Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service


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Knowing what crew went missing may aid in finding them. Knowing who was given a specific assignment may narrow down their location of what area of the structure that they were working in. Assignment in process. The task given to the crew may suggest that their situation is dire. For example, a crew that was stretching an attack line into the seat of the fire that got cut off by a collapse or fire spread is in need of urgent rescue.

Resources available to the crew. Knowing what tools and equipment that is available to the crew may aid them in self-rescue and can greatly improve their chances of survival.

History of firefighting

Along with the information listed above, it is important that firefighters are taught practical skills for their participation as RIT team members, and some self-rescue skills they can employ should they get caught in a hostile environment. From a window: In the event egress is required out of a window, remove the entire window assembly; not too many firefighters can fit through a double-hung window in full gear with an SCBA on their back.

If the firefighter is on a lower floor, they can hang-drop to safety. If they are on an elevated floor, wait at the window and call for a ladder if time will allow. Once the ladder is in place, all team members shall exit the structure. If emergency egress is necessary due to rapidly deteriorating conditions in the room, the ladder can be placed at a degree angle, instead of the normal degree angle, to allow for a safer slide down the ladder.

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Then, the firefighter slides head first onto the ladder until their ankles catch the windowsill or the first rung of the ladder see Photo 1. Once in place, the firefighter can spin around and then climb down the ladder in the normal position see Photo 2. Once all team members have exited, the crew notifies the incident commander that all members are accounted for and safe.

Should a ladder prove to not be feasible, firefighters may incorporate an emergency rappel. Since many departments use many different types of descent devices today, firefighters should have a thorough background in rope rescue, rappelling and descent device usage prior to attempting this skill in a hostile environment. Firefighters should be equipped with, at a minimum, a Class II Harness, 50 feet of personal escape rope, some sort of descent device, and carabiners for attachment purposes.

The firefighter should first set a barrier between them and the fire, such as closing a door to the room they are in.


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After securing a reliable anchor point, the firefighter keeps tension on the rope and makes their way out the window, descending the rope until they are on the ground. Due to the deteriorating conditions in the structure, the firefighter should be on the ground safely after the descent in no more than 30 seconds.

Breaching a wall: It may become necessary for a firefighter to breach through a wall to get to an uninvolved area of the structure, or to an area outside of the structure. Prior to breaching the wall, the firefighter should notify command of their location, so that a handline can be sent to their location to assist in egress. Most walls will have wall studs that are 16 inches on center, and are covered with sheetrock. Crews can remove the sheetrock on both sides of the wall, and manipulate their way through the studs using a reduced profile maneuver see Photo 3 : the firefighter loosens the shoulder straps on their SCBA and removes the strap that does not have the air line to the SCBA mask on it.

With the SCBA tucked into position, the firefighter can then pass through the wall studs after checking the floor condition on the other side of the wall. Follow the hoseline: In the event a firefighter becomes disoriented, they can find a hoseline and use it to guide their way out see Photo 4. Depending on the direction of travel, the firefighter will find either the nozzle on the end of the hose, or find the egress out of the structure. Some departments use hose that have arrows painted onto their hoses, with arrows pointing to the way out of the structure.

At a minimum, when the firefighter comes across the coupling, the female end of the coupling will face in the direction of the exit. Firefighter fallen through the floor: The best and quickest access to the downed firefighter might be through the hole in the floor, depending on the severity of the collapse. The RIT team may have to work around remaining floor joists that are still in the hole. If that is the case, a ladder should be placed in between the remaining joists see Photo 5.

A hoseline should also be deployed to this location to provide protection for the downed firefighter, and the rescuers that are entering the hole to retrieve them. Once the RIT members have located the downed firefighter, a rope can be lowered to the rescuers and a handcuff knot can be attached to the victim at the wrists see Photos 6A - 6G. If the knot is tied in the center of the rope, then two members of the RIT team can assist in lifting the victim out of the hole in the floor see Photo 7. Moving a firefighter up and down a flight of stairs: Trying to grip wet firefighting gear can be very difficult, especially during an emergency.

