Improving the efficacy of emergency agencies like fire departments is receiving increased attention in academia and practice. In recent times, novel firefighter information technologies like digital plans and augmented reality systems have been proposed to better support the work of firefighters. These technologies, however, mostly result from technology-driven approaches and run a risk of failing the actual needs of the users. In this paper, we present the design of a controlled study to more rigorously examine firefighters’ needs for information. Considering the search and rescue task during a building fire as an exemplary case, we first identify informational potentials to support the work on site. Based on theories of situation awareness and cognitive science, we then hypothesize that graphical building information can facilitate the search and rescue task. To examine the hypotheses, we propose the design of a controlled, yet realistic laboratory experiment that was developed in cooperation with a Bavarian state firefighting academy. During the experiment, firefighter squads will be provided with different kinds of building information and evaluated with respect to their task performance. The results of the experiment are expected to provide implications for the design of novel firefighter information technologies and firefighters’ working routines.