Friday, June 24, 2011

Accountability: Where are Your People when they are not on "The Board"

Knowing where your people are is very important if you really want to improve firefighter safety. I dont mean that you know they are present on shift or someone can look at a board and see there tag hanging there, I'm talking about knowing as best you can with your best effort where they really are during the whole incident. This is going to be the most important thing I hope to see fire departments improve upon while we face horrible shortages of staffing and money.
I hear all kinds of fire service leaders talk a fantasy talk about where their people are but it is time to realize that communication throughout an incident is going to get us better accountability. This starts in training officers to report information that right now, in most organizations, officers tend toward the thinking that they know this information and do not really need to radio it to command because nothing is going to change in the next minute or two right? No, step one should be you radio a change in location, change in fire behavior, change in activity, and report as specifically as you can. Are you telling me you already do this, time to be honest you don't!

Step two, that commander needs to set up with an initial accountability board that tracks the beginning locations of crews at a fire or other ILDH atmosphere, because the commander should and can do this along with size up etc. If staffing allows then commit an accountability officer but until that dream world arrives do it cause it still matters! Maybe that second commander that thinks he needs to do command but doesn't could do this vital activity!

I'm saying you can have seventeen points of beauty you found on some website but putting good use of radio communications and an accountability system together is where the rubber hits the road, the one that is ugly and will expose bullcrap like "we have all the tags of everyone on the trucks". If you think that works ask yourself ,on your next worker, at any point in the run, if any one calls a mayday right now do I know a good location that they might be in besides, On the truck or in division 1 of the local super eight? HUH!
Step up leaders, you do not control or impress anyone unless you've really got your crap in order!!! Read through some NIOSH death reports and think about reality a few more times today!

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