Therefore, it would be beneficial to utilize the SCBA harness to lift and move the firefighter. First, the SCBA waist strap should be repositioned so the waist strap runs between the legs of the downed firefighter see Photo 8.


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  • Then, the rescuer at the head of the victim can utilize the SCBA shoulder straps to lift and move the firefighter. The second firefighter can position at the knees of the victim, and the team can move the victim safely up or down a flight of stairs Photo 9. Moving a firefighter out a window: This will require a minimum of four rescuers, with two rescuers inside with the victim and two of the rescuers positioned outside the window on two ladders, standing by with a litter to receive the victim.

    One rescuer is positioned inside between the victim and the window, with their back up against the wall, under the window. The second interior rescuer is positioned on the opposite side of the victim. The rescuer at the wall acts as a ramp and lifts the victim straight up, while the second rescuer pushes the victim toward the window, into the litter that the two outside rescuers are standing by with see Photos 10 abd The outside team members can assist in placing the victim into the litter.

    Once the victim is in the litter, the two rescuers carry the litter directly to waiting EMS personnel for treatment and transport.

    Preparing for Self-Rescue & Survival Success

    It is the responsibility of every member of the fire service to provide for their own health and safety, including being able to identify the signs of deteriorating conditions during interior operations. Self-rescue skills should be second nature to all firefighters; the time to practice these skills is before the emergency, under both normal and compromised environments inside the building.

    Candidates with minor colour vision defects may also apply to join the Service but may be asked to participate in specialised testing to confirm their ability to work safely and effectively. A hearing test will form part of the medical assessment undertaken by our Occupational Health Team.

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    The course is 14 weeks long Monday — Friday and successful candidates will have the option of staying overnight for the duration of the course or returning home each evening. Station allocations for successful candidates will be made depending on the Service needs, including skills requirements, at that time. I am currently serving as a firefighter at another fire and rescue service. Can I apply to transfer straight in?

    Unfortunately, we are not able to facilitate this option at this current moment in time. However, we would encourage you to apply via the normal selection process. I am currently serving as an On-Call firefighter in Humberside. Can I transfer into the full-time service without going through the full application process? All candidates will need to have a good, overall level of fitness, in particular aerobic fitness. We also recommend good upper body strength as firefighters are often required to lift equipment that can weight up to 25kg. During the recruitment process, candidates will need to achieve a VO2 max level of 42 and this will be measured by way of a gas analysis machine during the medical assessment.

    The Service has devised a training programme to assist all candidates achieve the level of fitness required please click here for further information. We strongly recommend that all candidates consult with their GP before undertaking the suggested training programme. Whilst candidates are required to have achieved a good level of strength and fitness, this can be achieved by persons of all different sizes and builds. As such, there are no restrictions on either weight or height.

    Having a spent conviction does not necessarily prevent you from joining the Service as a firefighter. All candidates will be asked to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service DBS form as part of the standard application process. Where a candidate has a spent conviction, we will consider its nature, its relevance to the role of a firefighter, the sentence, any pattern as well as the length of time that has elapsed before making any decision.

    A firefighter may be asked to rescue people from open water, therefore the Service does require candidates to be competent and confident swimmers. All candidates will be tested as part of the standard selection process and will be asked to undertake a timed 50m swim using the front crawl technique, unaided and without stopping. For further information, please click here. As a firefighter, candidates will be required to wear a facemask when wearing breathing apparatus and facial hair may impair the ability to secure the head harness of both the facemask and the helmet.

    To protect the firefighter, it is essential that the facemask forms a seal around the face so that the efficiency of the facemask seal and gas-tight fit is not compromised in any way. Closely worn moustaches, maintained in a neat and tidy manner, are permitted provided they do not impact on the facemask seal and gas-tight fit. Body tattoos will not cause a problem providing that, where visible, they are not of an offensive nature and do not detract from the positive public image of the Service. Facial tattoos are not generally permitted as it is felt that they may detract from the positive public image of the Service.

    Unfortunately, owing to the large volume of applicants, we regret that we are unable to provide feedback during the initial stages of the selection process.

    Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service
    Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service
    Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service
    Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service
    Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service
    Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service Firefighter Self Rescue: The Evolution of Service

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