Wednesday, May 13

Two parts: 8 — 9:30 a.m. & 10 — 11:45 a.m.

The art of reading smoke: the next generation

Today’s structure fires are more dangerous than ever before. Lightweight construction, low-mass synthetics, and open space floor plans have created a perfect storm for rapid, prolific fire growth and extreme behavior. It is imperative for firefighters of all ranks and experience levels to be prepared for this battle. The Art of Reading Smoke, developed by Dave Dodson and continued by Rob Backer, provides the knowledge necessary for first-arriving firefighters, officers, and chief officers to determine the fire’s location and progression “from the seat” before seeing any flame. Through the extensive use of actual fireground videos, first-time students will develop, and return students will refine their knowledge to become INTELLECTUALLY aggressive firefighters. The Next Generation of Reading Smoke brings new research, a new library of videos, and discussion on cancer prevention, tactics, and strategies to blend today’s extinguishment and safety cultures into one cohesive unit. Smoke readers are empowered to implement aggressive, decisive tactics because they KNOW what is happening, not because they are guessing and searching for fire. That knowledge makes their tactics safe and effective.

Cost: Free

INSTRUCTOR: Rob Backer is a 17-year veteran of the fire service and currently serves as the Captain of Engine 76 for Thornton Fire Department in Thornton, Colorado. He is the owner and lead instructor of First Due Intelligence, llc, delivering The Art of Reading Smoke and The Art of the First Due nationally for Dave Dodson. He has written articles for Fire Engineering and Black Helmet Brotherhood on reading smoke and the principles of effective size-ups and Incident Action Plans. Rob can be contacted at