Two-in, two-out
In firefighting
Firefighters are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, to rescue people from car incidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other such situations...

, the policy of two-in, two-out mandates that firefighters never go into a dangerous situation in a fire or rescue incident alone. There should always be (at least) two firefighters together when they enter a location and one of them cannot come out of the situation or building unless both do.

The policy also refers to a safety system to protect firefighters, where two or more firefighters enter a building and at least two more remain outside, ready to help in case of emergency. Firefighters will enter a building in teams to extinguish the fire and/or make a rescue
Rescue refers to responsive operations that usually involve the saving of life, or prevention of injury during an incident or dangerous situation....

. When a team enters an IDLH atmosphere (Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health) (the "two in"), two more firefighters (the "two out") will be standing by at the entrance in full personal protective equipment (to include bunker gear
Bunker gear
Bunker Gear or "Turnout Gear" are terms used by many firefighters to refer to their system of outer protective clothing. "Bunker gear" and "turnout gear" can refer, depending on the context, to just the trousers and boots, and jacket, or the entire combination of personal protective equipment and...

 and SCBA), and ready with rescue tools, in order to rapidly enter the building if the team inside becomes endangered. By some interpretations, the rule requires at least two more firefighters to remain outside, even when the standby team has gone in to find and rescue the first team. However, the rule specifically exempts an emergency rescue with fewer personnel on hand (i.e., no additional "two-out" required if they go in to find the "two-in"), although the increased risk to all four should be obvious if further backup is not on-scene.

Where there are teams working inside multiple entrances of a large structure fire, there may be standby teams designated at each entry point, although the rule does not necessarily mean two firefighters ready outside for every two inside.

Note that these rules also apply to all training with live fires inside structures, and are even more important when inexperienced trainees are inside.

The two firefighters who are specifically designated as standing by outside are referred to in different ways by many localities. Some are referred to as a rapid entry team (R.E.T.), or "rapid intervention team", while others are referred to as a F.A.S.T. Truck (as in the Fire Department of New York), meaning "firefighter assist and search team
Firefighter Assist and Search Team
A Firefighter Assist and Search Team , also known as a Rapid Intervention Team/Crew , is a team of two or more firefighters dedicated solely to search and rescue of other firefighters in distress. FAST shall have no other operational assignment during an incident...


Other tactics work within the rule to "stage" the next team, ready to relieve the inside team when their air supplies run low. When the third team arrives to serve as the RET, the second team enters, follows the hose line to the first team and relieves them. This is naturally smoother with good radio communications between officers.

Application in France

Until 1999, the firefighting in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 was performed according the "Rules of instruction and maneuvers" (Règlement d'instructions et de manoeuvres, RIM). The firefighters acted in teams of three members, called "trinomial
In elementary algebra, a trinomial is a polynomial consisting of three terms or monomials.-Trinomial expressions:# 3x + 5y + 8z with x, y, z variables# 3t + 9s^2 + 3y^3 with t, s, y variables# 3ts + 9t + 5s with t, s variables...

" (trinôme): one chief, one deputy chief and one support; a fire engine with eight people thus had two trinom, an engine chief (chef d'agrès) and a driver. In the 1990s, the Paris Fire Brigade
Paris Fire Brigade
The Paris Fire Brigade , is a French Army unit which serves as the fire service for Paris and certain sites of national strategic importance....

 started to work with teams of two people, called "binomial
Binomial (disambiguation)
A binomial is a polynomial with two terms.Binomial may also refer to:In mathematics:*Binomial theorem, a theorem about powers of binomials*Binomial coefficient, numbers appearing in the expansions of powers of binomials...

 teams" (équipes en binôme) or shortly "binomials" (binômes). This organisation was generalised to the whole France in a departmental order signed by the minister of Internal Affairs the 3 February 1999. An engine with eight people now has three binomials, an engine chief and a driver; an engine with six people has two binomials, an engine chief and a driver.

A binomial can be assigned two types of missions:
  • exploration and attack mission (binôme d'attaque, BAT);
  • water supply and support mission (binôme d'alimentation, BAL).

The mission can change during an intervention, i.e. an attack binomial can become a supply binomial or vice versa.

The "usual" intervention (simple fire with only one fire engine and six people, no casualty, no specific risk) thus involves two binomials.
  1. The engine chief makes a reconnaissance with an attack binomial. The other binomial stands by outside, ready to help the reconnaissance team.
  2. The attack binomial unrolls the fire hoses at the "attack point" defined by the engine chief and prepare to go to the target also defined by the engine chief. The supply binomial joins the attack point to the fire engine with hoses.
  3. The attack binomial starts the firefighting. The supply binomial joins the fire engine to the hydrant
    A hydrant is an outlet from a fluid main often consisting of an upright pipe with a valve attached from which fluid can be tapped. Depending on the fluid involved, the term may refer to:*Fire hydrant*Oil depot*Yard hydrant...

  4. The supply binomial stands by, ready to help the attack binomial.

The overall organisation is the same when more engines are involved.

External links

  • OSHA
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. It was created by Congress of the United States under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, signed by President Richard M. Nixon, on December 29, 1970...

    Rule 1910.134(g)(4)

Last Men Out (ISBN 0-8050-7169-5) A book about Rescue Team 2 of the NYFD, whose job is to rescue other firefighters from burning buildings.
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