Friday, April 10

You Make the Call...Search and Rescue

For this week's You Make the Call, I'm opening up a scenario that seems to be a topic of much discussion in the Fire/Rescue world: search priority.

So let's take a scenario similar to one I think most jurisdictions have, the multi-story residential.

  • You are dispatched as part of a first alarm assignment to a report of a fire in a building. A police cruiser has spotted fire in the top floor of a three story house just after 3 AM.
  • Weather is fair, little wind and neighbors are just emerging from their homes as you arrive. No one is standing in front of the house on fire.
  • Water supply is conveniently directly in front of the house and the street is clear enough to allow truck placement when they arrive.
  • You are the second engine to arrive on scene and are instructed by the Chief, who is now arriving on scene, to conduct a primary search.
  • On a quick 360 you note fire is extending from the third floor and that the rear of the house has a fire escape from the second floor, non-deployed, indicating possibly a multi-unit building. You also count 4 gas meters.

Where do you start and where do you go? You make the call.

The image is from the Springfield, Massachusetts Fire Department who responded to this fire on February 1st of this year. I found this image to be the best quality for my purposes here and in no way am making a comment on firefighting activities carried out in the photo or on the scene. This photo was taken by Dennis G. Leger and came up on a search result for "3 story fire."


The Bus Driver said...

Given that Gas can explode if its part of a leak, and given that gas should not be around fire as a matter of principle, my first intuition would be to shut off the gas valves, or call the local gas company to shut down the gas lines in the area.

The safety of yourself and your crew is first.

After that, I'd probably follow protocol for extinguising the fire and searching for survivors, as well as asking neighbors if the house was occupied.

Medix311 said...

I think it goes without saying, but follow your department SOPs first and foremost. But...

Given the picture, you won't find viable victims on the 3rd floor and fire conditions are going to worsen very rapidly. My search would start on the second floor moving to the first.

If you've committed an attack crew to the 3rd floor, I'd send up a second crew (with hose line) to back them up and conduct the 3rd floor search.

The Happy Medic said...

Of course we're all following our Department's SOPs, SOGs, policies etc, I'm curious to hear what they are. Most often there is a vague mention of searching right or left or whatever, but let's get ideas flowing here.

My team, seeing 4 gas meters, is looking to search 4 units, if we can. We'll start as close to the seat of the fire as we can, moving away as conditions warrant. If we can clear the fire floor (third) we're moving downward ventilating and clearing as we search. As soon as we find that last unit we'll start in on a secondary, more thorough search, since the attack team will be knocking down the bulk of the fire.
It will be hard to go past possibly occupied units on our way to the seat of the fire and even harder not to grab another hose line on our way, but our focus needs to be on search and move.

That's my plan.

Big Show said...

first off, is it a truss roof? Judging by the picture, it looks like it is not a lightweight/truss construction, so you have time. I would go to the second floor, and work your way down from there, since it seems that the top floor is well off. Start in the front (Alpha side)and work your way back (charlie side). Also I'd make sure you have a line with you to protect the stairwells. Since it does appear to be a multi-dwelling house, I'd make sure to bring my irons with me, since your probably going to force entry more than once. Also I'd try to ascertain if anyone is in fact inside the building before making entry.

brendan said...

What's left of that third floor in the front is looking to flash, but if you hurry you can catch it, and known down what's there. With manpower and some hustle, this building might be repairable.

Grab the two and a half and go get it!