1. #1
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    Default Probie confused w/search techniques...

    our class recently took part in right/left hand searches in smoke/fire conditions. However, there appear to be two trains of thought when executing a RH or LH search. I'm hoping to get some feedback from you folks.

    Our instructor advised us to complete the search of each room before exiting. Makes perfect sense - when there is only one door to the room.

    However, when coming across larger living spaces with various entry points or multiple doors (archways, foyers, halls etc) Should I continue to follow the wall, which may lead me into other rooms or continue with my search of the original room?

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    This is an excellent question that will attract several viewpoints - as you say, 'two (at least) trains of thought'....

    1. You should ask yourselves - what have you (as a crew) been tasked to do? If it is search a compartment (room, hall etc) then stick to it. If you have been tasked with a LH/RH wall search stick to it.

    2. It is rarely easy to stay with a wall search, especially in large compartments. Imagine a restaurant, store or similar with counters and obstructions siting out from the walls. Internal room geometry can be confusing in smoke and darkness.

    3. Wherever possible - get a view of floor-plans where large structures are involved and consider use of safety lines.

    4. RIT teams should be aware of your task and ready to back you up when working in large compartments.

    This is not an SOP for working large compartments but simply my own personal views.

    [ 11-19-2001: Message edited by: Paul Grimwood ]

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    As paul said this one will get lenghty. But my rule is to stay tight when visibility is down. If other rooms are clear close the door if so exists and save for a secondary if the visibility is not so good or banking down search them. If you do encounter a large structure hopefully you will have multpile teams to assist. As far as archways and walkways/hallways to other rooms my thinking has always been if it is clear come back later if not stick to the wall because if you get lost/turned around that is what you should stick to.
    the truth never hides for long

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    The answer is...many?

    The *best* answer is what does your department in general expect? As in, it would really confuse your partner if he's trained to search a room at a time, and you head into a new one. So you gotta know what's expected locally.

    My guess is most departments would want to search one room at a time -- to ensure it's fully searched.

    With some of our FFs, I would always stick with a let's go right/left and search one room at a time -- they may even be great FFs, I just don't work them often. A few of our FFs and Officers I've attended more advanced training with and whose abilities and reactions I trust fully, You go left, I'll go right, and we'll meet somewhere. If it's just a single room, meet, then complete the LH/RH sweep and meet at the door again. If you come across a door, wait, and search next together. Each find a door? Yell at each other or find the other guy and figure out which is next. But like I said, that's more advanced tactics...and I'll bet your instructor in basic/FFI style class wants to always see you do a good, basic, simple search like sticking together.

    Then there's three person oriented searches...I stay in the hall, you take the right room, you take the left room, and I'll keep talking so you each know how to get out from the room!

    Well, speaking about searches, gotta jet -- annual SCBA refresher is tonite!

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    I am going to keep this limited to residential fires since with other occupancies you get into more complicated situations. My opinion is to start simple and then progress to more advanced search techniques. I see probies do the "train car" search where one follows the other in a room right behind each other. Left or right handed does not particularly matter. This works but is slow and not the most efficient. To take it to the next level, one member can go left and one can go right. For larger rooms this is quicker and more efficient. But you need to have more experience and confidence in yourself and your partner. When you meet, you can head for the entrance therefor covering the entire room. (Note this depends on the situation.) Finally, what I have done with the most experienced crew is one would search one room and the other searches another room. When finished you meet your partner and move on. On the same lines, one man can be the "pivot", he stays at an entrance and the other searches. This works well with your example of a downstairs where you may have several rooms with multiple entrances. I would use one room as a start point, the kitchen for example. It is one of the most distinct rooms on a 1st floor. I would work from that room and go from there. In this case you do not enter other rooms you encounter until you are finished with the room you are searching.

    As you can see there are many different schools of thought out there for searching. The important things are to do what you are comfortable with and be able to walk out of the place in one piece!!

    Keep Safe!

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    As with prior posts a lot depends on the occupancy and what you are expecting to find.

    In larger structures the LH or RH search is often ineffective. You usually leave a large section unsearched in the middle of the room. A search rope can often make searches in large areas go smoother.

    In a residence you really need to keep your sense of direction and where you are in a house. Because bedrooms are usually small leaving a member at the door, in the hall, while the other ff searches works well. If the ff searching finds another door be careful, often these lead into closets or washrooms. Some closets are larger than the room I grew up in, and they are often filled with storage and entanglement hazards. The man at the door can help you get your bearings and prevent you from going too far into part of the building that you are unfamilliar with. (stay within earshot) If multiple rooms from one door are common in your responce area the search rope can often make these operations also go smoother.

