Building the Incident Action Plan Fire officers are strategic resources; firefighters are task resources. As a strategic resource, a competent fire officer must have the ability to identify problems and, to address those problems, develop an incident action plan (IAP) that is built upon a...
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Next: Command-ment VIII — Thou shall make eight assignments early.THE TEN COMMAND-MENTS
- Thou shall have ONE competent incident commander.
- Thou shall maintain teams of at least TWO personnel.
- Thou shall recognize THREE situations that kill firefighters.
- Thou shall ensure that FOUR sides are seen and compared.
- Thou shall not exceed a span-of-control of FIVE.
- Thou shall operate within one of SIX operational modes.
- Thou shall perform the SEVEN-step action plan process.
- Thou shall make EIGHT assignments early.
- Thou shall address three strategic priorities with NINE tactical objectives.
- Thou shall evaluate the situation, mode and plan every TEN minutes.
The first officer on scene must initiate command responsibility, but doesn't necessarily need to establish and be anchored to a command post. Command responsibility includes the management of strategy, resources and risk.
Have you noticed that when the first on scene officer nails command responsibility, the rest of the incident seems to progress nicely? On the other hand, have you noticed that when the first officer on scene ignores command responsibility, the incident evolves into a freelance cluster that requires time and energy to un-cluster?
If you are going to function as a team leader with command responsibility, retain your team designator ("initiate" command). If you are not going to be anchored to a command post, don't change your name to "Command." When you name Command, you are (literally) naming and locating a command post.Lloyd Layman's RECEO
Many fire officers cling to Lloyd Layman's 53-year-old RECEO model as if it were a worn, comforting blanket. Along with rescue, exposure, confine, extinguish and overhaul, Layman's original model was far more comprehensive than the simplified RECEO model. For example, Layman's original model included two objectives that RECEO omits: ventilation and salvage.
Even Layman recognized the importance of problem identification. Prior to RECEO-VS, Layman advised that a fire officer follow a "system of mental training…designed to enable an operational officer to develop a definite habit of mental procedure in dealing with a fire or other emergency." He called this mental procedure "size-up."
Layman's five-step "Basic Mental Evolution System" included:
- Own situation
- Plan of operation (RECEO-VS was part of 5)
Layman's RECEO model still has value, but on the contemporary fireground, RECEO falls short. Layman's 1953 seminal text, Firefighting Tactics, does not mention the word "search." On the contemporary fireground, "rescue" means there is a verified viable occupant that needs to be removed. If four personnel are not on scene, you are allowed (by law) to exercise your two-in/two-out exemption to execute the rescue (two-in/zero-out).
On the other hand, primary search requires two-in with two-out. Layman's book does not address search and rescue, primary search or secondary search. The word "evacuation" is mentioned once, in passing. By the way, Layman never mentions the acronym RECEO in Firefighting Tactics.
(Formerly a police captain, Lloyd Layman served as fire chief of Parkersburg, WV, from 1931 to 1942 and again from 1947 to 1951. Chief Layman was a strategic pioneer.)
MARK EMERY, EFO, is a shift battalion chief with the Woodinville, WA, Fire & Life Safety District. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer program and an NFA instructor specialist. Emery received a bachelor of arts degree from California State University at Long Beach and is a partner with Fire Command Seattle LLC in King County, WA. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or access his website www.competentcommand.com.