Is Anybody Home? by ProQuest

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The only buildings I have ever seen with signs out front indicating whether anyone is inside are motels, and those "Vacancy/No Vacancy" signs may be wrong too! Unless you personally witness a person at a window or elsewhere inside a building that is on fire, you cannot be sure whether it is occupied. Without that information, there is no such thing as an occupied or unoccupied building. You don't know, they don't know and I don't know.

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									            THE FIRE SCENE                                                >>>
By JOHN J. SALKA Jr.



 Is Anybody Home?
The Answer May Mean the Difference Between Life and Death

“I
          s anybody home?” This ques-                        detached private dwelling and observe          what is “reported” by the caller or even
          tion – perhaps phrased as “Is                      heavy smoke coming from first-floor            the occupants. If the house normally is
          there anybody in there?” or                        windows. A few people are in front of          occupied, if it looks like people live there
“Is the building occupied?” – and the                        the house when you arrive and they are         and could be home or present, then
answer can have a major impact on the                        saying that a family lives there with sev-     that is what you must act on. It turns
survival of firefighters who are called to                   eral small children. The house looks tidy      out that the parents outside this house
fight a fire in a building.                                  and the grass is cut. The garage is closed     were wrong! Unknown to them, their
     It may not always be the same                           and no vehicles are in                                          19-year-old son arrived
question, but it is always asking for the
same information. Depending on the
                                                             the driveway or in front
                                                             of the house. Is anybody
                                                                                             Making a                        back in town last night to
                                                                                                                             visit friends and decided
answer, the first-arriving company of-
ficer or chief officer may decide to send
                                                             home? Do you know?
                                                             Can you know?
                                                                                          major strategic                    to crash at his parents’
                                                                                                                             house. He entered qui-
interior firefighters into the building                           Here are the answers:                                      etly at about 3 A.M. and
to find people and locate the fire and                       You don’t know if any-      decision that will                  didn’t dare wake them up
extinguish it. If the answer to the ques-                    body is home; no, you                                           to say hi. He would be ly-
tion is that nobody is home or that the                      don’t know; and no, you      have a dramatic                    ing on the basement floor
building is empty or unoccupied, the                         can’t know! Any decision                                        breathing carbon monox-
officer in command may make a differ-
ent decision and initiate an exterior, de-
                                                             you make about entering
                                                             this house with an attack
                                                                                         impact on safety                    ide and fire gases if you
                                                                                                                             believe his parents.
fensive operation. This is a major stra-
tegic decision that will have a dramatic
                                                             hoseline or conducting a
                                                             search for possible vic-
                                                                                           and survival.                          For our purposes
                                                                                                                             here, there are two types
impact on the safety and survival of the                     tims is going to have to                                        of buildings – normally
firefighters and any victims if present,                     be made without this information. You          occupied buildings and vacant, derelict
as well as on the chances that the build-
								
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