By now, I hope you have at least heard of the "Rules of Engagement" created by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). The Rules are designed to give guidance for risk assessment to the firefighter (who is at the greatest risk) as well as the incident commander (and command team...
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Objective: To cause the company officer and firefighters to pause for a moment, look over their area of operation, evaluate their individual risk exposure and determine a safe/effective approach to completing their assigned tactical objectives.
Objective: To cause the company officer and firefighters to consider fire conditions in relation to possible occupant survival of a rescue event as part of their initial and ongoing individual risk assessment and action plan development.
Objective: To prevent firefighters from engaging in high-risk search and rescue and firefighting operations that may harm them when fire conditions clearly prevent occupant survival and significant or total destruction of the building is inevitable.
Objective: To cause firefighters to limit risk exposure to a reasonable, cautious and conservative level when trying to save a building.
Objective: To cause firefighters to manage search and rescue and supporting firefighting operations in a calculated, controlled and safe manner, while remaining alert to changing conditions, during high-risk primary search and rescue operations where lives can be saved.
Objective: To ensure that firefighters always enter a burning building as a team of two or more and no firefighter is allowed to be alone at any time while entering, operating in or exiting a building.
Objective: To cause all firefighters and company officers to maintain constant situational awareness of their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air supply, where they are in the building, and all that is happening in their area of operations and elsewhere on the fireground that may affect their risk and safety.
Objective: To cause all firefighters and company officers to maintain constant awareness of all fireground radio communications on their assigned channel for critical information that may affect their risk and safety.
Objective: To prevent company officers and firefighters from engaging in unsafe practices or exposure to unsafe conditions that can harm them, allowing any member to raise an alert about a safety concern without penalty and mandating the supervisor to address the question to ensure safe operations.
Objective: To cause firefighters and company officers to be aware of fire conditions and cause an early exit to a safe area when they are exposed to deteriorating conditions, unacceptable risk and a life-threatening situation.
Objective: To ensure the firefighter is comfortable with, and there is no delay in, declaring a Mayday when a firefighter is faced with a life-threatening situation and the Mayday is declared as soon as they think they are in trouble.
Part 2: The Incident Commander's Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Safety and Survival
- Rapidly conduct, or obtain, a 360-degree situational size-up of the incident
Objective: To cause the incident commander to obtain an early 360-degree survey and risk assessment (as applicable) of the fireground in order to determine the safest approach to tactical operations as part of the risk assessment and action plan development and before firefighters are placed at substantial risk.
Objective: To cause the incident commander to consider fire conditions in relation to possible occupant survival of a rescue event before committing firefighters to high-risk search and rescue operations as part of the initial and ongoing risk assessment and action plan development.
Objective: To cause the incident commander to develop a safe action plan by conducting a size-up, assessing the occupant survival profile and completing a risk assessment before firefighters are placed in high-risk positions.
Objective: To prevent the commitment of firefighters to high-risk tactical objectives that cannot be accomplished safely due to inadequate resources.
Objective: To prevent the commitment of firefighters to high-risk operations that may harm them when conditions prevent occupant survival and destruction of the building is inevitable.
Objective: To cause the incident commander to limit risk exposure when trying to save a building that is believed, following a thorough size-up, to be savable.