The Proof Is in the Pudding

Picture the following scenario from "Anytown, U.S.A.": You wake up from a night's sleep and walk into the den, where the early-morning news is on TV. As your eyes focus, you notice that a reporter is interviewing a battalion chief about a house fire his...


Picture the following scenario from "Anytown, U.S.A.": You wake up from a night's sleep and walk into the den, where the early-morning news is on TV. As your eyes focus, you notice that a reporter is interviewing a battalion chief about a house fire his department has just extinguished. "It...


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Here is the difference. Law enforcement rookies receive report-writing classes that enhance their ability to write detailed, well-documented and meticulous reports that could be presented in courts and withstand cross examinations and legal challenges. Arresting criminals is not the end of their job; it is only the beginning. It is the quality of their documents and reports that wins their cases and puts criminals behind bars. They recognize that it is their professional obligation to gather all of the available evidence and be meticulous in their documentation. Simply stated, they know that it is their job.

Many of the reports that police officers write document crimes that result in property damage, loss of life or injuries. Senior police officials and government officials would not tolerate incomplete or sloppy police reports. Yet, even though fires also result in property damage, loss of life or injuries, in comparison our documentation and reporting is sloppy. Many times, the NFIRS report does not tell the complete story of an incident. That is because, unfortunately, such deficiencies are tolerated by our leadership.

We are long overdue for a cultural shift if we are to evolve professionally. Yes, we signed up to be firefighters, not report writers, but firefighting is only one small aspect of the job.

Next: Recalibrating Where to Put Our Emphasis and Value

AZARANG (OZZIE) MIRKHAH, PE, CBO, EFO, CFO, MIFireE, a Firehouse.com contributing editor, is the fire protection engineer for the City of Las Vegas, NV, Department of Fire & Rescue. He served on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 13 Technical Committee for Sprinkler System Discharge Design Criteria and is on the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Fire Life Safety Section board of directors. He was the first recipient of the IAFC's Excellence in Fire and Life Safety Award in 2007. He may be contacted at amirkhah@lasvegasnevada.gov. BEN MAY, a Firehouse® contributing editor, has been developing the discipline of fire and emergency services marketing management for more than 15 years. He has been a firefighter for Montgomery County, MD, Fire and Rescue and fire commissioner for the Woodinville, WA, Fire and Life Safety District. May holds a bachelor's degree in public affairs from the University of Oklahoma and a master's degree in international communication from the American University in Washington, DC. He has been a vice president of two international marketing firms over the last 25 years, and now is responsible for business development for Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.