Here is a short article by Firefighter/Paramedic Zach Krato of the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District about the importance of being familiar with your response area. Nice job Zach!
House layouts are tricky. Between the different structure layout options, the homeowner renovations, or just being in a zero visibility environment, navigating around a house that’s not yours is dangerous.
I attended a class at FDIC called How are Firefighters Dying, the instructor said it best, “every firefighter is a disoriented firefighter the minute they pass the doorway.” It doesn’t matter the layout or the size of house, it’s not your house. You have no idea what the homeowner did to the house or how it was built.
So how do we prepare ourselves for those calls where getting somewhere in the house fast matters the most? Where finding the homeowners’ kid’s bedroom fast or finding the basement stairs is crucial to putting a stop to the fast growing fire beneath us.
Not every call you run is a fire, but every call to a house, apartment, or commercial building is an opportunity to prepare for that worse case scenario. While you’re driving around looking at the houses or buildings in the area you serve, go thru your size up in your head.
What would your size up sound like if you arrived on the scene of that house you’re looking at if it were on fire? While you’re looking at these houses, try to determine your tactical decisions.
The children trapped scenario, can you figure out how many rooms there are just from looking at the house? If so, can you figure out which one could be the master bedroom or possible kids rooms? You’re told the fire is in the basement. Where do you think the stairs are? Are they in the kitchen, next to the exterior car port side door, or under the staircase that goes to the upstairs? Does the house have a basement walk out?
When you run a call to a structure that you get to go into, I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions before you even get through the front door. Where is the kitchen? Where are the bedrooms? How many bedrooms are in this house? What path gets me there? I do this a lot.
Many times after I go inside I’m surprised by the lay out. Just like when you’re working a fire and your forming a picture of what you think the structure looks like. Then after the fire, you walk through and say, “wow, that looks totally different.”
Let’s not wait till that 2am call with mom and dad screaming “my baby is trapped in their room” to figure out where that crib might be. Be safe and give it a try.