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Thread: Popularity of VES

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    Committing to VES, or any aggressive search operation for that matter, is to follow sound principles and a clear departmental order of operation. Having the means, motive and opportunity does not simply mean we have permission. We need to follow a plan that everyone on the fireground understand, expects and allows. Not adhering the proceeding, basic steps and principles of VES will surely place a searching firefighter and victim in harm’s way. That is definitely not part of the plan, however, proper training in VES will ensure the benefits most often outweigh the risk. What should be part of the plan is as follows:

    1. Let everyone on the fireground know what you are doing. This is based upon the motive for your aggressive search decision. Choose the correct ladder for your target-specific objective (window). Enroute to your window, monitor the fire building for any changes in conditions since you made your decision.

    2. Place the ladder’s tip below the window sill for rapid entry and egress.

    3. With full PPE donned, ascend the ladder with a six-foot hook or pike pole and a Halligan.

    4. Climb the ladder until you can reach the glass of the top sash with the hook. Now is the time to make your intentions clear to everyone on the fireground. If it’s a go, take the glass with your hook.

    5. Start with the top sash glass and clean out the rest in the window thoroughly.

    6. Give the room you are venting a few seconds to “blow”. That is, let the heated air, smoke and fire do what it wants to do, escape via the top portion of the window.

    7. If conditions still permit, ascent up to the window sill itself and determine what obstacles may obstruct victim removal and firefighter egress. Consider what’s in front of the windows in most dwellings, furniture and beds. Determine if either will prevent your rapid egress should conditions deteriorate.

    8. Make sure there is a floor with your hook and be mindful of potential victims who may have succumbed to smoke conditions before you probe.

    9. Enter the window one leg at a time. This way you can step back out onto the ladder if conditions deteriorate. Have a second member on the ladder to assist you with victim removal and self-evacuation if necessary.

    10. Place the hook’s head on the window sill, the shaft angled down into the room. This becomes a reference point, or beacon back to the window. Stay low and take a look around the room.

    11. If there is visibility, look for the bedroom door. Make a bee-line for it and close it immediately. This provides you a margin of safety should fire make its way to your position. Most bedroom doors in dwellings are directly in line with the room’s window. Now conduct the search.

    12. If you come across the victim before the door is closed, you must ensure the bedroom door is closed before you attempt to remove the occupant. Victim removal always takes more time than anticipated so keeping the room as tenable as possible may afford us this time.

    13. When you find a victim, make your radio transmission alerting everyone on the fireground. Remove the victim the way you came in if possible to prevent interior companies from having to leave their assigned positions. The engine company should ensure the hose line is able to darken-down the fire area(s) and protect the interior stairs if window removal is impossible.

    The above thirteen steps or operation always require that the searching firefighter continuously monitor conditions and listen for radio transmissions affecting same. The above steps were sequentially numbered to allow for specific training to ensure your VES operations follows a plan every time.

    Finally, incorporate the following into your VES or aggressive search operations, as they become benchmarks to measure your personal safety inside the room:
    Good benchmarks:
    1. Smoke beings to lift and visibility improves
    2. Smoke lightens due to steam.
    3. The feel of a hose line stream hitting the ceiling beneath you.
    4. Any decrease in heat.

    Bad benchmarks:
    1. Smoke does not lift and changes density and color
    2. ‘Rolling’ black smoke moving down from ceiling to floor level.
    3. Any increase in heat.
    4. Visible fire in room or extension to your area through the floor.
    5. Weakening or ‘spongy’ floor.
    6. Engine company(s) having difficulty locating the fire or ANY type of water problem.
    Searching for fire and life are operations that must be conducted at every fire. However, when searching for life, determine what sub-category of search can be safely conducted based upon evidence gathered on arrival. Law enforcement does it, so should firefighters. If you determine that you have the means, motive and opportunity for aggressive search operations, ensure that you follow the plan and declare your intentions to everyone. Aggressive search operations are not haphazard or reckless attempts to rescue trapped victims. Rather, it becomes a sub-category of search that, when done safely in a specific target, can afford fire victims a greater chance for survival.
    ‎"I was always taught..." Four words impacting fire service education in the most negative of ways. -Bill Carey

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    ^The post above is not my own work but a main source material for the classes we teach on it, I feel it condenses a day of learning into a small quick read format.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    No department in this area, including the career departments, have ever heard of the Outside Vent Man.

    The fact is in our department, as well as every other department that I know of in this part of the state, the SOP is to search through the building. Searching from the outside - VES - is a deviation from standard procedure that needs to be specifically ordered by the IC.
    Since it is so blatently obvious that you yourself don't understand VES or how to impliment it, there should be no surprise that it is considered a "deviation from standard procedure".

