1. #1
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    Question Large area search

    I'm looking for feedback on performing large area searches. Any tips on what works well and what doesn't. I have had some training but I would like to become proficient in it as we have several commercial structures

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    SEARCH ROPE.......!!!

    200' of 5/16" rope that is plyable.....so you can tie it off at points with a gloved hand. Carry it in a bag....these systems can be purchased al ready set up. You just have to add the knots for distance and direction. Every 25' tie a little knot....each one represents 25' of depth, spaced about 3-6" apart.....hence....2 is 50', 3 would be 75'...etc etc.....also put a directional knot about 12-18" apart. The guy w/ the bag is the anchor point and in charge of the search.....use 2 of those retractable dog leashes as tag lines.....they rarley get tangeld, and retract automatically...they are also lightweight and compact. From there...you have to develop a plan.....I perfer to search straight out from my anchor then drop down and back up to my starting point.....check in, then search up and back......For office space....thats different....cubby to cubby....slow moving but a quick search can be done. But the bottom line is like in any search.....STAY ORRIANTED!!!!!! It sounds easy and simple.....but you would be suprised......I just got back from Firehouse World were I was helping teach room orientation......little things like how your shoulders are positioned in relation to walls.....got a-lot of folks lost......

    Stay Safe....

    If I think of something else.....I'll post it for ya'

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    Yep what Vinnie says...my station trains in a 150X150 room. Takes time, but works great.
    "If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
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    We did some training with a rope setup like VinnieB talks about. We found too many areas being missed, due to the 25' gap and guys not covering the entire 25' section. We changed to a rope with no knots and the "bag" man moving 2 arm lengths of rope at a time, the 2 searchers would then go straight out, 1 on each side. We had much better coverage with this method. 2 arm lengths comes to about 8 feet avg, a guy on a tie line spread out searching will cover that distance well.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Vinnies got you on a good start. A long search rope. We use 3/8" with knots every 20ft. Bones maybe you might want to try 20'. The shorter gap might work better. The knots will give you an idea of how far in you are and give confidence. It could feel as though you're crawling into a bowling alley but feeling 2 knots and realize it's only 40ft. When you reach a knot it's a good idea to give a progress report to the I.C. such as, "Search team 1 in 60ft.(or 3 knots) continuing search along the Bravo wall." It tells him approximately where you are instead of him not having a clue. If you give a mayday because of a collapse(wall,ceiling,floor or roof) a RIT team can find you sooner. Maybe there's a door or window 75ft back and one team can enter there while another traces the team in troubles entry route. Even if the decision is to breach the outside wall, there's a basic idea where to start... A good bright handlight!!! Everyone should have one....One thing we do different from Vinnie is when we branch out on our personel (dog leash) ropes we go out a double arms length, about 5ft, and do a 180 degree sweep. Then let out another double arms length and do another sweep. In talking about a large open area, not a 5-7 ft wide hall....Another very important issue is air management. You can not spend 15 or so minutes making your way into a building and wait for your low air alarm to suddenly tell you that you have only 5 minutes of air left. You will then become a victom. There must be someone outside ( NOT the I.C. he's running the fire) monitoring all entry teams air supply with a clipboard. With a 30 minute bottle allow 10 minutes entry, then call them out. That's 10 minutes of air going in, 10 minutes of air to exit with a 10 minute safety buffer in case there's a problem getting out. It does cut down on what you might normally get out of a bottle, but the concern is safety . Making sure everyone who went in comes out....Is your building about 500ft long. Cut it in half. Have a team enter from the front and another from the rear, that building is now 250ft long and is easier to manage....Large area search requires much more manpower than a "conventional" structure. Possibly even double what you would use for a 2 or 3 story frame building. Call for help (extra alarm,mutual aid, EMS) early.....Hope this was some help. Good luck............Len

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    Proficiency is the key. There are many people out there advocating we rethink large area earch under heavy smoke conditions. The chance of viable victims being found when the search takes a long time vs. the danger of large open spaces under fire conditions. IMHO some of us are qualified and staffed to do this and others of us should take a serious look at something else. If your like us, struggling to get enough companies on scene in a hurry you may have to rethink this. Using long search lines under heavy smoke or fire conditions requires plenty of training and general fireground experience. This is not for the faint at heart.

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    Check this thread out ... it has pics too

    If you do a search with the words "tagline search" it brings up a few more threads that might give you some more info, but the link I provided is the thread I remember as being a pretty good one. (civilian chick language LOL)

    http://forums.firehouse.com/showthre...tagline+search
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    Teach your firefighters to use tools to extend thier reach. An axe can extend the reach by almost 2" if it's gripped at the working end and the handle is swept by the firefighter as he/she searches.
    If it's an open area you can even use a pike pole (3' or 6') to sweep. Another trick in an open area is to keep a firefighter at the wall and then connect another firefighter furthr out using a pike pole between them. In training we have ven extended this by connecting a 3rd firefighter to the 2nd using another 6' pole. A rope can be used as well as a sweeping tool in that scenerio.

