Drill of the Week: Saving Our Own: Moving The Downed Firefighter Up A Stairwell

When we think of rescuing a downed firefighter, often we only picture ourselves going in and dragging the firefighter out without considering various obstacles that will exist during the rescue. One scenario often overlooked is moving the downed firefighter up or even down a stairwell. According to authors Rick Lasky and Tom Shorvino, “When the need to move a firefighter up a flight of stairs arises in a building that is involved with fire, the smoke, fire, and weakened construction of the building present additional obstacles to the rescue.” This week’s drill presents several scenarios for removing a downed firefighter up or down stairs.

Some reasons you may have to rescue a firefighter via a stairwell include:

  • The firefighter has run out of air and is nearing unconsciousness.
  • The firefighter has fallen through a weakened floor; the only way out is up the stairs.
  • The firefighter may have fallen down the stairs while descending.

The difficulty involved with removing a downed firefighters via a stairwell is evident when you consider the different types of staircases in your response area. Commercial stairwells will differ from stairwells in single or multifamily dwellings in size and construction. The age of the structure in question also contributes to the obstacles you’ll face when rescuing via a stairwell. The size of the stairwell will often make it difficult for two firefighters in full turnout gear and SCBA to stand side-by-side or on each side of the victim. Several methods for accomplishing rescues of this type will work, but you must train in them to remain prepared for whatever situation arises.

Read Saving Our Own: Moving The Downed Firefighter Up A Stairwell here.

Visit FireEngineering.com’s Drill Archive for more firefighter safety and survival drills.

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