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How does your department address searching for savable victims behind the fire (meaning the area on the other side of the fire from the attack team)? Is this job automatically assigned to someone such as an outside vent man/ team (OVM), or is this something that is addressed on arrival when the situation dictates? Does this assignment change with different occupancies (single family, multiple dwelling, etc)? How is this coordinated with the hose team?

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The first in ladder co. will search to locate the seat of the fire and the area ( apartment, room , etc.) closest to the seat of the fire where we can expect to find viable victims. If there is considerable area past the fire, adjacent apartments, common corridor, etc. the squad company ( our heavy rescue) members will search that area. Responsibility for searching past the fire changes with occupancy. In single family or small multi dwellings(tenements) the first in ladder co. can usually perform the primary on the fire floor .The first in engine co. must support and protect any efforts by other companies whenever they pass fire. This is comfirmed face to face by any company officer whose members pass by the engine.
In a Multiple Dwelling, the inside team searches towrds the seat of the fire while the OVM searches from the opposite end. The roof firefighter once his roof duties are complete will also drop down and VES. On a private dwelling where roof ops are not possible, the ovm, roof and chauffeur all work on the outside. The ovm and roof ves the sides or rear and the chauffeur works on the front....
Our manning calls for the up front ambulance to perform as the interior serach crew. They will be assigned to wherever the report of the trapped occupant is. As far as how the operations will go and coordination with the first line, we use the quote that D/C John Norman always used in his company officer book .. let circumstances dictate procedure
We have the advantage of having a squad co., which is an extension of the ladder co., and their automatic assignment on structure fires of any kind is primary search, they will have the designation of search 1. Depending on the structure or its size, time of day, probability of trapped occupants or multiple dwellings that need search then the first due ladder co. will be assigned as search 2. As far as operating on the oposite side of attack then my boss leaves the communication and coordintation of this search to the attack officer and the search officer. He gives the tasks and lets the officers in the structure work out the strategy to accomplish, and he focuses on needs, resources and monitoring the conditions he sees. Hope this is what you are looking for. Stay safe.
Typical of many larger departments, our s.o.p. is to assign search responsibilities to the first due Truck (Ladder Co). That being said, if circumstances are dynamic or dictate immediate action any company can initiate the search. In fact, though very rare, there have even been times when a medic/ambulance staffed by paramedic/firefighters have initiated a search.
As to the specifics of searching behind the fire; ie searching an occupancy involved in fire before the fire is under control and without the assistance of a hose line, this is a standard practice in Albuquerque. What's more, we have now begun teaching v.e.s. to our new recruits in the fire academy.
Our s.o.p. is that ALL occupancies are searched. The level of aggressiveness and compliance (or not) with Two In/Two Out will be determined by operating companies based on their size up and available information formulating a Rescue Profile for the scene.


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