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Use floor coverings to maintain orientation


By Mark van der Feyst

Maintaining orientation in the building when conducting a search is critical for the survival of the firefighter. It is very easy to lose contact with the building and become disoriented. When this occurs, the firefighter becomes lost. This has led to firefighters not surviving an ordeal that should have been survivable.

Within the building, there are clues that help a firefighter maintain orientation. One clue is the floor coverings. If the residential building has two stories, common floor coverings found on the first floor will be carpeting for the great room or family room. Hardwood flooring may be found in the dining room, living room and other open areas. Ceramic tiles may be found in the kitchen, bathroom and entryways. Other common coverings may be laminate wood flooring, which can be found in open areas, great rooms, living rooms and eating areas. On the second floor, you may find carpeting in bedrooms and hallways. Ceramic tiles or vinyl flooring will be an indication of a bathroom or laundry room. Hardwood floors or laminate wood are also sometimes used in bedrooms. By feeling the floor and knowing what level you are on, you may be able to determine your location.

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