    You don't search from the outside, nor does it have anything to do with the OVM position.
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    Just ignore him, he has a habit of jumping into threads pertaining to topics he neither utilizes nor understands, then proceeds to discuss how and why his little village doesn't use it hoping that someone, somewhere will care.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Since it is so blatently obvious that you yourself don't understand VES or how to impliment it, there should be no surprise that it is considered a "deviation from standard procedure".

    You don't search from the outside, nor does it have anything to do with the OVM position.
    I didn't bring up the OVM position. Fire Chick did and she was asking if we use it.

    I stated no. I also stated that I am not aware of any department that assigns such a position in this part of the state, career or volunteer.

    I do understand VES. I used it to a limited extent up north.

    When I introduced the concept of VES here, there were major concerns regarding a single firefighter operating without a buddy inside a structure. Because of that, the member at the window makes entry with the firefighter so they search together.

    A third man is assigned to the window either on the ground first floor window entries) or at the tip of the ladder, preferably with a handline.

    As far as a deviation from normal search procedure, it is deviation here that must be expressly ordered by command. Searching through the structure via a doorway with a handline is still our standard search procedure, unless for some reason we cannot make access through the structure or cannot knock down the fire in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Command needs to decide if VES will be used and must transmit that order on the radio.

    To date, we have not used it since it was implemented as an alternate search procedure last year. We have had only one fire since then where the status of the residents were not known, and our standard search procedure of making entry through the door, knocking down the fire in the hall and accessing the bedrooms via the hallway was used.

    It could have been a situation where VES could have been used, but command decided to use our standard procedure.

    So yes, for us, it is a deviation from our standard search method.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 08-21-2011 at 02:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I do understand VES. I used it to a limited extent up north.
    Alright then, what is the exact number of times you have used this tactic to search for victims at an actual incident?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Alright then, what is the exact number of times you have used this tactic to search for victims at an actual incident?
    Probably 5 or 6 total in 22 years up north.

    Even on my previous departments up north where 75% of the homes were 2-story (as compared to 2-3% here) VES wasn't a standard tactic. It was an alternate tactic used in very limited situations if we couldn't get there via the stairs.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 08-21-2011 at 09:17 PM.
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    This
    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    When I introduced the concept of VES here, there were major concerns regarding a single firefighter operating without a buddy inside a structure.
    conflicts with
    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Because of that, the member at the window makes entry with the firefighter so they search together.

    A third man is assigned to the window either on the ground first floor window entries) or at the tip of the ladder, preferably with a handline.
    Two people entering, and a third at the ladder with a handline is not VES. See Tajm's excellent post above for a very good description.
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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    This
    conflicts with


    Two people entering, and a third at the ladder with a handline is not VES. See Tajm's excellent post above for a very good description.
    I agree it's not VES.

    However, my combo department leadership had a significant issue with a single firefighter operating inside without a partner. We do not operate alone, unlike some departments.

    Two firefighters making entry with a third on the ladder or at the window was a compromise to get a modified version of VES implemented as an alternate search tactic.

    I also fully understand that VES does not utilize a handline, but again, that was a compromise made with department leadership to get it implemented.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I agree it's not VES.

    However, my combo department leadership had a significant issue with a single firefighter operating inside without a partner. We do not operate alone, unlike some departments.

    Two firefighters making entry with a third on the ladder or at the window was a compromise to get a modified version of VES implemented as an alternate search tactic.

    I also fully understand that VES does not utilize a handline, but again, that was a compromise made with department leadership to get it implemented.
    What you don't seem to realize is that by altering the process the way that you have you are no longer performing VES. By the time you and your two buddies throw the ladder, pull and charge the line and all ascend with two of the three entering to search, the traditional one man VES has been completed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    VES isn't a skill you naturally inherit. Only speaking of my own department, you need experience with building construction, fire behavior, be able to throw a ladder your self, forcible entry...etc. All of these skills built upon FF1 and FF2, so in reality maybe its best none of you practice it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    What you don't seem to realize is that by altering the process the way that you have you are no longer performing VES. By the time you and your two buddies throw the ladder, pull and charge the line and all ascend with two of the three entering to search, the traditional one man VES has been completed.
    Fully understand that.

    However, the command staff of my combo department feels uncomfortable with the risk associatted with a firefighter operating solo inside the structure. Our operations always have 2 firefigthers working together, no matter the task. They simply do not feel that a firefighter operating interior is a risk that they want to take.

    Everything they have been taught involves a minimum of 2 firefighters working together when interior, as well as most exterior and wildland tasks.

    Hence, the compromise.

