High-Target Areas for the Residential Primary Search

Issue 10 and Volume 160.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 3,900 civilian fire deaths in the United States for the calendar year 2004. Of that number, 3,190, or 82 percent, occurred in a residential setting. In other words, 3,190 Americans lost their lives in their homes- the very place where people are supposed to feel safest. During a residential fire, conducting a rapid and thorough primary search is imperative. As firefighters, we know that the vast majority of rescues and the greatest number of fire fatalities occur in residential occupancies. In Fire Officer’s Handbook of Tactics, Third Edition, John Norman (Fire Engineering, 2005) advocates that searching firefighters begin the primary search as close to the fire as possible and then work outward toward the entrance/exit. This accomplishes a few things. First, it allows searching firefighters to locate the seat of the fire. Next, it affords searching firefighters the opportunity to…

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