Vacant House Fires. What is a Vacant? When do you SEARCH?

Vacant or Occupied? Offensive or Deffensive? You tell me.

Knock Down achieved in under two minutes. Yes small house, but they too require us to extinguish.

Working fire with a total of 12 Firefighters. What do you do? How long will the stretch be? Will your pre-connects reach or do you need to add a roll/section?

The door is locked and the house is VACANT. Should we force our way in and attack?

What's happening? Where is the Fire? Without the other photos, would you have said ATTIC?

How important is a 360 on Private Dwellings/House FIres? What do you see?

Can you see the second floor window? Could you see this from the front?

Did this require an exterior stream while crews were inside?

Was it worth it? Did the FD save this house? Could they have done from the outside?

What is a vacant house?

Is it one that no one is home or is the vacant looking house?

What is vacant looking?

When do we determine, that we the firefighters, should occupy the house with our FULL PPE on and do what were trained to do?

I have responded to a lot of fires over the years and it has really never been hard to determine what we should occupy or not occupy. Look at the photos at the top and tell me was it vacant and could we occupy the rear during early operations? Well we did! The First Due Engine HIT IT HARD and FAST. The Second Due Engine and Truck made Entry through the rear. Even in small house a DOOR can separate fire from LIFE. I determine entry based on conditions: “building, fire, weather, and Firefighters condition”…we must continue to be who we say we are.

Boarded up in Florida could mean they’re to lazy to take their shutters off after a storm. We have houses that now keep their hurricane shutters up year round! SO, we have to train on removing them with the proper tools to get the job done. I will leave the rest for you BLOG HELPERS. As always, thanks for taking the time. Thanks for visiting and please sign up for email notifications if you want the very latest from COUNTY FIRE TACTICS!

I would say this garage is occupied. Do you have these? Is this more common? Who usually occupies the garage?

10 thoughts on “Vacant House Fires. What is a Vacant? When do you SEARCH?

  1. Definately dont assume that what you see from the A side is what ya got.. Great Pics and a good quick reminder of issues we may run into everyday.

  2. vacant looking…good phrase…one way to determine if it could be vacant is holiday decorations…are they current, newer looking, plugged in or even functioning? This may work for the holidays but other ways to deterine is look at the trash can, power meter, maybe fluid leaks in the driveway…and the list goes on…in this day and age of foreclosures you can never assume that a house is vacant…people will find ways to shelter their family and children…an exterior (solid) stream would not have been detrimental provided that the nozzleman had a clue or had good CO direction…good intel during other times will let you know if tii is vacant as well…while doing hydrants, pfp’s or routine stuff in the district take note of “vacant looking” houses and attempt to determine if it truly is vacant…the aanswers here are easy…but getting them right on the field of battle is another story…

  3. The first photo looks like a great opportunity to use trunk line opperations. My crew has many long driveways like this in our zone and frequently train for these lays. A 3inch supply line and a high rise pack work great in these situations. My crew will just about always try to make an interior attack and will always search unless fire conditions prevent us from making an interior push. That’s what we do, there is no way to conclude that there is no one inside without going in an looking for yourself. If a home like that is vacant then how did the fire start? Maybe kids from the area we’re using it as a hang out always search. Did I mention that we should always search? Don’t forget to search.

  4. I have always used the phrase ” the only sure way to determine if it is vacant is to perform a search and confirm it”. Obviously conditions dictate what we do, but ultimaltely we need to do our job and search everytime possible. Be aggressive and safe!!

  5. Steve hit the nail on the head. The ONLY way to confirm if anybody is in the structure is to search. Nobody wants to hear it but it all boils down to a calculated risk based on a company officers risk analysis. That risk analysis is based on tenability of an occupancy, fire conditions, construction, weather, staffing profiles, gut feelings, and a host of other factors. In today’s economic climate people are living in their boarded up homes with grass growing up through the driveway until the bank takes possession of the home. As someone said earlier, hurricane shutters and boards may be put up at the beginning of the season due to pure laziness of the homeowner. Some people cut their grass once a month. Some people don’t have cars. The point is, you can’t tell anymore if a home is “vacant” or “abandoned”. We have a job to do and that job is to save lives and property. Risk and gambling with our lives and the lives of others is just the nature of the beast, but as long as we use our heads and understand the consequences of our actions, we can do it a little safer and more effectively.

  6. Ofcourse we search! Thats our job! The trash man does not get out of his truck and check to see if you have trash before he dumps it. He just dumps it empty or not.

  7. Very great website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any neighborhood forums that cover exactly the same topics discussed in this article? I would really adore to become a part of on-line neighborhood where I can get suggestions from other knowledgeable those that share exactly the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please allow me know. Thanks a lot!

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