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Chris was asking me about starting a forum on VES so, here it goes. VES is definately a great addition to your search strategies. It needs to be performed though by "experienced" members. Too often we get caught up in the "conga" effect. Take the 2 story PD, we follow up the stairway attempting to gain access to the bedroom area to search. What about a 2 prong attack. You do need an inside team making a push with the engine, finding victims near the means of egress but what if fire prevents the access to floor #2? An outside team can use a portable, aerial or bucket (nice for getting the victim down in) to gain access to the bedroom areas. Once inside the bedroom (yes, we checked below the window for victims and holes) our first move should be to get that bedroom door closed.Closing that door buys us time , buys the victim in the room time by holding back fire and smoke and allowing smoke conditions in the room to vent. Where is my partner? How about the tip of the aerial or portable. He checks my status (nothing like another voice to keep you cool headed) , monitors conditions, and aids in my removal of the victim if found. Once the room is done, we move onto another room. Now, I become the guide and my partner does the search. Think of this option, search teams coming from both directions to effect the rescue. One of us has to make it. What do we think...........

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I also agree with your comments, but feel compelled to add the need to assess the type of building construction to be absolutely sure that PPV is NOT going to drive fire through any potential void spaces.

This is of particular concern in my neck of the woods where platform construction is a relatively "recent" development, and the majority of residential structures in my first-due district are of balloon frame construction. Imagine the deteriorating conditions one might encounter during VES when, as you indicated, PPV is introduced and not communicated AND the fire is now being driven through the void spaces in the walls of the room or floor you are searching. -Great discussion points.

Be Safe,

Excellent point brother. Balloon construction and PPV may not mix.
A few observations on VES, VES training and discipline in using VES.

It hasn't been mentioned yet, real discipline is required when performing VES. There is always a desire to get in and begin the search; however, VES requires members to resist the urge to "jump-in" and get started. Members must take a bit of time after opening-up to observe the smoke conditions, heat conditions, listen for voices and noises and wait for the results of their actions to become known.

Training in VES operations need to stress what VES is and what VES is not. As described in other posts, VES is a great method to quickly access areas with a high potential for rescue. VES is not an entry point for an extended search in large, open areas that can't be secured by closing a door. As stated earlier, the first priority is to find and close the door.

Training should also stress recognition of features, furniture and objects that will likely be found in rooms suitable for VES and rooms that are not suitable for VES. Bedrooms are the main target, not living rooms, kitchens etc..

Last July 4th, an arsonist lit-up a taxpayer with a t-shirt shop and a TV repair shop on the 1st and apartments above. The still engine arrived with heavy fire in the t-shirt shop already auto-exposing the second floor apartments. While members were getting the first lines on the fire, a second due company initiated a "VES" operation on the second floor. Here is where the above points come into play. The search team were not senior men and and their entry point brought them into the living room. These members did not seek and find the door and began a right hand search. Further, they did not have a recognition that the furnishings and other items they were encountering were not what you would typically find in a bedroom. Finally, they did not retreat after they continued on what could only be considered an extended, open-area search of a living room, dining room and kitchen. Eventually, they encountered very high heat conditions as fire advanced toward them down a hallway from the bedrooms that had ignited from the auto-exposure described earlier. The story ended well, no severe injuries.

This incident brought a realization that we needed to revisit our VES training to ensure that all members understand VES requirements.
Hey Chief,
your thoughts do point out that even though all members should be disciplined in search techniques, V.E.S. really should be relegated to senior men. It is not to say that junior men cannot perform V.E.S., but rather senior men will have gained the required discipline, mental awareness and experience to get in and recognize their surroundings as well as be able to know when to say when in the search and have the skills to get themselves out of trouble should the need arise. Firefighting is about calculated risks not foolish chances.
Art - Interesting point about where VES should be proformed. VES in multiple dwellings tends idealy is done opposite of the hoseline. On top of the associated dangers of misreading conditions and still entering in MD's you are often potentially facing the barrell of the nozzle. Timing and awareness are vital VES skills. I would not restrict VES to senior FF's however newer members must be taught and mentored so they quickly develop this skill if we are to save those who's exit is blocked by fire.
If I read this right this seems to be the same as an Oreinted Search. Am I correct?

VES and the Oriented Search Method have some differences;

1. VES is focused on the bedrooms to the point that you open the windwo (Vent) enter the bedroom and search from that point. OSM can be accomplished entering the same point as the hoseline.

2. VES is usually accomplished by one rescuer entering the bedroom while the No. 2 person remains at the window. This is simular to OSM in that the No. 2 remains oriented to the exit path.

