Survivability Profiling: How Long Can Victims Survive in a Fire?

Issue 7 and Volume 163.

BY STEPHEN MARSAR In 2007, the United States suffered 118 firefighter line-of-duty-deaths (LODDs), 47 of which occurred in structure fires; two civilians were killed in those same fires. In 2008, there were 114 LODDs; 31 occurred in structural fires; three civilians were killed. In 2009, there were 89 LODDs, 24 in structural fires, and zero civilians were killed in those same fires.1 In my article “Survivability Profiling: Are the Victims Savable?” (Fire Engineering, December 2009), I defined survivability profiling as the art of examining a situation and making an intelligent and informed decision based on known events, or circumstances, to determine if civilians can survive existing fire and smoke conditions and to determine whether to commit firefighters to life-saving and interior operations. Based on the likelihood of civilian survivability, this concept goes beyond the tendency to justify risk whenever we respond to an occupied structure fire. Survivability profiling asks—if people…

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