Man Hunt! “It’s No Game”

Man Hunt!!

It’s No Game

Black Fire


Man Hunt is a version of hide and seek. Remember as kids playing hide and seek? Everyone went and hid, while one kid sounded off to ten, twenty, or whatever count was determined. After so many games or turns, eventually someone would count out loud and then just quit without warning. They would not search, or advise that they would not be holding up their end of the bargain. You would now have numerous players hiding and waiting to be found. But, no one would be searching. Man Hunt is played in different ways/versions. One version my kids choose to play is at night and with a flashlight. Why a flashlight; so they can see in the dark. My kids even request to use my TIC. Of course it’s always a no, because a TIC is no TOY, it’s a LIFE SAVING TOOL. A tool to be used outside and inside a burning structure. A tool to determine survivable space within a given structure and determine where we stretch the first, second, and third lines too. A tool to determine if we need to flow water before entry or if it’s ok to vent more before water application and a TOOL that SAVES LIVES when taken inside and used like a set of binoculars sizing up the beach. I can see so much more at the beach when standing still and looking left and right down the shoreline, sometimes my eyes venture out toward the Gulf. You should use the TIC to observe from a stationary position and get a mental picture of the land. A TIC should not be an optional tool when performing a SEARCH or ATTACK at a structural fire. Can you imagine the advantage a child searching would have using a TIC, when playing Manhunt in the woods? The other participants wouldn’t have a chance. Their BODY HEAT “Not the Movie” would be seen every time. So why would a trained firefighter not want to utilize a TIC each time they search a building that’s on FIRE? Why would they not start at each room and like sizing up the beach, look over the entire room from a stationary position? Hide and Seek, Manhunt, and tag may be a game; but a PRIMARY SEARCH at a FIRE is no game. Lives depend on you doing your JOB!

Regardless of what version of Man Hunt my kids play, I expect them to search after counting and when they decide their not up for searching anymore; make it known by all that they’re quitting. So, if you and your FD are choosing to stand outside and assume nobody’s inside and if there was somebody inside that you think they’re already dead. Make a Public announcement, that CITIZENS are a part of an incomplete game of HIDE AND SEEK.

Regardless of Fuel Packages, UL Test, Wind, and whatever else we may take into consideration on today’s fire ground; Oxygen still remains the same. That’s where understanding the door and window of opportunity come in. They control the oxygen and can limit your stream reach. We understand when the windows hold; the fire will consume the oxygen and become O2 controlled. When the door to an interior room is closed it’s creating a bearer and this could be assisting in the survivability of trapped victims. So your stream might be extinguishing the fire and cooling that room, but will not assist the victim on the other side of that closed door. Regardless from where you apply water, we need to get inside for the civilians sake. We need to stop interior fire spread, minimize property damage, and look for trapped civilians. Remembering that every door that you find closed could lead to a room of highly survivable conditions. A Window normally gives access to that room, where as the front door gives access to the house. The front door also gives us a better evaluation of smoke intensity and oxygen supply. I like the door knob as a point of reference. If the smoke is below the door knob and pushing under extreme pressure, you may need to apply water while advancing. You may need to vent opposite the attack line, while still flowing. This would be cooling the fire gases and venting them in a coordinated effort. The FRONT DOOR is where you can utilize the DOOR KNOB and the coupling on your hose. Yes, the coupling can assist the Chief or Driver outside of how deep the crew has advanced and whether they’re getting close to the seat of the fire. It can determine if they’re beyond the point of no return. Utilizing the photo below; imagine the first coupling at the door threshold and fire still blowing out the FRONT A/B windows. This would tell us they have 50 feet of hose inside and have maybe missed the turn down the hallway. They could be headed towards the rear add-on. This would be the time for the EYES in the FRONT YARD to communicate with the ATTACK CREW. If a second/Back-up line is at the FRONT DOOR; have it advance in as a backup or it can become the ATTACK LINE.

We go through doors all our life and use the term door of opportunity in more than one way. In the Fire Service, I view the front door, as the door of opportunity. I view it as the most simplistic way to control all areas of a residence. The FRONT DOOR is more times than not, the way our kids go and come when getting on and off the school bus. It’s where a large number of people hang their coats in the winter and usually has the least number of obstructions. It’s the door that is usually in close proximity to the stairs of a multi-story residence. The FRONT DOOR has proven for decades to be a great choice for our FIRST LINE ENTRY, most of the time. In a smaller ranch style house, with a bedroom to the left or right of the FRONT DOOR, we know the hallway leading to the other rooms is within 12 or so feet of the FRONT DOOR. The FRONT DOOR is usually 30 or 32” wide and is usually pretty easy to force by the first arriving companies. This is a point of entry that the driver can usually view from the apparatus during the first few minutes and monitor smoke conditions for the ATTACK CREW. The FRONT DOOR allows smoke to escape and oxygen in. Yes, OXYGEN feeds the FIRE, but only if you allow the FIRE to SURVIVE. If your ATTACK LINE is ready and I mean READY; stretched, charged, FLOW PRESSURE achieved and enough hose properly flaked for total house coverage. Then once you open the FRONT DOOR and move in with a loaded GUN, you should not have an issue controlling the FIRE as you advance. The issue is when you’re not ready and you open the FRONT DOOR. The FRONT DOOR now allows the super-heated gases to fall within ignition range, while allowing oxygen in at the lower level. The FRONT DOOR or any door at a residential structure fire can be your DOOR of OPPORTUNITY; it is how you prepare to maximize what it has to offer. Experience has shown for decades and even in recent years that taking your first ATTACK LINE through a doorway has been highly successful when the ATTACK CREW has properly prepared and is ready for ATTACK.

