“Assuming Command”

E2 Has Command…

If you are a fire officer, or have been in the fire service for any length of time you have heard this phrase or similar phrases I am sure. Today I am going to point out that “command” starts way before an incident, and in some cases there is a fallacy of believing you are in command when you are managing an incident scene.

Many years ago we were taught that size up begins much earlier than upon arrival and the giving of a brief incident report, it really begins as you drive to work and observe the buildings and happenings in your response district as you arrive. This very same premise applies to command believe it or not.

While you give orders and directives upon arrival, how are those directives being carried out by your personnel. Are personnel routinely operating outside of SOPs and guidelines and it becomes acceptable. Are your SOPS there for legality sake or do they really get adhered to and enforced during routine emergencies. Of course we all want independent thinking officers who are not ham strung by rigid inflexible procedures, but we also want everyone using the same playbook.

You see to be in “command” you have to start way back with day to day operations and training. This can be very difficult and you can be accused of micromanagement and forcing attention to detail, but when you arrive on a scene you can then have some assurance that objectives are going to be met the way that you expect them to get achieved.

Officers have to instill discipline and attention to detail every day, every shift and every emergency response. Failure to do so could result in a breakdown of “command” at the big job when you really need it.

When individual companies make decisions that are not expected by the commander, situations can arise. These could be as simple as using the stairs instead of an aerial or vice versa, or laying a single feeder line, not ready to pump a hydrant on a long lay, or venting or not venting a roof depending upon circumstances. Any of the things mentioned could have different and disastrous results for the person out in front who assumed command!

The message this week is easy, if you are an officer or a senior man, pay attention to detail and procedures everyday, so that when you have the “big one”, ( A high risk, low frequency event) you will support the team and there will be no surprises for the person out in front, assuming command.

Be diligent, be focused, and be persistent even between alarms so your performance will reflect your training and preparation.

(Does anybody else get the irony of the term assuming command?) (ass/u/me)

Send your comments, thoughts to pete@petelamb.com.

Thanks, stay safe and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Leaking Tanker

This week a leaking tanker on the highway.


1.) A pressurized tanker with a “bucket box” at the rear. What form or state of matter is the material carried inside?
2.) What could be the potential products that might be inside?
3.) Using the scenario you see here and using the NAERG Book, what guide number would you follow?
4.) Is your department equipped to handle this emergency as presented? If not, what are your closest local resources?
5.) This tanker could have a red or a green placard. You cannot see it because of the angle and the leak. What is the simplest way of confirming what product is on board?

Take this quiz HERE. or
send your responses to pete@petelamb.com if you want feedback or use the Send Voicemail tab at the side of the web page. All responses receive replies
Thanks and stay safe, and stay thinking!
Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Podcast Correction

During Episode 3 of the Firefighter Training Podcast yesterday I mistakenly confused two stories and gave some incorrect information.

The NJ wildland firefighter that was struck was struck by a woman, and not another volunteer firefighter. I confused two stories I was researching at the time.

The podcast has been edited to reflect the change and I apologize for any confusion that it may have created.

Firefighter Training Podcast – Episode 3 RIT Timeline

This week we discuss some current events and the RIT timeline and crew survivability.

Listen HERE

Current Events:

Coventry RI Fire Department being dissolved

Fire engineering Forcible entry drill and Oxygen and smoking fire in Massachusetts

Another FDNY EMS Lt. In trouble on social media and more hate speak in support of him

Utica NY FD SUV accident

Missouri chief seriously hurt in tanker roll over

DC firefighters take a vote of no confidence in their chief

Ice smashing an engine windshield in Wayne Twp Indiana

Dayton Ohio Captain struck while operating on the roadway.

More from Firegeezer about dangerous roadway operations.

Ekom South carolina fire station burns

LODD of NJ wildland FF Jeff Scheurer age 35.

Send feedback via email, or the send voicemail tab on the side of this page.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Collapse Indications – Some Considerations

The following are some indicators to watch for and or consider that give some indicators of collapse.

Review them your self, and pass them along for a discussion among the troops.

It certainly is not all inclusive, but it is easily remembered because it spells the word COLLAPSE.

