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provide a safety back-up for personnel in a hazardous environment. A backup team and/or a RIT team should also monitor the progress of the primary search team, should periodically check on their status, and is responsible for the following: • Ensure they are not delegated to another responsibility and be


ready for immediate entrance into the building. If they are delegated to another responsibility, they must be immediately replaced. • If possible, have radio contact with the search team and peri-


odically verify their status. The larger the area to be searched, the more important this consideration becomes. This can be easily accomplished (and with minimal use of a portable radio) if the backup/RIT team will radio the search team after 5, 10, 15, minutes (or other pre-arranged sig- nal) has elapsed. As an example, at each 5-minute signal, the search team leader acknowledges receipt by double clicking the portable radio talk button, etc. If the initial search team is not able to verify their status, the backup team/RIT should be prepared to enter the building and assist the search team. Additionally, this method will assist a search team leader in determining the appropriate time left for the search in combination with the size of breathing apparatus being utilized (i.e., 30, 45, or 60-minute). • Position a light (quartz, strobe, etc) at the bottom and side of


A


ny search operation should be preceded with a basic knowledge of the structure (construction and layout), fire (location and ex- tension), victims (approximate number, age, and location), re-


sources (personnel and equipment), SOP’s (training), and remembering that search operations can be low frequency, high risk events. All these issues mean that search operations can be a very dangerous events. Using the preceding factors as a basic starting point, let’s review basic search techniques that should be appropriately considered during a search op- eration:


A basic search team should consist of at least two personnel.


However, the size of a search team can be increased as needed but should not generally exceed two to five personnel per team (depending on the size of a structure and type of search team). A span of control over four (not counting an officer) is usually counterproductive. The key is to use the appropriate number of personnel, depending on the type of search, size of area to be searched, and resources available. If it is necessary to use multiple search teams, a primary team


would be designated #1 and a back-up team would be designated #2 (or other similar designations). If multiple entry points are used, search teams can be designated according to entry points (team 1, 2, 3, etc. Back up teams would then be designated 1a, 1b, 1c, etc). Each team leader should monitor a rescue channel if used. Other team members should keep their radio volume control turned down to avoid squelch and other unnecessary noises. Keep radio messages to a minimum. If portable radios are utilized, a search team should be placed


on a separate radio channel if possible and should make a quick radio channel check before proceeding with a search operation. This channel should be locked to prevent the channel from being accidentally changed during an incident. If possible, a back-up team with appropriate safety equipment


should be positioned near the entrance opening used by the initial search team, particularly on lengthy or large area searches. This team can be separate from a RIT. Remember, the sole responsibility of a RIT is to


46 • May 2012


the entrance opening to facilitate the identification of the opening (now the exit opening) from the interior of the structure (this proved to be in- strumental in saving multiple firefighters at the Proud Bird fire at LAX). If necessary, a quartz light can also be mounted on the end of an aerial device and used to assist above-ground search operations by placing the light near windows or other openings to allow some degree of interior illumination. To summarize this perspective, if you need to suddenly get out of a building with little or no visibility, what is the first thing you look for?


When contemplating the subject of placing search personnel


inside a structure, a subject that is not often considered or pre-planned is the ability to immediately remove personnel if the need suddenly arises. Several methods that are in use are calling a Mayday, three blasts of a horn or horns on apparatus, and so on. Personnel that are committed to fireground operations should have a set policy that all personnel are inti- mately aware of that addresses the following concerns: • A signal to immediately abandon a building. • Should tools and equipment be left in place? • An assembly point outside the structure that will allow a time-


ly verification/accountability of appropriate personnel. Remember that as the number of interior personnel increases, so does the time to quickly remove them.


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