Accountability The Easy Way
As a foundation of safe fireground operations, a strong accountability system based on solid SOP’s being followed by solid and disciplined Officers and firefighters is the rock on which the Incident Commander builds his organization. This month, I will use a couple of slides from my Accountability class to drive this point home. The slide below depicts a sort of flow chart that shows how the Command Post must be the organizational manifold through which all orders and directives flow. Notice that from arrival through to release, which incudes the three operational statuses (staged, operating, and rehab) no company should change that status without first going through the Command Post. This is best done face-to-face, but may be done via radio ONLY if authorized by the Incident Commander. The key point to be made here is that there are no arrows running between any of the operational status locations. So, going from staged to operating, operating to rehab, or rehab to staging cannot be done without first following the arrows to the Command Post. Anything else is an example of freelancing. Don’t let your fireground look like anything different or you will be wondering where everyone is and what they are doing.
Think of it this way: Whatever you think is the right thing is the wrong thing if it does not go through the Command Post. Easy enough??
The next slide is the Company Officer’s responsibility in accountability. Notice the emphasis on “No Independent Action Ever”. That is because the only way Command can keep the Company safe is if Command knows where that Company is located on the fireground. It is very simple, but requires discipline. Lack of discipline is the reason for most if not all fireground accountability problems. A key to this is to remember that if you are not doing this when nothing is showing or when you are on the small incident, it is next to impossible to pull it off in the big incident. Practice at the small incident so you can shine at the BIG ONE.
The final slide below depicts the method by which the Incident Commander best controls the entire fireground: through reinforcement of the process of decentralization. Assigning Division Commanders to the areas of most concern will allow Command to better control the troops working in these areas. Then, use these same Division Commanders to do the mini-PARS if you will, in their own Divisions and keep Command informed of who is there, what they are doing, and who is coming out to report back to the Command Post to be moved to one of the other status locations. To tie it back into the first slide, disciplined Command Post protocol practiced by the entire fireground allows for a smoother and safer operation.
Wishing all readers and their families a safe and totally awesome holiday season and a healthy and even more awesome 2017. Stay safe out there.
Quote of the day: To go nowhere, follow the crowd.
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