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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, stay safe and stay thinking!