Remember, gear your riding assignments towards the most typical responses you face. You’ll never be able to have a boilerplate guideline that covers every possible activity, but if you can cover most of the standard responses, then fireground efficiency will take a turn for the better.
Response by Private Car
Riding assignments work in both the career as well as the volunteer fire service. The key is to have a company respond as a cohesive unit. In the volunteer fire service, some departments may permit their members to respond to the scene via their own personal cars. This is problematic at best and creates issues of accountability and command and control unless these resources can be corralled upon arrival.
Ideally, an engine or ladder company responding from the station has members that are pre-organized into a team. This is an ingredient to effective riding assignments. Personnel arriving individually at separate times don’t offer such cohesiveness.
Riding assignments are a tool in the department’s toolbox. Use them to strengthen your organization and tailor them for your department. If your apparatus seats eight people, that’s great, but unless these seats are routinely filled on the typical responses, don’t go crazy creating assignments for them. That wouldn’t be realistic. Riding assignments can help to strengthen command and control practices and even help improve accountability. Nevertheless, riding assignments are not a solution for everything. Whatever your department chooses to do, remember that these assignments are just one small element in a much larger picture. Always error on the side of safety! The goal is to bring everyone home!
ARMAND F. GUZZI JR. has been a member of the fire service since 1987. He is a career fire lieutenant with the City of Long Branch, NJ, Fire Department and is the deputy director of the Monmouth County, NJ, Fire Academy where he has taught for over 20 years. He has a masters degree in management and undergraduate degrees in fire science, education, and business administration. View all of Armand's articles here. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.