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Ok, I will venture down this road, I see the newest Building Block talks about the victims on the floor above the fire are at equal or greater risk as victims in on the fire floor or in the fire compartment itself. Lets talk about this, what do you all think about starting your search for life on the floor above, by-passing a search of the fire floor. A couple of points to ponder, the suggestion is being made that you search the floor above before knowing where the fire is below you, bad practice. Going to floor above prior to a hand line being advanced on active fire below you, bad practice. Going above the fire before the door to the fire compartment is controlled, bad practice .The suggestion that those above are equally exposed to the same threats as those on the fire floor or the fire compartment itself, please share your thoughts. For a confirmed victim, a victim in the window, perhaps all bets are off.

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Mike brings up some great points. As with all things on the fire ground circumstances will dictate action, size up is key it has been my experience at a single family house based on size up you should have a good idea were the fire is and where you think it will be going. Here we have a fully involved garage fire with little to no smoke coming from the inside. Extension is possible thru the eves, the kitchen door and thru the floor into the room above the garage. You can see the hose, so we know at least one engine is on scene with two members from the truck placing their SCBA on. Note that for the sake of this conversation the engine is starting to make their stretch in, as you can be seen in the photo included in the slide series. The next action is a matter of preference some officers will make a quick nock and then move to protect the stairs others will stretch inside, move the line to the kitchen and fight the fire while protecting the stairs I prefer the second. In my department we have two personal pre assigned to conduct the primary search in a private dwelling. That is with 24 personal on the box all within a couple of minutes of each other. Our first line would attack the fire and the 2nd would go above. The move here for the truck would be to check the room above the garage first. Leave the member with the TIC at the door in the hall way, note the firefighter in the hall must monitor the conditions in the room and on the stairs. The searcher will ensure the floor is still safe and conduct a quick search. Once the search is complete close the door and then move to the next bedroom closing the door behind you and the searcher, vent the widows and search the room. After the room is searched control the door when it is opened if conditions look and feel good and water is on the fire chock the door open to aid in ventilation.
Take a fire in the living room down stairs we may choose to Alternate Entry and Search (AES) or conducting VES as a starting point, enter the second floor check for the floor and move to close the door then search the room. I like to start from the corner bed room, if you move away from the outside corner you will get to the door in the shortest possible distance. Also after that room is searched control the door when you open it and check conditions, if things improved and water is being applied to the fire chock the door open to aid in ventilation, move to the next room and close the door. Unless you have a line with you, I teach you should close this door while you search the room. By entering the corner room it also helps us to keep orientated to our location in the house. The firefighter inside the door now can guide the searcher with the TIC note to scan the floor. We see to many firefighter doing the Pete Rose dive for life or bailing out windows because we fail to control the building. We must demand proper staffing so that tactic can occur in unison and we must compartment the search when we do not have a line. You won’t always be able to close a door ie living room or kitchen and some bedroom doors may just be a shutter or removed all together. If the fire burns thru the floor closing the door will have no effect, but in most cases the firefighter is forced to the window by high heat and they go right by the door without ever thinking about closing it. If we train that chocking doors open is key when we place a line thru it and closing doors is key when searching a room without water we would minimize firefighters bailing out windows.
Mike, if you look at, What size of line? Placement? Search priority and how? You will see other responses. With the photo up for comment.
Mike, I do not agree at all with searching the floor above before the fire floor. What is the mission statement of the fire service, locate---confine--- extinguish. In my Department, the truck company locates the fire, we close the door or use a can on it to confine it and then the engine extinguishes it. The floor above team is the 2nd due truck. They guide their actions by the fact 1) The engine has a line on the fire floor to cover them and or 2) My radio reports let them know what conditions will be like on the floor above (heavy fire below, just a 1 roomer, etc.). The floor above is very important and can be really snotty but, gotta get the possible victims on the fire floor first or try to contain it. As truckies, we hate to admit this (lol) but "The most important tool / function on the fire ground is a properly positioned hoseline" We (the truck ) must make sure the engine has the location and unobstructed acccess. Just my thoughts to a great topic.....
Conducting a search of the floor above the fire and "by-passing a search of the fire floor" is absolutely a bad practice. It is a bad practice for many reasons but the most important one is this. Whether we have reports of people trapped or not, the most important job that must be performed is to extinguish the fire. If you are fortunate enough to have a search crew arrive along with the first engine, their most vital tactic is to find the fire! To find the fire you must enter and search the fire floor/area. In the FDNY, for a fire in an apartment building, the first arriving ladder company inside team proceeds to the fire apartment, forces entry and begins their search where? They penetrate to and locate the fire room and begin their search there, working their way back toward their entry point. By quickly finding the room or area that is on fire they have accomplished two things; they have found the fire and can report that to the engine and direct them to it, and they have started their search for life where the threat to any victims is greatest. The important point here is that the search team is not just searching for life. The location of the fire must be determined quickly so the first hoseline can get to it and knock it down rapidly. Even reports of people trapped on the floor above a fire should not result in the first search team going directly there rather than conducting a search for the fire.

