NORTH COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY POLICY & PROCEDURE MANUAL OPERATIONS

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1 PURPOSE: When responding to reported debris flows, fire personnel must take into consideration tactical priorities of Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, and Property Conservation. POLICY: Personnel safety must first be considered and Risk vs. Gain will be evaluated prior engaging in emergency operations. Situational awareness will be continuously monitored and maintained by all personnel throughout the incident PROCEDURE: Fire personnel must consider evacuation of the immediate area if there is a possibility of the incident progressing to cause injury or further property damage. Rescue of trapped people should begin as soon as the incident commander knows the extent of the flow. A thorough size-up must be completed as soon as possible. Safe and unsafe areas must be identified and communicated to all personnel. There are a number of objectives that need to be considered when operating at the scene of a debris flow. Fire personnel need to account for all people whom may have been in the affected area. Rescue of lightly trapped persons can be completed and likely areas with trapped or buried victims identified. Overhead and underground utilities must also be checked and dealt with. The current and future movement of the flow must be planned for, as well as the current and future weather forecast. Upon arrival, a comprehensive size up must be given to incoming units, a command post established and utilization of the incident command system. Additional resources requested if needed. Other resources to consider: police, public works, PG&E and city engineering. A primary search of the flow area should be initiated as soon as possible. Utilities should be secured. A look out should be posted to watch the debris flow for movement and LCES can be utilized for scene personnel safety. Safety zones need to be established and identified. SAFETY ZONES: Hazardous Material incident safety procedures can be utilized for these types of incidents. Cold, warm and hot zones need to be established. All zones should be DATE DATE PAGE 1 of 6 PPO 3-86

2 established for 360 degrees around the debris flow. Flagging procedures can be utilized to identify these zones. Air horns and radios should be utilized to notify scene personnel of earth movement. Personnel accountability must be maintained for personnel entering and leaving the warm and hot zones. The warm and hot zones need to be secured to deny entry of all non essential personnel and civilians. Hot Zone. The hot zone will be the edge of the known debris flow. This zone will grow with the slide. Personnel should have proper PPE and work in teams in the Hot Zone. Warm Zone. The warm zone will start at edge of the debris flow and extend 100 out from the edge of the hot zone. Slope, streams and rainfall may extend this boundary. Personnel should always wear proper PPE. Cold Zone. The cold zone should extend from the warm zone 500 to Slope, streams and rainfall may extend this boundary. PRIMARY SEARCH: The primary search is a rapid but thorough search of the area. Lightly trapped victims can be removed quickly. These victims will likely be found around the edge of the debris flow. Fire personnel should concentrate on this area initially. Fire personnel should also search any affected structures that are not in danger of being pulled into or buried by the flow. Once structures are searched they should be marked using the search marking system and structure/hazards marking system found in the Field Operations Guide (ICS 420-1). Personnel should also search and clear buildings in the warm zone. Buildings downhill of stream should be cleared and marked. In the event the flow moves into these areas, they will not need to be searched. Fire personnel should use the victim marking system to identify the locations of victims. All personnel should work in teams of two to three personnel. Personnel should carry forcible entry and digging tools. Medical and specialized equipment should be staged in the warm zone. DATE DATE PAGE 2 of 6 PPO 3-86

3 SECONDARY SEARCH: The Incident Commander may require a secondary search if it is believed that all persons are not accounted for or a more thorough or technical search is needed. In general, different search teams should complete the secondary search. A site map needs to be created by the plans section. The map should locate the zones of operation on the site. Structures and hazards should be noted on the site. The location of victims found, removed, deceased and still trapped must be recorded. A grid system may also be created. The scene safety officers can assist the planning section with this important task. TECHNICAL SPECIALISTS: Debris flows are complicated and dynamic incidents that may continue to evolve during the incident. A number of different technical specialties may be needed during the event. The following specialists may be required during a Debris Flow: Soils Engineer: To determine the extent of the debris flow and provide information for planning of future rescue operations and evacuations. Hydrologist: To provide information determining the extent of potential water flow problems. The USGS may have Hydrologists available. Building Engineer: A building or structural engineer will be utilized by both the planning and operation sections. The Building Engineer will determine which buildings will be RED Tagged or YELLOW Tagged and provide technical assistance for shoring and other rescue operations. A Building Engineer can also be used to monitor buildings for movement. Utilities Representative: Fire personnel must consider the surrounding utility infrastructure. A Utilities Representative can provide underground maps, shutting down or firing up of utilities. DATE DATE PAGE 3 of 6 PPO 3-86

