MAYDAY On The Fireground

Mark McLees stresses the importance of having effective MAYDAY procedures and offers some advice on preparing them.


The operation had gone to a defensive mode due to the heavy fire volume in the mattress factory. The priority was to contain the fire to the structure of origin. Exposure 2 was a 10-foot alley; exposure 3 was a rear yard; and exposure 4 was a similar attached three-story building of ordinary...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

Once all the critical dispatches and notifications are made, dispatchers should continue monitoring the radio frequencies to anticipate additional needs of the IC. They may pick up crucial transmissions that members on the fireground miss due to noises and distractions. In Syracuse, emphasis is placed on the role of the dispatchers due to their ability to mobilize resources without the distractions present at the incident.

What If You Are Trapped?

The arrival of personal alert safety system (PASS) devices has answered a problem for members unable to verbally respond due to their level of consciousness. These devices have helped to speed up the locating of downed firefighters.

If firefighters find themselves trapped yet still able to communicate via radio, then crucial information will be needed by the rescue teams. Where are they located? What is the problem? Is any special tool or piece of equipment needed to rescue them? The answer to these and other questions determines the direction of the rescue effort.

Once the MAYDAY procedure is written, the work is not finished. The system must be tested to ensure that all components will function as designed. A mock drill simulating a MAYDAY request should be conducted to see if the process will work when needed.

When writing these procedures, incorporate flexibility so that the IC's hands are not tied. Existing, and sometimes rigid, orders were written for the usual incident your department is accustomed to handling. Make no mistake, a MAYDAY incident can never be considered usual and will tax all fire department personnel to their limit. The Syracuse general order states, "The key to accomplishing the objectives of the incident commander shall be the discipline of fire personnel…(they) shall be prepared to respond to complex and exacting directives."

Writing a MAYDAY procedure will be time consuming due to the amount of pre-planning necessary. Add or delete components depending on local conditions. Make sure you have a MAYDAY procedure in place. It may be looked upon as a tool that, it is hoped, never has to be used.


Mark McLees is captain of the Syracuse, NY, Fire Department Rescue Company.