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Search markers (what are people using and what is the latest and greatest?)

I have been asked by a member of our department's high-rise committee (my Captain)  to research and replace the search markers.  The intent of these markers is to issue them to  firefighters to place in there turnouts.  We now have lumber crayons that came with a nice metal holder but they are drying out.  Does anyone have some suggestions?  Is there a new product out there that might not have been around when we last purchased markers?


Thank You for your time!


Lt. Jesse Parry

Portland Fire & Rescue 

Truck 04 

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We were all given small pieces of chalk, but the container that we had them in broke if you put any pressure on it and it was hard to dig out of your pocket with your gloves on.  Plus it crumbled when it got wet.  We recently switched to the crayons, one red and one yellow.  If the red didn't show up we tried the yellow.  I haven't noticed them drying out yet, that is something I will check when I get back to work.  I found a Sharpie marker in a box in my garage that was over 20 years old, and it still worked.  That would solve your drying out problem.  So I suppose if you aren't worried about the business sending a bill to have all the marks removed you could consider that.  It would be nice if the folks at 3M would make a marker that would reflect light from our flashlights and still be visible in daylight.  I call dibs on that invention if it takes off.

Thanks, I like the reflectivity idea.  We currently have paintstik Markers made by "LA-CO Markal" They are Fluorescent Pink and they have a metal tube that you put them in.  The problem is once you start marking how do you advance the paintstik through the metal tube.  We are thinking about having a wooden dowel to push the stik through.  We are also looking for a lanyard and carabineer to attach the system to an SCBA strap when being used. 




Here are two options that I found, the wooden one comes with a strap and the aluminum one has a clip.  I'm not sure how you advance the chalk or the grease pen down the tube though.  As far as attaching them to the SCBA, you could use one of those retractable key chains that the janitors had when I was in highschool.  

Wooden chalk holder

Aluminum chalk holder  (this link had a weird facebook pop up message, up to you if you want to click it)


Stay safe brother!


Lt. unless you fella's have a bottom less budget, go to the coin laundramats and collect empty detergent bottles, cut the sides off, prior to use make a rolling fold and put the edges between the bottom of the door and the floor. If you loose them, so what they were free to start with. The orange bottles work real well.

-These conversations always sound great when they take place outside of the firehouse. There are always feasible sounding ideas and cost effective sounding ideas but no one ever has suggested an idea that works on the street and is practical to the firefighter searching the floor.

-First and foremost, if you have never performed a real primary search in a real and occupied high rise occupancy, under real fire conditions, than sure... a piece of chalk or crayon to draw pictures on the doors sounds great. But now think like the man doing the actual search... the company that has just walked up six flights of stairs, carrying too much gear because of short staffing, wearing structure firefighting gloves and listening to the dispatcher or IC relay multiple calls from people trapped in apartment number XXX while they hear via radios that the engine is still working on water supply and access issues.  Really?!?! You gonna find a piece of chalk or a crayon in your pocket and take the time to do a drawing?!?!  Really?!?!  If you think so you haven't done this for real.  Be serious.

-With all the gear fireman are forced to carry is it even realistic to think that someone is going to carry detergent bottle pieces or door markers or plastic wild land type flags to tie on doorknobs in pretty bows?  How long will this crap last in a pocket? Is it retrievable and useable while wearing structure gloves; while carrying the Irons and a hook or a rabbit tool; the A tool, a bag of rope and a can??? While also wearing ppe, flashlight, radio, scba and escape harness?

-O and ps, what about the speed necessary for the search to truly be a primary search with the possibility of maintaining the hope of a rescue?  Who the hell has time to draw on doors?  Who sees these neolithic cave drawings in smoke/limited visibility?  

-How about the IC tracking companies that announce their progress via portable radio?  How about companies sticking to their assigned tasks?  Preplanning and walk thru inspections of the high rise? Anyone, anyone?? Buelller???

-And if you really, really need a marker on the door... maybe a real firefighter can use the Halligan or axe to knock off the inexpensive and easily replaced door knob on the way out of the occupancy after the occupancy has been searched?  That way if another company shows up to perform a redundant search the errant and/or freelancing firefighters will see and feel the missing doorknob when they attempt to enter the room and instantly realize the occupancy has already been searched.

-Worried about doorknob damage?? Don't be; you probably had to force the door to the occupancy anyway.  Got another idea??? Is it practical and useable at 3am in the real world of overworked and over burdened firefighters operating at very dangerous and fast moving fires that create limited visibility on upper floors of inaccessible high rise buildings??  Think real world.

Mike, thanks for your input. After 39 years I'll admit to not knowing everything

-Ray, I never implied that. This is a "real world" pet peeve of mine and usually elicits a response in proportion. To many firefighters and officers over think this issue. What may work well at administration in a memo or the training division bulletin does not always translate to the street.

-Sometimes I think those who write policy or training bulletins should have to perform said tasks before they push the send button on the computer.

I'm not attempting to argue; Mike. Many hotels are now using keyless entry locks. Intentionally busting off these expensive knobs and locks will eventually lead to a bad relationship with either the management or owners. We've each made our point. I simply responded to the Lieutenant's inquiry. He now has three ideas to add to his growing list. As far as policy writers, I agree, but consider some of us have been around for more than a day or two. Have a good guys.

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