Residential Primary Search: Training for Success

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The importance of a primary search is second only to getting water on the fire and in some cases the argument can be made that it even ranks number 1. This class will discuss not why the search is important but how to ensure the search is done both effectively and efficiently. We will consider reasons FF's achieve less than desirable results with primary searches. These reasons include training issues along with human psychological and physiological issues.

The fire service has unknowingly handicapped firefighters by limiting search training to concrete buildings with oversized doors, windows and stairwells. These buildings typically lack any amount of furniture along with other items typically found in homes in our county. The training environment and operational reality simply do not match. Without the ability to see, FF’s are forced to visualize where they are searching by creating a mental map. When the training environment does not have the same feel of floor coverings, furniture, actual bedding or contents of most homes, a flawed mental image is engrained into our FF’s minds. This leads FF’s down one of two paths. Either they have to spend more mental energy in the real world environment to problem solve what they are feeling because it is different from their training. Or worse, they simply cannot problem solve what they are feeling and either become disoriented or they hug the wall and rush through the search with their only goal being to exit the building as soon as possible.

The class will focus on how we can manage these issues and train for success.