I agree about SMART firefighting and using our heads, but what is not being stated, or glossed over, is that VSP is not like our normal size up or situational awareness. VSP - from what I have read - discusses using the science of Carboxy Hemoglobin levels and CO levels in the structure and then applying that to your size up from the street.
In english - if the smoke is too heavy - the victim can't survive. Don't risk your life for them.
The flaw with the study that lead to this is that it examined fires where firefighters were killed that did not result in a civilian death. I don't understand the correlation. It does not discuss if there were victims in these fires that killed these firemen. If saves were made. Just because there was an LODD doesn't mean they were operating at a fire where the was no perceived life hazard (or real life hazard).
I go back to what has been said, conditions (fire and building and resources) will either allow you to enter and operate or they won't. If there is a known life hazard we should push the envelope - not reckless abandon, but I truly believe there are times where I may have to risk my life for someone else. Otherwise we need to operate as safely as we can given the conditions (as defined above).
I have a hard time accepting I should write of victims because they MAY not be alive based on the smoke. And in the last year I have read and discussed fires (like the one from my earlier post) where VSP would indicate a no go and victims were saved.
Please correct me if I am mistaken or you disagree. Are we not discussing what we have generally done for years? Ok maybe not the technical Carboxy Hemoglobin and the actual scientific aspect of it but the size up? I feel like every time we pull up to a job and decide that we are going to make an interior attack we have reviewed and decided that, 1) it can be done safely and effectively, 2) We can properly reach and potentially preserve a life inside, 3) Reasonably protect and assure the utmost safety precautions are used in doing so. Why is this becoming another way to discuss the aspect of size up? I don’t know much about VSP and that’s my fault for not educating myself on something “New” but I feel like this is becoming over complicated. Know your job, the building, the smoke, and the fire, and everything will work out to your AND the potential victims advantage. If the structure is to advanced either by reading the smoke or seeing the fire for there to be a viable victim inside then it falls back to a rick assessment does it not? Give me some feedback please.
I agree with your assessment, but has your no/no go ever been based on the viability of the victim? We can either go in, or we can't. But do you think we should we standing on the front lawn "playing god" based on the smoke comditions?
No it has not, my overall opinion of this is not in support of this. It is simply saying that I feel we are complicating things that don’t need it. We as a service have a way of making things sound bigger and better so we feel better about our knowledge when we get asked questions. The fact of the matter is that we should be dedicating members to an interior attack based off of the general rules of size up and the RISK vs. GAIN scenario. That’s just my take on this deal. And as far as smoke conditions until you have experienced the dark hot smoky atmosphere and suddenly entered a room where there is little smoke then you can not understand that there can be human life in the most amazing scenarios that you would never expect it. Not pointing anyone out on that just using it for a point. Check out the aggressive firefighter page and you can see my opinions on interior operations and our obligation to our bosses (the community).
Unfortunately, KISS hasn't worked that great. The KISS method of "see fire, put out fire" is dangerous! Fires are not so simple. Building construction is not so simple. SIZEUP is not so simple. The fire services is inundated by complacent firefighters. the fire services is inundated by gung hoo, hut, hut , hut guys that rush in without thought. The next time you go to a fire stop a guy as he steps out of the building and ask him about the structure he is exiting beofre he turns around. You will find that many have no idea of the construction type, the number of floors, the location of windows/ doors. That is dangerous! Sure you may get a way with being clueless once or twice or maybe even an entire career but then again you may get into a situation in which you may actually need to know the structure you are in to save your own life. Is training or the lack there of a problem? Obviously the answer is, YES. I say the more tools in the tool box the better. VPS is another tool.
