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When I teach, I usually bring up the point that “there is always more than one right way to fight a fire and conversely, more than one wrong way to fight a fire”.  What works (or worked) in Toledo may not work in New York and vice versa.  

In my third book, “Searching Smarter” (published by Fire Engineering/Pennwell, 2011), in Chapter 2,  I discuss the four types of search I am aware of; those being “Standard Search”, “Team Search”, “Vent Enter Search (VES)” and the “Oriented Search”. 

There can be variations of some of these, but the basic premise behind each remains the same.  As an example, I am aware of two types of VES. One is the original one-person VES.  I my opinion this form is very dangerous, violates most “rules” of search and firefighter safety including “two-in/ two-out” and should be done only in extreme, probably once in a lifetime circumstances. The other type of VES is the “Oriented VES” or “Two-Person VES”.  The principle and evolutions are basically the same with the difference that one firefighter (the searcher) vents, enters and searches a sleeping area while another firefighter (the oriented person) remains outside on the porch roof, at the window on a ladder or on the ground outside the window, to assure the searchers safety and assist if an actual rescue is made.  This two-person VES is an acceptable method of search in my opinion.  It is extremely handy in rural America where staffing may be low.

I would like to start some exercises (simulations) in the next few posts and discuss for each situation, what type of search you would employ.  At the end of each post I will ask some questions I would like you to discuss.  

Click the link below to view the simulation.

Below is a close proximity of the floor plan. 

It's your department with your staffing procedures and equipment.  As the video goes, what you see is what you get.  Its' 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday. 

1) What type of search would you use and basically how would that search be conducted?

2) Where would you enter the structure?

Please post your answers and comments in the Comment Section. 

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Comment by Skip Coleman on September 14, 2013 at 8:27am
No need to apologize Justin. I just needed some clarification. Sounds like you and your department has trained on search or at least discussed it at length. I look forward to your comments on the following scenarios.
Comment by Justin Renner on September 14, 2013 at 8:06am
Sir, I apologize for being unclear. All I ment by "TIC/hands on search" was combinding both methods to quickly complete a primary search. With a small structure such as this it would not be uncommon for a two or three man team to split up in a coordinated manor inorder to get a primary search completed. A FF would be able to scan a room with a TIC and preform a physical search when and if needed. As well I am also for standing when you can and crawling when you can't. Inside smoke conditions are going to determine if we walk in or crawl and do we stay together or can we safely search different rooms. So just to clarify fire attack team would enter and go right to fire, primary search team would preform oriented search to the left, it is my belief that any victims found would benifit from being taken back out the front door, due to the small size of this structure. All plans could change at any time but thats what I'm thinking.
Comment by Skip Coleman on September 12, 2013 at 10:47am

Good thoughts Grant.  It must be remembered that in almost every fire, the first action is (and almost always should be) getting water on the fire.  Especially if you don't have the staffing to do both at the same time (that is attack and search). As Tom Brennan said, "put the fire out". 

Comment by Skip Coleman on September 12, 2013 at 10:43am


What is a "TIC/Hands on" search?  Also,  I'm OK with walking if I can stand and see the floor clearly.  Absent of that, In my opinion, you crawl.

Comment by Grant Schwalbe on September 11, 2013 at 8:37pm

We have the first 2-3 units arriving on scene with minutes staffed with 3 each.  360...with nothing else remarkable (to change my mind):  Coordinated attack through front door (controlling door).  First is attack to the fire (placement between fire and suspected savable life) and search team to left side using oriented man search technique.  Depending on how quick of a knockdown the the attack gets, I expect the if the search team finds any victims to do no additional harm (i.e. victim out window if conditions to get out front door are bad, out front door if knockdown is quick and ventilation is clearing smoke and heat.  Attack team must be alert for victims since a high percentage of adult victims are found between the fire and the egress.

Comment by Justin Renner on September 11, 2013 at 8:45am
i've thought about that exact point. yes the window is an option. i look at a time ratio between the two. the time it would take a two/three man team to walk in the front door hit each room with a "TIC/hands on" seach vs breaking out a window clearing the glass making entry. i feel from point "A" to "B" the front door in this structure will get me to all rooms faster then VES. then to get from point "B" back to "A". i now look at coordinating a recieving team at the window and getting the victim up and out vs grabing and dragging out the door. again i feel the time saved going out the door is worth the bit of smoke along the way. all things considered, is the fire out, has your fire attack vented any windows, where are your other search members at,instead of throwing a blanked over the window painthrow it over the victim,is the victim young old large small, the possiblities are endless i know. like i said this is what sounds the fastest to me for this senario. thanks for the discusion
Comment by Jon Nickerson on September 11, 2013 at 7:34am

Justin for me I guess its just a way to search a room quickly with a sure exit point being your window. I agree that in a residence this small, VES might be overkill, but to me, its a safer way to get to where your victims most likely are. If you went in the front door, and found a victim in one of the bedrooms, aren't you going to take out the window anyway? Or would you drag them back out the way you came?

Comment by Justin Renner on September 11, 2013 at 12:04am
i feel as though i am missing something when it comes to VES. why is it the go to tactic with this structure. i understand VES with multi-story residetials, apartments, and hotel/motels. but with a small structure such as this what time are we saving by clearing out windows, shutting a door and searching the room. can someone please explain, thanks.
Comment by Jon Nickerson on September 10, 2013 at 6:30pm
We have a 3 person crew at our department, so honestly, with a residence of this size, I would feel fairly comfortable allowing my crew to split up and each take a room if we were to do VES. You would easily be able to maintain audible contact via radio or voice and would take not much time to accomplish. If we were to do a PPA that would be followed up quickly with a search I would use the living room door and windows as my exit point. With a residence that small it should be a quick knockdown. You are improving the viability of victims inside by improving the atmosphere as well as eliminating the fire threat. Plus at that point as you are blowing out smoke, allows you better visibility to let one of your firefighters run through those back bedrooms and search
Comment by Justin Renner on September 10, 2013 at 5:37pm
With obvious fire on the CD section of the house first due Engine company would make entry and advance to this area. The small structure would allow for an easy knockdown and allow back up FF to preform a search of the area VIA TIC and physical search combo. Second due rig would then be assigned as primary search team. With a two FF and a hose in the CD area of the structure conditions would be tight and cramped for a primary search team. I would most likely enter the front door with officer and prform an oriented search to the left. Second due driver would remain as door control to either enter and aid victim removal through house or remove windows and aid in removing victim through said window.

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