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Search Scenario #4 Quadraplex Apartment Search

Still not a lot of people out there willing to tell me how they would search these scenarios.  To those of your that have "spilled their guts", Thanks.  

This scenario occurs again at 6:30 a.m..  I never mentioned this but for all of these, lets assume zero visibility in any area that shows smoke.  

It is unknown at the time of the fire if any or all apartments are rented with victims inside.  The attached photo has letters in the windows to signify apartments (A, B, C and D)

My questions are:

1) List the order of which apartment you would search first, second third and last. 

2) What type of search would you use?

3) Could your crew search all four apartments while utilizing only the one SCBA bottle on your backs? (Or would you need to go out an change bottles before finishing?)

Here is the link to the video:

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Comment by Jon Nickerson on November 1, 2013 at 10:15am
Yeah no prob! Just another tool for the toolbox. I love learning about different ways of doing things! I agree with everything you said. Thanks for commenting
Comment by Grant Schwalbe on November 1, 2013 at 9:57am

I do believe in the concept of door control to limit flow path but I have concerns about the penciling concept, only because it is often taught outside of the big picture.  I believe penciling began overseas (Sweden) for compartment fires.  It became more popular in the US when we began training in Flashover trailers.  The problem is most firefighters are not seeing enough fire in real fires, rather in training fires where we use the penciling technique so that we can get a better "training evolution" (plus, its tough to keep lighting the training fires if too much water is used).  I do a lot of live fire training instruction and my fear is we are setting up firefighters with muscle memory to use this technique.  If we look at fire attack outside of training fires, the problem goes away when we put the fire out.  We do this by applying water (enough GPM to absorb the BTUs and stop this snowball effect of fire growth).  We were always taught not to spray water into smoke.  This is the change, that now that smoke represents fuel and if hot enough flashover potential.   A burst of water at the ceiling that evaporates before coming down on your helmet indicates that temperatures are approaching flashover temps and the right thing to do is cool those gases.  Penciling or I prefer a 10 second blast to the ceiling can reduce temperatures over 200 degrees.  We must not forget that our goal is to get to the seat of the fire and put it out because penciling isn't going make our problem go away.  Just my two cents from what I have learned from others, trained on and my experience.  Thanks for the video post Jon....I hadn't seen that one yet!  Stay safe and keep learning and sharing!

Comment by Jon Nickerson on October 31, 2013 at 3:47pm
Comment by Jon Nickerson on October 31, 2013 at 3:42pm
You should check it out. You leave on person at the door to control the door, it's not closed (sorry for the confusion) just closed as much as it can be. Obviously there are other factors, but it's interesting and cool to me to read some of the stuff they are finally starting to understand. There are obviously old school ways of doing things, but when research is showing this way is getting the job done faster and safer, you have to take notice
Comment by Kevin Dippolito on October 31, 2013 at 3:04pm

Jon, I admit I am not familiar with the research you are referring to, but regardless, it seems impossible and unnecessarily risky to close the door behind us and starve the fire. I say impossible because you can't close a door behind you when your attack line is propping it open. You also don't know what other opening may be providing air to the room (ie..HVAC vents). I say risky because you never know when a window in that room may fail or the sheet rock will fall and the room light off. So I agree with Skip, get water to the seat of the fire with coordinated ventilation from the Truck Co. This time-tested method gives victims the best chance of survival while at the same time stops the fires impingement on structural components of the structure. Respectfully, Kevin

Comment by Jon Nickerson on October 31, 2013 at 2:36pm
I understand, but in that situation your are most likely not going to have a "viable person" anyway with the smoke and heat. At least you are cooling the atmosphere till you find the seat of the fire. If you vent/ allow oxygen your pt probably won't be viable if they are in that area. From what I've read and heard, this is what the fire service might be going to soon
Comment by Skip Coleman on October 31, 2013 at 2:25pm

Sorry Jon. My experience has been "Don't play with fire".  Pencils are for writing.  Put the damn fire out! By both reducing visibility and starving the fire you are killing any viable victims in the fire. Starve the fire, you suffocate the victims.  Both need 16" oxygen to "do their thing", burn and breathe. Just an old farts thoughts. 

Comment by Jon Nickerson on October 31, 2013 at 10:34am

there has been a lot of research Grant on suffocating fires by making entry and closing the door behind you. Start cooling the environment by using penciling techniques. While visibility will be low, you are cooling the atmosphere and not allowing the fire to grow by eliminating its oxygen source. The TIC becomes an excellent tool in this type of situation.

Comment by Grant Schwalbe on October 30, 2013 at 7:08pm

Jon and Skip,

I think you guys are right on, especially with all the new information from NIST and UL...90 seconds from the time the door opens to flashover.  So I think getting water on the fire and the line positioned between the fire and savable space has to be one of the first tasks.  I heard something from one of the Chief's on the west coast using the term a dirty or hasty search.  This is when the hose team is moving from the entry to the fire.  They obviously search the area for fire but it's not thorough enough to give the all clear.  They can close doors in the area as well to produce tenable space.  This allows search teams to focus on the bedrooms and high probability areas.  Interesting fact is that according to FEMA, in 35% of fire fatalities the victims were trying to escape, which should put them right in the path of the attack team.  Great discussion!

Comment by Grant Schwalbe on October 30, 2013 at 2:54pm

I would search A-D-B-C.  Judging by fire showing from Delta side I assume that the common area untenable.  If attack is in place I may be able to get past them to search bedrooms via interior (oriented man).  If not VES for A.  Oriented man search for all the others because of speed and size of apartments.   My crew could search all of this with one bottle.  If than command needs to assign another unit.  Victim survivability decreases with time and more than one bottle is unacceptable.

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