The first-responding apparatus to a fire in a large commercial warehouse arrives on scene and gives a preliminary report to dispatch, stating, â€œOn scene at a 200-by-200-foot warehouse with smoke showing. Dispatch a full first-alarm assignment to this box.â€ The first task that must be...
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The first-responding apparatus to a fire in a large commercial warehouse arrives on scene and gives a preliminary report to dispatch, stating, â€œOn scene at a 200-by-200-foot warehouse with smoke showing. Dispatch a full first-alarm assignment to this box.â€ The first task that must be accomplished is to find the fire â€“ and this may be difficult. Most fire departments have search ropes on their apparatus and should deploy them at this type of fire. The question is, does your department have standard operating guidelines (SOGs) and standardized search ropes?
In most cases, fire department SOGs for search-line deployment and use are vague. Every firefighter and officer making a search off a search rope should first know the type of search being performed. The search for fire using a search line should be treated differently than the search for life. Once water is being applied to the fire, then the search changes. If firefighters advance 100 feet into a building to search for a fire and the conditions deteriorate rapidly, they may not be able to get back out of the building or fire area before being injured.
The search for fire with a search line should take into account the need for a hoseline with water to be in place to protect the firefighters if conditions change. The hoseline should be no more than 50 feet behind the searching firefighters. If conditions change in a large commercial structure, the change will occur very quickly and water will be needed to protect the searching firefighters. An operating handline will have a stream reach of about 45 feet; therefore, 50 feet ahead of the hoseline would be the maximum distance that the search team would want to advance, depending on conditions. The search team members should keep in mind that the hose team would need to be able to apply water near them for protection. If the search team is entering a different area to search for contents and wall configurations or the layout of the building prevent the hose team from protecting the search team, then the hoseline should be brought to a point where optimal protection is offered to the search team.
Once firefighters put water on the fire and are searching for a line hazard, a completely different type of search is undertaken. Fire conditions and control of fire still must be monitored, but the fire is being extinguished and searches can proceed more safely. The difference between the two types of searches is essential to include in any search rope procedure that is used by the searching unit.
Also important in search rope SOGs is to be certain that all of the departmentâ€™s search ropes are standardized. That means that all search lines are the same length and made of the same type of line so that members can recognize them in a fire building as search ropes. Any markings, knots, rings or other devices placed on the ropes also should be standardized. If members of one company encounter a search rope in a fire building, they should know that the rope will have the same markings as the ropes they trained on in their company. The uniformity of the ropes is important to ensure the safety of firefighters operating within a fire building.
A marking system is also a vital part of the search-rope standardization process. Each rope should be tagged on the outside with the unit number or designation. This will allow firefighters and officers outside the fire building to see where and which unit stretched a search line. A marking system should also be in place to allow the firefighters and search team leader inside the fire area to determine how far into the fire building they have advanced and which direction leads out of the building. This can be done in many ways, such as knots, a ring and knots, or markings placed on the rope at certain intervals. The use of a ring and knots is one of the preferred methods of marking a search line. The knots indicate the distance into the building and members can tag off and do a sweep search off the ring. The ring can go toward the fire and members trained to remember â€œring of fire.â€