    Back to your original question. Should you finish one room prior to entering another? Yes, No and sometimes. If you know it's a washroom or closet or sitting room off of a bedroom then no, there is no other way into these rooms and going back after searching the room just waists time. In larger structures I would suggest attaching the search rope to the door you found and continue the search. The rope will allow you to get to the door in a hurry to continue. Some offices and businesses have several rooms attached without a hallway with the final room exiting to warehouse space or other large areas. You can easily search past the point of no return for your air supply in these buildings. I know I sound like a broken record but the search rope helps a lot in these situations. It isn't appropriate for all searches, because it does slow you down, but in other cases it could save your life. And if something bad does happen the RIT, RIC, Fast Truck, can track you down quickly.

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    Also consider if you are conducting a primary search or secondary search. On primary it is a speed check and basically move on to the next room. Secondary you take the time to search everything such as under beds, behind sofas and the sort. I would say this is something your department should discuss and train so that once it is decided everyone is on the same page.
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    The oriented search described in Colemans book Incident Management for the Street Smart Fire Officer is an excellent technique to use in this situation.
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    Good topic and discussion
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    Like most of the replies you have gotten, I agree, there are many correct answers to this question.

    When I teach a class on firefighter search and rescue, I tell them to pick a wall, Left or Right, and stay with it until the room is clear. This way, you can mark the rooms and communicate the results to others that may search after you have went through.

    In the event that you come upon a doorway or hallway, use your own judgement. It may be a closet, or it may be another room. Once again, try to clear one room at a time.

    If you use a search rope between you, one firefighter can stay on the wall and the other can extend to the end of the rope with a tool (axe, haligan, etc.) to sweep and search. This allows two firefighters to cover a room in very little time. If you come across a doorway or hallway while doing this, have the one on the end of the rope come to the wall and you search to the end of the rope. If nothing is found, come back to that area after clearing the room you are in.

    Most importantly, do what your department SOG's tell you. If your policy is to clear a room, do that. If it is to stay on one wall, regardless, do that. Train constantly on the techniques your department uses. This is the only way to clear up any confusion.
    Tell me, I will forget. Show me, I will remember. Involve me, I will understand.

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    Hey just try to stay simple and with what you know. I discussed this topic with my ENG crew little while back. We use a 5-6 ft long strap that can loop on both ends. Then you can attach it to both crew members one can stay in contact with the wall while one sweeps out and then if you need a longer extension the hand tool that you should be carrying can be used to sweep further out. I don't recommend using the tool to extend from the wall do to the fact that it would be possible to loss contact with wall from natural movements that you or your partner might make in normal search procedures.

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    Every member on my crew carries a piece of rope about 20" long with a D-ring on the ends. I can stay in the hallway on line with my crew on seperate sides searching.Or hook them together for larger rooms.In a case like the original question, one member can hook into another and extend that circle to 40' and still be in communication with the base man on the hose/line. The great thing with tag-line searching is that r/s, or l/s searches, either way, you have a base area of at least 20' that you can cover with any pattern you wish to use. Some practice with this is recommended, the rope has a tendancy to get in the way.

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    Hmmm - seems like this subject is about as screwed up as it can get. <br />To the guy in the middle of the room or hall with two ropes - What happens if one of your team falls in a hole?<br />Search is in two categories -<br />INDIVIDUAL for occupancies (structures) in which dimensions of rooms do not have the smallest size larger than 15 feet. (Residential buildings of any height) You stay on the wall and probe with a tool and maintain contact and get to the beginning again or the fire and return. You are able to locate anyone in the enclosure. <br />If you can SEE that you are in another room you ain't searching you are LOOKING.<br />Any rooms that have dimensions larger than a residential room is a <br />TEAM SEARCH you need this concept to be effective and successful and to be SAFE and know where you are and what you didn't do. <br />Those that enter buildings in a search task without the benefit of team search tactics are destined to be losers - lost somewhere within the structure.<br />NOW the nonsense of people standing by outside a structure that belong to a department that does not know how to instantly mount a team search is really dumb. Because how can they find the lost firefighters if they don't know team search either. <br />When TOO FEW firefighters enter a building to do any good in controling the environment (the burning of the building) how can TOO FEW outside get to them when the crap hits the fan cause they didn't know how to do what needs doing in the first place? Can you follow that?

