This is a well written piece by an experienced urban Ladder Company Officer. The most important point made applicable to all departments is the "consider more training" line when refered to lower staffing levels. Low staffing is a very unfortunate and seemingly insurmountable tragedy in our avocation. The best way to overcome this is to train to your capabilities, set realistic standard operating procedures and perform them when called upon. I have the need to operate with a two man truck (when fully staffed) and we set as an S.O.P to use a ground ladder first due, first for horizontal vent, then to place the same ladder as a second exit (hopefully on the floor above the fire). The basic belief for all first alarm companies in our staffing situation is to "lay a strong foundation" for sound and aggressive sustained attack when we can finally mass needed resources. Placing that ground ladder early is a key factor in providing for Firefighter safety in that attack.