    It's not just this department. When I was teaching a search operations class for another department in my volunteer parish, I discussed and demonstrated techniques for one man search operations and VES. I enven discussed and demonstrated the idea of using ropes/webbing and anchor points to minimize the risk. It was not something they have adopted.

    This area of the state is very tied to 2 firefighters operating together. The idea of a firefighter operating alone interior is a very foreign concept.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    VES isn't a skill you naturally inherit. Only speaking of my own department, you need experience with building construction, fire behavior, be able to throw a ladder your self, forcible entry...etc. All of these skills built upon FF1 and FF2, so in reality maybe its best none of you practice it.
    I think we have a pretty solid base.

    The problem is the concept of operating interior solo. It's not a concept that goes over especially well in this part of the state.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I think we have a pretty solid base.

    The problem is the concept of operating interior solo. It's not a concept that goes over especially well in this part of the state.
    Why do you think that is?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    Why do you think that is?
    I Wish I could tell you.

    Having been here for only 9 years I can only speculate.

    Much of it is based in how they have been trained, which obviously has been in the 2 man-method. In addition, because it's how they have been trained, it's how they operate, and how we have trained the next generation.

    In addition, I have not seen VES, or even split search operations for that matter taught by any LSU instructor in this area, which is often the source for new ideas and concepts.

    Team search operations has always been the way it has been done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I Wish I could tell you.

    Having been here for only 9 years I can only speculate.

    Much of it is based in how they have been trained, which obviously has been in the 2 man-method. In addition, because it's how they have been trained, it's how they operate, and how we have trained the next generation.

    In addition, I have not seen VES, or even split search operations for that matter taught by any LSU instructor in this area, which is often the source for new ideas and concepts.

    Team search operations has always been the way it has been done.
    9 years is 8 years too long to know why your department does (or doesn't ) what it does. Are you not an instructor? Are you not a member of the department? How hard would it be to say "Hey guys, lets take a look at this"?

    Though I come from LSU, I know my limits on the totem pole and (mostly...unless its absolutely needed) only inject my thoughts when asked, but I am also not wearing a white shirt.

    Has your department ALWAYS implemented a RIT/FAST team? Since day one?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    9 years is 8 years too long to know why your department does (or doesn't ) what it does. Are you not an instructor? Are you not a member of the department? How hard would it be to say "Hey guys, lets take a look at this"?


    Though I come from LSU, I know my limits on the totem pole and (mostly...unless its absolutely needed) only inject my thoughts when asked, but I am also not wearing a white shirt.

    Has your department ALWAYS implemented a RIT/FAST team? Since day one?


    While I have gotten a feel for the department, there is a lot of history and culture thast I do not yet know. I have some ideas about why we operate the way we do, and much of that is based on previous training, which oviously has been passed down.

    My department at times is very open to new ideas, techniques and tools, but in some ways, is very much "the way we have done it".

    I have introduced many new ideas, with mixed results. There are tools, such as 2 1/2 gallon extinguishers that I have attempted to introduce, with no success. There are other areas in which I have had success in introducing new techniques and concepts.

    Again, I also know my place on the pecking order, and I know that when the command staff says they are not interested, my new idea is dead in the water, and I know not to push it.

    RIT/FAST is a very different discussion, which I would prefer not to get into. I'll simply say that it is not implementwed as much as I would like. That being said, many if not most of the departments around here have not embraced RIT like it was embraced in my previous department, either in terms of fireground implementation or training.

    That is another discussion for another day
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    While I have gotten a feel for the department, there is a lot of history and culture thast I do not yet know. I have some ideas about why we operate the way we do, and much of that is based on previous training, which oviously has been passed down.

    My department at times is very open to new ideas, techniques and tools, but in some ways, is very much "the way we have done it".

    I have introduced many new ideas, with mixed results. There are tools, such as 2 1/2 gallon extinguishers that I have attempted to introduce, with no success. There are other areas in which I have had success in introducing new techniques and concepts.

    Again, I also know my place on the pecking order, and I know that when the command staff says they are not interested, my new idea is dead in the water, and I know not to push it.

    RIT/FAST is a very different discussion, which I would prefer not to get into. I'll simply say that it is not implementwed as much as I would like. That being said, many if not most of the departments around here have not embraced RIT like it was embraced in my previous department, either in terms of fireground implementation or training.

