Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

Ever onward.  

Here is the next simulation.  This is of a victorian house.  It is approximately 4000 sq. ft. (not including the third floor).   

There are six bedrooms. The fire occurs at 0630 hours on a saturday morning.  What you see in the video is what you get.  

You are on your department riding your apparatus and are assigned Search by Command.  An engine company has arrived before you and is stretching a line to the front door.

1) What type of search would you conduct? (Standard, VES, Team, Oriented or Other)

2) Where would you start your search?

3) What if any tools would you want your crew to have?

4) Do you believe you can conduct a search of this house in 15 minutes?

Here is a link to the video.


Views: 1860


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Comment by Skip Coleman on December 11, 2013 at 4:56pm

Thanks Chief.  Some good thoughts.  Knowing these old houses usually do not have Division 1 sleeping areas (unless remodeled) and noting the time of day (0630 hours) I would have to think about starting with any crew on Division 1.  My wife usually is up about 6:00 or 6:30 having coffee downstairs.  However, with limited resources I could surely justify committing all crews to where possible victims are "most likely" to be.  Just my thoughts.  

You stated a primary search could be conducted in this building in  the 15 minute time period. Thats great and indicates that there has been some drilling on the subject.  All I want at this time as an Incident Commander is an excellent Primary search.  Secondary searches can come later.  

Comment by Kevin Dippolito on December 11, 2013 at 4:41pm


As I have said in previous posts, although I am an advocate of VES, I prefer to use the interior stairs when that options exists, AND it is quicker. For the sake of this discussion I will say the interior stairs are accessible. That being the case, I would split my crew - 2 FF's would begin searching the first floor, and 2 would head for the interior stairs and search the second floor. I would search the second floor prior to the third floor because I would expect the majority of the bedrooms to be on the second floor. Hopefully a 3rd search team would arrive so they could search the 3rd floor, otherwise air-management could become an issue trying to send one of the original search teams to the 3rd floor after completing their initial search assignment. The basement, which may or may not have living space, would be the last floor I would search.

Could it be done in 15 minutes - that is completely dependent upon the number of firefighters assigned to search. In my area - A primary could be completed in 15 minutes. A thorough secondary would most likely take longer. These big, old houses are known for having closets all over the place where a child could hide.

Comment by Justin Renner on December 10, 2013 at 3:19pm
Sir, on the stair comment, I have found in our area that some of the larger, older houses have a small stair case in the rear of the house that was used by the live in maids. It could easily be passed up as a closet door and would not be ideal in any way to use in fire gear or to remove vicitims.

As well a lot of areas have building code that requires your main stair case to be within a certian distance of your main entrance, an more often then not designers lay floor plans out this way regardless of code.
For myself it is easier to mentally layout and find my way around the house from the main entrance. Back and side doors generally lead into small tight vestibules, renovated porches, or basement stair access. Not that you shouldn't be ready to use an alternate entrance but when the main door is an option I find it to be the best more often then not. On a side note to that; the victims in the house are going to attempt to escape using the main entrance out of daily habit. So you are more likely to encounter a fallin victim by using this route as well.
Comment by Skip Coleman on December 10, 2013 at 12:10pm

I still think it's too bad that only the same two or four people step forward.  I know some of those bigger-city department members and writers/instructors for us read these.  Share your thoughts.  

Comment by Skip Coleman on December 10, 2013 at 12:08pm

Good comments from both of you.  Unless you had information from a "reliable" civilian, I agree "Oriented VES" is not a great evolution.  Too many bedrooms with too big of a ladder required.  

I still think following the hose line in the front door is the best option.  First, it gets a hose stream between you and the fire.  It reduces the chance of your crew getting hit by a hose stream and lastly, I would bet a paycheck that the stairs (at least the main stairs if there is more than one) is at or hear the front hallway.  

Justin, well thought out plan.  Jon, I agree two crews may be required.  The search officer must request help from Command if after the search is started, he or she feels the entire building will not get a primary search in the time it takes for your crews biggest "bottle-sucker" to run low on air.

Comment by Jon Nickerson on December 9, 2013 at 2:20pm

I would say if we have an engine crew stretching a line to the front door, I might take my crew to the back side to look at conditions. If it looks like entry might be better on that side, I would enter there. I would try to do a quick search of the fire floor, working my way up to each floor. This also could be basement fire judging from the exterior, and a possibility of it being balloon framed construction. This is definitely a tricky one and would require multiple search crews in my opinion to get the job done effectively and quickly. As far as tools are concerned, as long as we have a TIC, set of irons, and a NY hook, I think we would be good to go. I would utilize a TIC directed search. As far as the time limit of 15 minutes. It could be done if we were moving quickly and the hoseline team was coordinating with ventilation to allow easier visibility. Good scenario! I agree with Justin that VES would be difficult to accomplish. 

Comment by Justin Renner on December 8, 2013 at 3:00pm
There is no other way to say it other than that this type of structure presents a lot of problems and difficulties and can come down to being a complete nightmare. It has the ability in some communties to have been sub divided into smaller rental units; note multiple mailboxes, satilite dishes etc. not seeing any in the video would lead to believe that this is a large 2.5 story single family dwelling. With fire on the main floor I would start my search on the second floor and move to the third. This type of building design is very compartmentalized and will consist of 5 to six possible bedrooms between the second and third floor, so using VES could prove to be a very time consuming task although depending on fire and smoke conditions this needs to be a close plan B. When these structures were first built they contained large families as well as maids and butlers. In present day in our area these same structures are more commonly owned by older couples who's children have all moved away as well as some well off citizens and in which case the houses will have visible renovations, at least in our area that is. This being the case you are likely to run into alot of bedrooms that are no longer used; this is another reason that VES could be time consuming and a waste of it. I would use a three man oriented search method. More often then not the stair case is in the center of the house and bedrooms are off of one main hall. This would allow an officer to stage his oriented search from the hall while one of two FF's could search each bedroom due to there smaller size. The usual small staircase to the 3rd floor can be located by the officer (oreinted) while bedroom searches are being conducted by the other two members. As far as tools go, I would recommend that the cache is light enough to be carried by the officer (oriented) to include a small married pair and a short rope bag (50'-75') in the event that the first floor is lost and a bail out is needed. With a three man search team it is likely that a primary search could be completed of the 2nd and 3rd floor providing that it is not subdivided. As always victim removal will depend on fire and smoke conditions at the that time, but with the video smoke presented, the size of the house, and possible elderly age of the residence a window extrication would be a primary choice in my mind, lets hope our truckies are throwing ladders.

Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2024   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service