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Use of Tag/Life lines with Thermal Imaging Cameras.

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  • Use of Tag/Life lines with Thermal Imaging Cameras.

    I am a District Fire Chief in a paid professional organization of approximately 200. Our FD currently operates with two Thermal Imaging Devices. I am interested in the use of tag/life lines in conjunction with the TIC's. At present we use the equipment on primary and secondary search as-well-as Rapid Intervention, but without tag/lifelines. We are finding that our members are getting into smoke filled situations quickly but on sober second thought we think that a tag line just might be a good back-up if we need to retreat for whatever reason. Any information would be greatly appreciated on the details and use of tag lines with TIC's! Thanks.

  • #2
    Hello All,

    Very good topic, hope more people are considering it.

    I think and most research has shown, that in many larger structures, a tag line is the way to go.

    Pros of the tag line :
    Significantly increases the speed at which a team can operate, by allowing them to move freely without having to fight the interior contents or having to try and maintain a reference point on a wall.
    Insures an egress path is identified, allows firefighters to quickly exit without the benefit of sight (possible TI failure) or any other reference point (lose bearing on a wall).
    Is quicker and easier in most cases than trying to advance a hoseline as a reference point.
    Provides a reference point for additional crews to follow, can allow additional help to arrive much quicker.

    Cons of a tagline :
    Difficulty deploying the line, takes practice to get the rope deployed along a path and to keep it from interfering with other operations.
    Can creates a false sense of security or over confidence, crews must make sure they do not advance beyond their air supply, into areas threatened by fire extension, or areas where structural integrity is compromised.

    Many departments are mandating tagline use in SOPs, especially with RIT teams and Search teams where hoselines are not usually present.

    The guys from SAFE-IR do an excellent job of teaching how to use a tagline, they will be covering it in the upcoming hand-on training classes at FDIC. You can get in touch with them through their website at : www.safe-ir.com

    Charlottesville Fire Department may also be a good group to talk to. Ben Sojka, Rick Crickenburger, and Charles Werner are the ones to talk to. You can find them at : www.cfdonline.org

    A thermal Imager is an excellent tool, as long as it it used correctly. Knowledge and hands-on training are critical.

    Good Luck, Be Safe,
    Mike Richardson
    Bullard TI Training Specialist

    For TI Training : www.safe-ir.com www.thermalimager.com/training


    • #3
      We always...always use a lifeline, even when going in with the camera. It's a great tool to have...but, you never know...something could cause it to fail or malfunction.

      Glenn Ralston
      Bay Ridge Fire-Rescue
      [email protected]


      • #4
        We use drop bags or as you call them drop lines, however usually above ground and to hoist equipment. In a search and rescue such as a firefighter down we will go to the end of the existing hose line and then drop bag off of the nozzle. Stay attatched to the hose line, never leave it and feather 2 personnel off of your drop bag. Dont forget the nozzle may also be moved. I will stay on the nozzle and I consider the drop bag line my umbilical cord to my babies, do not let them go.

        Another consideration in pace of rope is small diameter hose.
        We use 1" hose open but and 200 psi, this gives you 65 gpm at the tip and you have some firefighting capability if you need it. I do not like to venture into structure without a hose line.
        The line can be advanced with minimal effort.
        The line does not have as much slack as a lifeline.
        It is easily distinguished between a firefighting line and a rescue line, a firefighter trying to escape or personnel on scene will know a rescue is in effect when they come across it, for example it will always be forwarded in so that coupling direction is one way. A firefighting line may be forward or reverse and if you dont know what company its from or their operation you can lead into the fire instead of escaping.

        I hope this may help.
        Dale, Captain Los Angeles City Fire Dept.
        [email protected], or [email protected]

        Im sorry I forgot to mention this is also done with the cameras, just remember if the camera fails or the battery goes dead you will be back to the basics, hope you have a path of egress.

        [This message has been edited by D A L E (edited 01-24-2001).]


        • #5
          In my dept we have adopted the "oriented person" search-{see Skip Colemans Book} The person using our hand held TIC stays at the entry or other anchor point in the area being searched and guides the searchers that way we are almost always in visual contact- good in residential applications In wide areas {commercial} I would advise the use of tag lines. I hope this helps. Stay safe


          • #6
            Also note some of the other limitations of a TIC. Reflection and false image interpretation can lead firefighters into trouble. Reflection images can be especially misleading and can easily turn somebody around or in the opposite direction. I attended a training class (from someone other than a salesman),on the use and implamentation of TICs. I highly reccommend sending someone from your agency to a class to one of these classes. They offered a portion that put us in a burn building and we actually experianced firsthand some of the problems that have been encountered with TICs with reflection and image interpretation problems. I am a firm beleiver in TICs, but also a firm believer in the fundamental skills we have all used before the development of the TIC.


            • #7
              Chester brings up a good resource. Skip Coleman has a very good article in the February issue of Fire Engineering. It covers many good points concerning searches.

              I personally will not bring a tag line with me unless it is a highrise or large commercial structure. These have large floor areas that are very compartmentalized that can easily disorient you and place you far away from the exits or windows. I will not even consider using the rope in the residential house or apartment. They hurt the search more than they help. They are too cumbersome and only slow the search down. I also will NOT search with a hose line. If you do not feel safe searching without the line either give the job to someone else, or train more. I will leave them with the engine crews. As far as the TIC's, I follow these same practices while using them as well.

              Good Luck.


              • #8
                We have two TIC's in our department.
                We have a belt with a small rope bag on it.
                Hook the end up outside before entry. It was designed to be used any time we are using the TIC. But it gets forgotten most of the time. I have used it in training with very little trouble with deployment. I think it would be good practice to use it on ANY entry of hazardous enviroment.


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