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    Wow, there is a lot think on for this particular topic. We are all taught one way (use IFSTA for e.g.) and then when we are out there things change. Two things to making it, especialy in the Fire Service are, keeping it simple and that practice makes consistant. Good basics make consistantly good, whatever your doing. Take what you are taught and learn it till you are 2000 percent sure of yourself with it. Your fellow firefighters will feed off of your own confidence and all will succeed. <br />Eat well, stay in good shape physicaly and aerobicaly (very important). DRILL, DRILL, DRILL!

    [ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: norookie ]</p>

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    Picture the scene.........every first turn out appliance is equipped with thermal imaging cameras! The technology exists for many years and a higher demand will reduce costs significantly. Much easier/quicker than hands-and-knees searches which are just as likely to result in failure!? Its time that firefighters start to receive the support that their craft demands. Once serious consideration is given to ff needs, techniques developed in the 1800's can be relegated to the history books.
    GOD BLESS THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF FIREFGHTERS< TODAY AND ALWAYS>

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    The first thing I would suggest is to talk more with your instructor. Also, you will learn that when you get into a real fire situation, things are not like they are in recruit school. When fighting residence fires in my department we normally send truck companies to search. This will give you 3 or more firefighters to perform this task. The company stays together and searches the house room by room. Many things effect which rooms are searched first, but I will not get into that. When entering a room one person will stay at the doorway to keep track of conditions in other areas of the house as well as being a reference point in case the firefighters doing the search become disoriented. Most of the time the rooms in house fires are small enough that using right or left handed techniques are not neccessary. During primary searches a quick search of the room would include on or under beds, under windows, in closets, in corners, and behind doors. Once this is done all firefighters go back to the door they came in and go to the next room. This ensures a systematic search of the house based on the decisions of the company officer. In rooms that are too large to search in this manner, the company officer will decide which technique will best accomplish the task. This can be accomplished by left-right handed technique, tag lines, ect. The one thing to remember is whatever method you use stick to it. Dont start with one method and change in the middle of searching a room.

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    Default Dalmatian90,

    You mentioned that a more advanced search is actually splitting up. I have never heard of that before. Our department has always (and as far as I know, the Firefighters Handbook (Delmar) that I have read) say to stay together. FF1 stays in contact with the wall, FF2 goes to FF1 and stays in contact with FF1 boot. Allows for a broader search. Are the tactics you were talking about practiced often? Are they ever used in complete smoke out conditions? I could see that it would be effective in less dense smoke, but in zero visibility, I think it would get pretty dangerous.

    I have, and I'm sure you have as well, come up on burned out flooring that makes a hole into a basement or crawlspace under the house. I'd like to have my partner with me just in case.

    Anyway, sounds like that tactic would be great for some conditions though.
    Last edited by Jedimike007; 02-06-2002 at 05:37 PM.

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    Default search

    The method that I have found the most effective and quickest for a normal search, excluding very large open spaces or complex layouts is to do this. With a 2 person RH or LH search to have one man at the door as the oriented man then the other searches the room. If the searches comes across a door that leas to another room or hallway the man at the door can come to that doorway while searching the other wall therfore youll have searched that whole without doubling effort.
    And do that throughout the whole house. Another good thing to do which will help your searches is to preplan houses. On EMS calls dont just do the EMS thing but take a look at the house and try to figure out the floor plan and see if you were right or not. Some houses will be the same, so after awhile youll get familiar with floor plans in your district which will take the guesswork out of searching in poor condiitions.

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    Maybe I am missing the point here and over simplifying this. I was always under the impression that one of the main reasons for using a left or right hand search pattern is for the safety it affords when you need to egress. If you are doing a left hand search, and the order is given to evacuate, you simply turn around 180 degrees, and using a right hand on your wall will eventually take you back to where you came in. In order for this to work 100% of the time, you must stay with the pattern you started with. If you are in a room with multiple doorways, and you skip one of these going forward, you could find yourself in some trouble if an emergency occurs and you reverse your direction. If, during the panic, you forget that you skipped a door or two, your chances of becoming disoriented increase.

    I am a member of a volunteer department which means you never know who you may end up being paired with during a search. Since you can not be sure of the competency of the other member, I prefer to stick with a wall and go where it takes me (at least on a residential fire). Since I have not seen any homes in this area with interior rooms that are not somehow linked to an exterior wall, using a left or right hand search will eventually give you a complete tour of the floor you are searching and still keep you oriented should you need to leave the way you came in.
    Richard Nester
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