Hands down, one of the most important if not the most important task on the fireground is performing a search. There are multiple things that go into the thought process of search.
- Time of day
- Occupancy type
- Location of the dwelling (Knowing your district)
- Location of the fire
- Building layout
- Ingress / Egress
- And Much More
Something that we can discuss further is using our senses to play in our favor while searching inside the structure.
1. Sight - This one is obviously first because if you can see the victims, then you are already a step ahead of the game. While performing a 360 keep a close eye on egress points and searching for life. Learn how to perform efficient an efficient search at the door using your sight and a light. If you can see the bottom foot, get down on your face and shine the light across the floor. If you have nothing, go check the bed and the closet and move on.
2. Sound - List for your potential victims and also listen for the fire. Again, while performing your 360 call out to potential victims and listen to where they possibly could be, or notice them hanging from one of the windows on the second or third floor. When searching inside be sure to continue to call out for those that are in need of rescue.
3. Touch - We cannot emphasize this one enough. Understand what a victim feels like and roughly weighs when you are performing training. When there is no visibility, this is the most important sense that we have. Use your tool as an indicator of where the door is while performing your search and search with your hands. Both hands continuously moving, touching, and evaluating the objects that you come across.
4. Smell - Very brief, but when you arrive if you smell potential accelerants, make note of that and be prepared for potential victims due to the high probability of arson.
5. Taste - I got nothing....
Additionally, a few more important things that I want to pass on. Train heavily with search and rescue. Start to build an intuition for where victims may be. This will come with time and experience. If you listen to the video of Lt. Ziegler with the FDNY, he talks about his partner having an intuition all the time on where victims are.
Lastly, use knowledge in where to perform your search based off of real life statistics. We are lucky enough that we have www.firefighterrescuesurvey.com to rely on to give us real data on where victims are located. This not only tells you where they are located, but how the where extricated, who found them, and so much more. Use this data, share it with your brothers and sisters, and go train to better yourselves and others.