I like to think of myself as thoughtful and logical. I try to take time to think topics of discussion over and to calculate my response. So, after taking time to read the articles and ensuing discussions on victim survivability profiling, here is my take.
I REFUSE to write someone off that may be viable inside a building based solely on what the exterior conditions tell me. But, before you think I am taking an overly aggressive tactical standpoint on this issue, let me explain.
The take home message that I took from the VSP article I read was that we need to make a calculated risk on whether or not we believe someone is viable inside a fire based upon the exterior conditions and our on scene size up. The other end of the spectrum disagrees with this tactic with passion, stating that this will kill civilians and goes against what we signed up for when joining the fire service. Now, the goal of this technique is coming from a place that I think everyone can agree upon; we want to reduce the number of LODD's in the fire service. But, I fear that it will be taken too literally by some and departments will start to "write off" potentially viable victims.
What we need to do as a fire service, tactically, is not to make a calculated guess on whether or not someone may or may not be alive inside a fire. Until you get eyes on inside the building, you really cannot know 100% whether someone is viable or not. We need to make our tactical decisions based upon what the conditions will allow us to do and then continually reevaluate our size up and tactical plan.
Our rescue priorities need to be coordinated with the fire attack at all incidents, but especially when there are advanced fire conditions in the structure. The fire goes as the first line does. If we put water on the fire, things will get better. So, instead of making a guess and saying that no one can be alive, make a decision to do an aggressive interior push and PROTECT your search crews!
Have you read the UL study on ventilation? Not only does this show how opening a building up will affect fire conditions, it also shows pretty clearly that even though one or two rooms may have flashed, there are still viable conditions in that house!
Aggressive does not mean reckless. You can have an aggressive company while still making smart tactical choices. And you can still make a save when there are advanced conditions in a structure (people hide in closets, under beds, and believe it or not, people can recover after taking in large amounts of smoke).
So, without rambling, I think our focus with this whole topic should be this. VSP comes from a good place. But, we cannot start writing people off before we start opening things up. If conditions do not allow us do make an aggressive search from the primary door, can we VES or can we start to apply water and ventilate, to allow us to go in?
Please don't write your victims off. If you do, please don't come to my house when it is on fire.