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Ok,  So far so good.  I would still like more of you to suck-it-up and post what “you” would do.  No one will pot-shot you.  I won’t let any negative, over critical or down-right mean post up there. 

This scenario is a larger ranch house (at least that’s what we would call it where I come from).  Again, what you see is what you get. 

Assume for this scenario that the first assignment given was “Attack”.  The first arriving engine company has secured a water supply and stretched a 1 ¾” line through the front door.  You are the next in unit and assigned “Search” by the Incident Commander. 

  • Where would you enter the structure?
  • What type of search would you use?
  • How would you do it?

Here is the link to the video:


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Comment by Skip Coleman on October 10, 2013 at 4:28pm
Thanks. Sounds them like sound tactics.
Comment by Kevin Dippolito on October 10, 2013 at 9:58am

Skip, typically 2 Engines and 1 Ladder or Rescue Co will arrive almost simultaneously, so we typically have approx 15-18 personnel on scene at about the same time to engage in operations. 

Comment by Skip Coleman on October 10, 2013 at 8:01am
Kevin, what is the staffing like in your department? I agree, the key is to get a hose line in working the fire first.
Comment by Kevin Dippolito on October 9, 2013 at 5:40pm


Although I am an advocate of VES, in this particular case I could probably make it thru the front door and down the hallway to the bedrooms faster than I could VES. Now that is assuming a few things; 1) The Engine crew has water on the fire and I can get past the room venting fire, 2) it's early enough in the morning to make the bedrooms my first search area. If I had enough manpower, we'd split up, 1/2 the crew toward the bedrooms, and 1/2 toward the great room & den.   Kevin

Comment by Justin Renner on October 8, 2013 at 9:04am
All this talk about attic spaces I thought I would throw my two cents in. Speaking of my privious department the attic was commonly a secondary job of the primary search team. We practiced using two different teams for a primary and secondary search. Once the primary was completed and an "all clear" was given if time (AIR) alotted the primary search team would then check the attic space for fire smoke and heat conditions. This was subject to change upon IC request but that was the idea going into a residential house fire. The attic space would not be searched unless some of the items you all have mentioned were found,i.e. fixed stairs, pulled down stairs etc. but for the most part just checking for fire conditions as a secondary task. Looking at the video it shows to me like a one story ranch with what looks like vaulted ceilings in the livingroom (big bay window)with a sky window as well as possibly what would be the master bedroom with again vaulted ceilings and sky window. sizing up the video I would not see a living space on a second floor. upon searching and not finding vaulted ceilings in said rooms would warrent further looking into a stairway to a possible second floor. As a second thought for your search size up look into "false dormer windows" it is a big craze for the cheaper budget builds.
Comment by Skip Coleman on October 5, 2013 at 2:55pm
Also, after reading your comment again, Jon, I would not pull down a closed attic stairway hatch door if it was up in the ceiling AND closed. People don't usually go up into the attic and then pull the pull-up door behind them.
Comment by Skip Coleman on October 5, 2013 at 2:53pm
Good question Jon. First things first. Pull downstairs are generally located in sleeping area hallways or the garage. If it's up (closed), I wouldn't run into it and I would not look up at the ceiling to locate it. If it's down, most likely, I'll stumble across it. Permently affixed stairs are again, usually in the the second floor (if there is a second floor) sleeping area or hallway. Usually a door will access it. I would hope any search officer would open and check any door they encounter. I have seen some in bedrooms behind a door that is idential to a closet door. The same holds true. Any searcher should open any door they come across. I would not "look" specifically for any stairway but they usually just kind of show up. Windows in roof lines are a clue. Knowing the buildings in your response area helps. If it's a newer area with truss-loft spaces over the top floor, I would not waste time.
Comment by Jon Nickerson on October 5, 2013 at 2:34pm

Chief, I have a question for you. I know the text book answer is to be thorough and conduct the best search possible. But if you don't come across an access ladder already down, or fixed entry, are you going to find that attic access, pull down the stairs and look for life in a real life situation? Honestly, the thought wouldn't even cross my mind unless I was assigned to search for fire extension in the attic. I know you said in Toledo that you had a lot of residences convert their attics to living spaces, but was there ever a fire that you were on where the ladder to the attic was up and you found a living space up there?

Comment by Skip Coleman on October 4, 2013 at 3:22pm
One last thought to your (Jon's) comment. He stated he wouldn't search in an attic unless he found signs someone lived up there. My point is you have to go up to see (look feel etc) do know.
Comment by Skip Coleman on October 4, 2013 at 3:19pm
OK. My indicator was if we located a "permanently affixed" stair going to the attic. This would include a pull-down attic ladder only if it was located in the down position. If we found a stairway Leading to the attic and when we got up there, we found the attic was not floored, we would not search. Where I come from, people would convert attics to living spaces to rent out to college students and the like. Just something else to think about when trying to conduct the "best" search possible, and don't we want the best search?

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