As for your interpretation of VPS.... I don't believe VSP is based just on smoke conditions. In the 7/2010 Fire Engineering article the author states "survivability profiling is the art of examining a situation and making an intelligent and informed decision based on known events, or circumstances, to determine if civilians can survive existing fire and smoke conditions and to determine whether to commit firefighters to life-saving and interior operations". That to me says you look at the entire situation (COAL WAS WEALTH...don't forget the L stands for location and extent of fire). Smoke assessment should be a part of everyones sizeup because smoke is unburned fuel or soon to be burning fuel. VSP says look at the entire situation before commiting to aggressive interior attack and aggressive rescue operations. Fireman are not garbage. Fireman are not replaceable. I can't imagine why anyone would be against a tool that may save firefighter lifes. Vsp doesn't mean don't do your job. It doesn't mean don't be aggressive. It means be smart. It means THINK. Is that too much to ask? It only takes a second and it may save your life. Remember, others depend on you.
Patrick, thank you for your response.
I agree with you that the KISS concept can be taken to an extreme and create complacent, uninformed firefighters that simply go in and put the wet stuff on the red stuff. However, I use the KISS concept to reinforce the BASICS of firefighting. Counting windows, doing a proper building size up (COAL WAS WEALTH), using preplannign information, etc, etc, etc. You are absolutely correct that fires are complicated events and our response to them is anything but simplistic. Keep it "simple" not "simplistic".
I know too many firefighters that are new to the fire service (under 10 years) that can provide a stellar presentation on the newest and greatest technique or tool...but ask them to do a primary search, and they struggle greatly.
VSP is a new technique that asks us to make a go/no go based upon whether or not we think the conditions in a building are tenable or not for civilian victims. This is the fundamental issue that I have with this technique. The goal of this is to reduce LODD's, which is an absolutely great thing. But this is getting away from what I believe is my job in the fire service; to do what I can to give someone a chance, to fight the CONDITIONS and what the conditions will allow me to do...not what the conditions might mean for a victim inside a building. If there are advanced fire conditions that still warrant an interior push (i.e. its not too far gone that we have to go defensive), then we should absolutely send a line into the building and try to do make a grab. Protect the rescue company. Do it cautiously and carefully, but still do it.
To me this is a matter of symantecs. We are all saying the same things. We agree on aggressive interior firefighting and aggressive interior rescue operations when the situation presented us dictates we can act accordingly. I say VPS is another tool....I know of a case in which has VPS been utilized a firefighter would not be dead and another would not have suffred significant burns. Crews pulled up to a fully involved structure fire....single story ranch. Crews were told that a wheelchair bound occupant was still in the structure. Mind you heavy fire and/or thick black smoke was eminating from all sides of the structure....the room reportedly occupied by the victim orange with flame. First in officer took command. The pipeman was very junior with little if any experience, the second up was also very junior with little if any experience, the third had some time on the job but had questionable experience. They made the decision to make entry and try to make a save. The second up told me they encountered very thick black smoke all the way to the floor upon entry....they continued in......soon after the room flashed. The third FF on the line got out. RIT crews went in to rescue the second FF who had melted into the carpet on the floor and could not self extricate. The intense fire delayed locating the pipeman who had perished. Somehow, the SIZEUP did not indicate to anyone on the fire scene that entry should be delayed for a moment to knock down someof the fire. Somehow, the conditions on initial entry did not signal to anyone that conditions were very bad (pre flashover bad) and untenable not only for the occupant but for them as well. Would VSP have helped. I think it would have but we will never know because we cannot reenact the fire and two of the primary participants (the occupant and the pipeman) are dead. I feel VSP provides another second for the decsion makers (which is everyone) on the fire ground to really look at and think about the environment in which they are considering making entry. Another tool in the toolbox. If you choose not use it that is your prerogative. I don't feel the use of VSP should be dissuaded....
Please stay safe
Patrick.....and at the same time, those firefighters were protecting the truck that needed to get out. There are a host of issues associated with that that I think many agree were problematic, right from taking the 1st officer out of the loop for fire attack.
I guess in all this my point is that your size up is your size up, and even at 13 points it is often too cumbersome for many to conduct in a reasonable manner. Bob Pressler writes about a 5 point size up method called BELOW...I have heard of an adaptation called BLOW ME. Either way, it is a smaller, more manageable method for the 1st due officer to conduct his size up which can be built upon into all13 points as Command is assumed by higher ranking and more experienced Officers.
