Have they no Self-Preservation?
As a blaze engulfs the setting – a movie theater, an apartment building, a hospital, a library, a school – everyone is running out. Then there are the brave few who go in. Self-preservation is critical. Current standards in the U.S. recommend that firefighters work in teams, using “two-in, two-out” rule whenever in and Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health environment (IDLH).
It’s like the buddy-system you used on grade school field trips. The tools of the trade are important not only for forcible entry, but for self-rescue. A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) delivers air to the firefighter through a full face mask and is worn to protect against smoke inhalation, toxic fumes, and super-heated gasses. A Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) is commonly worn independently or as a part of the SCBA to alert others when a firefighter stops moving for a specified period of time. The PASS sounds an alarm that can assist another firefighter, the Firefighter Assist and Search Team (FAST) or the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT), in finding the firefighter in distress.
Another useful piece of equipment to keep firefighters safe are self-rescue ropes. Generally 30 feet long, they can provide a firefighter a partially controlled exit out of an elevated window. This device became standard issue after the record of the two New York City Firefighters Lt. John Bellew and Lt. Curtis Meyran, who died after they jumped from a burning apartment building. It is by no small sacrifice that these brave men and women risk their lives to protect the people running out of the burning and go in to save those who are trapped inside.