“The Inside Man”
As a member assigned to the truck or engine you will be tasked with a variety of objectives. Many of which require you to operate somewhat independently. Case in point, the “Inside Man” or as I like to commonly refer to the “Inside Man” as the “Interior Situational Awareness Officer”. Now I understand this is a mouthful, yet, the concept is more important than the name. Generally, the “Inside Man” is responsible for bringing a blower to the door, pulling ceilings in the immediate overhead, coordinating the use of PPV with Vertical Ventilation and working with the fire attack team to do search, extension or with his/her own company on secondary search or salvage operations. This job is really an important task in the overall success of an operation. However, in today’s fires we must look at building upon this job assignment and utilizing the ability of this person to become a direct link of changing dynamics of the interior to the Incident Commander while providing him/her with accurate data to capture a better view of the situation than one from the exterior of the structure from a block away. A change would come in the duties and responsibilities of the “Interior Situational Awareness Officer” responsibilities.
First, this individual would be responsible for conducting and outside exterior scan and size-up of at least two sides of the structure primarily the division or side in which the primary attack team made access to the interior and the division of approach. Any immediate identifiable structural collapse considerations, hostile events recognition factors or roof assembly exposure would be immediately communicated to the I/C and companies operating in the interior. Additionally, Building Profile identification is key and would include the age and type of the structure NOTE: This will determine fire spread and strengths and weaknesses based upon the Building Profile, and construction components and features.
Next, the conditions at the point of main egress must be taken into consideration and read. By this we mean, reading the rapid development and increase of pressurization at the access point. All of which should be considered and communicated if recognized as a threat to the safety of personnel on the interior. The use of a TIC should also be considered as a tool to determine fire in the overhead and potential collapse in the area of main egress from the structure. While making that determination it is important to identify the proper use of PPV. Remember there are five recognizable elements in determining if PPV is appropriate or not. If any of these five exists, PPV should NOT be considered as the primary source of ventilation.
1. Working attic fire or fire in an overhead concealed space that would impinge upon roof assembles features while personnel are interior the structure.
2. Unknown location of fire or inability to locate the fire by interior crews
3. Inability or lack of an adequate sized exhaust portal for PPV usage.
4. Imminent or confirmed rescue of a civilian or down firefighter.
5. Structure which is over-pressurized for the use of PPV or rapid fire development.
All of the above considerations are generally scene by "The Inside Man" as they are performing their exterior task and job assignments. This understanding of these elements allows this person to make adjustments to their action plan and provide a higher degree of safety for interior personnel with concise communications to the Incident Commander.
Once "The Inside Man" or "Interior Situational Awareness Officer" transitions to the interior of the structure, their job assignment and threat analysis of the situation greatly increases, first, the understanding or the roof assembly features and the destructive effects of fire and exposure to fire on these features need to be foremost on the mind of this person. In addition to pulling ceilings in the immediate overhead of the main access point with a scan of the assembly both visually and TIC assisted, it is important for this person identify the number of hoselines through the access point and the number of personnel assigned to the hoselines. NIOSH Firefighter Data and Injury Report Data has shown that two or more hoselines through on access portal create a spaghetti like effect which will greatly increase the odds of personnel failing to egress out of a structure on their hoselines in the event of a hostile event of collapse situation. Recognizing this, corrective action may be taken to minimize this potential. Keeping hoselinse pulled straight and tight, while providing ample egress portals will reduce the risk of injury and entrapment of interior personnel.
The Inside Man’s ability to identify rapid fire development within the structure based upon changing interior conditions, reports from roof division as to progress and conditions of ventilation heat holes and firefighter access holes in common corridors or center hallways, along with the exterior size-up communications from the I-RIC companies determine the next course of action.
One simple task is to first determine the location of interior crews and identify both accountability and air management of those personnel while you size-up the area in which they are actively involved in firefighting activity, search procedures or fire extension activities. Along with the normal assigned task, the Inside Man becomes the interior eyes and ears of the Incident Commander. Historically this has been tasked to a senior Company Officer assigned on a hoseline or an interior position. However, with split-company operations in limited to zero visibility environments, the Inside Man can double the effective safety envelope by following those above actions for the Incident Commander. As well as the possibility of those assigned interior crews being limited in their ability to identify those critical safety factors previously discussed due to task overload.
Although, it may seem like a task overload situation for the Inside Man to accomplish all these objective, bear in mind, it’s a simple algorithm to follow based upon FACTS, PRESENTATIONS, INPUT & IMFORMTION, and TASK EXPECTATIONS AND OUTCOMES.
As always, Sit back and enjoy the Cuppa!!!