Some Fire Service Simple Solutions

How confused we sometimes get in the fire service when we try to overcomplicate things and we put a fire service spin on them because “WE” have to operate differently. This week I have some oversimplified thoughts for your consideration. Some of these are tactically related and some are in fact leadership and people related.

Use the ones you want, disregard the rest and feel free to send some of the ones you have thought of yourself.

I have been reading a lot about leadership and how to treat people. Good officers and bad officers. Hey I got an idea, treat others the way you might want to be treated. Ha! Stole that one from the bible I did. If people just treated others in a fair manner we would not have to have all of these complex management ideas and techniques. Just a thought.

Hold yourself and others accountable for your or their actions. If we started to do this more there would be a lot less problems in the fire service. The problem is that, holding someone else accountable can be an uncomfortable feeling for the moment, so we let it go. We need to do more. Simple.

Understand the new realities and science in the study of ventilation. Know when to vent, when to control the air flow, and always have a charged line available at the seat of the fire when you vent.

Preplan buildings and circumstances in your jurisdiction before the fire. They are a lot easier to view without all of that nasty smoke and heat. Good solid preplanning is a simple safety solution that is underutilized in the fire service.

Remember the fire doesn’t know how much manpower you have. Call the resources you need, from wherever you need them. No excuses. Operating with not enough people is our own fault not anybody else’s. Sure we all need more staffing but if your city, town or district wont give you the personnel, call for them at the fire when you need them.

Write disaster plans that are goal or resource oriented rather than incident specific. Forget that you are planning for a plane crash or a tornado, plan for the outcome. Mass casualties, big fires, wide spread destruction or what have you. Who cares what the cause was, plan for the outcome. You will have a better plan.

Train more than you feel like it.

Realize that your department wants to be full service to all of your people. realize that all of the special teams like haz mat and confined space are specialties and are exciting to do, but your department cannot be all things to all people. Do what you can with what you have, whenever you can do it. Sometimes all of these specialty functions take away from our core mission of fire and EMS.

Check on your people often and supervise them as you should. We often say in the firehouse that ” your mother doesn’t work here”. Maybe she should. She knew where we were, how to check up on us and made us tow the mark. Huh, what a concept for the fire service eh?

Riding lists are not accountability, really. I don’t know how this one got in here as a simple solution but I am leaving it in. A perfect simple accountability system costs about $ 100,000.00. The system costs less than $ 1000.00 and you should mandate and fire the first person who doesn’t participate in it. You will need the other $99,000.00 for legal fees but it will almost guarantee full participation in whatever system you choose.

Throw a lot more ladders than you normally would, it helps us get out of the building when we need to.

There are a million of these techniques and tips out there, but I truly believe the fire service is a very trendy organization steeped in culture and tradition. Just because there is some new procedure and technique out there, it does not mean we as the fire service should jump on it.

Let us be more concerned about simple solutions to complex problems instead of the expensive flashy ones with all of the glitz and glitter. We sometimes get too wrapped up in the “sex sells” and all that glitters that it blinds us from the obvious. When you have a problem in your department either operational in nature or personnel related, look for the root problem and the simplest solution possible.

It is a lot easier, and I have never known a firefighter that would not take the easiest solution to any problem.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013