Why do we go into fires at all? A question often asked by the public when we they look at the cost of firefighter injuries. The answer should be a simple one, “To perform SEARCH & RESCUE”. People live and work in structures and they catch fire. Often the fire occurs when the people are inside of the structure. No matter what new scientific data we receive on how the fire develops or how our actions positively or adversely affect the fire, we must think of it in terms of how it affects SEARCH. Life safety has been and will always remain the number one priority in our business. All the tactical decisions and actions taken on the fire ground in the initials stages should be taken with the intent of accomplishing a SEARCH to ensure that no life is in danger. In some cases that might mean that SEARCH or RESCUE is the first assignment for the first arriving company. In other cases it might mean that the fire be controlled in order for crews to be able to SEARCH. The ideal situation would be for all those things to be occurring simultaneously. So as we continue to make new discoveries in fire science don’t get so caught up in the interior vs exterior, transitional, flow path, solid bore, fog conversation that you forget why it’s a conversation. The answer is always SEARCH. The first decision to make in the operation is “Is there anywhere in the structure that a person could survive?” If, the answer is yes then the next question is, “What tactic is needed right now, given the resources available, to complete a SEARCH and make a RESCUE?” In some cases what we always thought was helping accomplish this might have been making things worse. This is why you need be on top of what is being learned in the reSEARCH. Once the SEARCH has been completed and building cleared then our focus shifts to protecting property. Our willingness to risk should change with an "ALL CLEAR" from the SEARCH team.
S E A R C H & reSEARCH & Rescue: DON’T LET IT BE AN AFTER THOUGHT!