Over the years we have seen several different methods of labeling sides of a structure. They range from numerical to alphabetical and even by compass heading. However, it does not matter which way you choose to label sides of a building if the companies arriving label the sides differently. If the first arriving company does not establish their location and side, the incoming companies can easily become confused and disoriented.
The best practice right now is to label the sides of a structure alphabetically in a clockwise fashion. Some firefighters will tell you the Alpha side would be the address or street side and you would label the remaining sides after that determination. This can become a major problem if you arrive on scene with a building that is oddly shaped or lands in the middle of a parking lot where there is no clear “address side”.
In the video below we will clarify how to properly label and identify sides of a structure. We will also show a couple of examples where labeling the side by the initial arriving company is of the utmost importance.
Matt Hinkle is a Staff Instructor at the Mississippi State Fire Academy. He has over twelve years of experience in the fire service and has served in many positions throughout his career including; Firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, Training Officer and Instructor. He has designed local and state training curriculums, coordinated regional training events, and assisted in the development of national training programs. During his service Matt has received several awards including: Firefighter of the Year (Lafayette County Fire Department), Fire Officer of the Year Finalist (MS Burn Association), Medal of Valor (MS Burn Association), and a Letter of Commendation (City of Oxford). Matt has received over 2,000 hours of technical training in many disciplines including: NFPA 1001-I-II (Firefighter I-II), NFPA 1002 (Driver/Operator), NFPA 1041-I-II (Instructor), Hazardous Materials Technician I-II, Rope Rescue Technician I-II, Confined Space Rescue Technician, Trench Rescue Technician, Vehicle Extrication I-II, Search and Rescue Technician I-II-III, EMT-B, and Cave Rescue I-II.