Your company is the second-due truck to a reported structure fire. As you respond to the scene, you need to think about what tasks or functions your company will perform. The easy answer is anything that the first-due truck has not done. Will it really be that easy? Departments may have different standard operating guidelines (SOGs) and staffing levels on trucks. There may only be one truck company or none at all. Regardless of this, the functions associated with truck work still needs to be done.
The primary functions of a truck company are: Ladders, Overhaul, Ventilation, Entry, Rescue, Search and Utilities (the common acronym is: LOVERSU).
As the second-due truck officer and driver, you need to know what direction the first-due companies will likely be coming from. Try to determine if it is best to position for the front or go to the rear. Knowing if there is an alley to allow access to the rear is part of knowing your district. Will it be possible to place the truck to use the aerial if required? Sometimes it will be beneficial to take the time and back down to allow optimal use of the truck.
What is the first truck doing? The first-due truck’s primary functions are likely to be forcible entry, search and rescue and ventilation. Search may be for victims or to locate and possibly confine the fire. If the search is being performed on an upper floor, the truck may have used an interior stairway or ground ladder to gain access (vent, enter, isolate, search – VEIS). You should have a good idea of what tasks they will perform. This may be based upon department SOGs/SOPs (standard operating procedures).
A better method is listening to the dispatched assignment. The dispatch information, knowing your district and pre-incident planning can aide you with the type of structure and occupancy. While in route, additional information may be sent to the responding units via computer, if applicable, or verbally by dispatch, including size-up reports from the first-due companies/chief. They include any life hazards, fire location, fire involvement and exposure problems. The chief, engine officer or first-due truck officer, may request that companies enter from a certain direction/street, to the rear, or give an assignment before your arrival. Listen for the first-due company’s arrival, as they may be delayed due to traffic or responding from a location other than their firehouse. Companies being out of service, road construction and road closures can all have an effect on responses. These delays can result in your company being the first-due truck. That is why it is important to listen to the address and type of incident other units are sent on.
Once on scene, do your own size-up. Report to command unless given an assignment prior to arrival. If command has not yet been established, you may have to take command of the incident. If that is the case, assign your company to another officer, or have a senior firefighter be in charge of the company.
With reported or confirmed people trapped, all the personnel on the first due truck will likely be engaged in the search. As second due, ventilation may be required (coordinate this with interior crews). Ground ladders will need to be placed to the upper floors if this is more than a one-story home. The ladders are for our entry to aide in the search for firefighters to exit, if necessary, and victim removal.
It is imperative to get ground ladders raised when companies are operating above the first floor. The ladders may be their exit if conditions deteriorate. They may also be the best option to remove a victim(s). The ladders also provide a VEIS point to aide in a search. Remember to shut the door in the room you enter immediately. This is the isolate part, and may give the victim some time, and allow you to search the room.
The following are guidelines and it is all relative to what the first truck is doing, and to the number of firefighters on scene.