So what does it take, to effectively manage a scene and not be labeled as a “Legacy” department?
First, you must understand your response area, resource availability and the ability of your personnel.
Secondly, once you arrive on scene, paint the picture gives a “Windshield size-up”. Then you must exit the vehicle and conduct a 360 degree walk-around. If the Incident Commander does not complete the initial walk around, a seasoned firefighter or officer must complete the walk-around. They will know what they are looking for and be able to relay the critical information to the incident commander via radio or face to face. During the walk-around, scene observations are made, roof line, initial smoke and fire conditions. Reading smoke is critical.
Next, the incident commander must quickly develop a plan. One that weighs Risk vs. Benefits. Once the plan has been established, ACCOUNTABILITY has to be established and utilized. ACCOUNTABILITY has been a façade for many departments that acted as a security blanket for years. Tactics have to be given, in order of priority based on the fire ground priorities/strategies. Once these tactics have been thought of and handed down to the company level will then employ functional assignments/tasks.
Communication from the crews to the Incident Commander or Operations sector and communications from the Incident Commander or Operations sector to the crews has to be a priority. This is the only way to achieve better accountability. Benchmarks have to be utilized by using a checklist (Tactical Priorities). These bench marks will drive the overall tactics, which in turn will cause the incident commander to reevaluate their strategies.
This will not be foreign material to “Modern” departments, however “Legacy” departments will be at a loss with the information and the mind set of what has to be accomplished.
I commend those that are a “Modern” department and I pray for those that are still a “Legacy” department. There is more at stake than an ego and hiding behind the “It’s always been done that way” attitude. Families, communities and organizations are at stake. If you are an officer and want to gamble, go to Vegas or Atlantic City. Don’t gamble within your own department. If you don’t want to stand up for your safety, your family’s safety and change within the department. Then do the fire service a favor and change professions and allow someone else who is willing to affect change to take your place. Start early with young firefighters, introduce them to the NFPA standards, professional journals, well grounded web sites. Learning never stops and more than ever, we as a fire service cannot sit idle by as hydrocarbon based materials become more and more volitile and building construction becomes more lightweight/deadly.