist to protect and preserve life with our handline.

Covering body mechanics and sequences that move from the “clamp” to the “hip grip” to the “comella lock/lockoff” and back again, and how to move fluidly between the various positions while maintaining an open nozzle. Doing so allows for positional changes as fatigue of the firefight sets in so that each individual’s work capacity can be elevated for longer flow periods such as multiple rooms of fire. We then progress to hit and move/flowing while moving sequences to build lower body coordination and comfort while moving forward, taking right and left turns, backing out, and dealing with level changes like standing or crawling to make it over door thresholds or debris. We then move into the building to cover water mapping principles that will build on the established lower body coordination to start to develop intentional water placement based on knowledge acquired in the classroom with TIC footage as we start to put together the full picture of the pieces of anatomy from mind to body, exterior to interior, and lower body to upper body. The progression in full will go from open drill field for body positioning, to straight hall pushes, to straight hall with a right turn, straight hall with a left turn, push in/back out, and finally two rooms of fire in line and two rooms of fire offset.


Pat and I are tailboard firefighters with the Everett Fire Department in Everett, WA assigned to Engine 1 in the downtown core. I have been on the job for 13 years and instructed in many venues from local college fire programs and fire academies to instructing nationally. I have taught at fire conferences such as the Midwest Area Fire Academy (MAFA), FDIC, and others. I am frequently featured on webcasts for Fire Nuggets and many FOOLS chapters across the country, along with my hands-on instruction with Brothers In Battle (Engine company ops) and West Coast Fire Training (Engine company ops live fire).