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What about the E in V.E.I.S?

With all of the arguments regarding VEIS versus VES, it seems that we have forgotten about the “E”. Let’s talk first about mnemonic's. I’m not the biggest fan of them because my personal belief is that if you need a checklist to do your job you should probably become more engaged in your job. Do you need a checklist to do your side job when cutting grass? Ever since RECEO VS was written by Lloyd Layman in 1950, the fire service has used it in multiple textbooks for initial size up. The breakdown of RECEO VS is that RECEO is sequential and the VS is an action of opportunity. The creation of SLICE RS by Chief Eddie Buchanan from Hanover County, Va. caused a storm of controversy because it was different than something that was created in 1950.

Chief Buchanan had the same intentions as Lloyd Layman and those good intentions were to educate firefighters on initial actions when arriving on a fire scene. For some reason, the controversy swirled into SLICE RS being solely sequential actions and not exactly what it was meant to be which is the same as RECEO VS. SLICE is sequential and RS is an action of opportunity. Do you really think that any firefighter would place “R” for Rescue behind all of the other letters in a sequential list? No way. That’s why it’s a misinterpretation of the SLICE RS model and many firefighters have discarded SLICE RS because of the bad press.

There are so many other mnemonic arguments out there that don't make much sense. This includes the argument of VEIS versus VES. I understand that the “I” is not needed because it’s assumed that the interior door is to be closed or “Isolated” by the firefighter. But that’s assuming the firefighter knows that they are supposed to close the door, which is the most critical piece of the entire operation. If you’re upset about the “I” in VEIS what about the “E”? Is it not assumed that you are going to Enter in order to Search the room? Don’t you have to Enter the room in order to Search it? Why do we need the “E”? Couldn’t we turn it into V.I.S.? My point is not to create another pneumonic that will cause confusion and controversy but to bring light to the craziness of the arguments. The fire service admittedly doesn’t like change. Can’t we all just focus on Aggressive and Intelligent firefighting rather than getting lost in the weeds over some silly letters? Let's start focusing on Fire & Smoke Behavior during VEIS operations to make us more proficient. The Close your Door and Close Before you Doze campaigns are educating our citizens to stay behind closed doors during a fire. We should be prepared to go into a window and rescue the trapped citizen, no matter what it's called. #StopBelievingStartKnowing

 LT Sean Gray

Cobb County Fire

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Comment by Pete Holmes on October 24, 2017 at 11:22am
There’s a little more to why this has become a debate than is being stated. It’s not about the letters. When SLICE RS first appeared it was stated by some authors and organizations that it was a replacement for RECEO VS. The general vibe was that if you weren’t on board with this new acronym, you were old school and not willing to change. That’s where the debate and the confusion set in. People were being told that RECEO VS was outdated and wrong, in turn, those using it were wrong. The debate is NOT because it was new or different. It was being portrayed as a replacement. It’s also been misinterpreted by many authors and instructors. RECEO VS is about strategical priorities where SLICE RS is for first arriving companies. Different tools for different parts of a decision making model. The key being that these are tools to aid when teaching these concepts to build a foundation for smart decisions on the fireground. My question from the beginning has been does RECEO VS still apply for setting strategies? Or is it too old? There’s new additives for water (Class a foam, CAFS, etc.) and new and improved extinguishing agents developed over time but does that make water for extinguishment wrong? It’s been known to extinguish fire for how long? The age of the RECEO VS acronym is a weak argument. The VEIS debate is not about the letters being taken away, added or what they stand for. It’s about a host of instructors, authors and organizations repackaging this as something new, along with other things like SLICE RS, transitional attacks, white papers (can’t find that one anymore), and then stating (teaching, writing, etc.) that if you don’t accept these new changes you are in the wrong, not willing to change, the fire service is steeped in tradition unimpeded by progress, etc. Here’s the catch: none of this isn’t actually new. If you have been a firefighter for a while and been paying attention, controlling doors and windows to help prevent the room from “lighting up”, knocking down the fire from the outside with straight/solid streams at steep angles, and, upon arrival at a fire, sizing up the fire building with regard to fire behavior, smoke conditions, has been going on successfully for decades. Coming up with new acronyms or improving old ones to help create good decision making habits on the fireground is a good thing, especially if it works for you and your department. If you want to share those improvements, awesome. Maybe it’s something that people can use. Personally I think adding the emphasis on closing the door and isolating yourself is a good idea, especially when training new firefighters. I believe the department that has originated and perfected VES for decades (wow that’s a long time…they must be really unprogressive) has changed the acronym to VEIS when instructing new firefighters. Just don’t tell me I’m wrong if I use the term VES as a tactic to support my Rescue strategy. Don’t preach to me about how I’m wrong when I say VES because I forgot the I. Or that I’m wrong and not willing to change when I say blitz attack. A department in the west was practicing knocking down fires from the outside before entering the building and decided to call it Transitional Attack and it became a “new” buzz worded tactic that everyone must now embrace or face harsh criticism. Other departments have been perfecting this tactic for decades and called it something different. The center of the debate isn’t about the letters. It’s about the confusion and misinformation that has found its way into the conferences, articles and curriculums. Recently, I was corrected by another well intentioned firefighter that I was wrong for using the term VES and not using VEIOS....Vent Enter Isolate Oriented Search. Huh.
Comment by matthew edwards on October 23, 2017 at 11:22am

LT Gray.

Thanks for a great article. It does seem crazy to argue over witch letter should come first. I agree that focusing on Fire & Smoke behavior will greatly improve all tactics on the fire ground. From attack line,VEIS,vertical vent and on down the line. We recently had a fire in a one story brick over a full walk out basement. there was heavy fire through the roof in the kitchen and living room. But  the C-side rooms had a good rescue profile and made VEIS a viable tactic. With good coordination from the fire attack crews the search was made quickly and safely. Standing at the foot of the ladder looking up at the window is no time to be running through a bunch of letters. Being engaged in the job will hopefully help. Thanks again.

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