This is the fire we were talking about. It is clear were the fire is. With a eng and one crew to start the search. I would go above. This is were the victuims would be in the most danger. By searching and closing the door to the room above the garage will aid in containing the fire and buy time for a line to be stretched to the top of the stairs. Note any victuims on the way to the door in the kichten would be found by the eng. Just a different piont of view
The first line should be going to the inside of this house. Contain the fire going into the structure. I have been to a fire similar to this. The 1st line contains the fire from extending into the structure (bride's maid position) while 2nd line gets the fire from the garage. The truck (search team ) is responsible for both floors. You mention the engine finding the victim but, what then happens to the integrity of the engine? Most of America is a 2-3 man crew..... I would divide the search team up. 1 guy do the first floor, 1 to the second and the officer or a man monitor conditions from the stairs. This way functional supervision is maintained and conditions of deterioration can be transmitted til the 2nd due gets in. Just my thoughts...
-Mark, I like your idea of splitting the Truck and maintaining supervision. Many times some of us, myself included, conveniently forget that most departments are responding with less than ideal manpower and appropriate adjustments need to take place.
-We can always talk about these scenarios from an idealistic standpoint hoping that mayors and town managers will wake up some day however, the practical portion of the lesson will just not be there.
-Mark really hit the nail on the head, due to criminal staffing we will need to take less than ideal steps in order to rescue known victims. Drastic times call for drastic measures and given a know life hazard in this example the Rescue Profile is Urgent and the Truckies must get aggressive in order to save those in peril.
-In this specific example the only thing I might be able to add here is possible implementation of VES if the victim location is know.
-Stay safe.
In my department we teach that a search begins in one of three locations: The fire area, the area of highest probability or the known location of a victim. Where you start is usually then based on your company assignment.

Except when faced with a defensive situation or some other extremely rare situation, the first engine is to advance a line to the seat of the fire and attempt extinguishment. They usually have three members and are backed up by a second crew within minutes. As soon as the line is in place and the fire is knocked one member in contact with the line officer searches the area. If he finds a victim he will begin removal and be assisted in it by the members of the second crew. This second company usually brings the second line which is placed at the base of the stairs to the second floor or in a one story house held back at a location between the fire area and the other areas to be searched.

The company assigned to interior search (truck unless roof work is needed or another company) usually goes to the bedrooms or adjacent apartments. These could be on the same floor as the fire or the floor above based on structure details. The conduct a search by the usual means. They may or may not have the protection of a hand line-it depends on where the fire is at, the layout of the stairs, etc. One thins we have pushed is for any company assigned to a tasks other than line advancement to throw a ladder to the “A” side upper floor. We don’t care exactly where. A ladder at the wrong window can be moved to the right window faster than any ladder still stored on a vehicle. This can be practiced on many “investigation” type calls when a second or third company is assigned to the interior to help with the investigation.

In a known victim location search we would follow VES guidelines. Still, the first line would go as stated above because a knocked fire greatly reduces risk.

