Life and Times of The Inside Man

                                                              “The Inside Man” As a member assigned to the truck or engine you will be tasked with a variety of objectives. Many of...


                                                              “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.
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