You say KISS is too simple, I think adding to an already effective method of size up may be too much to ask. I don't agree that KISS is "see fire, fight fire", but in reality how much can your process in a short amount of time without becoming paralyzed by analysis. I am not advocating blind tactics, but you can't wait around all day to decide what you are going to do either. VSP in relation to flame and smoke exposure is valid, but only if the victim is in that compartment. Areas of refuge often mean that untenable conditions are actually survivable conditions....yet it would not appear so from the street.
Dave, unfortunately they were not protecting a truck crew. They were acting as the suppression team and the rescue team simultaneously....another reason why they shouldn't have made entry. Actions like this have to make one wonder why things like this happen. Is how we learned sizeup too comprehensive or not comprehensive enough. Why is it felt that our COAL WAS WEALTH acronym is so complex and so time consuming. It not like you have to wait until you get on scene and then go down the check list. Some portions of size up happen long before we get the run....other portions get answered once the callcomes in...only a few portions of sizeup have to occur once we get onscene
CONSTRUCTION...we have a general idea based on address. Housing developments are often times built as neighborhoods using the same type of construction.
OCCUPANCY....again address gives us a good idea of what we will encounter. We should know residential areas vs industrial areas before we get there
AREA...need to be on scene to evaluate this
LOCATION/ EXTENT OF FIRE.....need to be on scene to evaluate this
WATER SUPPLY....we normally have a good idea of water supply. Thus of us with hydrants know we have hydrants, those without know they are dealing with shuttles. Problems arise but that often times occurs after we made initial attack with tank water.
APPARATUS....this is obviously region specific but each company should have a good idea who is coming to the fire and how long before they get there.
STREET CONDITIONS...preplanning should provide us important access issues but things happen all the time so modifications may need to be made on arrival.
WEATHER....I plan for this the night before I go to the firehouse
EXPOSURES...preplanning helps prepare for potential events but we usually need to be on scene to see the effect of the fire on the exposures.
AUXILLARY APPLIANCES...done prior to the run via preplanning
LIFE....there until proven otherwise
TIME.. this is done when the run come in. It was more valid in the past but today many people work from home. Still people are more likely to self extricate during day time hours.
HEIGHT...preplanning can give us a good idea of what we are going to be dealing with long before we get a run there.
As I stated, there are only a few portions of the sizeup that MUST be done upon arrival at the scene. I don't see why this is paralyzing. It seems to happen without effort and is processed quickly. Some seem to have a hard time absorbing what is happening at the fire scene. Is this do to poor training? Lack of experience? Ignorance? Stubbornness? Machismo? I don't know. I do know that there are cases when too much was committed when the chance of finding a viable life to rescue was nill.
I don't believe the author of VSP is saying don't do your job. I think he is saying look at the entire picture and make desicions based on that picture. People can't survive in fully involved buildings. If the interior fire conditions are untenable for us the occupant is dead.
Again, I think we advocate the same things.....smart/ aggressive interior firefighting based on knowledge and experience. I think in the abscence of experience firefighters must rely on education and information. VSP provides more information.
"I don't believe the author of VSP is saying don't do your job. I think he is saying look at the entire picture and make desicions based on that picture. People can't survive in fully involved buildings. If the interior fire conditions are untenable for us the occupant is dead."
I think he is saying more, and that is evident by his admitting that even he isn't 100% comfortable with VSP.
Those that would advocate entering a fully involved building with the intent of rescuing a victim are in the minority, and for the amount of discussion we have had about this one facet, we could have addressed the non-sexy (aka donut) issues much more effectively.
You see VSP as a part of COAL WAS WEALTH or an extension of it. I see our normal size up covering those things adequately enough. As to the absorption issue - lack of training and experience are probably the biggest factors.
I don't think anyone is ever 100% comfortable making life and death decisions...nor do I think we should be. We get into this business to help people. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to make decisions that cost lifes to save other lifes. I think the bigger issue is how mistakes like the one I referenced happen? How do certain people look at a fire scene and think they could make entry and make a rescue when the majority know the defensive operations or delayed offensive operations should take place?