March 13, 2020

Fixing Fireground Dysfunction

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Many departments struggle with fireground dysfunction. Simply put most fireground operations are chaotic and dangerous. A best an attempt to fix the problem is usually throwing a lot of resources at it hoping it will get better.

Most of the time upon completion of an incident most members are frustrated know that the next incident will not be any better. So why does this happen? Often it’s because of lack of training.

In other cases it’s lack of standardization not understanding implementing sound practices because of misinformation or confusion. Is not uncommon to see departments with great equipment and apparatus and members who are dedicated and full of pride. However the dilemma revolves around a lack of effective fireground operations with most actions merely left to chance.

While there it’s clearly a system to make things better, most avoid it like the plague.

We often surveyed surgery students to determine if they have completed NIMS. Most say they have and roll her eyes as if they are going into a seizure! Others will make snide comments. The next question asked is if they utilize the incident command system on routine incidents. Most of the time the response is a hesitant yes at best or someone may suggest that it was used on the large incident about four years ago with dismal results.

There is no surprise here that they are frustrated. Why? Because they have been set up to fail. Many of them reluctantly took a NIMS program either online or with a dry, monotone instructor who read out of a training manual lulling them to sleep. Most of them realize that this training would never be used or at least not by them! The fact of the matter is that the training content is actually very good. However most believe there is no practical application for it on day-to-day operations.

So here’s what we can do. We can fix it. We have found that most fireground operations can merely be successfully managed by utilizing functional groups.

A functional group is merely a group of resources that are put together to complete the specific function. For example, a vent group is a group of individuals or companies that are given the task to ventilate. The four most common groups that are used on nearly every fire incident include attack, vent, search, and RIT for starters. Keeping things simple, by merely utilizing these four groups for starters and inserting companies in to them as they become available will generally allow for a sound initial fireground command foundation.

While it is very simplistic, it is effective when firefighters and fire officers realize that this is really all they need to do to start utilize a tool that’s been available to them all along. Many get very frustrated and ask why didn’t somebody tell us this earlier.  We cannot answer that question, however, we can’t help you get the wheels back on!

While there are other things that can be done to help with fireground efficiencies and the simple fix will provide phenomenal results to correct what many have struggled with for many years.

As we say the proof is in the pudding. Operate the way you have been operating and then let’s go out and make some simple changes and you decide.  In merely two days you can dramatically improve your fireground operations removing the dysfunctionality that is plagued you.

We would like to help.  If you are willing to invest 2 days of time you will see a dramatic change that will also have far-reaching impact in your department those individuals who are reluctant to participate because of this functionality now will want to be a part of a progressive and aggressive fireground operations


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