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Here is a post from a very good friend and very wise fireman, Lance Peeples.  Lance is a firefighter/paramedic with the Webster Groves Fire Department in St. Louis County.  Check it out and give some feed back.


Review the following video and consider how YOUR fire department operates when answering the following questions:



1.  Is VES indicated if PPV is used by your department?  What safety precaution should the operator of a PPV fan perform before starting the fan?


2.  Notice how the VES firefighter enters head first.  Very experienced instructors often recommend grasping the window frame with the head and upper body protected by the wall and then entering with the opposite foot.  This permits the firefighter to make an emergency ladder slide if necessary.

What is another advantage of this technique?


3.  On your first alarm assignment who is the firefighter assigned the responsibility for VES.  Who is the firefighter that will assist him in this technique?


4.  If the assisting firefighter ascends the ladder to orient the searching firefighter how can the ladder be butted?  Does it always need to be butted?  Could a tool be driven into the grounds at the butt of the ladder to prevent it from sliding?


5.  Are the tools (hook and halligan) needed for VES mounted near the riding position of the member who is responsible for this function or are they mounted on the other side of the apparatus underneath the water rescue rope and drinking cups?


6.  Notice how the roof ladder projects into the window slightly.  However, the ladder is already at a very low angle that could result in the butt kicking out.  Should the ladder tip be removed from the window to allow for easier emergency exit/victim removal or does the angle of the ladder preclude this?  What are possible solutions?


7.  Some of the commentators below the video are critical of opening the door upon preparing to leave the room…what say you? 

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I wasn't going to tackle these questions because I didn't know the answer to some of them, but what the hell.  I'd rather learn something and look like a fool on the internet, than look like a fool on the fire ground because I didn't learn when I had the chance.  So by all means correct me if I'm wrong.


1.  I know first hand that operating a PPV fan with people searching inside can be bad.  Those fans are real good for exposing hidden fires while removing smoke.  If you are prepared to handle the increase in flames and know what to look for, I'd say fire them up.  In the case of the video above, if a fan was going and the fire was outside of that room, it would blow torch itself right through that room and out of the window. 


2.  I think going head first is a bad idea. It just doesn't seem natural, and I think you would have less chance of being injured if you went in feet first. Making a hasty exit would be much easier if you had your feet under you. 


3.  Our Truck company takes care of searches like this, but we are all trained on how to do it.  I just got moved to a station with a Quint, and we are going to cross train ourselves so we can handle Engine work and some of the functions of a Truck Company. 


4.  I suppose driving a tool in the ground might work, but then you are having to bring extra stuff.  If you decide to ascend the ladder without it being secure, you run a risk of the ladder falling.  Then you have a guy on the ground rolling around with busted ribs and a guy at the top with no way down.  Unless he decides to jump and use the guy on the ground as a mattress.  He's going to the hospital anyway right?


5.  This question would be funny if it weren't so true.  We cram so much stuff on the rigs, things like this happen all the time. 


6.  I've always been taught to extend ladders above the top of the roof, and even with the window ledge.  It would change the climbing angle, but if you are heeling it, the benefit of having more room to exit the window is greater than the risk of the ladder sliding due to the poor climbing angle.  And if it does slide, the guy with the broken ribs from question 4 will have some company at the ER!


7.  I'm guessing on this one.  If you leave the door open, and decide to begin venting the house, the smoke would vent out of the rooms that have already been cleared.  If victims were still trapped behind closed doors, this would take some of the heat off of them and direct it out of the empty rooms.  However, the fresh air from the window would have an open door to feed the fire.  So if you decide to leave the doors open, you had better have some hose lines working on the fire.

I am only going to respond to question number one.  If a department is using VES, PPA should not be used.  Why?  As the VES person makes entry for search, that opening could or would become an exhaust opening and create serious safety problems for the firefighter.  PPA tactics should not be coupled with VES tactics.

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