I’ve been pondering search lately. We have learned that the best chance for survival for civilians trapped in a burning structure (and firefighters in trouble too) is get a closed door between them and the fire area. This will greatly reduce the thermal threat, and improve their chances of finding breathable oxygen. Remember, if the fire is vent-limited, so are you, if you are in the same space without an SCBA. So, we need to consider adding the “sleep with the door closed” message to our public education messages.
When you consider these factors in a limited staffing environment, it makes you want to ask the home owner, “I only have three firefighters on my fire engine. We can effectively rescue 1, maybe 2 people in time to make a difference. Which of your children would you like us to try and save?” Crappy question, right? But its a reality in many places when the first due engine operates alone for a period of time.
This made me recall an old image from growing up in the fire service. Remember our old friend, the Tot Finder? We used to use these to mark the bedrooms of children in the case of a fire. The theory was that we would see these decals on our size up and initiate search in those areas first. We shied away from these some years ago over security concerns related to identifying where our children sleep to protect them from potential predators. We also questioned their reliability as people moved from house to house without updating the decals. But now I’m wondering if I want those back? I can secure the room pretty easily with technology today. And anyone entering my home would meet an impressive level of resistance. But without a residential sprinkler in the room, which is the greater risk; a predator or a fire?
What to you think? Do we need a way to better identify priority rooms for search and rescue, given the changes in modern fuels?