You can’t write a game plan for every possibility but you can have general guidelines and then train and “what if” things. Viewing videos and participating in these types of forums help prepare all of us.
This is a Great topic, so ill add my 2 cents. In Indy (and many places I have noticed) You ALWAYS start from the fire and work your way out, which requires you to search as close as you can to the fire on the fire floor. The Most vital part of rescue is the ones in the most danger, right? So after you have searched the fire floor, you go immedietly to the floor above the fire, which would be the 2nd most likely hazardouse spot. Continuing with the stairwells and egress points, living quarters, etc. As with any fire its the volume and other circumstances that surround your incident, how many you have on the fire ground. With our policy our outside truck crew throws ladders and will Vent Enter Search other vital locations or known living quarters or areas. We are losing most our firefighters in routine residential fires and if done correctly and with practice, VES is the best option. However, like all techniques, you must train and know the limitations of VES. Getting the door closed to do effective VES is key and coordinating with the attack crew and interior truck crew and the incident commander.
Over all picking the location of who to get first and where to start your searches is always the areas in most danger first and the safety of your crew. Hoseline placement may not be in place while doing searches, especially VES areas. However your dept. SOG's should always be followed. If you can get a line in place it is always safest for your search team, but remember your PRIMARY search is quick and you may not have time to get your lines in place to make the grab.
Be Safe. train like you work, and you'll work like you train...

Frank Ricci said:
This is the fire we were talking about. It is clear were the fire is. With a eng and one crew to start the search. I would go above. This is were the victuims would be in the most danger. By searching and closing the door to the room above the garage will aid in containing the fire and buy time for a line to be stretched to the top of the stairs. Note any victuims on the way to the door in the kichten would be found by the eng. Just a different piont of view

Two options:

1) the door between the garage and the house is open. in this case, if you open the door of the house to go inside, you will increase the convection current at the garage entry, produce a chimney effect and the house will burst in flame, and victime will die.

2) the door between the garade and house is closed. So you can open the door of the house.


But, from the outside you can't see.

So what's the tactical way? Put the two nozzles in front of the garage door, set then at max flow rate, fog pattern at 45° and open. After 5 second max, the fire will be out and you will be able to do what you want.

Don't focus on victim because if you focuse only on them, you often loose crucial element and, in fact , disminish the possibility to save them.


Best regards



As a flashover instructor and studying structural firefighting for more than 10 years, here my view:

- Using a team to search the fire to tell an other team where is it. Bad. In many cases, the US way is to break windows so you disturb the neutral smoke plane and the thermal balance. In this case you need to search for the fire. Avoid breaking windows, enter with a hose line, cool the gaz and observe: you will see a little smoke on the floor, coming from outside and going to the seat of the fire. If you don't see that, flow gently water on the ground, and watch.

- Searching above the fire. Bad. Just take a candle, put your hand on the side then on the top. Wouah!! Hot! Heat goes up by 65 to 70% (convection) as radiation is of only 30 to 35%. So the fire will go up, not down. You want to go up and let the fire on the ground floor. OK. You are in front of the bedroom. Child are inside.  You open the door and see the window is opened. What have you done? Creating a chimney effect between the seat of the fire and the window at first floor. In less than 10 seconds, the bedroom is filled with CO gas, smoke and heat. The child die and 5 seconds after, the flames travel from the seat of the fire to the first floor, killing you. You must learn : NIOSH report on Keokuk accident (december 1999)


If you carefully study fire dynamic and accidents, you will have only one option:

- We save visible victime and only them.

- If we don't see victime, we find the fire as it's easy to locate. If we know how to use a nozzle, we can kill it quickly

Or course, on the way to the fire, if we see a victim, we take her out.


And even if you have 4, 6 or 10 guys, don't try to save if you don't see victims! Let's see: a field with corn, and the machine starting to cut the corn. Your young child in the field, in danger. What will you do? Search or go the machine to stop it? Stop if, of couse! Now, you are with 10 friends in the same situation. What will you do? One going to stop the machine and other to search? Be logical: the best chance to save your child is to go, ALL, to stop the machine. How can you imagine it can be different with a fire?


Best regards



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