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Lacey Heavy Rescue

FF Ryan Cox from Lacey (WA) Station 31 sent in an interesting write-up of a situation they recently ran into. It involves a 700lb man, a 2nd floor Jacuzzi, and some imagination. Ryan’s full description of the event is listed below as the first comment to this post, it’s a long read, but well worth it.

It may not have been how everyone would have handled it, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Remember, the most important part of the story is that it worked for them…


Prioritizing Victim Rescue

On a working fire the Truck Company may be faced with multiple victims hanging in windows awaiting rescue. How do you prioritize who gets the bucket (or ladder) first? What are some of your considerations? Remember the loudest victim may not be the one in greatest distress. When teaching tactics, I always use this video to put it all in perspective. -Jimm-




Hiding Behind the Door

Captain Dan Herberger from Batavia City (NY) Fire Department submitted a story that we should share at the firehouse table.

Captain Herberger says “While I was looking for my daughter a few weeks ago, I opened the door to her bedroom and entered, not finding her after calling her name.  After a few seconds I heard giggling and closed the door to find her between the wall and a piece of furniture.  The first thing I thought of was, would I have missed a child while performing a search?  I will certainly think of this experience when performing a search in the future.  You never know when a training opportunity will present itself.”

Searching behind every door, even if it is flush against the wall, (or this case, against furniture) is critical during a primary search. Doing so, could locate another room or a victim who collapsed prior to exiting and is now wedged between the door and wall. Our friends at note that about 12% of fire victims are found within 6ft of the door. So you might be asking yourself, If I am looking for a victim, why search behind a door that opens flush against a wall, a victim can not fit in that space? But if you think back to Captain Herberger’s story you will realize this is one real scenario! In his case there was a void space, just big enough for a child to hide behind a bedroom door.

Room orientation can also hide things behind doors. There are many hotels, college dorms and even private dwellings where entry or bedroom doors, when opened, cover closets and bathrooms. So how would we find these areas if we do not check behind doors? One method that works well for a two person search team is to assign the officer to check behind the door. As the firefighter is sent into a room to search, the officer already at the door maintaining orientation, has a great opportunity to check behind it.

Both members of the interior search team need to recognize what type of room they are conducting a search in. This will cue them into what “should” be the orientation of that room. For example, while searching a hotel room, we should be expecting a bathroom and possibly a small closet in each room. The officer should communicate to the firefighter “search the bathroom, search the closet.” Communicating this will guide the firefighter and help them have a more thoughtful search. If we came out of that hotel room and did not search a bathroom and/or a closet, we should be highly suspicious of missed rooms. Did we check what’s hiding behind the door?

Thank you Captain Herberger for this submission!



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Keys to the City-8hr. H.O.T.

We will be holding a 8hr. Forcible Entry class titled “Keys to the City” at Valencia College’s Fire Rescue Institute on March 13, 2018. To register call Valencia College at 407-582-6688.

As the forcible entry team, you have the pressure of the entire fire ground on you. The door must be opened to allow searches and hose advancement to happen. This class will give you the confidence as if you have the “keys to the city” when faced with any forcible entry challenge.
Students will start with the basics and progress towards real world forcible entry challenges. Participants will have a great understanding on the “whys” of forcible entry. This class is 100% conventional techniques and will focus on repetition to build a good forcible entry foundation. Our through-the-lock and passive entry rotation will be hands-on and detailed, insuring participants have a sound understanding of pulling and manipulating locks. Students will end the day with a live smoke forcible entry scenario, forcing several doors in tight quarters.
This class is for any firefighter or fire officer wanting to know the details in forcible entry and will give them the skill to tackle any challenge.
Skills covered:
Tool orientation
Door Construction and swing
Passive entry
Security window bars
Limited hallway space
Limited visibility
and MORE…
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Forks and the Mortise

When learning forcible entry the discussion of where to place the forks of your Halligan will inevitably come up. Your options are above the lock, below the lock or between the locks if there’s more than one. All options have their place but there is one particular type of locking mechanism where placing the fork in between the locks won’t work. Mortise locks (as pictured below) have been around since the 1800’s.

These locks get their name from the mortise or pocket that is required to be cut into the door for installation. They’re commonly found in older buildings, commercial buildings, high end residential or any place that requires a durable lock that will hold up to thousands of operations.

Sizing up a door for a mortised lock is difficult and has made me lean towards always placing my forks either above or below the locks and never between. If you are a strong believer in placing your forks between the locks then you should know that mortise locks normally don’t have escutcheon plates that are offset from the door more than a ¼”. This is because the lock cylinders are threaded into the mortised guts of the lock and this requires the installer to be able to spin the lock into position. Bored Cylinder locks are held together with screws and can be offset from the door greater distances.

