Search and Rescue – Part 25

April 5, 2013

To conduct an oriented search in a warehouse type occupancy, let s consider a structure similar to Figure 1 that would be similar to numerous types of occupancies that have either tiered storage or aisles between display counters such as Wal-Mart, Costco, supermarkets, hardware stores, and so on. Before we consider a search in these types of occupancies, it is important to realize that the size and/or floor plan will likely consume an inordinate amount of time (particularly if visibility is minimal or non-existent) and negate a meaningful and timely search. Therefore, in these types of structures, it is again important to evaluate the difference between a search and a recovery.

To begin the oriented search in Figure 1, assume the visibility is minimal at best, there are several occupants who are unaccounted for, and a search team of three will be utilized. First, it is important to ensure or initiate some type of ventilation to improve the interior environment and visibility. Second, the search team would first develop an initial line (1) from the front to the back of the structure (1) that would be used as a reference point during the search. Some prefer a search line and some advocate stretching a hose line as a reference point. Although stretching a search line would be quicker, it could be pulled in the direction of a secondary line which could create unnecessary problems during a search. Conversely, if a hose line (1 æ or 2 Ω-inch) is stretched as a reference point, it would take more time and personnel to develop but it would be more secure against unwanted movements and maintain its relative position during the search.Fig1n2

After the reference line has been developed, the three person search team would enter the building and search along the initial line to the first aisle (the officer would stay on the line with a firefighter to either side. If necessary, the firefighters could use a tether to maintain contact with the officer). When the search team reaches the first aisle, the officer would direct one firefighter to search the left aisle and the other firefighter to simultaneously search the opposing aisle while the office remains on the reference line. Prior to searching the aisles, each firefighter would attach a tag/search line to the reference line (2) and begin the search. This process allows each firefighter to confidently search to the end portion of the aisle and then return to the reference line/officer. When both firefighters have returned to the officer, the team moves towards the next aisle to repeat the same type of search. This method would be repeated until all aisles have been searched. The search team would then follow the reference line back out of the structure. Although this method would require some setup time, the actual search would be coordinated and timely under demanding conditions.

Nozzle Fan Search

Although this procedure is rarely ever used, it is included as an option that can allow a search to be used for two attack firefighters who may be found on a hoseline or at the end of a nozzle. This method was successfully used to search for two firefighters on a nozzle that were suddenly caught in a flashover in the Proud Bird restaurant fire at LAX airport some years ago. This procedure will utilize two personnel to conduct a utilizing a nozzle for a reference point and methodically searching away from the nozzle if necessary (Figure 2):

”  The search team follows the hoseline to end of nozzle. If necessary, the team leader can maintain contact with the hoseline and tether the other firefighter to the most appropriate side of the line as they advance forward, searching the area around the hoseline.

”  Leader stays at nozzle to maintain point of orientation.

”  Search person gives tether or tag line bag to leader. Person who will search away from the nozzle removes approximately 4 to 6-feet of line and will loop line over itself and attach to a hand with a half hitch.

”  Keeping tension on line, member will search the area around the nozzle (A – first perimeter search).

”  If search is unsuccessful, person on nozzle will remove another 4 to 6-feet of line, and repeat the operation as necessary (B – second perimeter search, etc). This system allows two persons to systematically search an area, maintain contact with each other, maintain contact with their exit point of reference (hoseline), and expand as necessary.

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