Hello VPS!

I heard these were coming to my city. The department said they would be put on some vacant properties in the “less desireable” areas of the city. Imagine my surprise to see it 2 blocks from my house.

Moving on. Cruising the neighborhood DOES count as training. I let a few truckies in the area know about this and now my street looks like a parade route. Either they are interested in the VPS security system or someone is giving away free lunch.

These are not easily defeated. They do not help with ventilation. They do not help with access or egress for us. The properties involved are arson targets and as you can see in one of these pictures the rear porch doesn’t have decking on it. What does that imply about the rest of the building?

My thought is exterior ops, then sendminimal crews in for overhaul.Your life safety should not be risked for an obviously vacant building.Getin touchwith the company that is managing the property and take a tour, figure out how to defeat these things. I’ve heard they have steel cross bars inside just like the wooden models that board up companies put up. If that is the case you’d need a diamond blade on the demo saw. I would recommend the standard abrasive blade but I think that would dissolve quickly and you might only get 1-2 cuts at the needed depth.

Let me know if you have a trick to getting these off safely.

Stay Safe, and good luck with these.

www.vacantpropertysecurity.com

17 Comments

  • Jack Wilson says:

    http://www.iafflocal93.org/VPS__2003_files/VPS__2003.ppt

    I found this VPS Power Point form Baltimore City and use it when training my crew.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    “Your life safety should not be risked for an obviously vacant building.”

    On October 6th, 2009 Chicago Firefighter David Doyle rescued a 9 year old boy from an obviously vacant building with HUD security devices.

    http://www.firehouse.com/magazine/issue/april-2010

    I agree that these enclosures present a problem. I also agree that they tend to be on buildings that are unsafe for our entry.

    But this is where we run into trouble, because things are not always as they appear. You are right that we need to get into these buildings before they are on fire. Know their condition. See if they are “occupied” by squatters, children or anyone else.

    The unforunate problem with vacants is that people can and will find a way to get inside; either for mischief, shelter or illicit activities.

    A device that may require the Fire Department to use extraordinary measures to defeat has probably already been figured out by these people. Either that or they found a way around it.

  • anchorpoint1 says:

    I have this overwhelming urge to rewrite this article.
    But I won’t, I own it.
    If I was the IC in an urban environment I might hold off on my primary search until most of the response arrives. If I was the IC in a smaller town where the first alarm includes mutual aid response I would have a tough time committing 9 out of my 40 man department to interior or search ops.
    Having said that, most of us know if the fire originated from the interior or exterior of the building when we get there. These security companies do a good job of securing the utilities so if the fire is coming from the inside it may have been caused by someone inside and not a malfunction of equipment. If the fire is burning up the exterior of the building I would be less inclined to think it was caused by someone inside.
    I know the current BIG discussion going around is whether to search “vacant” buildings or not. At the end of the day when you go home to your family the question isn’t whether you did or did not, but if you feel like you did the right thing for the situation you were presented with. Because that is the decision YOU have to live with.
    I’m glad you don’t take word of every faceless, nameless person on the internet as gospel. Thanks for the comment.
    Be safe.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    I wouldn’t want you to re-write it and I certainly agree that depending on your manpower and situation, you have to make your own choices.

    Yes I am in the “we search” camp. But I don’t say so with blinders on. My concern is that the Fire Service is trying to develop blanket guidleines for everyone. I quote my old chief all the time when I say, “every situation is a situation.” my initial response to this could be as many as 12 or as few as 3. Plus whomever comes back on the recall. My options are limited on a good day, let alone a building like this that presents these challenges.

    One advantage of my area is that if a building existed like this in my Town, we would know it backward and forward and be able to determine our plan way in advance. We also be aware if there was any activity in or around it. Small town benefits.

    Not only do you have to live with your decisions, but you have to live with the scrutiny that will follow if you screw up. If you can defend your position, even with a bad outcome, then that is the best you can hope for.

    Thanks for you thoughts. I am glad you didn’t re-write it.

  • VPS is a tool that many of us are confronting. I am 100% in agreement with both you and Dave that we have to make the decision about how to handle these buildings based upon our Manpower, Training, and the dynamics of our still district. The reality is that VPS is not going to guarantee that a building won’t have occupants inside.

    I like your observation, “At the end of the day when you go home to your family the question isnt whether you did or did not, but if you feel like you did the right thing for the situation you were presented with. Because that is the decision YOU have to live with.” You have to be able to look yourself in the eye and know that you chose to do what is right to stand up and serve your neighbors.

    Nice addition to the discussion.

  • drillmaster2 says:

    I fall into the “we search” camp myself. Here’s a novel idea, just a weee bit of common sense goes along way on this type of job. 360 is a must for a few reasons; find out what you have or in many cases, don’t have. Look at the openings, pryed open, plain gone, whatever, may give the hint of the homeless person or persons in the place. Without adequete reasources, it’s a no go, simple. Try to check these out ahead of the bells hitting at 01:00. Take a few seconds to make that good size-up with a 360. Don’t jump the gun from the front seat, the walk could prove valuable if somebody is yelling for help. Glad to see the truck guys by you take a little ride, they need to. Less desirable areas, remind me not to try to visit you, 2 blocks away? hmmmm

  • Nate Q. says:

    The company is based in Chicago, and the CFD supposedly has a pretty good video and bulletin on them…I couldn’t find it though. The guys over at VES had some posts on these as well, but it said the posts were removed due to copyright issues. After some research, I found a video from the manufacturer, and a good powerpoint from the Baltimore area guys. We’re not blessed with these yet in my part of FL. I guess trailers aren’t that desirable even to the homeless. Anyway, here are the links:

    http://www.vacantpropertysecurity.ac.psiweb.com/vps_holdings/vps_usa/VPS-WindowsMedia/Building.wmv

    http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/firerescue/psta/stp/vacantpropertysecurity.pdf

    http://www.vententersearch.com/supplemental/vpsinformationsheet.pdf

  • Nate Q. says:

    Also, here’s a copied post from a VPS rep. with info. for FDs.