If you haven’t figured out why you can’t place your forks in between the locks from the pictures above then take a closer look at an example of a door forced by Orlando (FL) Fire Department’s Tower 11 B shift crew.

Photos by: JJ Cassetta

This door had to be forced to allow smoke to ventilate from the upper floor of a hospital. It was inward swinging and set into a metal frame with concrete walls. As you can see if the forks were placed between the locks they would end up running into the deadbolt. This would prove to be very frustrating in smoky conditions and is the reason you should stay away from placing your Halligan there. Another option is pulling the cylinder using k-tool or other lock pulling tool. The mortised lock is a durable lock but the cylinder is only held in with two small set screws.

Jeremy Rubottom is currently a Firefighter with the Orlando (FL) Fire Department, assigned to the Heavy Rescue 1. Jeremy has been in the fire service for a total of 15 years. Prior to joining OFD, he was a Firefighter for the St. Johns County (FL) Fire Department for 5 years. He is an instructor at Valencia Fire Rescue Institute, working with the Truck Company Operations and Special Operations programs. Jeremy is a Georgia Smoke Diver and has taught at the Orlando Fire Conference for several years. He is also a H.O.T. Instructor for VentEnterSearch, LLC.


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Double-Wide Addition

Joseph Dorsette, from Broward County Sheriff’s Office (FL), recently submitted his findings that were discovered during an alarm at a residence. While conducting a 360 he noticed the single-wide mobile home behind the actual alarm had been modified into a double-wide, with an extra addition.

The existing single-wide mobile home appeared modified, the car port was closed in with a lightweight wall which was constructed of half inch plywood, sprayed with knock-down and painted. Three windows were added as well as a satellite dish, this made it appear to be the original double-wide.

The second modification was an 8 x 8 metal shed possibly used as an additional bedroom or general floor space. A hole had to be created in the rear of modified car port and then the shed butted up against the home. Strips of aluminum, pieces of painted plywood, and some type of adhesive were added to make it fit against the home. Also, a hole was cut into the rear of the shed for a window shaker and a second satellite dish. It is unknown if the owner or occupants ran electric to the additions or possibly utilized extension cords for power. Also unknown is the layout of the inside, if the shed doors were left in place or removed and if an interior door was used and possibly subleased.

Another interesting observation, was the shed and the right side of the mobile home (looking at it from the pictured angle) were not connected internally but connected externally with a small piece of plywood and the aluminum panels from the ground

Joseph was not able to make contact with the occupant and all windows were boarded up from hurricane Irma. He stated that “As an officer this type of addition to an addition can hinder several aspects of our operations from interior attack to search and rescue.”

Other topic this post brings up are boarded up windows. This time of year it is common for hurricane prone areas to have a large increase in board up windows. Hurricane board ups, although typically not difficult to defeat, can present entry and egress issues if not prepared. If you work in a hurricane prone area, survey your first due during this time and build multiple plans of attack.

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Blocked Door



Seeing these signs on the rear of a commercial occupancy can tell you a few important things. The most obvious is that the door may actually be blocked. But how blocked is it? Is there an actual wall on the other side of the door? Is it fully blocked by high rack storage? Or is it just partially blocked by something less significant like a partial or rolling rack storage?


What else can this sign tell us? It more than likely indicates that one large business occupies multiple tenant build out spaces. When the building was designed they simply built a shell, with no particular tenant in mind. This is becoming a more popular construction method because it keeps the developers options open in regards to potential tenants.

As you can see from the Alpha side this is one large occupancy that occupies multiple tenant build out spaces.


On the Charlie side, you can see that three of the doors are blocked, leaving only one potentially clear. We say potentially because these rear storage areas are often overloaded and doors quickly become blocked with merchandise. This is particularly a problem during the holidays when stores are overstocking to keep up with demand.


When operating at the rear of a commercial occupancy it would be important to transmit this finding over the radio. It may help command appreciate the size of the occupancy if it not already obvious, and it may help interior crews understand that they may not have easily accessible secondary means of egress. From a RIT perspective, the RIT team should certainly make their way to the Charlie side to evaluate these doors themselves. Their presence may make the RIT team re-evaluate their potential rescue plan in case things go bad. Depending on time, and conditions, it may be worth forcing the door anyway to truly evaluate how blocked it is, and how it may be used to support operations.


