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Before we get into the debatable topics we must address the "new" I in VEIS.


Just because we have inserted the "I" it does not mean that anything has changed. All firefighters who have been taught the right way have been completing the "I" since day 1!


Firefighters have performed the "I" every time they have performed this high risk tactic. The "I" is not new; it's added so no one loses focus of isolating your location and not creating a flow path!


 If you are looking for additional information on flow path I urge you to complete the free training modules on UL web site -


Debatable V.E.I.S. Tactic #1


Do we take the glass with the ladder or do we climb the ladder then take the glass?


My opinion - if you are ready to go (zipped up, mask on, breathing air, gloves on, etc.) take the window if it’s on the 1st or 2nd story with the ladder.


Break the glass and get up and in the window immediately!


If you are not completely ready don't take the window until you are! If it’s a third story or greater climb ladder and take the window, then make entry.


Debatable Tactic #2


Do we enter the window head first or do we step in and straddle the sill?


My opinion - Climb the ladder sweep the floor before you sound it out. Then enter the window head first.


Once you take the window you have created a flow path. That means the fire, heat, and smoke (which is super heated Un-burned products of combustion that is too rich to burn and just looking for enough oxygen to light off) is coming your way! Is that something you want to sit up on the sill and enter into or do you want to enter below that super heated charged environment?

 (see picture #1)


Secondly, when you take the window there will be glass shards left. Do you want to straddle that glass and put some sensitive parts in that predicament?


Lastly, when you enter the window you are in the ready position to quickly move across the room to shut the door.


Also consider this point; we have been teaching the hostile search for many years. This is when you search the fire room by hooking your foot on the door jamb using a tool to probe as deep into the room as you can reach.


(see picture #2)


Remember, Chief Dunn who taught us all about the point of no return? The 5' rule? Well that still stands true today. Entering a window head first puts you in the ready position to perform a hostile search and if you can leave the window in a position to get across the room and shut the door.


 Ok brothers and sisters! Do you agree or disagree? Tell me how and why you perform this skill.


Remember, there is no right or wrong as long as you know why you do it the way you do and you have practiced, practiced, practiced!

Picture #1 - VES Entry Position

Picture #2 - The Hostile Search

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Comment by Ryan Sutton on September 19, 2013 at 5:12pm

As with most things we do there is no right or wrong answer only pros and cons to each tactic that it is our job to understand.  When taking the glass with the ladder the ventilation opening will vent longer before entry and isolation because as someone else already mentioned, you still have to finish clearing the window when you get up the ladder.  This takes almost the same amount of time as breaking it completely because you have to hit all four corners still and remove the sash, curtains, blinds and remaining glass.  Another negative is that a lot of people will leave the tip of the ladder in the window after breaking it.  Especially if they have been taught to use the hooks of a roof ladder for this purpose.  In reality, any protrusion of the ladder into the window (even just a couple of inches) makes it exponentially more difficult for firefighter egress and victim removal.  Things get hung up on the tip of the ladder and any weight you are lifting has to go that much higher.  For these reasons I prefer to break the window from the ladder with a tool.  It also gives the advantages of witnessing the change of conditions as you vent and possibly seeing a victim or door location before or as you vent.  Sometimes however, this may not be possible.  If you are throwing a straight ladder than is a little too long, or the footing is slippery like on ice or concrete you may need to use the hooks of the roof ladder in the sill to keep the ladder from sliding out on you.  If this is the case it's really important to mask up before you throw the ladder to minimize the delay of entry.

As far as method of entry I prefer to go feet first if I can because it gives me more control on the way in and sets me up for bailout if needed, but again this isn't always possible.  If the window is too small or if you happen to be too large for the window it can be very difficult to swing your second leg in.  I've seen a lot of bigger firefighters get hung up this way.  

So as professionals it's important to know and practice both methods of entry and both methods of breaking glass, as well as there pros and cons and use the best method for the situation you encounter in your size-up.

Comment by Kevin Dippolito on September 18, 2013 at 4:25pm

PJ I agree, everyone who was taught proper VES techniques has been doing the "I" all along. As for the tactics, personally I like to be masked up ready to go on the ground and take the window with the tip of the ladder. If it breaks - great, I have immediate relief started within the room and it gives a trapped civilian just a little more chance for survival. As for entering, I prefer (and teach) going in head first. Going in head first gets me down low and I can immediately start feeling for victims that may be close to the window. Some will argue the few seconds it takes to ascend the ladder and get in the window gives the fire more time to spread toward that vent opening, endangering those we are trying to rescue. I agree that could happen, but then again, if the fire is THAT close to making it in to the room, did we actually have a chance of making a rescue? Probably not.

Comment by P.J. Norwood on September 10, 2013 at 7:19pm

And more......

Kyle Smith I like taking the glass from the tip. Even if you take it initially with the ladder you are going to have to clear it with a tool once you get up there. Just skip the step of trying to use the ladder to take it; place the ladder and get up there to go to work. I have seen crews take too much time attempting to use the ladder on a tough window only to have to finish the job by hand. With respect to the flow path... I want to be headed to the door as soon as possible after the first glass breaks and I think you will be quicker breaking it from the tip. The clock starts as soon as the first glass is broken. As for window entry, I think I have changed my mind on that one, maybe. I really liked the way we were shown by the FDIC gang (Ciampo, Matt, Matt and the rest) which was to go in feet first. But having done some training I think that the head first method is my first choice. We see many different window sizes, if it is not very wide, feet first has its limits. Head first and you are ready to go, just harder to de-a** the building if things change as you are going in. I do think that it is worth knowing both ways and being comfortable with them, so you can apply the method that is appropriate for the situation.
Comment by P.J. Norwood on September 10, 2013 at 7:19pm

Some more great points to VEIS from solid firefighters on my FaceBook pag!


