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Primary search tips

When conducting a primary search for victims, some teams are not as efficient or coordinated as they could be. To improve the chances of quickly and safely locating possible victims, remember these key tips:

  • Bring the right tools along. Typically, this means a set of irons, a thermal imaging camera and a hose line.
  • Get in, search and get out quickly. Remember that the longer a victim is left in the IDLH, their cances for survival dimish rapidly, and there is a reason we do secondary searches.
  • Under the right conditions, it's acceptable for firefighter pairs to separate themselves by a few feet to cover more area, as long as voice contact is maintained.
  • Consider which side of the house is most likely to have occupants in it. Fire victims are commonly found in areas of egress like hallways and also in bedrooms. The time of day and clues like toys in the front yard can also help indicate where victims might be.
  • As you make your search, the first firefighter should be rapidly checking the area from the wall outward and the furniture he comes into contact with and the second should be searching the middle of the room that the first firefighter can't reach. This method can easily cover an entire room in seconds.
  • If you get to the bedrooms, in many cases the first firefighter can search the room while the second firefighter controls the door with the hose line to protect your position.
  • If you find and remove a victim, make sure you indicate to other firefighters that the search is not yet over, as other victims may still remain.
  • Don't hesitate the put out fire if you come across it, since this will remove the hazard to the victim.
  • Communicate with your teams and command. This is especially important to coordinate with ventilation and in the event that you find a victim.

For more information on primary search tips, check out FR1 Columnist Jason Hoevelmann's Fast and Furious: Primary search tips you should know.

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