Golf Ball RIT

Captain Shawn Royall from Charlotte Ladder Co. 23 sent in this idea to make sharing air in a RIT situation a bit easier. When training with their new packs they noticed that the pouches that contained the EBSS hose were a bit difficult to open with a gloved hand. They tried out a few ideas to solve the problem; two pictured here are a simple prussic loop, and a golf ball on a prussic.

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The nice thing about these designs is that they not only allow for the holster snaps to be opened quickly, but it also provides for positive contact with the working end of the hose from the beginning of the operation. It prevents the potential of opening the holster, the hose falling out and having to search for the working end.



Certainly one potential draw back to this design could be the potential snag or entanglement with the additional handle. As with anything, training with the new setup would be the key. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for others, but you must train on what you have. Sometimes an out of the box idea may solve the problem at hand. This idea could certainly be adapted to the hoses on the RIT bag as well. The prussic set up and pictures courtesy of FF Deany Phillips of Rescue Co. 10-B and the golf ball design from Ladder Co. 23-A.


AFA’s and Aerial’s

In some of our recent posts we have been discussing a handful of important aspects of 360’s. The first one about not being able to complete a 360 can be found here and the second one about 360’s on Automatic Fire Alarms can be found here. We started discussing the importance of utilizing the aerial during AFA’s. So now we have to ask: Do you bother using your aerial device during AFA’s?  If not, you may be missing out on a valuable street training opportunity.


As we mentioned, one of the greatest benefits found when using aerial devices during automatic fire alarms is the tremendous training it provides crews (when staffing and time permits). It is much better to practice during “insignificant calls” when adrenaline is not clouding our minds. The most important training opportunity this provides is aerial placement and set up. A majority of the time, the AFA’s from commercial buildings are unintentionally set off during normal business hours. The cause of the alarm is frequently due to brunt food in the break room or HVAC malfunctions. These AFA’s during business hours allow for us to practice positioning the ladder truck in crowded and tight streets or parking areas. Once the alarm has been handled, and the occupants allowed to return to the building is when the real training opportunity begins. The entire crew can meet back up at the rig (which is left set up) to discuss placement, reaches, scrub areas, victim rescues, etc. It can also be a great time to discuss apparatus placement with the Engine company crew as well.


We all know that outriggers can be one of the biggest challenges we run into when setting the truck up on crowded or small streets and parking lots. If you are assigned to a ladder truck that allows for short jacking, you may have a few options to overcome these challenges. For example, the truck shown here allows for short jacking. When setting up on a narrow street the tractor operator pulls to the opposite side of the street adjacent to the incident building. The tractor operator will exit the truck and place the short outrigger, often called the off side, straight down. This leaves room for the opposite outrigger, often called the working side, to be fully extended. The truck is now fully stabilized (on the building side) and ready to have the aerial placed in service. Doing this over and over creates good muscle memory for the “real emergency” when ladder placement is crucial and must be done right the first time.



Another benefit found when utilizing aerials during AFA’s is simply practicing getting off and back on the tip of aerial. Unfortunately there have been many LODD’s due to firefighters falling while getting off or on a roof from an aerial. Since AFA’s are low emergency calls, is a great time to build muscle memory at a slower pace to practice safe access to real roofs from aerials.


So whether it be during AFA’s or just drilling, get those ladder trucks out of the bay and set them up in your first due! You’ll never know the capabilities and limitations of your rig unless you use it. You may even surprise yourself on what you can learn from a non-emergency call like an AFA. Every call is a training opportunity.

Photo credit: Dennis Stevens,


Unable to Complete 360

A 360 of the involved structure can provide some very important information while operating on the fireground. However sometimes the 360 may not be possible. We must remember that the simple fact that you cannot complete a 360 may be just as important as what you’d see if you could. There may be any number of reasons that the 360 might not be achievable, some more prevalent ones may be:

Size of structure
Block wall fences
Immediate need for rescue (ie: victims in windows)

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The simple radio transmission “Unable to Complete 360” tells the other incoming units an important fact. It lets everyone know that we may be forced to operate without potentially valuable information. Depending the amount of radio traffic, you could even state the reason why the 360 was not able to be completed: “due to size of structure” “due to water on the Charlie and Delta sides” “due to obstructions.”

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Just because the first arriving unit cannot complete the initial 360, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be completed at all. The second arriving Chief Officer, or Safety Officer may need to be detailed complete the delayed 360. Of course, whenever possible, the RIT team should complete their own 360 to come up with the rescue plan.

The 360 can provide us with extremely valuable information. We must have a plan in place for how and when the initial 360 will be completed and announced, and more importantly, have a plan for when it can’t be done.


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