P.j. Norwood Thanks Chief! Great point I didn't consider! I had the opportunity to play with hurricane windows that are used in hurricane prone areas and in non-hurricane areas as a security window. You aren't even getting through those with a hand tool! Thanks for the input!
  • Chip Chapman I did not read the article yet PJ, but there is a lot of talk about venting, not venting, and I am affraid it is leading to discussions that do not promote aggressive searches. You know me. If no one is in the house, I will not risk my men for something that will be rebuilt in 4 months. But now is seems that we are getting "vent shy", in other words, let's put a nozzle in the window and let's see what happens. This subject is coming on hard and strong. It is almost like Pressure Govenors, pushed on the fire service a little too fast. The data needs to come in before we make extreme changes like some folks are suggesting.
  • P.j. Norwood Chip Chapman I know right where you are going. Take a look at the data and go through the training on the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute and then lets get together and talk. I have many friends who sat on the vent technicial committee (solid FF's). I have poured over the data, and had hundreds of conversations over the last few years. Much of this is not new! UL has been able to put the many pieces of the puzzle together backed up with hard solid data. Some of the points may be getting lost in those delivering the message to you. I have allot of the information, videos, PPT's for you when you are ready! But go to the UL site and go through the training. if possible get that done before October 3d I am doing a web cast for Fire Engineering with frank Ricci and we will be hitting some of these issues head on!
  • Sean Gray 1.With the science and numbers behind it. It's hard to justify breaking the window with a ladder. You must be ready to enter ASAP and "I"solate yourself and possible victim from the flow path that you just created by taking the window. 2. I prefer a method that I was taught by Mike Ciampo and crew in the FDIC-HOT Truck ops class. Go in leg first but sweep your chest across the sill. Staying low in the window and hooking an arm on the outside. Very similar to a bailout technique, your just going into the building instead of out. This technique gives you the advantage of retreat with an arm and leg on the outside in case a quick exit is needed. Also, what I don't like about head first is the likely hood of going in and onto a bed. It's not much fun getting tangled up into a mattress and blankets while diving into a window. Just my 2cents for what it's worth. Thanks for the debate.
Comment by P.J. Norwood on September 9, 2013 at 8:27pm

Here are some of the comments and conversations on my Facebook page regarding this post:

  • Dustin Martinez I like it chief. However, with the taking of the window by the ladder, does this not extend time for the fire to ventilate and head towards us, not forgetting some time will still be added to the operation through the use of a TIC? I know I'm no where near as experienced as you chief, but by going up masked up but not on air, and taking the window from the ladder, it allows a quick lift of conditions while we scan with the TIC, and reducing the time with an open flow path with the victim, as well as allowing us to assess from the level of the entry how conditions truly are in the room.
  • Ethan Bansek Completely agree with you chief! If your ready take the window with the ladder, Take it. Sweep than sound!!  What are your thoughts about breaking the window than  waiting 10 seconds or so to observe the smoke conditions. to tell if the room has the potential to flash??? It can also tell you if the door to the room is open or closed. However, the longer you wait, the quicker the fire is going to meet you in the room.
  • P.j. Norwood Great points! To answer your question...yes, using the ladder to take the window from the ground does give it time to vent. However, I feel if you are ready to go at the base of the ladder that time is minmial. How long will take you to climb the ladder? Seconds...if you are ready as soon as the glass breaks you move up and get it!
  • P.j. Norwood Ethan Bansek no waiting! Once you take the window you have a limited amount time and cant wait to watch! Remember this is a high risk tactic and time is of the essence!
  • Dustin Martinez Great point chief! Always awesome to pick your brain.
  • Chip Chapman PJ, you CAN'T take the window with most new energy efficient.  They may crack, and you may get away with putting a h*** through one with the ladder, but the old "clearing the glass" by slamming the tip and twisting the ladder is done.  All the glass stays in the grommet/gasget.  Even when you try to clear them with a tool, they just role in.  T T T.....Tilt Twist Toss.  Butt the ladder so the tip is just below the sill.  This should be THE only way to position a ground ladder.  Take that IFSTA manual and plant it 6 feet under.  Then ascend and nail the mullionwith a hand tool so the locks separate.  Pull down the upper sash, push in tilt twist and toss it.  Do the same with the bottom.  Ed Burwell and I had a very large house one June School in Norwich.  The whole class was VES.  We found out the hard way about energy efficient windows.  NOT A ONE OF THEM BROKE OUT WITH THE LADDER.  Ironically this house was being demo'd but the owener just put in all brand new windows.  It was an eye opener.
  • P.j. Norwood Thanks Chief! Great point I didn't consder! I had the opportunity to play with hurricane windows that are used in hurricane prone areas and in non-hurricane areas as a security window. You arent even getting through those with a hand tool! Thanks for the input!

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