1. #1
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    Default Large Area Searches

    I'm trying to put together a large area search kit for our ladder truck, and I was currious as to what different techniques are being utilized out there? I have heard of two...

    1) A 100' rope with butterfly knots every 10' and 10' tethers. The anchor line is stretched across the width of the area and 2 ff's on each end as anchor guys. 2 other ff's clip in and do sweeps.

    or

    2) main line tied off to the entry point and stretched across the area by the lead ff. The lead ff sweeps along the wall in a clockwise or counterclockwise fashion while other ff's do sweeps off of the main line.

    What are thoughts on these? Anyone ever tested the two methods or have any better ideas?

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    Default Large Area Search Techniques

    We use RIT rescue systems Large Area Search kit. It is 200' if heat resistant rope with knots/rings every 20' and large carabiner at terminal end. With that is 3 20' retractable personnel ropes. We anchor off exterior to solid anchor point and usually search with 3 searchers (one leader and two searchers). We also bring the usual tools/TIC, We also do time benchmarks (15 min work/15min to get out/15 min emerg. air). We have 8 kits, this will insure between 3-6 kits at every working incident.

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    We have a similar setup. 200' rope with knots every 10'. Lead guy achors the rope at the entry point and takes the rope bag/kit across the area to be searched. At every knot the two other searchers achor in their search ropes and search off the main line. Usually it is one on either side of the rope sweeping back to front.. then the lead moves up.

    In general the lead guy takes the main rope across the area to be searched and is not constrained to a wall. Having the main rope along the wall cuts the area you can search in half since the searchers can only search off one direction.

    Another considderation is that if the lead guy has to change direction he must achor the main rope. Otherwise the trailing line could be dragged out of the area that was previously searched. This could would be bad if, for example, the team goes to follow the rope out, assumes everything is safe since it's been checked/sounded, and then gets into trouble because the rope was dragged across an unsafe area.
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    My thought is 10' tethers are TOO SHORT! We use 20's and even they are limiting.200' foot mainline or two hundreds with clips,minimum. T.C.

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    I generally go along with the rest here. A 100ft rope is definately too short.It has to be 200ft. You're talking large area, not corner grocery store. You must tie off to a stationary object where you can return to a safe area. This might be outside the building such as a tree, fence, or something 15-20 feet from the entrance. Now you enter and it's 20-25ft to where you start the search, you can lose 35-40 feet before getting into the search area.

    10ft tethers are also too short. 20-25 ft is good. You shouldn't use longer. Remember a person is branching off by himself to do a scan. Much farther away and if something happens he could be too far away to call for help. With a 20-25ft tether you can move your butterfly knots to 20-25ft. Stopping every ten feet just slows the search process down, delays advancing into the area needed, and uses valuable breathing air. As CDFL2 said air management is extremely important. You can't go in until the low air alarm goes off then turn around and walk out. If you use 10 minutes of air getting in, you need 10 minutes of air to get out. In case of trouble you should have 10 minutes reserve. That's your 30 minute bottle.

    Two waterprof strobe lights and about 5 nonlocking carabiners. The strobes can be left at a doorway or on a victom if you have to leave him for a back up crew. The biners take the place of tieing knots with bulky gloves.

    When confronted with a large area situation, consider cutting it in half if possible. A 500ft long building when entered from opposite ends only has a 250ft long search area for each team.

    Large area search is something everyone should think about. Part of my 2nd due area is a shipping terminal. There are warehouses litteraly 2000ft long and 300ft wide. I know many don't have these issues. But. If your town has a school, hospital, large supermarket, Home Depot/Lowes, or a church you could need these methods.

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    Len1582,

    I like your ideas. We don't actually have anything set up just for large search areas but now after reading this thread, we might put something together.
    Jason Knecht
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    Dickey...Glad I got you thinking. Many people feel they don't need to address the large area issus if they don't have a warehouse, factory or other large commercial building. But think of a church. How far is it from the front door to the altar. (Some guys might think too close) A simple supermarket and just about everyone has a school. This also requires a lot of manpower. 4 man search team, next team ready to relieve or assist with victom removal, definately a RIT, search IC with assistant monitoring radio and teams on air time as a start. 12-15 people. If you have two entry points because of a very large building..you might have to double your manpower for the search. This is just the search section. We're not even talking about fire suppression resources needed. Don't let it overwhelm you to think about, but you will need some extra people.

    A good place to do search rope training is the apparatus floor. Pull the rigs out and there you go. Wax paper in the facepiece or hood turned around backwards. If there's a basement, you can start down there having them navigate up the stairs out to the apparatus floor and find an old turnout coat stuffed with hose as a body.

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    I was just thinking of churches, the schools, and retail stores. We have a few commercial buildings too that would be a nightmare too. We have already realized early last year that we are sorely under equipped for rope. We need to purchase more rope, both utility and rescue, for these exact purposes.

    We did a large search training just in our station as you described last spring. That's when we realized we need more rope but of course, budgets prevented it. With the new year I will be ordering some.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

    IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    Another place to think about for this type of search, though only once a year in most places, haunted houses and mazes.

    Here on Atlantic Ave we have three establishments set up with those portable mazes that people construct for haunted houses. That is another type of establishment you should not consider searching without a rope tied off at your access point. Air management becomes even more crucial. Hell we went to one for a shortness of breath EMS call, and we were getting lost with the lights on.
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    ^^That would almost seem like good place to train anyway. Definitely get turned around in there. Just turn the lights off, close up doors, and see who can make it through. I would like to try that.

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    Thank you all for your advice. We are trying to standardize our ops throughout the county, and so far a lot of it has been our department conforming to others. This isn't a bad thing, the other departments are great places, but i'm the type of person who gets impatient when i see that we aren't being innovators, we're simply conforming. So since no one else in the county has a standard for large area searches, i'm hoping that we can put something together that others will want to adopt.
    Our county has 6 departments, some are small and others are large. We are about number 3 in size and anual runs. We also have one of the only two trucks in the county. FOr the last 3 years i have been quietly configuring putting together a specialized truck team of members (almost like the FDNY's SOC units). A few months ago i started making some noise about it, and much to my surprise it has not recieved as much negative feedback as i had assumed it would.
    Thanks again for all your help, and stay tuned as i will continue to need the great advice while forming my plans.

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