For this week’s You Make the Call, I’m opening up a scenario that seems to be a topic of much discussion in the Fire/Rescue world: search priority.

So let’s take a scenario similar to one I think most jurisdictions have, the multi-story residential.

  • You are dispatched as part of a first alarm assignment to a report of a fire in a building. A police cruiser has spotted fire in the top floor of a three story house just after 3 AM.
  • Weather is fair, little wind and neighbors are just emerging from their homes as you arrive. No one is standing in front of the house on fire.
  • Water supply is conveniently directly in front of the house and the street is clear enough to allow truck placement when they arrive.
  • You are the second engine to arrive on scene and are instructed by the Chief, who is now arriving on scene, to conduct a primary search.
  • On a quick 360 you note fire is extending from the third floor and that the rear of the house has a fire escape from the second floor, non-deployed, indicating possibly a multi-unit building. You also count 4 gas meters.

Where do you start and where do you go? You make the call.

The image is from the Springfield, Massachusetts Fire Department who responded to this fire on February 1st of this year. I found this image to be the best quality for my purposes here and in no way am making a comment on firefighting activities carried out in the photo or on the scene. This photo was taken by Dennis G. Leger and came up on a search result for “3 story fire.”
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