Thread: Search Patterns

  1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2001

    Default Search Patterns

    Curious on the different Search Patterns everyboby liked to use. Tryin to learn new ways here.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2001


    well, the left hand method is good enough for me with my buddy on my right foot with his axe, or other tool........ALWAYS carry tools with you!!! I have done it without and if you get lost, it can happen easily, that axe or maul could come in very handily....there are different types of searching...but depends on what kind of structure you have
    stay safe
    Its not something you do,
    Its something you are.
    "Whether we bring the terrorists to justice, or we bring justice to the terroists...Justice WILL BE DONE"... President Bush
    Engine Co. # 1

  3. #3
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    May 2000


    Normally, I would NOT engage the question posed in this form,but,I will attempt to explain it as best as I can. There will in no doubt be many that will disagree w/what I say, condone, etc.& I stress that these are only my opinions &
    how I have survived & learned in regards to "search patterns"!
    The books, the training, the written & the
    unwritten rules & guidelines all recommend
    & endorse some form of a "search pattern".
    W/that said, some of us can agree to disagree
    that the "search patterns" are based not wholly on "real world" encounters & obstacles. First, have no < one tool, be it
    a bar, hook or axe (preferably 2-mated) & get into the habit of calling your tool a "little brother"! Why, because you'll never forget to take lil Bro. w/you! Second, have a partner whom you trust,know each others job knowledge, styles & attitude. Third, KNOW YOUR BLDG.S, the layout styles,
    the aggressiveness or lack there-of, of the Engine & Truck Co.s you work w/ & talk w/your
    crew about Bldg.s & neighborhoods before &
    after a job. Explain known or suspected hazards (no fire escape, open stairwells, voids, drug activity, barred doors/windows, & too many more to list in this format).
    Note that we haven't even started a "physical" search yet, but the aforementioned are a must way before "the job"! Ideally,the job we are @ is a well kept home or Apt. NOT! Start left, & you run into sofa & glass coffee table, or was that a window you just took out? You lost the wall,its hot & black, why are all these clothes 3' deep everywhere, why is that dog not happy & you begin to wonder how people can live like this as you now realize your partner is snagged in God knows what & you got so turned around, North may be that way!
    Sorry...that is the truth how things can go
    when "s... happens". However, some hard & fast rules do exist that can prevent mishaps & chaos. Be it you & your partner(s) are on the fire floor, floor above or wherever, stick together, stay in the general area you have been assigned, let your CO or OIC know
    your progress or lack of, monitor the radio, work together, follow the walls or as near as possible, know your position (side 1,2,3,4,front, rear, etc.) @all times, use your tools, know where the fire is, watch/check for extension, do KNOW pre-flashover conditions, work quickly & methodically, & always remember to have alternate escapes (basic size-up & on-going)!!! It's alot to remember & do if
    you do not work in a Co. that gets alot of work or w/experienced CO's & FF's, but the more you train & the experience you gain, it will all come together over time. Get out of the house & train, train, train! Get into those vacant & abandoned Bldg.s, go thru the burn out(s) from the previous tour(s), scenario play every possible thing that can go wrong & KNOW who is going to be w/& around you when the "poopoo is being flung"! Searches, especially the primary, has got to done by those that know the job & keep their cool. The lesser experienced should be kept w/the CO or FTO of the Co. so they learn the do's & don'ts over time, & are not left to wander.
    By no means have I fully answered the question or touched on the many tools & variables that will affect the "search", this is just some basic food for thought on the subject of some of the things I have come to learn over the years. As for searches in commercial/public assembly structures, that's another animal that requires a whole set of other tools & tactics! Just my 98-cents short of a dollar worth of Info.


  4. #4
    Forum Member
    MetalMedic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    The Home of Smucker's Jelly


    The search pattern should be dictated to some degree by the building that presents itself. In my area, there are mostly single family dwellings. When I make the decision to go "left" or "right", I base it upon the design of the house, the time of day and whatever information the first arriving units have obtained.

    For example, if you arrive at 3AM for a fire in a ranch style home with reports of persons still inside, I will go left or right depending on which way the sleeping area is from the entrance I am going into. It could waste time to search a living room, kitchen and bathroom before arriving at the bedrooms. On the otherh hand, if I arrived at the same house at 3PM, I might go the opposite direction anticipating the occupants to be up and around in the home rather than in bed.

    If I am in doubt, I normally go left since I prefer to hold the nozzle in my right hand and open and close the valve with my left (we normally take a hose line with us when we perform a search). This way, the hose is normally on my right side where I can use my arm to control it as well as my hands.

    In larger buildings, especially those with open areas, there are times where neither a left or right search pattern would be the best choice. If you have reports of people trapped in a production area in the middle of a room, why would you want to search the perimitter? For these, you might adopt a "fan" pattern where you would go forward and back and pivot on the entry point. If you have sufficient staffing, you can do two of these at the same time moving from the middle toward the outside walls to reduce the time needed for the search.

    How many people you commit to a search would be dictated by how stable the fire building is and where you need to best deploy resources. If you can do it safely and have the staffing, a grid search or line search might be the best method to search a large open area...

    Basically, there is no "right" answer in all situations. Therefore, it is not really possible to give a definite answer to your question.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Ghetto, NY


    I was so exited to post a reply about the guts and nuts of the job, but da Squadee beat me to it!

    Let me reiterate by saying, "What he said."

    BUt really, don't forget the Thermal Imaging Camera. Not as a crutch, but as a tool
    FTM - PTB

  6. #6
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    May 2001
    Concord, NC


    I commend all of the good points brought up on this subject. Again I feel like everyone else that there are many ways to do this.

    With that said I would like to add a few points.

    Search patterns need to be chosen that will get you to the area closest to the fire the fastest. Why? Victims closest to the fire are in the most danger. Some will say this means go to the fire and work back. This can be done if conditions permit. That does not mean that you leave a victim found early to get nearest to the fire.

    When at all possible, keep the search crews off of the hoselines, Firefighters on hose lines want to fight fire not search, that is just the nature of the beast. In addition, who will be there to fight the fire while the victim is being removed? Remember this is a team effort, if your staffing or the building will not allow multiple crews operate at the same time, improvise the best you can.

    If your department does not use it, learn and become proficient in VES (Vent, Enter & Search) techniques. When needed, it may be your only way of reaching a victim in a tenable area in time.

    Finally, Don't forget, Tools, Lights and Radios

    Be safe

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    911WACKER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Waverly, NY



    Depending on the search at hand dictates the kind of search tactics used. Personally I carry a 5 foot piece tube webbing with a loop in both ends, one guy stays on the wall and the other takes the webbing stretched out to search the middle of the room, this works well for most cases we have encountered. As far as the larger rooms and biuldings we have used longer ropes in practice that seems to work well too, but have not had the chance to try it under real conditions..
    Firefighter/NREMT-P/Public Safety Diver
    May we ride into the darkness only to return as safe as we started!!

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