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I am looking for anybodies thoughts on doing searches solo in single story residential homes. My department is a single engine company with the second due being off duty personel. No volunteers and no mutual aid. We are typically staffed with four guys on the engine. If one firefighter was to make entry and search the residence by himself, how bad would it be?

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Why would you do that?  If you are responding with four, one being the operator, what are the other two doing?  There is no doubt that staffing reductions and a lack of resources is hurting some departments very hard. However, there are some things you can do to stay and operate safely and effectively.

My first suggestion is to search while attacking the fire. You advance with a charged hose line while searching for victims. Does it slow you down? Sure, but you can protect yourself and a victim by putting the fire out if you find it first, then continue your search.  The third person can vent or facilitate the attack hose.


You might hear about the 2-in-2-out rule, but if life safety is an issue, that is out the window. However, I don't recommend sending just one guy in when you have a team to work with. You will be more effective as a team and make a quicker exit with a victim with more of you involved.

There will be more people to add to this, listen and stay safe,


Kelly, there are many departments that respond to emergencies everyday that have staffing issues well below the recommended minimums. Each and everyday we all do things that can be deemed unsafe. Everyday we must perform a good risk assessment before launching our attack. But, reduced staffing is no excuse to take unnecessary risks. You are arriving with 4 personnel 1 FF to pump and three other to perform the many tasks that must be completed to provide an effective operation.


I can't sit behind my computer and say you should or should not continue your searches with one FF. What I can say is you must complete a risk assessment and see if the risk is truly worth it. I would be willing to say there are many, many (if not all) fires you respond to that searching solo is not worth the risk! I would also venture to say that the only time I would consider such a tactic is a confirmed entrapment or a VES operation.


Look at your tactics and take Jason's advice! You need to look at your crew and make every attempt to keep the crew integrity while completing the necessary tactics. Ultimately you and your crew must return home at the end of the day. Every time you perform a task inside a building solo you are increasing your chances of not returning home.


Last consideration...... When I was promoted to BC (shift commander) I vowed to make sure everyone on my shift returns home at the end of the day. I had to make sure that I never needed to face a spouse, parent(s), husband, wife etc. to tell them their love one would not be returning. I know a shift commander who bears that burden every single day. Make decisions each day that will provide the best and highest level of safety for your crew first so they can do what they do best, save lives and return home to their family.

Go make it safe!



Keep the staffing committed to the hoseline.  The attack crew should always be searching the immediate area they are operating in, and on top of that the quicker the fire goes out the better chance you are giving occupants inside.  Similarly to what P.J. stated, if you know for sure you have someone trapped then you may want to risk it, IF THEIR LOCATION IS KNOWN.  The only time I would feel comfortable sending a member (the more senior member on the line besides the officer) alone is if I see someone hanging out a window or there are numerous reports that a person can't get out of the room "on the A/B corner".  Definitely and interesting questing and not something we worry about here, but I know staffing is a huge problem in many departments.  Good luck, keep it safe.
I would to agree with Jason and PJ on this one, But seems odd that you would do not have any MA depts , i guessing that they are spread far apart according to the Citys website and description of you area .

I just want to add, we don't actually do this. Its just I thought I had.

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