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Thread: Popularity of VES

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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 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 10:17 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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    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 06:26 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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    Tajm611, love that condensed version...

    Gv, I think you accurately summed up the ALL Volunteer response in my area.

    The key to VES is to recognize it as another tool in the tactical toolbox.

    Another way to get Sh** Done.

    A thorough set of SOPs will have keys that lead directly to VES. It HAS to be understood by all what is occurring, why, and where. Everybody on the fireground has to do their part and be on the same page.

    Practice, practice, practice.... The time to learn is not when that window has to be forced. Get in, isolate, search, get out. God willing, you'll make a good grab and make a save...

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    Too much emphasis on the braggadocio portion of VES is what many focus on. Our department looks at how well you understand fire behavior to determine if you are capable of the responsibility of VES. Understanding building construction (in relation to fire spread) and basic home layouts in your district are extremely important but ignoring what the smoke and conditions in that room are what can bite you on the ***.

    About a year ago we had a fire where a senior firefighter from the first arriving truck and I were assigned VES in route. Knowing the district and the potential house we would face, I mapped it out in my head. Getting out the truck, I made my way to the rear D side window (other firefighter had made entry into B side). After gaining entry, I got on the floor and used my light to gain a fairly decent idea of the layout of the room. As I guessed, the door was directly across from the window. After I closed it I noticed the room start to brighten. Looking up I saw flames rolling over from my right (A side). I made my way back to the window and exited.

    In the 10 seconds I was in there, I failed to see an open passageway (there was no door as I found out later) to a common bathroom shared by my room and another bedroom. The fire was making it's way into my room through that route. Though I was ready to do my work in my room, attention to my box's conditions indicated it was a good time to leave. The conditions I felt indicated that there was no way a non-ppe occupant would have survived up to that point. First arriving truck firefighter pulled the only victim from the bedroom and she ended up surviving. Engine company made their attack on the third bedroom in time to prevent flashover of the room. All in all, good operation by all involved due to a calm head and continuous size of the room's conditions.

    While we're discussing this.....

    Me and a good friend of mine were discussing what happens if the door won't stay closed. We both coincidently used chocks jammed in between the door and the jamb so a secondary search or attack team has the least amount of trouble getting the door open. Any thoughts?
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    Tajm,

    Thanks for the good info.

    The fact of the matter remains however that VES is a highly regional tactic used in the NE that has spread to SOME progressive fire departments outside of that area.

    I doubt that anyone on our command staff could even tell you what it stands for let alone how to do it and a very, very small percentage of our firefighters. Mostly those that have come from other departments. It is also not something that really needs to spread unless it is going to be a department wide tactic that everyone is familiar with and will use appropriately.

    As I understand it, VES was a tactic that was implemented in the FDNY due to the vast of amount of vertical territory that they cover and it gave them a way to get to floors above the fire rapidly and then get back to an area of refuge. There are so many young guys that are seeing or hearing this and using it completely wrong. VES in single story houses equates to days of old where firefighters would arrive and break all the windows out.

    Closing interior doors on floors above to control smoke is a viable tactic. Using interior doors on the fire floor to control fire.......not so much. Hollow core interior doors seem to burn the top off pretty readily.
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    I wouldn't say you're controlling fire in the same way a commercial fire door controls fire, but you're buying a great deal of time to get in, do a search, and get out. Controlling? Yeah, to a certain extent. Expecting it to give you a safe haven? Not for long, if at all.

    It's fairly regional here also. It seems to be taken on by more progressive departments. Many still subscribe to the window demolition business. I'm not sure if they have window businesses or what but they take out some pent up aggression on them.

    Knowledge is our best weapon. When departments decide to expand their horizons and learn more about their craft, they grow. Either they utilize innovative techniques and skills or they come to terms with the fact that older techniques are more effective than the lazy ones they're using now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Tajm,

    Thanks for the good info.

    The fact of the matter remains however that VES is a highly regional tactic used in the NE that has spread to SOME progressive fire departments outside of that area.

    I doubt that anyone on our command staff could even tell you what it stands for let alone how to do it and a very, very small percentage of our firefighters. Mostly those that have come from other departments. It is also not something that really needs to spread unless it is going to be a department wide tactic that everyone is familiar with and will use appropriately.

    As I understand it, VES was a tactic that was implemented in the FDNY due to the vast of amount of vertical territory that they cover and it gave them a way to get to floors above the fire rapidly and then get back to an area of refuge. There are so many young guys that are seeing or hearing this and using it completely wrong. VES in single story houses equates to days of old where firefighters would arrive and break all the windows out.

    Closing interior doors on floors above to control smoke is a viable tactic. Using interior doors on the fire floor to control fire.......not so much. Hollow core interior doors seem to burn the top off pretty readily.
    I have to disagree here. I am not sure how VES is taught in other areas, but here it is used when there is a reason to believe someone is inside a specific area (i.e. a bedroom). In this case the bedroom's window would be broken and used as the means of ingress and egress once the search was completed. There is no reason for windows that don't lead to the area that you wish to search to be broken.
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    VES is considered different by some because it's given a name.

    If you're first due, woman comes outside screaming that her child is still in the second story, and your size up tells you that he may still be alive and you're capable of getting in and him out, you grab a ladder, make entry, find the kid, exit with him and hand him over to EMS. Right?

    You've just done VES. The reason we're so adamant about teaching it is that some departments will have to do that. Some don't pull up with big city manpower and the first engine might be the only engine for some time. If you're going to commit, at least do it safely. Learn the correct way of making entry, learn what signs and signals the smoke is sending to you, learn the quickest most efficient way to find what you're looking for so you can get the hell out.

    Many of you do it already, now it's just given a name.
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    VES is a great tactic no matter your staffing. Because you don't have a hoseline committed, it can be done by any unit showing up.

    And it works on nearly any occupancy, provided that you are able to discern the most likely locations of any victims. If you look back at the Sofa Super Store fire that killed 9 Charleston firemen, they ended up using VES to make a rescue. They had to breach a wall where they knew someone was trapped, but they vented, entered, and searched that space.

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    In many single family dwellings VES is very useful. The engine will most likely be going partly through the main egress route of the house while making its way to the fire. The truck can then hit the bedrooms quickly and the hall immediately adjacent to the bedrooms. With 2 companies you can cover the areas where you are most likely to find occupants.

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    My department has recently began to embrace VES partly due to guys taking classes all over where they are taught about it and the benefits of it.
    I don't think anyone has used it yet, but we have been training on it. We usually assign the first due truck as search and they typically follow the engine through the door.

    One thing we do have a lot of is hoarders. I can see VES being very useful in this situation, for obvious reasons. We have been noticing some illegal modifications too, where a back room is walled off and turned into a separate apartment. A traditional primary would not allow us to search that room.

    As stated earlier, it is a tool in our arsenal. Does it need to be done on every job? No. Does it need to be taught? I think so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    There are so many young guys that are seeing or hearing this and using it completely wrong. VES in single story houses equates to days of old where firefighters would arrive and break all the windows out.
    I disagree with your position there. If a faster option is to get in the window, make a grab, and get out, why not? If you have to go past the fire to get to the vic, how are you gonna get them back out?

    Saying that a certain tool can only be used in a specific circumstance is very limiting, and decreases its usefulness.

    Does my dept do VES? Yep. Do we on every fire? Nope.

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