4 Weather Forecaster: The Incident Commander needs updates on weather in the incident area. A spot weather forecast may be requested from the national weather service. It is imperative that the IC be notified if more rain is in the forecast. TECHNICAL RESCUE: Debris flows may require different types of special rescue disciplines and their equipment. Debris moving through structures can require a number of different approaches to a number of different situations. All resources should be ordered early in the event. Hazardous Materials: Haz-mat personnel may be required at the scene. As buildings are destroyed by the flow, their contents are mixed with the debris flow. Hazardous materials should be expected when debris flows have contacted buildings and vehicles. Damaged utilities such as gas and sewer will also create problems. Trench Rescue: Fire personnel will need to follow trench rescue procedures when digging out victims. Trench rescue units carry equipment such as shoring and plywood that may be needed at debris flow rescue sites. Trench rescue units also carry equipment that can be used to break the suction around the victim and remove debris. Urban Search and Rescue: USAR teams will be very helpful at the scene of a debris flow. These teams have search equipment and animals that may be needed to locate trapped or buried victims. Rope systems may be needed to access areas inside the debris flow. Swift Water Rescue: Debris flows usually involve water. Personnel will be working in cold mud and water of unknown depth and must wear provided water safety equipment when working in or near water of unknown depth or speed. Swift water teams have wet and dry suits and can provide assistance to rescue personnel with trapped victims. Swift water teams carry rope launchers that may be utilized to reach lightly trapped victims on top of the debris flow. TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT: Variety of equipment may be required during this type of incident. A basic cache of equipment built around the trench rescue program is a good start. Plywood and shoring DATE DATE PAGE 4 of 6 PPO 3-86

5 lumber can be utilized to create a walk-way surface on top of the debris flow. Ropes and ladders can also be utilized. Fittings that will allow fire hose to be filled with air will also be useful. The hose would be weaved through a roof ladder to give it floatation. Rope launchers will be useful but very specialized. Inflatable rafts are also useful. Once victims are located they may need to be dug out from the mud. Suction will hold the victims in place. Rescue personnel can use a booster hose to break the suction. The use of cold water may also harm the victim. The use of an air wand may be more helpful. The air wand consists of a metal pipe or rod with holes at one end. A compressed air hose is attached to the pipe. The rod is pushed down along the victim and the compressed air helps break the mud suction. A number of small digging shovels will also be helpful. These tools may be found already with the trench rescue cache. Standard lifting and breaching tools are already in the cache. Thermal imagers may be helpful. Personnel should remember that water will hamper their use. PERSONNEL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: Initially, turn outs or wildland gear may suffice. Debris flows usually occur during inclement weather. Turn-out gear will eventually become water soaked and fatigue personnel. Turn-out gear should not be worn around water above knee deep. Helmet: A wildland, swift water or USAR type helmet is all that is needed. Eye protection: Safety glasses or goggles are fine. An anti-fogging lens would be helpful. Gloves: Work, wildland, or structure gloves where appropriate. Footwear: Keep in mind mud creates suction. Standard turn-out boots may pull off too easily in deep mud. Standard station boots will be better but will be over-topped by mud DATE DATE PAGE 5 of 6 PPO 3-86

6 and personnel will have wet feet. Wet or dry suits with siftwater type booties would be best for long duration incidents. Personnel Flotation Device (PFD): All personnel should wear a PFD in the hot and warm zones. Communication: All portable radios should be protected from prolonged exposure to water. SAFETY: Safety officers should be assigned to the warm and hot zones. The look out should also be a Safety Officer if available. Safety officers should brief personnel working in their zones. Safety officers need to track the locations of rescue teams. They also should note the locations of all victims for the planning section. This can be a long term event that will continue to unfold over hours or possible days. All Personnel must practice Situational Awareness at all times during the event and need to pace themselves when there may be a perceived pressure to hurry. The Incident Commander will set the tone for the event. DATE DATE PAGE 6 of 6 PPO 3-86

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