Where's the Chief?

 


  Who's in command at your fire department's responses? I mean overall, permanent command from the moment units arrive until the operation is completed. Many departments leave this important task to a company officer who arrives at the scene on an apparatus as part of a company. Yes, I know...


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What's the solution? Have an incident commander at every response. The incident commander should arrive in a vehicle other than a fire apparatus and be solely responsible for command of the incident from arrival until the incident is concluded. The incident commander could be a chief of department or maybe a battalion or district chief. Some departments have a captain who is the "shift commander" and responds in a "chief's car" along with an assignment of engines and ladders to certain categories of alarms.

The jobs of incident commander and company officer are important. One person cannot do both jobs effectively. If your department expects someone to do this, the only comment I have is, "Where's the chief?"

JOHN J. SALKA JR., a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 28-year veteran battalion chief with FDNY, the commander of the 18th battalion in the Bronx. Salka has instructed at several FDNY training programs, including the department's Probationary Firefighters School, Captains Management Program and Battalion Chiefs Command Course. He conducts training programs at national and local conferences and has been recognized for his firefighter survival course "Get Out Alive." Salka co-authored the FDNY Engine Company Operations manual and wrote the book First In, Last Out — Leadership Lessons From the New York Fire Department. He also operates Fire Command Training (www.firecommandtraining.com), a New York-based fire service training and consulting firm.