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There has been a great push for both firefighters and civilians to understand the concept of “closing the door”.  To them (civilians) it means that they are safer in the event of a fire in the home.  To us, it means tenable space and a greater potential for a save, even in a well -involved building.


What if we find a victim in the bedroom?  How are do you plan to take them out?  We are creatures of habit, which means we are likely to go out the same way we came in.  If we take that civilian through the smoky, hot, nasty environment we came through to find them have we really helped them?  Remember that they have no protection.  And we found them in a tenable, safe room behind a closed door.  Did we just do more harm then good?


Leading Specific Location of Civilian Fire Fatalities (2011-2013)

  • Bedrooms                                                 50%
  • Common Rooms                                      11%
  • Bathrooms                                               8.3%
  • Kitchen                                                    7.9%


Leading Specific Location of Civilian Fire Injuries (2011-2013)

  • Bedrooms                                                33.2%
  • Common Rooms                                     10.5%
  • Kitchen                                                    10.8%


Leading Areas of Fire Origin in Non-Confined Residential Building Fires (2011-2013)

  • Cooking Areas                                          20.7%
  • Bedrooms                                                 12.8%
  • Common Rooms                                       6.6%
  • Laundry Rooms                                          5%
  • Attic                                                            5%


**Cooking is the leading cause of fires @ 47.9%**

Picture from FF Mark Falkenhan LODD Report 30 Dowling Circle, Hillendale, Maryland (ATF Modeling Report)


What story do the stats tell us?  Victims are most likely found in bedrooms, while the origin of fires in bedrooms is low.  What does this mean?  Victims are safer in their bedrooms than in the common areas or kitchens, especially if the door is closed. 


Maybe it’s time for more discussion and training with your crew on the topic of Residential Search.

  • Is it safer to remove the victim out the bedroom window?
  • If you keep the bedroom door closed and vent the window do you expect the smoke to lift and the room to clear?
  • Have you practiced window lifts?
  • What’s your plan to get a victim down a ladder?  Have you practiced it recently?
  • Do you have a plan to get a victim out if there is no ladder present?
  • Can we keep the door closed, wait for a knockdown and ventilation and then remove the victim the same way we came in?

Fire Engineering Training Minutes-Conventional Window Lifts and Ladder Removal



USFA Residential Building Fires (2011-2013)

USFA Civilian Fire Fatalities in Residential Building Fires 2015

USFA Civilian Fire Injuries in Residential Building Fires 2015



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