Integrated Tactical Accountability

  Part 1 – Introducing a Freelance-Prevention System That Works Let’s get right to the point: If your implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) does not help you achieve and maintain...


  Part 1 – Introducing a Freelance-Prevention System That Works Let’s get right to the point: If your implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) does not help you achieve and maintain tactical accountability , your...


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Part 1 – Introducing a Freelance-Prevention System That Works

Let’s get right to the point: If your implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) does not help you achieve and maintain tactical accountability, your implementation “system” is flawed and incomplete.

You may remember the TV sitcom “Car 54, Where Are You?” which aired from 1961 to 1963 and later in reruns. The story line centered on the comical exploits of NYPD officers Gunther Toody and Francis Muldoon and their assigned cruiser, Car 54. Nobody in the fictitious 53rd Precinct ever seemed to know where Toody and Muldoon were or what they were doing. The lack of Car 54 accountability made for some good laughs.

The contemporary fire service has had a variety of personnel accountability systems in place for many years. Each of these systems can tell you who is at an incident; few accountability systems can tell you where each firefighter is at any given moment. Integrated Tactical Accountability will tell you who is there, where they are and what they are doing – not just some of the people some of the time, but all of the people all of the time. Integrated Tactical Accountability implementation means that freelancing can be prevented and thus should no longer be tolerated. Nobody will have to ask, “Engine 54, where are you?”

Putting It to Work

Tactical accountability can be achieved without batteries, without software and without expensive gee-whiz gadgets, and it will work at 3 o’clock in the morning. Achieving and maintaining tactical accountability is quick and easy and dovetails perfectly with the tenets of NIMS ICS and NFPA 1561. In fact, the Integrated Tactical Accountability system is the only implementation system in North America that offers how to meet or exceed all of the performance requirements identified by NFPA 1561, Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System (2008 edition).

To declare that your fire department has adopted and uses NIMS to manage an incident is not entirely true. NIMS may provide a familiar ICS framework for managing an incident (what’s old is new again), but NIMS fails to provide implementation guidance. Example: While it’s nice to know that a division is defined as geographic and a group is defined as functional, exactly how are you supposed to “supervise” a division or group during a multi-alarm fire? Shouldn’t a division be doing something functional within its geographic area of responsibility? Likewise, shouldn’t a group be executing its function someplace geographic? If they are both functional and geographic, what’s the true difference? (We will explore this question in a future article.)

How, and in what form, do group supervisors receive and supervise their pieces of the overall incident action plan? How do division supervisors achieve and maintain tactical accountability? When the incident commander or a branch director asks for a status report, what do the division or group supervisors report? These questions probe well beyond basic geographic and functional distinctions.

NIMS won’t help implement the ICS any more than the NFPA 1901 committee will submit a bid to build your next fire engine. NIMS was designed for what attorney and risk-management guru Gordon Graham refers to as “discretionary time” incidents. Discretionary means you have time to schedule a planning meeting for the next operational period. You don’t have the luxury of discretionary time when you are the first on-scene fire officer at a 3-o’clock-in-the-morning, multi-family building fire. The operational period is in your face.

Nobody is going to fill out ICS 201 and 203 forms in the front yard at a house fire, schedule a meeting and circulate copies of the plan to arriving companies. (Doing so would be trying to hammer a discretionary square peg into a non-discretionary round hole.) ICS planning forms are designed for long-term incidents that offer discretionary time. Integrated Tactical Accountability provides a structured and systematic process for the implementation of NIMS ICS and NFPA 1561 during in-your-face, non-discretionary time incidents – the kind of incidents that you respond to every day.

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