Acronyms, acronyms, acronyms, everywhere acronyms. There has been much debate and confusion about two main acronyms in the fire service: SLICERS and RECEO-VS.
What do we use them for? What is the difference between the two? Which one is better?
Let’s take a moment and talk about what they are, some advantages and disadvantages, and how they compare.
The military, government, and public services love to use acronyms to abbreviate all our highly technical and important operating procedures and tactics. When memorizing subject matter and procedures, acronyms assist firefighters in recalling these important topics quickly and accurately. The hard part is knowing which one is the best or which one we should be using in the right context and situation.
What are SLICERS and RECEO-VS used for?
SLICERS and RECEO-VS are two different methods used by firefighters to assist in recalling the strategic actions necessary to take during structural firefighting.
SLICERS is an acronym that stands for:
Locate the fire
Identify and control flow paths
Cool the space from a safe location,
Extinguish the fire
The SLICERS model priorities
This approach to firefighting prioritizes locating and controlling flow paths to limit fire spread before directly attacking the fire. This approach comes out of the priorities of RECEO-VS and is newer in thought and practice. According to the ISFSI, Eddie Buchanan is usually given credit for originating the SLICERS acronym.
The SLICERS model emphasizes the priorities of the first engine company officer role in today’s fire scenes. The concept is to arrive on the scene and establish yourself and walk through the steps of the SLICERS acronym.
If a fire department has this method as a standard operating procedure, then all members should be familiar with the steps to take, the order to take them, and why they are happening.
Training must be paramount to establish this concept successfully. Departments who regularly train and rehearse this concept become better at their initial attack coordination and the safety of all on the fire ground.
- Enhanced safety: The SLICERS model highlights the importance of identifying and rescuing potential victims, which enhances firefighter safety by controlling and cooling the fire first.
- Coordinated efforts: The SLICERS model promotes coordinated efforts among firefighters, ensuring that everyone works together.
- Task prioritization: The SLICERS model emphasizes the importance of containment, extinguishment, and rescue which helps to prioritize tasks.
- Lack of flexibility: The SLICERS model is a rigid approach that may not be appropriate for every kind of incident.
- Critical factors might be missed: The focus on a structured approach could lead firefighters to overlook important factors that are not covered by the SLICERS model.
- Extensive training required: To apply the SLICERS model effectively, firefighters need to undergo extensive training to properly coordinate the attack.
Our second acronym, RECEO-VS, stands for:
The RECEO-VS model priorities
It is a more traditional approach to firefighting that emphasizes prioritizing rescue, protecting exposures, and confining the fire before directly attacking it.
Essentials of Firefighting textbook of 1953 by Lloyd Layman is given credit for originating the term, but its approach also has a long history within the fire service.
- Firefighter Health and SafetyStructured method: RECEO-VS offers a structured and organized approach to firefighting operations.
- Complete coverage: RECEO-VS covers a wide range of tasks in firefighting operations, from initial rescue and exposure protection to final salvage and overhaul.
- Safety-focused: RECEO-VS emphasizes safety by prioritizing rescue, exposure protection, and fire confinement, which are critical for safeguarding lives and property.
- Limited flexibility: Other tactics or strategies may be required in some instances to manage a fire incident effectively that are not in the order or even part of the approach.
- Training and understanding: Implementing RECEO-VS effectively requires proper training, experience, and familiarity with the strategy.
- Resource-intensive: RECEO-VS requires significant resources, including personnel, equipment, and time, to carry out all the tasks in the sequence.
Why Multiple Acronyms?
Why do we have two different acronyms if we have been doing the same thing in the fire service for so long? Why have them at all?
To answer these questions we learned the difference between them. The main difference between SLICERS and RECEO-VS is the order in which tactics are prioritized. SLICERS prioritizes flow path control, while RECEO-VS prioritizes rescue, exposure protection, and fire confinement.
Additionally, SLICERS emphasizes cooling the space from a safe location before directly attacking the fire, while RECEO-VS emphasizes ventilation as a key tactic. This key change stems from the NIST and UL fire flow studies in 2014.
From the scientific evidence seen in the studies, the fire dynamics in today’s fire move far faster and burn hotter than thirty years ago. We have less time to control and rescue individuals.
In order to provide for a more controlled environment studies have shown it is far more advantageous to locate the fire area and cool it from a distance. This enables the internal environment to be safer and gives the responding crews time to set up and attack internally.
Both SLICERS and RECEO-VS have their advantages and disadvantages, and some departments may prefer one approach over the other based on their specific needs and resources.
As you can see many of the positives and negatives I listed are similar between the two. They both have a set method and approach which puts certain tasks and priorities ahead of others.
The biggest takeaway from the comparison is that SLICERS has evolved from RECEO-VS. The time of making a direct attack from the unburned side of a home because we don’t want to push fire, is over.
The traditional materials and legacy homes have been replaced today with plastics, aluminum staples, and glued sawdust. We don’t have the luxury of time we used to have. We need to work smarter and more efficiently to truly save all the lives involved, both civilians and personnel.
Ultimately, the most effective approach will depend on the specific circumstances of each fire and the experience and training of the firefighters involved. Training and repetition are the keys to getting attack acronyms to work in the most efficient way possible.
References and Resources
Chief Drew Smith, SLICE-RS, DICE-RS and RECEO-VS. Online ISFSI Blog 2023.
Chief Mike Bryant, RECEO VS and SLICERS– Where Do They Fit? Online Blog 2023.
Anonymous. SLICE-RS. Online Verisk ISO Mitigation 2023.
Staff. Understanding the New SLICERS Acronym. Online Firefighter Nation.com 2023.
Eddie Buchanan. Rethinking RECEO VS: Breaking Up with an Old Friend. Online Fire Engineering 2023.