Search and Rescue

Session Reference: 1-2

Topic: Search and Rescue

Time Required: 1 Hour


   • Truck Company Fireground Operations, Second Edition, Chapter 3

   • Essentials of Fire Fighting, Third Edition, Pages 142-144 and 149-152



Objective (SPO): 1-2-1

The student will demonstrate a basic understanding of search and rescue operations, considerations, search techniques, and victim removal.


Search and Rescue

   • Chronology of rescue operations

   • Rescue considerations

   • Search


SPO 1-2-1 The student will demonstrate a basic understanding of search and rescue operations, considerations, search techniques, and victim removal.

1-2-1 Explain the sequence of events related to conducting a search and rescue operation.

1-2-2 Explain the considerations related to conducting a search in various occupancies.

1-2-3 Describe the various duties associated with conducting a search.

I. Chronology of Rescue Operations (1-2-1)

Rescue of people in danger is the primary objective of any fire department and is normally assigned to the truck company

A. Before the alarm considerations

  1. Occupancies

  2. People involved

  3. Hazards

  4. Objective to know in advance approximate type and extent of rescue operations

B. Alarm considerations

  1. First indication that problem may exist

  2. Initial information includes exact address or more general location

  3. Company should know type of occupancy involved or type of area

  4. Occupancy and time of day important clues to possible presence of victims

  5. Dispatch information is important

  6. First reports should be relayed to company officer

C. Fireground considerations

  1. Size up - begun before apparatus is stopped

      a. Is fire building a closed-up dwelling with heavy smoke showing

      b. Are cars parked in driveway, front, or rear

      c. Are people at windows of apartment house, office building, or similar occupancy calling for help

      d. Is fire showing and, if so, where

      e. Given interior construction of building, in which directions will fire travel most rapidly

      f. Extent of fire, size and age of building, and apparent population important

      g. Information can be obtained from neighbors and tenants who have escaped

      h. Special urgency is people still inside

      i. Reports of "everyone is out" might be erroneous

  2. Immediate rescue

      a. Must be attempted in extreme cases - jumpers or people with clothing on fire

      b. All other operations must be delayed (may be performed before a rapid intervention team is in


      c. Get attention of victims and calm them

      d. Presence of victims at windows may indicate other occupants

      e. Call for help when rescue operations keeps personnel from other duties

      f. Take immediate action to control other excited occupants

      g. Give positive orders and directions

  3. Obtaining water and placing streams

      a. Separate fire from people closest to it

      b. Control interior stairways and corridors for evacuating occupants and advancing fire fighters

      c. Protect crews searching for victims around and above the fire

     d. Streams should be placed as soon as possible upon arrival to coordinate with search

  4. Search

     a. Begin search immediately if indications of trapped or overcome victims (rapid intervention team

         must be in place prior to initiating search unless there is an obvious rescue)

     b. Demands coordination with fire attack

     c. Fire spread must be blocked when searching around or above fire

     d. Ventilation, laddering, and forcible entry may be required before search can begin

     e. All personnel on scene must be aware that search is in progress

     f. All activities should be directed toward helping crew engaged in search

II. Rescue Considerations (1-2-2)

Rescue means removing victims and potential victims from danger

A. Extent of rescue problem directly affected by

  1. Number of people in fire building

  2. Paths by which fire and smoke can reach them

  3. Routes available to crews for reaching people and removing them from building

B. Factors depend on construction, size, and interior layout of building

C. Crew must be prepared for most complex structure

D. Rescue problem can tax capacity of first units – call for additional companies without delay

III. Search (1-2-3)

A thorough, planned search for victims should be conducted at every fire.

A. Search duties - operations to be carried out simultaneously

  1. Locate and remove trapped occupants

  2. Ventilate where needed

  3. Temporarily prevent extension of fire by closing doors and windows

  4. Check for interior an exterior fire extension

  5. When necessary, help locate the seat of fire

B. Standard search procedure

  1. Search begins immediately

      a. Size up fire situation

      b. Use attack lines to cut off fire

      c. Stay low and check for victims near fire

     d. Attempt to get to upper floors

     e. If area is untenable, ventilation must begin from outside

  2. Search pattern

     a. Search area over fire first

     b. Keep turning in the same direction

     c. At least two fire fighters should be assigned to search an area

     d. Team members should keep track of each other by touch, sight, verbally, and listening for sound

     e. Each should call for help from other

  3. Areas to be searched

     a. Corridors, halls, and open areas in each room should be checked thoroughly

     b. Bathrooms, closets, and space behind large chairs and under beds should be checked

     c. Check near windows for victims overcome

     d. Rescuers should carry axe, forcible entry tool, and handlight

     e. Search fire room if possible then close door to isolate fire

     f. Line should be placed over fire

     g. Vent non-fire rooms to relieve heat and smoke

  4. Indicating that a room has been searched

     a. Establish a standard method to indicate that room has been searched

     b. If door is left open, place piece of light furniture in doorway, lying on side with legs pointed


     c. If door is closed, place piece of cloth against door jamb near doorknob

     d. Tags can be used in place of piece of cloth

  5. Other structures

     a. In apartment buildings, residential search pattern should be used within units

     b. Important that searchers leave using same doorway as entered

     c. If fire conditions require use of different doorway, it should be reported immediately

     d. Hoselines may be required to search fire area

     e. Larger structures may require more personnel

C. Search Techniques.

  1. Doors

      a. Before opening, check to see if knob is hot

      b. Some heat from knob or door may indicate smoke and gases beyond door

      c. If door opens outward, stay low and place full body weight against door

      d. Release lock slowly and open door slightly

      e. If there is strong push or fire, close door and wait for attack line

      f. If door opens inward, release lock slowly and ease door in

      g. If strong push or fire, close door and wait for attack line

  2. Victims

      a. Occupants will try to escape through doors, windows, fire escapes, halls, and stairways

      b. Look for overcome victims near and in such places

      c. Make sure victims not lying against doors pushing inward

      d. Under smoke and gas conditions, attempt to remove victim and then shut door

      e. If needed, call for attack line or help

      f. Victims may be found near doors

      g. Great physical effort may be required to move victims from door

      h. If enough help available, remove victims from structure while search continues

      i. In large structures, move to hallway and vent

      j. Victims found deep in apartments or large areas may require making opening in wall and moving

         victim to less-charged area

  3. Visibility

      a. Stay low and move quickly when visibility reduced

      b. Use legs and hands to feel for victims and obstructions

      c. Hallways and corridors can serve as directional guides

     d. Open or remove windows when encountered

D. Victim Drags and Carries

  1. Victim drags

      a. Clothing drag

      b. Strap or rope drag

      c. Blanket drag

  2. Carries

      a. Extremities carry

      b. Cradle carry

      c. Chair carry

      d. Seat carry



Search and Rescue

   • Chronology of rescue operations

   • Rescue considerations

   • Search