Riding the Right-Front Seat: Making Decisions

One critical element in your preparation to be an effective incident commander comes from the world of management, where you must be able to weigh facts, evaluate circumstances and make effective decisions. This column provides the means for you to...


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

3. Generate alternative options. As you look at a large fire on a windy day, use our fireground size-up method. The “What have I got?” question leads you to the following alternatives:

• Should we use an aggressive interior attack?

• Should we work to keep it to the block of origin?

• Should we use an aggressive interior attack and move in?

• Should we use a blitz attack from the outside and the think about moving in?

4. Evaluate the alternative options. By looking at the fire and considering your options, you will become more practical as time passes. Unfortunately, at a fire you cannot let a lot of time pass, because of the destruction that is ongoing during the decision process. Many people get hung up at this phase. They are so busy pondering all of the possibilities that they never make a decision.

5. Pick one. Get off the dime and select an alternative.

6. DO IT!

7. Check your feedback to see how the decision is working.

The object here is to evaluate the success of your choice. If it is getting the job done for you, then your decision is correct. If it does not solve your problem, choose another alternative and see how things go. If none of the alternatives work, you may have to start the process over from the beginning.

 

Bad decisions

Regardless of our intentions, bad decisions occur from time to time. Why is this the case? Many times, people charged with making decisions do not trust the people who work with them. It also could be that they have not trained their subordinates to make decisions or ever let them develop as leaders.

In any case, they ignore what people have to say and make all decisions themselves. They ignore data that does not confirm their way of thinking. Bad decisions can result from this myopic view of life. Rather than soliciting advice and opinions, these people rely on their own preferences. They presume they have seen and experienced everything. This type of thinking can lead to serious consequences.

Some people make decisions based strictly on tradition. These are the people who live by the motto, “We’ve always done it that way.” These are the people who want to use a 1¾-inch hoseline for every type of fire, from a trash can to a warehouse. This is not a good way to operate.

Worst of all are the people who have not learned from the bad decisions they made in the past. They feel that if they keep trying the same decision over and over, it will eventually be the right one. People can be killed in this fashion. Some people truly never do learn from their mistakes.

Absorb the meaning of what it takes to make a decision. Work at making decisions. You will get better with practice.