Click a section below to show details.
- Marking Doors
- Wedging Doors
- Orientation Ingress/Egress
- Firefighter Down
- More BIGWIG Uses
- Marking egress routes while searching.
- Technical rescue situations.
- Hazmat incidents.
- Vehicle extrication.
Two of the most simple and probably the least used techniques that fire crews forget to perform when searching is to "mark" and "wedge" the door. When conducting primary and secondary searches, crews are taught the "X" method of marking the door. This method is the simplest method of marking, and is done in two steps. First, when the search crew encounters a door they need to feel it for excessive heat. Once they determine that there is no fire behind the door, they then mark half of an X on the outside of the door. (/)
This half of an X indicates to all other fire ground companies that the room is actively being searched. Once the mark Is completed, the crew enters the room and begins searching. As soon as the search is completed, they exit the room and close the door. Once the door is closed they then finish marking the door by finishing the "X" that they had started when they entered. (X) This completed "X" indicates that the room has been searched.
Marking the door is a very important task, and should be done in order to maximize the search crews efforts. When the crews can see what rooms have been searched by simply looking at the marks on the door, they will minimize duplication of efforts by not accidentally searching a room more than once. This will create a more organized and quicker search crew, which in return will allow rescuers to find victims faster potentially saving more lives.
There are several different methods to mark with including: chalk, paint, duct tape, crayon, latch straps, and specially designed marking devices like the BIGWIG tool. The BIGWIG tool incorporates an adjustable fluorescent marking device that is replaceable. This marking device is designed to be replaced when it is worn out, reducing a firefighter spending extra money on another whole tool. The BIGWIG tool can be carried in a pouch that also allows several extra marking crayons to be stored for use.
Whichever method you use, its important to remember to mark the lower third portion of the wall or door so that the mark can be seen below the smoke. Methods that can add to the spread of fire like blocking doors open with furniture are not recommended. Departmental SOP's will usually dictate one accepted method of marking, however all department personnel who may participate in a search must be trained to understand and use whatever method is selected.
Blocking or wedging doors open is one of the easiest ways a firefighter can minimize the potential of becoming trapped or injured. Whether it is a swinging door, or a residential overhead door, fire crews have been trapped or even worse, killed when the doors they went through closed behind them. We have all seen the video of the crew fighting a fire through an overhead garage door, and what happened to that crew when their pagers went off causing the overhead door to lower and trap them. This is the danger that WE ourselves can minimize and control.
The primary reason for controlling doors is firefighter safety. Here are some examples of what can go wrong if a door is not controlled. First, if an engine company pulls a dry hoseline through a doorway and they don't control the door, it may shut behind them as they advance. If this happens, once they get to the seat of the fire and call for water, their hose will become pinched between the bottom of the door and the floor and they wont receive water which may cause them to be burned or killed.
Second, search crews who do not pull charged hoselines into buildings while searching run the risk of becoming trapped in every room they go into. If the door is equipped with an automatic locking device and it closes behind them, they may not be able to figure out the lock in the smoke to get out. At this point they become trapped and a RIT crew may have to be initiated to rescue the search crew.
The BIGWIG tool also keeps the firefighter oriented in the room that is being searched.
The BIGWIG tool glows in the dark - illuminating the door that the firefighter placed the BIGWIG tool in and entered through.
If an RIT team encounters a firefighter down situation, they can start their search by looking for the room where the BIGWIG tool is hanging on the hinge and illuminating. The firefighter placed the tool there, so there is a good chance they are in there as well.
The BIGWIG tool can be used to mark and wedge in any situation, but some other uses include: