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For the next few weeks I am going to post blogs that ask questions concerning searching.  Of everything we do on the fireground, I believe Search is the poorest evolution we conduct.  I have my ideas why but that’s another  blog for another time.

I will embed video in the blog that shows a fire problem.  In each of these, assume you are operating in your jurisdiction with your resources.  If your staffing is 5 plus an officer or two, whatever - it’s what you have to work with.  Bring the tools you would bring taken from the apparatus you arrive in. 

When I can, I will also provide a rough floor plan of the building.  From the fire problem you see in the video and then based on the floor plan, exactly how would you search this house/building?

As I review in my text “Searching Smarter” (published by Fire Engineering/Pennwell, 2011), I review the four types of search I am aware of.  I have asked thousands of firefighters across the United States and Canada if they are aware of any other types of search then these over the last 10- 15 years.  No one has come forward with one yet.

The four are:  (Very brief descriptions)

  • The Standard Search – Probably what you learned as a recruit.  Basically one firefighter goes to the left in a room and another firefighter goes to the right and they meet somewhere near the middle.  Variations include two or three firefighters all going in the same direction with one firefighter following the wall and the others remain in contact with him or her but are more toward the center of the room.  They follow the same wall in unison.
  • Team Search – A crew utilizes a rope or other object fixed to something outside the building or fire area such as a stairway railing in the hallway or fire tower.  They remain as a team and searchers move off the rope to cover areas. 
  • VES (Vent Enter Search) – A single firefighter in the traditional method, vents (breaks) a window to a bedroom, enters the sleeping area and searches by him or herself.  In the newer, method the same is accomplished while another firefighter remains outside at the window as an oriented person.
  • Oriented Search – A method of search where one person (the oriented Person) remains in a position where he or she manages the search as well as fire conditions and the safety of the crew while the other members of the crew do one-person searches in a specific area assigned by the oriented person.

After posting the scenario, I will ask questions and perhaps we will get discussion on different ideas and methods of searching. 

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Comment by Skip Coleman on September 5, 2013 at 7:33am
Thanks Michael. I generally go not discuss TICS when I teach and in my book. I have little experience with them. When I left Toledo, we only had 3 in use for 103 on duty daily firefighters. Discussing their use with firefighters all over the countryr and some of the people from the scientific end of our job, they (TICs) have not proven their worth and many do not depend upon them yet as it relates to initial fire operations. Having said that, I will certainly cover their use in these scenarios.
Comment by Michael Cory Strange on September 4, 2013 at 9:09pm

One other search I will add to your mix is a TIC Assisted Search.  Its a lot like the Oriented Search however the oriented person is using the TIC to direct search team members to search the dead spots that he can not see with the camera, i.e. around furniture, inside closets.....etc.  I look forward to your future blogs on searching.

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