Complancency and Basics Still Exist In All We Do

While responding to a fire just the other night, we turned on the street and started looking for addresses. Immediately, I grabbed the spotlight and began to shine the houses. I found the even numbers to be on the left and the odd numbers to be on the right.† As we make our way down the street I began to notice some houses had numbers and some didn’t, but I was not worried because using logic the numbers will correspond with each other and I should have no problem. Well, that could not have been further from the truth. As we arrived at the dwelling I believed to be the structure on fire I gave my size up and got out of the truck to confirm it was the actual address( As I have many times before ). As I stepped off of the truck a man was running down the street saying ” down here down here”.† As this was taking place the second and third due units started to arrive. As the third due arrived onto the street they happened to be pulling right in front of the correct location.† They arrived on scene and passed command. As I made my way down the street ( frustrated of course ) but trying to stay in the game, I started to notice that the numbers where out of order. We made it to the scene and there was a patient in the front yard needing attention. My driver took care of the water supply and my firefighter and I conducted patient care. While giving patient care, I was able to ask the family member of the sick party what the physical address was. He gave me the address and then went on to explain that the house in question was one of the first houses in the neighborhood and was numbered from the very beginning and as other houses where built and new streets added houses became numbered out of sequence. That did not make me feel any better, but it did put several things on my mind.

  • Never get complacent thinking you know your first due area. It changes more than you think
  • Get out in your first due and update your map book address, hydrant locations, and anything else that does not make sense to you.† i.e. things you may deem special hazards
  • Hold off on giving a size up until you have confirmed† that you are at the right location

These are some lessons that I wanted to share that I learned the hard way. I have run a few calls being on several different departments and never imagined this happening to me.† We must strive everyday to make sure the little things that we become complacent at doing do not cost the people we serve or even worse, ourselves, any harm.


  • blancety says:

    Streets are a constant source of drills. We are fortunate because order Dispatch gives us door to door directions, so for many they have not taken the time to learn the streets like they should. That is the down side of it.

    Most of our numbers follow a consistent pattern Town wide, North to South and West to East. There are some exceptions and this is where people get burned.

    You scenario isn’t that unusual. We have a lot of houses that sit behind other houses, long driveways and poorly marked. Your situation has happened to us, including one time with a cardiac arrest. The victim was a retired firefighter, it didn’t sit well with anyone.

    Look at the list of thisngs we do, getting ready, checking trucks, getting to the call……..yes streets are a basic……but don’t beat yourself up too bad, that scenario has happened to everyone at one time or another. Lack of visual clues lead you down the path as well…..

  • Engine Captain Missouri says:

    We have tried to make streets firefighter proof, if that would ever be possible. We carry maps of every street in town, with all the addresses on it, every now and then we find something out of place, thankfully not to often. We also take street tests on the weekends for all the crews, our town is split into 4 quadrants, allowing the Captain to pick the test. We actively check addresses as part of building inspection, hydrants, etc. Even with being proactive, seems something does slip through the cracks at times. No one is perfect, things happen. Lesson learned Keep Training

  • ChiefMO says:

    Everyone makes mistakes, I almost did once. LoL

  • truckie431 says:

    We too try to stay on top of our streets. Each shift, at all 41 of our stations, conducts street drills on a daily basis. Our CAD system was just recently updated with GPS/streets that will direct you both visually and audibly while enroute to an incident. This doesn’t mean it is correct, or even the quickest way to get to the scene.

    We still carry, and update daily, all of our 1st and 2nd due street books. Each unit is also supposed to keep a binder with updated 3rd and 4th due streets as well as an ADC map book of the entire DC metro area.

    Each station is also required to keep updated versions of their 1st due streets on the computer (we use the VISIO program) so if another company needs a copy, it’s emailed over to them so they can print it out and update their books. Contact your neighboring companies/departments if you need to have a copy of one of their streets and update it with directions from YOUR station.

    Like others have said, GET OFF THE COUCH AND GET OUT IN YOUR 1ST DUE…our citizens depend on us to get to their house quickly, and no one wants to get beat into their 1st due by another company because they studied your streets more than you did. Just a thought. Stay safe.

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at

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