    Dan Sandweiss August 18th, 2008 5:19 pm
    I work with VPS and we offer workshops and free DVDs to fire departments where we install our equipment. Our instruction explains how firefighters can get in and everything else that they need.

    Please call our HQ at 1-800-918-9100 and ask for Celia. Once she knows that you are with a fire department, she can arrange for you to receive our materials.

    Regards,
    Dan Sandweiss
    dan.sandweiss@vpsecurity.com
    Dan Sandweiss August 18th, 2008 5:39 pm
    One more thing about the VPS DVD for fire fighters. It was produced by the Chicago Fire Dept. We also provide samples of our product to credentialed fire fighters so that they may practice on it.

  • Bill Carey says:

    Some more service information from Vent Enter Search. Tony Tricarico (FDNY Lt. Sq. 252 ret.) wrote an article about it for Firehouse.com a few years ago. Since the site redesign you’ll have to register and search to find it.
    http://www.vententersearch.com/supplemental/vpsinformationsheet.pdf

    Bill Carey

  • Bill Carey says:

    Adding onto what Mr. Sandweiss says, a few departments here in the Washington, D.C. area have received this training and highly recommend it.

    BC

  • Bill Pickett says:

    There are two types that I know of: One has clips holding the screen on at the top corners, in addition to the horizontal bars holding from inside. Cut any of these clips and the exposed nuts on the bars, and it will come off.

  • PG Fire Officer says:

    If these are arriving in your district, call VPS.
    They will send out their local installer who will do a short class room presentation which is followed by hands on cutting/tearing on actual product. The hands on is very use full.

  • Nona Mills says:

    If these are arriving in your district, call VPS. They will send out their local installer who will do a short class room presentation which is followed by hands on cutting/tearing on actual product. The hands on is very use full.

  • I fall into the “we search” camp myself. Here’s a novel idea, just a weee bit of common sense goes along way on this type of job. 360 is a must for a few reasons; find out what you have or in many cases, don’t have. Look at the openings, pryed open, plain gone, whatever, may give the hint of the homeless person or persons in the place. Without adequete reasources, it’s a no go, simple. Try to check these out ahead of the bells hitting at 01:00. Take a few seconds to make that good size-up with a 360. Don’t jump the gun from the front seat, the walk could prove valuable if somebody is yelling for help. Glad to see the truck guys by you take a little ride, they need to. Less desirable areas, remind me not to try to visit you, 2 blocks away? hmmmm

  • Jan Santos says:

    I have this overwhelming urge to rewrite this article. But I won’t, I own it. If I was the IC in an urban environment I might hold off on my primary search until most of the response arrives. If I was the IC in a smaller town where the first alarm includes mutual aid response I would have a tough time committing 9 out of my 40 man department to interior or search ops. Having said that, most of us know if the fire originated from the interior or exterior of the building when we get there. These security companies do a good job of securing the utilities so if the fire is coming from the inside it may have been caused by someone inside and not a malfunction of equipment. If the fire is burning up the exterior of the building I would be less inclined to think it was caused by someone inside. I know the current BIG discussion going around is whether to search “vacant” buildings or not. At the end of the day when you go home to your family the question isn’t whether you did or did not, but if you feel like you did the right thing for the situation you were presented with. Because that is the decision YOU have to live with. I’m glad you don’t take word of every faceless, nameless person on the internet as gospel. Thanks for the comment. Be safe.

  • Tara Schultz says:

    I fall into the “we search” camp myself. Here’s a novel idea, just a weee bit of common sense goes along way on this type of job. 360 is a must for a few reasons; find out what you have or in many cases, don’t have. Look at the openings, pryed open, plain gone, whatever, may give the hint of the homeless person or persons in the place. Without adequete reasources, it’s a no go, simple. Try to check these out ahead of the bells hitting at 01:00. Take a few seconds to make that good size-up with a 360. Don’t jump the gun from the front seat, the walk could prove valuable if somebody is yelling for help. Glad to see the truck guys by you take a little ride, they need to. Less desirable areas, remind me not to try to visit you, 2 blocks away? hmmmm

  • The company is based in Chicago, and the CFD supposedly has a pretty good video and bulletin on them…I couldn’t find it though. The guys over at VES had some posts on these as well, but it said the posts were removed due to copyright issues. After some research, I found a video from the manufacturer, and a good powerpoint from the Baltimore area guys. We’re not blessed with these yet in my part of FL. I guess trailers aren’t that desirable even to the homeless. Anyway, here are the links: http://www.vacantpropertysecurity.ac.psiweb.com/vps_holdings/vps_usa/VPS-WindowsMedia/Building.wmv http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/firerescue/psta/stp/vacantpropertysecurity.pdf http://www.vententersearch.com/supplemental/vpsinformationsheet.pdf

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at firefighterbasics@gmail.com

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