    That is another discussion for another day
    Thats not the point. You crawl under your blanket of "we've always done it that way and that's what works" when its convenient for you. The fact is RIT is still fairly new in many (especially yours) parts of this state but many see the benefits in it. My own department is slowly, much to my chagrin on their speed, coming to and with the recent rounds of hiring I feel we will be better prepared to implement it. If this were a seat belt policy or a fluorescent green vest activity, you'd be screaming at the top of your lungs that things need to change....but it's an activity that involves going in and doing your job and, understandably, bothers you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    Thats not the point. You crawl under your blanket of "we've always done it that way and that's what works" when its convenient for you. The fact is RIT is still fairly new in many (especially yours) parts of this state but many see the benefits in it. My own department is slowly, much to my chagrin on their speed, coming to and with the recent rounds of hiring I feel we will be better prepared to implement it. If this were a seat belt policy or a fluorescent green vest activity, you'd be screaming at the top of your lungs that things need to change....but it's an activity that involves going in and doing your job and, understandably, bothers you.
    Are we talking about VES, or RIT, or both?

    I don't make policy on my department. I have a voice in training and I have a small voice in operations.

    I talked to the DC about the concept of VES. I demonstrated it. Myself and the command staff then discussed it and they expressed the concerns they had about the firefighter operating solo. I proposed a compromise which addressed thier concerns, which was a 2-man v. one-man entry team. We discussed it some more, and they accepted the compromise. Exactly what didn't I do. Should I have yelled and screamed that we can't have 2-men go in because then it really wouldn't be VES?

    I proposed an alternate search procedure, and made a compromise to make it work where the command staff was comfortable with the operation. Guess what? I did do my job.

    As far as RIT, once again, I don't make policy. I have expressed my opinion that we simply do not impelment it enough and don't train on it enough. I have proposed solutions regarding manpower for a more consistant RIT and have proposed a training plan, which has been partially implemented through classroom lectures and field training.

    Once again, I can't force the command staff to do what I want, but I have expressed my feelings and have been partially successful.

    I have developed mayday protocols. I have developed a system where selected tools are taken from the rigs and assigned to RIT. I can't say that happens on every fire, but it does happen, and it's happening more frequently with time.

    A seatbelt policy is an easy fix. Write a memo and enforce it. Fairly simple. The same with a vest policy. Buy the vests and mandate they are being worn. Easy stuff. That is the easy stuff.

    RIT requires increased manpower, which isn't an easy fix in a rural area. it requires training, which takes time. Are we better off now than we were 3 years ago? Yes. And is that because of my efforts? Yes.

    That being said, my VFD, and especially the northern part of my volunteer parish have been very receptive to the RIT training which I have provided. Manpower is still is serious issue but that is being addressed, in part at my VFD, by the development and implementation of a run card system with AMA on the first alarm. Again, developed by me.

    So when you start pointing the figure at me for not trying to solve problems, guess what? I'm the one that is actually working to solve them.

    As far as going in, for the most part I have passed the torch and have assumed exterior command and control duties at my combo department to a much younger and stronger group of firefighters, which after 31 years of "going in" is just fine with me. By the way, making entry is no longer my primary job except in very rare situations. I was hired for other tasks. That's why we have line and shift firefighters. Due to some very good hiring, we have some excellent young career members, and due to good recruiting and excellent retention, we have plenty of volunteers for that.

    If the fact that I am no longer primarily a line firefighter, so be it, but you will learn there are other tasks to be done that are equally important. That's what i am focused on now.

    At my VFD, I'm still needed to operate interior more than I would like, and more than I should with the time I have in, but I do what needs to be done in that situation. However with some luck and solid recruiting, that hopefully will change in the next year or two.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 08-22-2011 at 05:26 PM.
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    VES in my area is a pretty gray area. I am in an all Volunteer county with pretty limited resources. You can pretty much bet a day time fire you'll have maybe 3 or 4 chiefs and 10 FF including drivers on the first 3 engines, which would take 10-15 minutes. I think thats the worst you can expect, so in that scenario VES would be tough to complete with a fire working for that long in the types of homes in my district.

    Night can be a completely different monster. The manpower numbers can double and the response time can be cut in half. As far as being able to complete VES, still depends on the members you get, and better yet your size up. If there are no reports of accountability of the homeowners or residents, and 2 cars in the driveway, some sort of search will be made. Ideally it would be VES, but going back to the manpower issues is it realistic? Can you VES with a guy whos seen only a 2 or 3 fires? In my opinion you can't. I think up here the best bet to fire protection and victim AND firefighter safety is to put the fire out ASAP, and let the second due which is 1 or 2 minutes out at the furthest (99% of time) exact a more a coordinated and safe search.

    A confirmed trapped occupant on arrival obviously changes all of that. First in would go to rescue, second in would go to suppresion.

    Again, with the volunteer service, its all about luck of the dice. The best that you can hope for is to train like a bastard and do a bit of praying.

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