Construction of the building – Know the five types of building construction as defined by NFPA 220. Know that certain buildings, wood frame certainly, will fail quite readily under fire conditions. The mini-mart store of cinderblock with a bar joist roof will certainly fail pretty early under high fire conditions. Look around your response district.

Occupancy Loading – Does the building have contents such as paper, fabric etc., that will absorb firefighting water and add weight to the already damaged structure.

Lightweight building materials – We covered this one pretty good last week, but the bottom line is this one. While we understand that mass of the building unit adds greater weight, a larger mass will take longer to deteriorate ( IN MOST CASES, BUT NOT ALL) then a structural member that has less mass.

Length of burning time – No one person knows the answer to when a building will fail, but common sense tells us that the longer it is attacked by fire the sooner we can expect failure. How long has it been burning prior to your arrival, and how long since you have been here. This is another great use for the 15 minute status report.

Ankle deep water or accumulating water – No mystery to this one at all, water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon, we add it to the building in 100 gallon increments. If it is not running off and just standing, let the building drain properly before completing overhaul activities.

Parallel Chord truss beams – Any team we see this type of beam, whether steel or wood, it should raise some degree of concern. Again I am not talking about the larger member chords, but certainly any lightweight beams of this type.

Special Matter – Look around your community for the telltale signs that a building may already being braced and supported from falling, without a fire inside. Corner angle braces on buildings, old fashion star supports, additional temporary columns in place are all indicators of building weakness.

Exposed steel – Again we have heard about this forever. Exposed steel will begin to lose strength when exposed to about 800 degrees. When you are doing a pre-fire inspection or survey and you see the steel beams over your head, think about that under fire conditions.

Just a couple of quick points to enhance firefighter safety and make you think. Easy to remember because each point spells the word….

Stay Safe, stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Tactical Fire Problem – Auto parts store

This week the problem is a tire and auto parts store. Take a look.


1.) What size line is needed for this fire?

2.) What is the type of building construction here and what does that do to your tactical considerations?

3.) A brand new building would be sprinklered. This is an old existing building in a suburban community and it is not sprinklered. What does the lack of sprinklers mean in a building that could have steel bar joist roof construction?

4.) Have you ever considered, practiced or used foam hand lines on an interior attack?

5.) What does the high BTU fire load mean to your departments operation? Lots of water flow, requires lots of personnel. Heavy hydrocarbon fire load means lots of SCBA work in large spaces among cluttered stock. Are you ready?

Take the quiz if you want!

Leave comments by using the send voicemail tab along the side of the website, or send an email to pete@petelamb.com

Stay Safe, stay Thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Know your Smoke Video – must watch

This is a link to a must see video for all firefighters. I saw the post in the Google + firefighters community.

Get the message out as the Providence fire department did after conducting their own study on cyanide many years ago.

Use cyanide and carbon monoxide meters on scene.

See the VIDEO HERE

Show it to the troops and see if we get that “observable behavioral change” called learning.

Thanks, stay safe, and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

Firefighter Training Podcast – Episode 2 – Fire Suppression Timeline

Well we made it we had a successful first episode and on to #2!

You can listen to this week’s episode HERE

This weeks show is about 30 minutes and it covers the following:

Some current events from the last week
FDNY Commissioner Son tweeting FDNY EMS
Miami Dade FD confrontation with Videographer
California Engine crash
Problems in DC
The Mesilla Fd in New mexico gives up stipends for new truck
Detroit FD stations getting robbed
Snake set on fire, revenge!
RI Legislator introduces a bill to make fire inspections every 10 years.

The training segment is the fire suppression timeline.

Just a tip on using the radio show, you can drag the bar along the timeline and listen to just the training portion or any segment you like. Take notes during the training segments and rewind and clarify anything you need.

We are now listed in ITUNES and you can find us and subscribe to us there if you have a device that plays podcasts and you won’t miss an episode.

We have lined up some guests for interview style format to break things up a bit and they should start with. Episode 4,

I appreciate all the feedback I have received and look forward to hearing from you.

You can reach me at pete@petelamb.com or use the send voicemail tab along the right hand side of this page.

Thanks stay safe, and stay thinking!

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013

"Changing the fire service, one mind at a time"