3. Oriented search is a fantastic tactic for all primary searches, where as VES many times is only performed in certain instances that allow it. For instance, if the fire originates in the bedrooms VES would be difficult because the fire is exiting out of the bedroom window. The bedrooms next to the fire room can still have VES accomplished but depending on the size of the structure and the size of the fire will have a lot to do with the feasibility of the tactic.

4. VES is accomplished by entering the structure opposite of the hoselines at times. The fire is on the first floor, attack crews are entering on the first floor, VES enters on the 2nd floor. Or, if it is a Ranch Type House where the bedrooms are on the opposite end of the house from the kitchen/garage, VES can enter one of the bedroom windows, while the attack line may enter closer to the fire if the fire where in the kitchen/garage area.

5. VES is focusing on 1 major area of possible victim location; primarily the bedrooms; OSM typically focuses on all of the victim location hot spots, is in egress paths to the front door.

6. VES requires temporary modification of some tactics when it is being performed, such as PPV and hoseline placement. I.E. I ask my people to hold off on PPV until VES is completed. PPV, can be used in a more typical manner if the searchers are working from the hoseline location.

7. Another valid tactic emphasised in the Oriented Search is to work from the fire location out. This permits the searches to still have the possible protection of the hoseline. VES relies primarily on the structure, i.e. closing doors, to provide a measure of protection from the fire while it is being perfromed.

I hope this makes sense. They are simular ,but VES is more particular in its use and area of search.

I teach both methods here in Okie land. In fact both tactics are relatively new as far as properly naming them.
In a nut shell, V.E.S. is performed from the exterior of the structure through some opening, usually a window. It is accomplished off of any working surface such as a ladder, fire escape, tower platform or even the ground.

It is not integral as to where the nozzle and the fire attack are inside the occupancy in relation to the search being carried out. The search can be ahead of or adjacent to the fire room. Rather, the most important thing is that firefighters enter the structure searching for victims specifically and not fire. The searching firefighters will not be encumbered by a hose line; that is for those members attacking the fire. Once inside the searching firefighters isolate the environment if possible; usually by closing the door to the room being searched. A rapid search is performed and then the room is exited by the same window and without re-opening the door. The search must not be extended into the structure from this area. V.E.S. is searching one high target room only.

The rooms searched in a V.E.S. are the High Target Areas within the residential occupancy. V.E.S. is not usually performed in a commercial occupancy. High Target Areas are the bedrooms, bathrooms and within direct proximity to the main/front door to the occupancy. Statistics prove that these are the areas most victims are located.

Oriented search is accomplished when the search team enters the occupancy and searches in an organized fashion such as leaving one member in the hallway while the other firefighter(s) search the adjoining bedrooms. Once the searchers rejoin the anchor man in the hall the search moves on into another portion of the structure while remaining in the IDLH.

VES is performed from the outside the occupancy, involves entering one exterior accessible room and exiting by the same method. It requires at least two firefighters to perform but can, in a life and death situation, be performed alone.

VES is dangerous but the results that VES yields is dramatic.
Thanks BRO, you cleared a lot of this up

I agree with you regarding the senior men. My comments were not made to condem utilizing more junior men to perform VES. I wish we had the luxury to assign only the most experienced men to perform our highest risk operations. I don't know about everyone else but we have had nearly a 30% turnover in the past 2 + years. This trend will continue as more men reach the max pension in Illinois at 30 years.

My point was and is, VES is a very high risk operation and we must never assume that the topic has been fully covered in the academy or in early training. Additionally, an incomplete understanding of what VES is and what it is not can lead to severe consequences.

VES is a must have tacitc for the fireground, it is often a task assigned to senior members of truck or rescue / squad companies. I do not want to repeat the information already posted so how about tool selection for VES. I teach the probies that a hook and a halligan are the tools of choice for this assignment.

Let's say that you are about to enter from a porch roof with these two tools, you enter through the window you take the six foot hook and leave it at the widow as you make your way to the door, searching as you go useing the halligan. Now as you make your way around the room following the wall when you get back to the hook / window you have at least searched the perifery of the room, now using the hook you can sweep the open floor towards the middle or extend your reach from that position. This works well in the typical sized bedroom. Just my two cents.......
Eric has made some great points. The most important being-A firefighter without tools is useless.
One thing I would mention is that the tools should be used as an anchoring device and not swung around the room indiscriminately. A firefighter can do serious harm to a victim swinging a halligan bar, not to mention that a firefighter is very unlikely to recognize what he has hit with the tool. It is far safer for the victim and much more efficient for the firefighter to use the tool as an anchoring device and use your hands to sweep the area. A firefighter will have a better chance of recognizing an object with their hands.


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