FF's searching in a training environment which matches our working environment. Furniture, clothes, carpet...

FF's searching in a training environment which matches our working environment. Furniture, clothes, carpet...


Residential Primary Search: HOT

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. 

This class examines and focuses on the reasons FF's achieve less than desirable results with primary searches, not excluding psychological and physiological issues. We will review some of the fatal flaws of how search training is run and dig into the human emotional response to fear and how this applies to conducting a search in low to zero visibility. Instructors will focus their message on teaching how we can manage these issues and train for success. Understanding not only the “what” is happening in our minds and body but also the “why” is key to being able to correct the problem.

The entire day will be spent in a hands on environment. Unlike other hands on courses we will provide you with a simulated search area set up to mimic a real residential area. This means the rooms are furnished with real household items to give the student as close to the real contextual environment. They are complete with the small details of a typical Single Family Dwelling to include; carpet, furniture, and real beds with bedding.

As the USMC Decision Making Student Handbook states, “…training and experience is paramount. Repetitive training, rehearsals and experience allows for faster recognition of key variables that will drive one towards a particular decision.” This program will provide the next best thing to an actual residence and help provide the repetitive training and experience described above. 

Students will be provided with immediate feedback as their searches will be recorded and played back for their review. Just as a professional athlete breaks down and analyzes game film to further their skills so will we. 

Items of focus

·      Searching the room in its entirety (off the wall). FF’s have to be comfortable leaving the security blanket of a wall to accomplish an effective search.

·      Mental Mapping.

·      Utilizing the Oriented FF technique. No follow the leader here. 

·      Taking time to listen for victims. To help drive this point home some of the search evolutions we provide will include audio clues of a victim played through speakers into the search area. 

·      Instructors will stress the importance of isolating search crews from conditions through interior and exterior door control to protect from changing flow paths and rapid fire progression.

·      Checking below the neutral plane before committing to the search. Understanding the meaning of smoke movement along with fire flow path and applying the correct tactic to the environment. 

·      Individual Body Position: We recommend and teach the Search Slide position. A head up leg out orientation, the Search Slide is a comfortable body position that gives the individual max flexibility of movement while staying low to the ground.

·      Emphasize the dangers and inefficiency of the certain body mechanics.

·      The proper use of hand-tools during the search to avoid missed victims and/or victim injury. 

·      SCBA Confidence in zero visibility.

·      Leading and operating search crews of varying size.

·      Victim handling and removal techniques: putting the victim first!

·      Vent Enter Isolate and Search techniques.