Don’t get tunnel vision.
Fire in a type 5, 2 story residential. Heavy smoke and fire pushing from the entryway on first company arrival. You are assigned as an engine on the second alarm struck 10 minutes into the event.
As you are monitoring the radio enroute you ascertain that folks on the roof are reporting heavy fire in the second floor kitchen and need a hose line there. You also hear the transmission that a primary search is clear, and soon after that a secondary search is clear.
You arrive 18 minutes into the event and are assigned to ventilate the fire floor. As you arrive at the top of the stairs and decide to make a left to enter the rooms you saw from the street, who’s windows were still closed. You find 3 closed doors, burnt through with debris on the inside. It is clear as you enter the rooms, pushing doors open, that these rooms have not been entered since the fire started. You do your job opening windows and begin to pull ceilings. Out in the hallway you notice a bookshelf in front of another door. Moving it, you enter another room, untouched by fire. It appears the folks on the roof have cut their ventilation hole here. The one room without smoke or fire.
With your job completed you return to the command post and find that you were the fifth group of people into the building, including the group that “completed” the primary and secondary search. 2 of those rooms were bedrooms. This fire was early in the evening.
It is inexcusable to call a primary or secondary search clear without actually searching the area in question. We also found that every group into the building went straight to the seat of the fire and clogged the hallway.
Complacency kills my friends. If you are assigned to complete a search – DO IT. If your job is to knock down the fire – DO IT.
We were the only group that actually confirmed half of the building was clear of victims and fire spread. 18 minutes and 5 groups into the event.
Letters in the file of the members of those 5 groups who went right past were they were supposed to be and went for the “glory” of putting the fire out. The glory in this job is working as a team to save lives and minimize damage to property.
I need to grab a shower. When I cool off, the Happy Medic will be back.