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  1. #1
    Michelle Latham
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Always getting lost in buildings...

    I'm a rookie firefighter who is always getting totally lost and disoriented inside a smoked building or training fire. For some reason as soon as I get inside I lose my sense of direction and I crawl around in total confusion AND terror!
    Do any of you have any suggestions that could help me out? What do you do to keep from getting all lost? What am I doing wrong? All of the other firefighters can scramble around without a problem and I'm the one who holds the team up or better yet -gets the team terribly lost!
    Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
    -Michelle


  2. #2
    Halligan84
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Slow down and take a look from the outside before you put your mask on and go in. Visualize where windows and door will be and what part of the house/building you'll be going to. Be systematic, decide to start to the right or the left. If you turn right at the doorway, put your right hand on the wall and always stay in contact with that outside wall. That will lead you around the structure and if you need to leave, you can turn around, put your other hand on the same wall and retrace your path. Try to identify doors and windows as you pass them to remember possible escape routes.

  3. #3
    ADSN/WFLD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Halligan has the right idea, in larger structures I would get in the habit of bringing in a search rope.

    Learn to "read the couplings" on a fire hose so if you come across a line you can determine which way is out.

    Continue to do blacked out mask drills and you will eventually feel more comfortable

  4. #4
    ALSfirefighter
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Keep practicing and it will come to you. Also if you part of a team and your getting lost, it is also your teams fault as well. It takes time but get used to talking constantly. My crew wwhen we get assigned search never shut up. And if your getting disorientated and lost to the way I take from your post you are, you searching too large of an area without a search rope. As a truckie I normally do not search with a handline in tow, but like the brother said, if I come up to one, I can tell which way is out by feeling a coupling. That's another reason why the lugs (raised portions) on the coupling are there, and why you should always use the higbee notch to connect them. (It ensures all the raised lugs are aligned)When you feel the coupling, one side that meets the hose has lugs (male), the other side has lugs, but then goes smooth(female). The side that the lugs meets the hose is the direction out. Always think in the back of your mind where you are. The search technique part comes with repitition.

    -------------------------------------------
    The above is my opinion/thoughts only and doesn't reflect that of any dept./agency I work for, deal with, or am a member of.

  5. #5
    FireLt1951
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The first thing I would have to ask is where is your officer or your senior firefighter? If your a rookie, one of them should be with you at all times regardless. A couple of things to remember. First thing is slow down a little and think, try your hardest not to get panicked and keep your wits. 2nd, learn the construction of the buildings in your area which includes residential, commercial and industrial. Pre fire planning will help in this situation. Always notice the construction, where are the exterior doors and location of windows. What area of the structure are you entering from and where is the fire area related to that entry point. As your career goes on, experience will add more knowledge. Ask your senior personnel to work with you, don't be afraid to ask them. Better to ask now than wait for a serious problem to arise.


    Always look inside before entering. You will usually be able to see part of the layout from your entry point depending on conditions. When you enter remember where you've been. Did you turn left, right or go straight. Learn to follow the line by the direction of the butts (couplings). It's easy to get turned around but you have to learn to think and keep aware at all times of where you've been and where you were heading at the time of entry. If your doing search and rescue, keep the wall to the same side while searching, don't get away from contact with those walls unless you have a tagline with someone on the other end. Taglines (personal opinion) should not be used in dwellings because of the many contents that get you hung up, use a long enough tool to sweep the room, while trying not to lose contact with the wall. In commercial and industrial taglines should be used. You have got to learn to control your fear of getting lost (not always easy for some). I suggest you do as much practice as possible. These things are based on the city I work in. Depending on yours, this should be the deciding factor on what you decide the correct methods are. Just a few suggestions and there are more, but I don't know your coverage area and the types of structures envoled.

    [This message has been edited by FireLt1951 (edited 05-12-2001).]

    [This message has been edited by FireLt1951 (edited 05-12-2001).]

    [This message has been edited by FireLt1951 (edited 05-12-2001).]

  6. #6
    Truckman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The first thing any firefighter should do to help stay orientated is a personal size-up. Some feel that this is only the company officers responsibility, but anyone entering needs to do their own. I'm not talking about each firefighter doing a walk around and having a forum with the IC on what to do. Keep it simple, what is the location/extent of the fire? What is the building construction/general layout? Has it vented? Etc... This will also help you slow down a litte.

    Next, think about how you move within the structure. Do you walk, crouch or crawl. Some firefighters stand only if they can see their feet. Others use heat conditions. I think a combination of the two works well. Just remember , if you are standing up, and can't see, you may take a step you don't want to take. If you have to crawl, learn to crawl in a straight line. This will help greatly when searching and you are not the orientated searcher.

    Finally, TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. You can never get too much training. But remember, only perfect practice makes perfect.

    Good Luck

  7. #7
    e53NSB
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    When you look at the windows during your size-up, try to figure out what rooms they belong to. Example, smaller windows are generally bathrooms, picture windows or bigger bay windows will be living rooms, off set windows in 2 stories will be stairways. When your searching, don't be afraid to try to look out of some windows to find out where you are, it will also calm you down now that you found a way out. Close doors when your searching, it will isolate the fire and smoke giving you better visibility. Also when you come to furniture, put that in your memory bank, if you have to back track, that will be your reference point. Example: remember passing the recliner, or desk, TV, couch anything you come across. If you have to back track and nothing seems familiar, we probably did something wrong. Count doors. But most of all....Don't put yourself in a dangerous situation, and find that Lieutenant that your suppose to be assigned to. Ever try PPV, works wonders, but we don't want to start that war.

  8. #8
    Michelle Latham
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Smile

    Thanks for all the advice! I've never done a size-up on the outside of a building before. I'll bet that will help a lot!!

  9. #9
    Michelle Latham
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    These things you are all telling me about make so much sense - and I'll bet my officers have been telling me this stuff but I've been forgetting it. I think I need to pay more attention to the "landmarks" inside a building. Counting doors, memorizing furniture, looking out windows to get my bearings...that makes so much sense!
    Thanks a lot!!!
    -Michelle

  10. #10
    ntvilleff
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Michelle,

    One thing that helped me tremendously especially for residential structures is that when you go over friends and familys houses, notice the type of house it is (up here we have ranches, colonials, victorians etc.) You'll notice that most houses of the same type have the same layout. For example, a ranch style house pretty much all have the livingroom at the front door which is open to the kitchen, and a hallway either to the left or right (which you can tell from outside) with bedrooms. So when you go to a neighbors house now, take the time to look around and see how it's laid out. Then if you pull up to a similar house for a call, you'll have a good idea what it's like inside. good luck

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