ians. The type of search and the residential structure features
dictate the tools to use. Following are basic tools required for
search and for firefighter survival:
• Full personal protective equipment (PPE)/SCBA.
• Portable radio.
• Halligan bar/ax/irons.
• Two flashlights.
• Thermal imaging camera (TIC).
• Looped webbing for drags/survival.
• Hoseline protection.
• Ladders for VEIS, ingress, and egress.
• Six-foot New York hook for VEIS when applicable.
• 150-foot small-diameter rope bag for complex structures or
those more than 3,000 square feet in area.
These tools enable you to probe ahead, extend your reach
into rooms and off walls, and locate objects of interest/possi-ble victims when investigated with your gloved hand. Using
these tools improperly can also injure victims and firefighters. Used as anchors, they can help you extend farther into a
room, but this technique will result in a limited search of a
room instead of complete coverage.
The halligan bar is a versatile search and firefighter survival tool if used appropriately. Because of its design and
weight, drag the halligan along the floor with the pike/adz
end ahead resting on its points and the fork facing behind.
Grip it in the middle of the bar so as to keep your knuckles off the floor while moving it along. Use this method
when visibility is poor. Waving it around in front of you is
ineffective, is tiring, and could seriously injure a civilian or
firefighter who may come in contact with it.
When using the ax, hold it with your gloved hand near the
ax head and blade, and point the long handle ahead of you.
Regard any search tool as a victim locating tool and as a
survival tool for wall breaching, forcible entry, and possibly
an anchor for bailouts.
Searching certain furniture and the furnishing arrangements under fire conditions takes training and experience. Searching king beds, queen beds, bunk beds, under
windowsills, and in different closet types/configurations is
challenging in near-zero visibility. Don’t carelessly throw or
move furniture around when searching; it will cover areas
that have not been searched yet and remove landmarks that
enable searching firefighters to return the way they came.
Furnishings inside residential structures offer landmarks
that aid the searchers in mentally mapping a room and their
placement in it. Firefighters can thus extend their search
deeper into the room and return to a wall if necessary.
Searching in zero visibility for long periods increases
the risk to firefighters and reduces the chances of victim
survivability. When rescuers can ventilate, they should do
as soon as possible to increase the speed and accuracy of
the search. However, before doing so, they must consider
the flow path of fire and smoke, especially when search-
( 5) You can use the halligan bar or a New York hook to help extend
yourself into a room while in zero visibility to help investigate the
layout and to help reach possible victims. ( 6) When entering room
areas, leave your tool at the door entrance; lay it on the floor halfway
in and halfway out next to the jamb. ( 7) Alternately, prop it up on an
angle just inside the door. Always move first to the swing side of the
door, when possible, with the tool placed on the opposite side. This
facilitates better orientation when returning to the door entrance after
going around the room.