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A few weeks ago, I posted a Blog called "What's in a Picture"? The Blog and the photo can be viewed HERE.

Several of the writers mentioned VES as an option to what these firefighters were doing or contemplating doing.

To the best of my knowledge, Vent Entry Search was "invented" somewhere out east (my guess is New Jersey) in the mid to late 80's. I remember reading an article about it when I was an officer in the drill school. Let me explain the roots of VES. In the department that it was invented, the majority of the residential occupancies (if I remember right - over 80%) in the community had a front porch roof. In over 80% of those buildings, that front porch roof led to one if not two bedrooms on the second floor. See the phoo below. This house is what I and the article were referring to. The theory was that with low staffing, a single firefighter could raise a roofer to the porch by himself and vent (open the window) and enter a bedroom while the remainder of the crew began an attack. It was suggested that even the driver could preform this task. Once he entered the room, he would first close the bedroom door and then search the first bedroom and then exit to the porch and sarch the second bedroom in the same manner. The thought was one firefighter could search 66% (most of these homes are three bedroom) of the sleeping area at night while his or her crew darkened the fire. If he got into trouble, his exit was only 10 or 12 feet away and he had an area of safe refuse onto the roof. Now look again at the photo in my previous blog. Notice the differences. That should not be VES.

As with a lot of things that get discussed and expounded upon around the kitchen table at the station, the concept and intent of this extremely dangerous tactic gets lost and or much gets lost in the "translation". The photo in my previos blog is not indicitive of the "traditional" VES. I'm not criticizing the two respondents who mentioned VES. I am simply giving my explaination of the concept of VES and the conditions underwhich it might be contemplated. As I said before, this is an extremely dangerous tactic and should not be considered aa a "normal" tactic. The photo below is an indication of what can happen if VES goes wrong. What would you guess the survivability of any civilian on the second floor. What do you think about VES and is it a practice used in your department?


posted by Skip Coleman
8/03/2007 06:48:00 PM

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Blogger Billy G said...

Here is an interesting article on VES:

Also, as you mentioned/discuss in your posting, a "1 FF" tactic?....I would say there better be indications that there may be people inside before we would do a 1 FF VES. I know it's done and being done-I am just offering my opinion.

If there are indications-go for it...but in so many communities where the staffing sucks-the FF's need to explain to those above what they can normally do-and what they can normally not do-based upon the staffing required for the task.

Example-if a FD has 20 FF's on duty-(or a VFD with 20 responding)..then they can probably handle the tasks requiring 20 FF's...probably a small SFD. Water supply, pump, stretch 3 lines, vent, search, rescue, IC etc etc...but-if a fire comes in for a MFD, such as some of the slides we used from Toledo in C.O. Boot Camp..(I remember a MFD near some RR tracks??)...a FD cannot handle that fire with 20 FF's...and can only do, perhaps 1/4 of the required tasks. The chiefs know it and need to pass that on to those who determine the funding bucks...or who develops the automatic mutual aid plans. It's a simple formula...we can do this with this many FF's but we can only do that with that many FF's.

Sorry to get on the staffing bandwagon-but without adequate staffing, "we don't do so good".

Tue Aug 07, 07:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Bill Ross C.F.D. said...

Our city has a lot of the classic VES type structures and our ladder co's use VES often. As you mentioned in your follow up blog, VES is not an every fire type of tactic, it should be used when the situation and correct type of structure presents itself. Example being: a fire in the middle of the afternoon with little chance of occupants being upstairs in the bedrooms, VES would not be my first choice, however the same fire at 3am VES would be the best chance for viable victims to be rescued. Size up will dictate when and when not to use VES, in the example above placing a ladder to the porch roof and just venting the windows on the mid afternoon fire would be a great help to the attack team. And on the fire at 3am you will probably save a life.

Good tool to have in the tool box, just use it wisely.

Thu Aug 09, 11:50:00 AM EDT  
Blogger BRICK said...

Hey Skip, VES is a tactic that was in service as early as the late seventies in places like the FDNY.
The tactic was never intended to augment low manpower but rather to get truckies and rescuers into the high target area locations (and to those in the greatest danger)as quickly as possible while other fireground operations take place.
VES as a tactic has never specified that it needs to take place off of a front porch work platform. In fact, most of the early practitioners were performing VES off of fire escapes on multi unit apartment buildings. Typically it was the OVM (Outside Vent Man-firefighter coming down from the roof via outside fire escape, venting windows as needed and performing a very agressive, albeit limited search of the one room that the vented window services)
It was Brothers in more sub-urban settings that began to impliment VES on a routine/regular basis to suppliment low staffing and doing so from the roof of the front porch by throwing a ground ladder as mentioned in the blog.
As many of the early practitioners have reminded and pointed out to us, because of the high risks involved, VES was never intended to be used as a "regular" search technique, but rather was intended to be performed by experienced firefighters only when it is very probable that a victim is in fact in the high target area room and is in need of rescue.
So why perform VES if it is so high risk and requiers experienced firefighters... Because the results are undeniable. VES provides firefighters with greatest opportunities to locate and rescue those victims in the greatest peril.
VES is not for every day use but rather for those rare occasions of a high rescue profile and being performed on the high target areas of a residential occupancy. As a tactic it works very well and is credited with saving many lives over the years.
VES is dangerous... but so is firefighting. In the end, properly implimented and executed VES falls in line with the mantra of "Risk A Lot to Save A Life".

Mon Aug 20, 11:50:00 AM EDT  

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