Why is that edited to say Canadians and Europeans? I have never been a firefighter in Europe, but I am one in Canada. As I have said, it is best practice to take a handline, and if your practice is to enter every structure without one, than you are playing with your own life. I am from
* a large department
* we have many ladder trucks that is set up and used at fires
* We aren't all fairly new to the fire service (and those who are, are being led by those who are not. It takes 18 years to become a LT here)
* Experience is not a question, our officers are minimum 18 to 22 years before getting bars, the experience is there.
I don't need to see a post or an article to know it is done, it's been done on my department as well. Many firefighters have made rescues without a handline, and guess what, some have made them with one as well.
My point is (as mentioned) it is best practice to have a handline. If your practice is not to have one, that is ludicrous. Teaching others that it is the "right way" to do things, is wrong and no making a rescue without a handline does not make you better trained, it makes you a firefighter doing your job.
I would imagine most (I would hope) firefighters, if in the position to make a rescue and no time to grab a line, they would make the rescue. BUT, best practice is to have one.
Since we all want to use scenarios. You pull up to a structure that is under construction, not finished and there is likely no one inside as it is a residential area not known for rubbies, etc. Of course there is always the chance, so of course you always do a search. Are you going to enter a light weight construction, almost finished structure without a handline? You sure as hell shouldn't? Times are changing, home building products are changing, attitudes are changing (well some anyway), so practices should also change.
Definitely size up is the best tool. An older structure may take up to 17 minutes to reach flashover, a new structure will reach flashover in less than 4. Be safe.
Text book lesson plans talk about the Search and Rescue Company (Rescue Company) searching the building without a hoseline. The technique is fast, fluid and may involve a search rope or not. The issue with this tactic is not many fire departments in the United States have the manpower, training and experience to complete this task as instructed.
Searching without a line, AKA "Rescue Company" is a lost and forgotten art.
What we see now is fire departments stretching the first hoseline (also highly undermanned) and attempting to multi-task. We tell the public during fire prevention week that we are in the business of saving lives and will come and search for you during a fire... but most often times we only perform that "limited search" from behind the protected side of a hoseline.
And that is not how old school search and rescue is supposed to be done, but the "safety, safety, safety" message that has been driven into the new generation firefighter will say, "Search without a line? Your crazy, what if the fire traps me or us?
The fire service has seen decreases in services rendered, S&R - search and rescue is one of the biggest.
"My point is (as mentioned) it is best practice to have a handline. If your practice is not to have one, that is ludicrous."
Wrong. That is dogmatic, and dogma isn't flexible enough to accomodate all of the situations that actually occur in real life.
In mid-rise and high-rise structures, big box structures, and other situations like residential VES, the best practice for the search team is to AVOID the wasted time and effort caused by lugging a charged line.
"An older structure may take up to 17 minutes to reach flashover, a new structure will reach flashover in less than 4."
That's not completely accurate. Flashover is dependent upon many variables...Fuel load, size, configuration, and composition, compartment size, ventilation...I could go on. That is the case for both older and newer buildings. A small room in an old building, full of furniture with synthetic fabrics and with oil-based interior paint and with the "just right" ventilation, will flash over much more quickly than a larger room in a newer building with primarily wooden furniture and latex interior paint, for example.
An old apartment building fire will flash over much more quickly than your average Lowe's or Home Depot.
Size up is an important tool, but it's a long way from being the only important one.
That's why engine companies don't really do Primary Search most of the time. What they do is "Search to the Fire" which means that if they stumble across a victim while dragging the line to the fire, then they change to rescue mode. This sometimes results in another company hunting for the bodies after the fire is out.
A true primary search takes place in the most exposed positions.
1) The fire occupancy
2) Directly above the fire occupancy
3) Horizontal exposures with openings for travel from the fire occupancy
4) The top floor
5) The rest of the structure(s)
We don't have fires every day, but our truckies routinely search above the fire in multi-family dwellings and mid-rise offices. They take a TIC, tools, a search rope, and a water can. If they need a hoseline, the fire has generally progressed to the point that the incident can't pass the Victim Survivability Profile test.
I disagree with one thing you said, though. I don't think that pounding "Safety, Safety, Safety" is hurting our newer generation of firefighters. I think it's a misunderstanding of all the factors that increase safety and misperceptions of what makes you safer in some situations.
Dragging a hoseline takes time, manpower, and effort. With our modern-day reduced manpower, expending that time, manpower, and effort should be limited to the people that are actually going to extinguish the fire - the fire attack company/companies. Speeding up the search by not wasting time and effort with a hoseline actually INCREASES safety in the vast majority of search operations - at least the ones that are survivable for the victims.
I've spent time on engine, medic, truck, and rescue companies for 35 years. In that time, I've seen an engine company make a rescue exactly once, and that was right inside the door of a house. Every other rescue I've seen was made by a truck or rescue company searching without a line. In my time on the medic, I've transported numereous fire scene DOAs that were found by an engine searching with a line after the fire was knocked down, though.
Another issue is that if you only have two or three firefighters on the line and you find a victim, what do you drag out - the hose or the victim? If you leave the nozzle, then you wasted your time taking it with you in the first place.
Slight clarification, I have personally seen the safety message take over some Fire Chief's mindset, that entering without a line is too dangerous and should never happen. Look at any VES video here on FFN and watch the banter that the guy depicted in the video entering over the ladder is dumb for not taking a line for protection. Hence lack of education, on what primary searches are for, whether made from the front door or above the fire.
Totally right, finding a victim while stretching a line is right place right time luck while actually searching to locate the fire.
Harrison below me has part of my answer. we are beginning to run quints here with a 5 person crew but again you are correct. i started out in the fire service where you are and agree with you in a truck capicity because truckies dont have no hoses. i am a believer in the "position job" concept and we have it to an extent where i am now in FL, but as you say smaller dept's (manning of 3) bring a hoseline during search