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    We have two large residential high rises in my department's town, plus many large square footage businesses. And we utilize a search rope with a three man team. One firefighter remains oriented in the main area, or main hallway, while the other two firefighters hook into a looped knot of the main search rope with a smaller rope of approximately 50 ft in lenth with a caribeener to hook into the looped knot of the main search rope. They then begin searching in opposite directions from the main search rope while still being able to find their way back since attached to the main rope. Once an area has been searched, you move up the main search rope to the next knot, hook in with the caribeeners, and search again. We place the looped knots approximately 20-25 feet apart from one another, as is dictated by the general distance between the doorways of the two residential high rises we have. If you chose this method you will want to do some pre-fire planning and inspections in your district.

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    LaFire..Using a tool to extend your reach is pretty much back to basics of search. That's a good call, pointing out to still rely on your primary skills is important. Although I'm not sure about making a human chain. I see how it could be used in some areas, but for large areas I still think a search rope is the way to go. Check out the thread RspctFrmCalgary posted and from the pictures you'll see 10-15ft or so won't do the job......Large area search isn't only for life. If you have a large building with a considerable smoke condition where does the first line go, blindly into smoke? Then have other lines streached any which way until someone finds something. NO WAY. You have to locate the fire before you can extinguish it. A team searching for life and fire might be needed. It's easier to redeploy a rope than a hoseline if you find nothing at the end of a hall or far end of a warehouse. If you know which floor the fire's on you can connect to the standpipe a floor or two below and get set. But do you go right,left,straight 20ft then turn. You have to know. This is the way we do it in my department and it works well for us. Have the rescue and ladder companies find the fire,then let the engines put it out. If something different works for someone else, go with it. I'd also like to know about other methods too. We have windowless warehouses and warehouses that are now condos with small windows that make it difficult to pinpoint a fires location from the exterior right away. Even though you may have an engine company or two chomping at the bit to get in there, once the fire is located it's a one time streach directly to the fire area...As far as TIC's the rescue, every engine and ladder has one. Ropes 200ft.

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    Betty-

    I am just up the road in Rockford, we are doing primarily what VinnieB stated with a few exceptions and/or additions:

    1) We are using kevlar rope.

    2) We use 200' primary bags with knots every 50', this is less confusing to our guys instead of having knots every 20'.

    3) Each member uses a personal rope with a biener to tether off of the main rope (although, I like the retractable lanyard idea).

    4) Don't forget the TIC, this is an invaluable tool for searching for victims and fire especially in large commercial or high-rise situations because oftentimes we run into cold smoke. It aids in quick navigation in searching areas that have a high probabilty of a life hazard.

    5) We work in 3-4 man teams when involved in this type of environment.

    As someone stated earlier, we do not get to fight fires in this type of environment that often, so make sure that your firefighters are proficient in this task. Always keep the risk/reward factor in the back of your head (risk a little to save little, risk a lot to save a lot). Good luck and let me know if you need anymore info.

    rfd599
    www.IllinoisFireStore.com

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    http://forums.firehouse.com/showthre...ge+Area+Search

    That is a thread with information from Kansas City FF's

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    rfd599 I have a question..How are the knots confusing the guys? I haven't seen anyone in other departments have a problem with them. What method do you use? With the knots so far apart you can't give a good location if you get in trouble. At 20ft you can tell how far in you are easier and be more accurit. If you space them 6" or so apart it's easy to tell how many there are even with a gloved hand.

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    We guide our operation with a camera and leave a fresh pair of guys at the door for relief, as well as our chauffer who stays at the door monitoring conditions overhead and time on the line.
    What ever your deptarment does, practice it over and over and make sure there is one operation and everyone knows what is expected. This is an operation that is RARELY used and can easily get firefighters killed if you are going to pull this off at a job you had better be on your game with everyone doing the same operation.

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    ...jfTL41..."make sure there is one operation and everyone knows what is expected".

    This is a must. A year and a half ago I was instructing at a large area/RIT, two day class. We had a large vacant store.There were 4 departments(vol) that ran mutual aid on a regular basis. In all four towns they caught some fair fire activity and were used to working together. But, as far as large area they were all on a different page. Large area RIT really threw them a curve ball. At the end of the second day they shaped up fairly well but still needed alot of work. One thing they learned was the need to work on standardizing equipment and tactics for large area search. If you do mutual aid, train with the other departments on this too.

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    Len-

    We practice with the knots at 50' and that is what our guys are comfortable with. We learned this practice from CFD and took a liking to it. I am not saying that it is gospel.....but it works for us.

    Thanks,

    rfd599
    www.IllinoisFireStore.com

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    599....If you have a system that works then go with it. I'm glad you have something that can help someone.

    Len

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    Cool

    The retractable "dog leash" works well. We have the store bought "OEM reels" by R.I.T..Tie off the primary searchline at waist height- can be a help on the way out (if you know that the way out is free of hazards) then you don't have to bend over and crawl around to find the rope. If you have a victim you can pretty much hunch down and haul a** out the entry door. just a thought.
    "If Prometheus was worthy of the wrath of heaven for kindling the first fire upon earth, how ought all the Gods to honour the men who make it their professional business to put it out?"
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