Integrated Tactical Accountability “Engine 54, Where Are You?”

The absence of tactical accountability on the fireground is dangerous and has contributed to the death of many fine men and women. Part one introduced the concept of “tactical accountability” and described why it is important. Part two details...


Welcome back to Integrated Tactical Accountability, the freelance prevention and National Incident Management System (NIMS) implementation system that works. In part one (February 2011), we reminisced about the 1960s TV sitcom “Car 54, Where Are You?” The sitcom theme was the comical exploits of...


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Welcome back to Integrated Tactical Accountability, the freelance prevention and National Incident Management System (NIMS) implementation system that works. In part one (February 2011), we reminisced about the 1960s TV sitcom “Car 54, Where Are You?” The sitcom theme was the comical exploits of a fictional team of not-too-bright police officers and their police cruiser, Car 54. Their freelancing exploits and lack of accountability made for some good laughs.

The lack of personnel accountability on the fireground, however, is not amusing. The absence of tactical accountability on the fireground is downright dangerous and has contributed to the deaths of many fine men and women.

Part one introduced the concept of “tactical accountability” and described why it is important. In doing so, part one:

1. Identified National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards that “require” you to maintain tactical accountability.

2. Introduced important distinctions between personnel accountability and tactical accountability.

3. Identified who is responsible for personnel accountability.

4. Identified who is responsible for tactical accountability.

Part two will:

1. Describe how to achieve tactical accountability, using familiar strategic tools.

2. Illustrate how to establish a strategic “thread” that will connect the command post with a firefighter operating a nozzle in the hazard area.

3. Describe how to maintain tactical accountability throughout an incident.

 

How to Achieve Tactical Accountability

For demonstration purposes, this article will use the scenario of a two-story house with fire showing. This house fire will be referred to throughout the article.

A size-up by the first on-scene fire officer revealed fire on floor 2, smoke on floor 2 and smoke from the attic. Floor 1 was determined to be stable with hazy smoke. There is no basement. The status of life safety was deemed “unknown if occupied.” The incident commander has declared the operational mode “offensive from side A on floor 2.” This means teams will enter from side A and the main hazardous work area is on floor 2.

The incident commander has positioned a division supervisor on side A, thus the supervisor’s designator is “Division Alpha.” (The supervisor’s nametag is at the command post.) Engine 54 (at staging) has been directed to report to Division A for assignment. With passport in the team leader’s hand, the team heads to side A. The Engine 54 team leader locates the Division A supervisor and surrenders the Engine 54 passport. The Division A supervisor plugs Engine 54’s passport into the Division A action plan and conveys Engine 54’s assignment face-to-face: “Engine 54, primary search from side A on floor 2.” The Engine 54 team leader and team members enter the house from side A, ascend to floor 2 and begin the primary search. The division supervisor radios: “Main Street command from Division Alpha, primary search in progress.”

Let’s stop here and discuss the significance of what just took place. Notice that the Division A supervisor is not merely a spectator sporting a colorful vest and babysitting passports; the supervisor is supervising. The Division A supervisor has tactically accounted for Engine 54. Recall from part one that the responsibility of Engine 54’s team leader (company officer) is to C.A.R.E. (Conditions, Air, Radio and Egress) for the Engine 54 team members (in this case, two firefighters). Factoring the operational mode and the location of the Engine 54 team, the responsibility of the Division A supervisor is to monitor five things:

1. The clock – Using the 10-minute notifications that the dispatcher provides to the command post, as required by NFPA 1500 and NFPA 1561, for coordinating status reports.

2. Radio traffic – Listening for the 10-minute notifications, for emergency radio traffic, requests from assigned teams, status reports, for a change in the operational mode, for a division status report request from the command post, etc.

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