The problem is when the ATTACK crew is not READY!! When they have poorly stretched and have not confirmed an adequate Attack Stream. It is compounded when they open the DOOR of OPPORTUNITY and have not fully prepared to make an INTERIOR ATTACK. The BIGGEST problem is when they break the threshold and do not evaluate BLACK FIRE over their heads. They don’t understand when to cool the FIRE GASES/SMOKE or they do that penciling thing that is taught in a FLASHOVER can. If it is HOT, FLOW WATER!!! You can DRY STUFF OUT, but YOU CANT UNBURN IT…. Read the LODDS and they point out just about everything but the problem. It’s SIMPLE, have an ATTACK LINE that you’re capable of ADVANCING while FLOWING. SEAL TEAM SIX didn’t carry a 50 Caliber into Osama Bin Laden’s hideaway.  They took FIRE POWER they could carry and move in, without delay.

I FULLY support the UL TEST. Their test just confirmed what a large number of Fire Service Leaders already believed from experience. The problem now lies with so many departments taking it out of context and applying water from the exterior at all fires. The problem is the Fire Service discounting the Door of Opportunity and its years of proven success. I am all about knocking down a large body of fire for rapid entry. I was recently teaching at a conference and posted the picture below. The majority of students stated their first water application would be through the window. When questioned as to why; it was stated because of the UL TEST RESULTS. You can’t get much more basic than a one story ranch on a slab, with fire already venting on the A/B corner. The FLOW PATH is out the WINDOW “Window of Opportunity” and when the FRONT DOOR OPENS, it will be a positive intake for ATTACK CREW that has prepared for this moment. I was first on-scene at this fire and this was a fire that was now out in the hallway and needed a line INSIDE to stop fire spread and allow for a SEARCH of the reported women trapped. Why at a fire like this, would you apply first water through the window? This is a straight ten feet in and turn; open the nozzle, shut it down, move 12 feet down the hallway and extinguish fire in seconds. Now the ATTACK CREW can start a rapid SEARCH from here back. The DOOR FIREFIGHTER can give a bow of hose and move in for the SEARCH. If you’re LUCKY and a second company has arrived, they can stretch a second line and assist in the SEARCH operation. If the Interior crew cannot make the push down the hallway, then maybe apply water through that same window from an exterior position to assist the Interior crew. But, to just start looking at all fires as defensive first, is throwing out decades of success with the bath water. IF your entry is delayed or it is more fire than your attack line and crew can handle; then maybe give it a DASH. But even Steve Kerber states; “It’s coming back and you need to get in there”. The problem is not with UL, it is FDs taking the info out of context and jumping overboard. I wish the Fire Service was this quick to change from Automatic Fog nozzles and the FOG ATTACK? Hell it has been a fight for the last 20 years to convince FDs they needed to FLOW more water and apply it in a Straight or Solid Stream. UL does a few burns and, you know the rest of the story.


Where would you take the first line? Would you apply first water from inside or outside?

Please Study the UL TEST completely. Take the Online Class and then mix it with your Experience and what has been working.

Doors and Windows give us numerous Opportunities. It’s what you do with these opportunities that will determine your success.

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Curt Isakson

7 thoughts on “Man Hunt! “It’s No Game”

  1. I wonder how many people even get to the bottom of this page… (work is work and reading regularly about your profession takes a good work ethic) You must complete the search and read this in its entirety to see, that the UL study has a survivable space in your analyzes. Strange, but true, people tend to give up on the simplest solution in favor of the “new” (real not so new), even when it adds steps. Even the UL study notes all exterior application must be followed be rapid interior application. In other words if it is not necessary don’t do it. You even suggest exterior streams can be done after initial interior attack, something that one could argue the UL data supports. Now were people fall in their definition of “necessary” will be hard to quantify……… One thing is for sure exterior stream application has been accepted for decades, maybe there is a reason they are only used rarely (pre UL study), when need to make interior operations possible. I would suggest one possibility that they can delay water on the seat and interior searches at many fires, especially ones well within control of the first interior line…

  2. I have been telling my department for years that we need to flow more gpm or as Mac McGarry says gallons per seconds gps. I have tried power points and training classes in the stations to get the information out. But still get the same answer “the chief likes our task force tips.” DO you have any suggestions of how I can educate my department or motivate them to even look at the option of getting different nozzles so we can flow more gpm. You summed it up best with your last statement.

    I wish the Fire Service was this quick to change from Automatic Fog nozzles and the FOG ATTACK? Hell it has been a fight for the last 20 years to convince FDs they needed to FLOW more water and apply it in a Straight or Solid Stream. UL does a few burns and, you know the rest of the story.

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