Whether you call it Vent, Enter, Search (VES) or Vent, Enter, Isolate, Search (VEIS) doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know and understand the tactic and practice it frequently to build and maintain proficiency.
VEIS is an effective method for entering a structure from an alternate location, generally from a window, to search survivable space for trapped occupants. It is essential to isolate the room with an available door to create a barrier between you and fire. This action can reduce the threat of smoke, heat, and fire travel by controlling the flow path from fire to the ventilation point in the VEIS compartment, and by controlling the air flow from the VEIS compartment window to the fire. Isolation also buys additional work time and improves room conditions as contaminants and heat vent out the open window.
The isolation step is critical to firefighter success, which is why I like the addition of the “I” in VES. It emphasizes the isolation step to keep it ingrained in our training, so it translates (muscle memory) into isolating action on the fire ground.
If you only consider VEIS as a tactic to utilize through window entry, you are not using this tactic to its fullest potential. VEIS can be used to enter a compartment from a window or a door to locate victims or fire. As we enter a structure we are creating ventilation with every opening we make, whether from a door, window, wall/ceiling breach, roof ventilation, etc. By maintaining isolation with door control or maintaining a protection line, we control the flow path and air intakes, thereby maintaining control of the fire. To do otherwise is to complete and create flow paths, introduce air to the fire to increase fire intensity, increase temperatures, and to allow fire to maintain control and increase the opportunity for a trigger event (flashover, backdraft).
VEIS should not be thought of as strictly a window entry opportunity, but as a method to search for victims and fire when entering a window or door, as well as a way of being. When we enter any structure under fire conditions, we have to think of it as ventilation, ventilation that can change the dynamic of the flow path and create additional flow paths, and can introduce air to fire. A vent limited environment is our friend and within firefighters’ ability to manipulate in order to control fire until it is extinguished. Once we’ve achieved ventilation, entry, and isolation, then we can complete our search for victims and fire.
VEIS, there’s more to it than simply window entry.
Fire and Rescue Departments of Northern Virginia Firefighting and Emergency Manual, Truck Company Ventilation Book V
NICK J. SALAMEH is a 36 year veteran of the fire service. He was a Fire/Emergency Medical Services Captain II and previous Training Program Manager for the Arlington County (VA) Fire Department, with which he served 31 years. He is a former Chair of the Northern Virginia Fire Departments Training Committee and was a former volunteer firefighter for the Fairfax County, VA Fire and Rescue Department, Bailey’s Crossroads Fire Station 10. Nick is a contributor to Fire Engineering www.fireengineering.com and Stop Believing Start Knowing (SBSK), https://www.facebook.com/StopBelievingStartKnowing/.