There are different methods of searching for survivable victims and the seat of fire. The choice of particular method depends primarily on the type and size of the premises that need to be searched. Also you should take into account the extent of the fire and most probable locations where victims could be found. All in all, there are five main types of primary search:
- Small area standard search – a search method in which a team follows a chosen wall expecting that all compartments will be small enough for the team to completely cover them without ever separating from the wall and separating the team.
- Large area team search – a search method needed when compartments are so large that a team is unable to cover them completely without separation from the wall and the use of special equipment (search/guide ropes).
- Vent-enter-isolate-search, VEIS – a search method in which a team directly accesses a compartment of interest via the window and only searches in that compartment.
- Search along the hoseline – a search method in which a portion of an engine team conducts a search along a deployed hoseline without losing a physical contact with that hoseline after the water application has been initiated.
- Homing beacon target search – a search method in which a team is advancing in the direction of the signal which originates from the target being searched. The type of signal can vary – it can be a loud noise deliberately being made by the victims (either civilian or a firefighter), a sound of a PASS alarm on the firefighter in distress or a radio signal produced by certain types of PASS alarms in addition to the audible signal.
The articles on this site will discuss the aspects of all these methods and how to appropriately select one of them depending on the circumstances of the fire.
There are also other methods of search that are floating around, but I find them either difficult or unsafe to apply in real combat situations. Nonetheless, they will be occasionally covered on this site in the interest of fairness and completeness.